My Photo

« My mid-week shocker | Main | Your 2 sports stories Friday open thread »

February 09, 2012

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515c2369e201676203d027970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Politics have no place in health care": Excuse me, are you *new*?!?:

Comments

I am both a pessimist and a cynic. Pperation Komen may have failed and Komen may perish as a result but that will not stop the enemies of PP and all what it stands for to try again and again. As with terrorism*, they have to be lucky just once and are willing to sacrifice for it (preferably the sacrifice will be someone else's of course). Just wait for the next appropriations bill in Congress, the next 'debate' about the payroll tax cuts, the next 'I read in the newspaper (=The Onion) that PP is going to open a 7 Billion $$$ abortionplex' 'scandal'... (not to forget the funny 'not intended as a factual statement' episode).

*Any bets against there being a terrorist attack against a PP facility in the US within the next 6 months? I doubt that all 'pro-life' extremists are fully occupied with the current WANTED poster for one of the few surviving abortion providers in the South. My bet is that at least one will find time for a little firebombing soon.

Not being in the Land of the Free, I find it hard to make sense of all this. Free access to contraception is a social good, so the state should pay for it. Why make employers pay? Isn't it a bad idea to make it more expensive to hire women of childbearing age?

That is, I am in favour of free access to contraception, but would have been on the side of the White Evangelicals in that poll. (Why are they categorized by skin colour?)

"[1] Before you get up to argue that the fact that condoms are sold all over proves that contraception is easily available, note that for a woman to carry condoms is
used as evidence of prostitution by the NYPD, among others."

That? That is fncked up, that is.

Nice article, thank you for sharing with us, I just bookmaker you site for feature reference and waiting for your new edition. Keep going, Thank again for shearing with us

It's nice to have someone bookmaker our site. Also nice to have someone to shear with.

We have also bookmakered your site, and sheared your IP address with typepad. Oh, and changed your URL to something more...fitting.

I'm not sure why the Catholic Bishops (or Protestant Ministers, or Wiccan Witches, or the Jedi, or Dead Heads) think that if they're going to operate in the marketplace they should receive an exemption from the generally applicable rules because they're a religion.

Sure in your houses of worship do whatever the fnck you want, other than that, no so much.

This might have been off topic.

Thanks for the great post. In addition to the fact that women should have ready access to contraception, a lot of women use birth control pills for non-contraceptive health purposes. Planned Parenthood has stood by women for a very long time.

Perhaps Sara is a shepherd involved in illegal gambling?

This is a great post Doc S. I hardly know what to say in reply. I find that happening to me more and more.

It's a tsunami of stupid, and we're all just along for the ride.

Politics have no place in health care

If only.

1. I'm very, very, very pro-birth control access, so I'm already inclined to be on the side of the government here.

2. I have no love of religious dogma, either.

3. The Catholic Church thinks it has moral authority when it comes to sex? Hahahahahahahahahaha! Isn't there something about motes and beams that might be applicable here?

As for the religious freedom argument: if we were discussing an institution that was staffed by Catholics only and served Catholics only, I'd side with the Church here. But that is not the case.

Agreed, politics do have a place in healthcare. For example, if one private organization decides to not give its money to another private organization that enjoys political favor in a powerful quarter, well, that's a big mistake.

And sure, that simple little 2500 page health care law that we were assured would not violate any religious liberties; well, it now seems that by administrative fiat, a dissenting entity that offers healthcare, or other privately funded social services, must act contrary to its own views to continue doing as it has done for, well, forever.

No one is compelled to work for a Catholic charity or hospital, nor to seek treatment or any other service from that charity or hospital, yet the feds would tell that charity or hospital: to continue as you always have, you must comply with such rules as we impose.

Conscience clauses, it seems, are a one way street. The only conscience allowed is that of the progressive left.

Santorum in reverse.

Ugh nicely frames the debate:

I'm not sure why the Catholic Bishops (or Protestant Ministers, or Wiccan Witches, or the Jedi, or Dead Heads) think that if they're going to operate in the marketplace they should receive an exemption from the generally applicable rules because they're a religion.

So, if the feds come up with "a generally applicable rule", everyone has to fall in line with it, regardless. Religiously funded hospitals must then offer abortion and abortion counseling, because HHS decrees that to be a "generally applicable rule."

