August 15, 2012

Paul Ryan: The Bishops Decide

Do the Catholic bishops decide what's a violation of our constitutional rights?  "As a Catholic," Paul Ryan says yes, they do.

Here's the conversation, from NBC's Meet the Press back in February, when the topic of the Affordable Care Act and paid in full contraceptive coverage came up.  Moderator David Gregory cited the famously mocking quip from Nancy Pelosi
Imagine they're having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel. Duh.
and asked Ryan about how people were using the issue in the election:
Are you concerned as a Republican that Republicans are overdoing this issue and could actually hurt the party's chances in November?
Ryan responded that men and women are free to use contraception if they want, but that the real issue is making other people pay for it, when it might be against their religious beliefs. He then touched on the compromise that the Administration worked out with religious organizations - that the insurance company would absorb the cost of the contraceptive benefit, rather than the employer having to pay for it.  And here's where it got interesting:

This compromise is really a distinction without a difference, it's mandating that everybody pay for everyone else's free, you know, birth control and contraception. The question is, is can the government mandate that people violate their religious teaching, their conscience, their freedom of religion. Look, I can tell you as a Catholic the charities and the hospitals, they don't enforce doctrine, they don't interpret it. It's the bishops and they're very clear in saying this is a violation of our constitutional rights. So it's an issue of constitutional rights and of the government having the kind of power to trump them.
Uh, really?  The Catholic bishops determine our constitutional rights?  Not in my road map for America.