Daily Links, Feb. 24: State laws, bishops and attorneys general, the Pill as medicine

Yesterday during an interview in our offices, we were reminded how several dioceses have entered into arrangements with states’ attorneys, in order to avoid prosecution over sex abuse cases. In Manchester, New Hampshire for example, auditors from the attorney general’s office review personnel and office records every five years, yet we’ve heard nary a peep from the bishops about this voluntary relinquishing of religious liberty.

The noisemaking continues, however, over state mandates similar to one issued by HHS. A 12-year-old New Hampshire law requiring contraception coverage in health insurance plan is being challenged by GOP and religious leaders. No one said anything about it before, apparently, because there wasn’t a full-time lobbyist in the state legislature in 1999 and, according to the Manchester diocese’s chancellor Diane Murphy Quinlan, “It’s possible that it was missed.”

About 1.5 million women, or 14 percent of women who take a contraceptive pill, take it for noncontraceptive reasons, according to a Guttmacher study. (And that’s true for nearly a third of teen users.) The bishops have said insurance plans offered by church institutions could include coverage of the pill as long as it’s for medicinal uses. But you’d have to prove it to them, making for competing interests, as Scott Alessi points out: “The church may argue that this case was an exception, and that most women wouldn’t be denied coverage for what their employer may deem a legitimate use of contraception. But for a church that values the dignity of the human person as one of its primary beliefs, is this type of policy really honoring the dignity of women?”

The bishops’ response to the HHS mandate is now a Peace and Justice matter, apparently. This insert was sent out in an email by the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development this week.

Anyone remember how two weeks ago, Dolan said the president’s compromise was a good first step? Those were the days, right?

Meanwhile, there is an item at the top of the IMPORTANT/URGENT/FOCUS ON THIS pile. It’s right next to this item.