Let's put the shoe on the other foot: a Santorum HHS decrees that no entity may offer abortion counseling or abortions and no insurance may cover birth control. Its "a generally applicable rule", so, no problemo, right?

if we were discussing an institution that was staffed by Catholics only and served Catholics only, I'd side with the Church here. But that is not the case.

See how easy it is to find a way for a dissenting voice to function in America? Because, currently, Catholic hospitals compel non-Catholics to work there and to seek services there.

Or, more practically, Catholic social services and job opportunities should, going forward, only be limited to Catholics. All others should be turned away. Want to feed the poor? Want to employ someone? Only if you offer birth control.

McTex, maybe you can explain something that's been confusing me. As I understand it, the Catholic church claims that using birth control is a sin; they don't claim that offering insurance for your employees that covers birth control is a sin. So why the issue? The government isn't forcing anyone to use birth control, which is an act that the church claims to be sinful. It is only requiring them to give people the option.

No one is compelled to work for a Catholic charity or hospital, nor to seek treatment or any other service from that charity or hospital, yet the feds would tell that charity or hospital: to continue as you always have, you must comply with such rules as we impose.

Catholic hospitals and charities are employers who can opt out of providing insurance under the ACA: "A business with 50 or more full-time employees (excluding seasonal workers, but including part-time employees whose hours have been aggregated into full-time equivalents) must generally pay a penalty if at least one full-time employee requires a public subsidy for insurance. When an employee must find his own coverage because the company offers none, the penalty is $2,000 for each full-time employee in the company, but with a 30-employee deduction. When the business does offer coverage but an employee turns it down because it is unaffordable (defined by the law as costing more than 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income), the penalty is $3,000 for every employee who buys insurance on the exchange with a subsidy. This affordability penalty is capped at the total penalty the company would pay if it did not offer insurance at all. One last complexity: Though these are annual numbers, the penalty is in fact calculated each month."

If the Catholic institution were staffed by clergy and parishioners, and received contributions without charging fees for services, you might have a point, McKinney. But as long as the institution is a business, they need to be a business. Rachel Maddow described it well as the "Amish bus driver rule."

1. Hey, McK, if I start a religion today, what laws am I permitted to no longer follow if I say they violate my religion's tenets? Can I get a list? (And don't quote Lemon or Smith or the RFRA at me. I want your opinion on under what circumstances claimed religious tenets are blanket permission to ignore the law. Which, you know, essentially gives religion primacy over the Constitution.)

2. Should this "I'm religious so I don't have to follow this law infinity no takebacks!" stance apply to Taco Bell? (Or, to use an even more relevant example, Chik-Fil-A?)

3. I bet you think that was pretty deft, how your comment uses the word "abortion," which is not at issue here, four times; but does not use the word "contraception," which is at issue, once? You're a sneaky one, you are. (Oh, you slipped in "birth control" at the very end as part of a silly counterfactual.)

4. Turns out the rules being proposed here, which are largely modeled on (surprise!!!) a Republican bill from 1993, are actually less restrictive than those in place during (surprise!!!!) the Bush years.


they don't claim that offering insurance for your employees that covers birth control is a sin.

They believe, as I understand it, that requiring insurance that covers birth control is the same as requiring the Church to pay for birth control, which they believe is a sin.

I don't agree with the Church on this and many other topics. What I believe is immaterial to what others believe.

Where do you draw the line regarding a general rule, McTex?

Let's not pretend there is a bright line here. There isn't.

Hence the debate.

See Rachel Maddow's Amish bus driver rule. (An Amish person can apply for a job as a bus driver, and he can't be discriminated against in hiring, but if he gets the job, he has to drive the bus. If the Catholic Church wants to be an employer and offer health insurance, it has to offer contraception, because that's part of women's health.)

Also, the ACA allows employers to opt out of offering health insurance coverage. It costs a lot, but they can do it.

McTx: So, if the feds come up with "a generally applicable rule", everyone has to fall in line with it, regardless. Religiously funded hospitals must then offer abortion and abortion counseling, because HHS decrees that to be a "generally applicable rule."

I think SCOTUS ruled on this question in Smith, no?* In Scalia's words, the statute was a "neutral law of general applicability," or, some might say, a "generally applicable rule," and thus that it burdened the free exercise of religion didn't matter.

*Not that that necessarily settles everything, of course.

McTx: Let's put the shoe on the other foot: a Santorum HHS decrees that no entity may offer abortion counseling or abortions and no insurance may cover birth control. Its "a generally applicable rule", so, no problemo, right?

