Thurs, April 7, 9-10pm–Catholics For Choice on the current Supreme Court Case pitting “religious freedom” against birth control

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We’ll speak with Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, Domestic Policy Advisor for Catholics for Choice (CFC) about the current Supreme Court Case, Zubik vs Burwell, which argues for allowing non-profit and for-profit companies that claim to have religious scruples against birth control to refuse to provide it in their employee insurance plans. The plaintiffs are claiming this an issue of their “religious freedom.”


According to CFC, the Catholic hierarchy (Conference of Catholic Bishops) has “drawn a line in the sand” with this case, in which even the “work-around” compromise (the government’s position that prevailed in related “Hobby Lobby” decision of 2014 and which allows objecting companies to simply fill out a form if they don’t want to provide birth control), is now being characterized as “too much of an undue burden” on “religious freedom.”

CFC believes that this is really about the Bishops’ control over the vast wealth of not-for-profits that are part of the U.S. social services “safety net.” These include a large network of Catholic hospitals as well as government-funded grants for Medicare, Medicaid, adoption and other services. The funding comes from everyone’s collective tax money–which is then used to take away rights in the name of religion.

The current anti birth-control position of the Church and its related organizations, does not even represent the Catholic laity; 98 percent of Catholic women ages 15-44 who have had sex have used contraceptives.

We’ll look at the recent history of the Church’s birth control prohibition, focusing especially on the struggle that took place within the Catholic hierarchy in the 1960’s, when the Church ALMOST changed its stance. During that time Pope Paul appointed a commission on birth control to advise him–it voted by a large majority to change the doctrine and anticipation ran high that the Church would lift the ban.

At that time, Scottish songwriter Matt McGinn wrote a tune called The Pill which was  recorded by Pete Seeger, about a woman with a house full of children waiting for the Pope to “bless the pill.” She buys  a package of birth control pills so she will be ready when the Pope acquiesces. In the final stanza she hopes to hear the Pope’s approval “before my man comes in.” But more conservative voices prevailed and the ban remained, becoming one of the greatest sources of alienation of Catholics from the church. We will be playing this historic song: “The Pill,” on this show.

We will also have our feminist news roundup and other music and will take listener phone calls if time allows.

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