Remember when certain Catholic bishops, prominent among them Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, were protesting the fact that religiously-affiliated employers who served and employed non-Catholics, would be required to provide insurance the covered contraceptive services. This was supposedly a horrible affront to their religious freedom, and even to the religious freedom of Catholic owners of private, for-profit businesses who would be required to provide such coverage. They even sponsored a supposed "Fortnight for Freedom," complete with demonstrations to denounce this horrible denial of their religious freedom. A number of them, and Catholic business owners, have filed suit to have this declared a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Today, the New York Times has a major article demonstrating just how hypocritical this opposition actually is. The Archdiocese of New York had previously acknowledged that some Catholic institutions within its jurisdiction had been providing such coverage to comply with New York law mandating such coverage. But now the Archdiocese "is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics."
It seems that back in the 1990s, even before the New York State mandate to provide contraceptive services came into existence, some health care institutions operated by the Archdiocese of New York or its affiliates joined something called The League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, a larger group of health care institutions that negotiated, as a group, with the SEIU, and the collective bargaining agreement called for health insurance that covered contraception and even abortion.
Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said he recalled that some Catholic organizations had expressed concern about paying for the contraception benefits in the mid- to late 1990s. But in recent years, as the number of Catholic hospitals in the city dwindled, “they just kind of stopped, from my perspective, paying attention to this issue,” he said.Wow, allowing your employees, many of whom are non-Catholics, "to make their own choices about contraception and so forth." What a concept!
“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.
During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly.”
The article notes that, in theory, ArchCare [the entity that controls the health care facilities affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York] could have negotiated independently with the unions, but that this would have been "difficult" since as the head of the larger association says, "It's hard to go bacwards." The head of ArchCare claims that it wouldn't have mattered if they had negotiated with the union independently or not, since the union would have forced them to adopt the same contract that it had with the larger association. Sorry, but that's not true. The union might have TRIED to do that, but such coverage would have been included only if ArchCare AGREED to it. As recent history has proven, employers have lots of options if they're unwilling to agree to a union's contract demands. The obvious fact is that this supposedly sacrosanct religious principle not to provide contraceptive coverage, even indirectly, wasn't so important that it was worth dealing with some labor problems to preserve it.
What's almost comical is that a couple of the private, for-profit companies that have been so vocal about the contraceptive coverage requirement supposedly violating the religious principles of their Catholic owners HAVE BEEN PROVIDING CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE, AND EVEN ABORTION COVERAGE, ALL ALONG. They don't claim that they were forced to provide such coverage by anybody, but instead claim that they didn't know it was covered under their group insurance coverage. Somehow, I suspect that these businessmen would laugh at a customer of theirs who claimed he hadn't read the contract with their business, and therefore shouldn't be bound by it. But we're supposed to believe that this "religious principle" that is so important to them wasn't worth taking the simple step of reading the coverages under their group insurance contract.
I strongly recommend reading the entire NYT article. It's quite eye-opening.