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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

As a non-Catholic, I wrestled with an internal conflict over the birth control battle of the bishops.

Part of me has been so outraged over this all-male effort to undermine women’s reproductive rights that I can barely string together words that are appropriate for family newspapers. The other part of me has wondered whether my not being Catholic renders this mess a whole lot of none of my business.

As of this week, conflict resolved.

On Monday, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio — where Rick Santorum gave his I-almost-won primary speech earlier this year — announced it was canceling all student health care insurance because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires coverage for “women’s health services.”

Translation: Blame the harlots.

“We encourage you to decide how you are going to provide for accidents or illnesses requiring visits to physicians, health clinics, or the hospital emergency room while you are a student here,” the university said in a statement.

In a news conference, the university’s president, the Rev. Terence Henry, said the Diocese of Steubenville had hired the top-gun law firm Jones Day to file suit against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama’s administration. The diocese joins 11 similar lawsuits, all of them filed by Catholic organizations.

“Under no circumstances can Catholics be both in compliance with this new law and at the same time live that faith that we believe,” Henry said. “This is not just a Catholic issue. It is an issue for all people. It attacks our basic religious freedom. … This is a do-or-die issue for Americans.”

And with that, I am done with any internal conflict over my non-Catholic status in America.

If the Roman Catholic Church wants to make this about all Americans, then this American is unequivocal: Access to affordable contraception saves lives, and there is no constitutional right to discriminate against the women who need it.

You don’t have to be Catholic to be offended by a relentless campaign to cast sexually active females as God-defying, wanton women. And you don’t have to be a woman to object to the bishops’ attempts to keep women enslaved by their menstrual cycles.

The latest Gallup poll spells it out. If you think birth control is morally acceptable, you’re a member of the overwhelming majority of Americans. For those of you who like numbers, that’s 82 percent of Catholics and 90 percent of non-Catholics who think birth control is just fine.