That Kristof is an idealogue and not an intellectual is most clearly revealed in those aspects of human rights concerns that touch on the dignity of women as women. Kristof closes his column this way, a good example of his ideology:
In this case, we should make a good-faith effort to avoid offending Catholic bishops who passionately oppose birth control. I’m glad that Obama sought a compromise. But let’s remember that there are also other interests at stake. If we have to choose between bishops’ sensibilities and women’s health, our national priority must be the female half of our population.
Nothing has been a worse bargain for women's health than contraception. In the original study for the contraceptive pill, 3 women *died* and all they did was adjust the dose. In a study, conducted at roughly the same time, on a possible contraceptive pill for men, ONE man exhibited a slightly shrunken testicle and the study was abandoned. The record of contraception and women's health has not improved since. New reports from the FDA show that there have been 14 known deaths due to RU-486, more than 2000 other adverse events, more than 600 of which have required hospitalization.
There is also continuing controversy over Yaz, one of the newer forms of birth control which has an ever higher risk of dangerous blood clots than older forms of the pill. A significant number of women also have a normally silent genetic mutation which multiplies their risk of potentially fatal blood clots if they take hormonal contraception.
In addition, the adverse health effects of hormonal contraception don't end with blood clots and increased risk of reproductive cancers. As SCOTUS held in the decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the wide availability and frequent use of birth control entails the desire for abortion as a "back up" plan. Recent history shows that the demand for legalized abortion tracked with the availability and use of contraception. One follows the other like a dog and his master.
So no, Mr. Kristof, this is not a choice between the sensibilities of the USCCB and defending women's health. It is a case of the USCCB being on the side of women's health. It's not about "pelvic politics", either. It's about women's lives, their health, their dignity as women qua woman, and "soul politics".
Update I've written about the health effects of birth control in these posts:
Might I suggest a Co-Q10 chaser with that Ortho-Evra?
Even Guttmacher recognizes the problem
The Pill - A Timeline
Update 2 While Kristof's attempt to re-write the 1st Amendment was bad enough, his pretense that the post was about alleviating poverty was even worse. More birth control isn't going to help lift women out of poverty. If that were the case, free clinics and the half-century "War on Poverty" would have eradicated female-headed household poverty by now. The truth is that we have long known there are three things you can do to virtually guarantee you will never fall below the poverty line. When it comes to poverty, behavior matter matters most:
1) finish high school
2) get married before you have a baby
3) get a job, any job, and keep it
Other behaviors associated with the likelihood of avoiding poverty are living frugally and regular church attendance. So Kristof has missed on both counts in his article - the sensational swipe he attempts to take at what he wants you to think are a few, benighted celibate men (the Bishops) is misdirected, but he is also wrong in his main point about what alleviates/the behaviors that help on avoid poverty.