Well that would (likely) violate both Roe and Griswold, so, no. You're free to argue that they're both wrongly decided, of course.

Where do you draw the line regarding a general rule, McTex?

Let's take Sapient's last comment as a starting point: "it has to offer contraception, because that's part of women's health."

No, birth control is not part of women's health. It is an option that women may or may not exercise.

Like abortion, in the vast majority of observations. As pro-choice advocates like to say: it's a choice.

So, offering health insurance, which until the last several months has rarely, if ever, included birth control, was never a religious issue for anyone. It is only a very recent addition to the scope of insurance, now mandated by the feds, and imposed on all.

The line, in this case, is the status quo ante.

The progressive left and the Obama administration have decided that healthcare, and now birth control are rights, the vindication of which will be imposed on every member of society who functions as any kind of economic entity, regardless of what beliefs individual members or groups might have.

If the Catholic Church wants to be an employer and offer health insurance

This is semantic sleight of hand. The Catholic Church has always been an employer and has always offered health insurance. The change is the addition to 'health insurance.' Under the Maddow rule, participation in any economic activity can be conditioned on compliance with whatever ideological bent happens to have won the last election. That's why we have a constitution: to limit the power of electoral whim.

McTx: Because, currently, Catholic hospitals compel non-Catholics to work there and to seek services there.

The hospitals themselves? No. The way the U.S. functions today? Yes. Hence the tension, I guess.

Want to feed the poor? Want to employ someone? Only if you offer birth control.

This is incorrect, as I understand it (i.e., you can offer employment without health insurance, or you can offer employment with non-birth control health insurance, but you/your employees forfeit certain tax breaks).

Does this complicate the simplicity of the choices people have in what hospital or health-care system they use?

My health-insurance plan recently decided not to do business any more with Brown and Toland medical group and instead contract with Hill Physicians. I had nothing to do with that decision, which was based on some financial negotiations around reimbursement rates that were entirely out of my control, part of an ongoing fight between major hospital groups, physician groups and insurance companies that leave patients entirely out of the loop.

So I had to leave the doctor I'd been seeing for many years (who was a member of Brown and Toland and affiliated with the Sutter-owned California Pacific Medical Center) and I was reassigned to a new doctor, who is a member of Hill -- and because of economic issues that have nothing to do with religion, my Hill doc is affiliated with Catholic Healthcare West. So now any major medical treatment I need is at St. Mary's, or St. Francis, or Seton -- all excellent hospitals, and I have no complaints. My new doctor is great, and frankly, the medical staff who are part of what happens to be a Catholic Church affiliated hospital chain aren't a whole lot different from the medical staff at the secular CPMC -- skillful, devoted, caring, and so far as I can tell, entirely free of any type of evangelism. I have no idea what, if any, religious affiliation the doctor who patched my broken hand back together last year had; it wasn't an issue. Who cares?

But still: It's a Catholic hospital chain. With all the issues that creates. And it's part of the city's public-health infrastructure. A lot of us didn't choose a religious-based medical center; our insurance company did that for us.

Or, from the same link, the "choice" of employer?

Religious institutions like the Catholic Church are not just churches these days; they're major employers and the operators of major health-care facilities that are intertwined with insurance companies. And for a lot of employees and patients, there isn't any choice.

People who work for the hundreds of nonprofit social-service agencies run by the Catholic Church aren't necessarily Catholics, or even religious. They might be receptionists, or janitors, or computer systems operators, or counselors who needed a job and happened to get hired by an agency that needed their (secular) skills. Jobs are hard to come by these days; a person who works in an administrative job at a Catholic nonprofit and is trying to pay the rent and support a family may not have the option of simply leaving because she doesn't agreed with the Church's position on birth control. She's got a health plan paid for by her employer, just like most of the rest of us, and if that plan doesn't cover contraception, she's SOL. It's not fair.

These church-run or church-affiliated institutions are not islands unto themselves. They are part of our health-care and economic systems.

The priests can say whatever they like to their adherents in church, and the adherents can follow those teachings as they see fit. It's their choice to work for a health-care provider or insurance company, Catholic-affilitated or otherwise, as much as anyone else's.

McTx: This is semantic sleight of hand. The Catholic Church has always been an employer and has always offered health insurance. The change is the addition to 'health insurance.' Under the Maddow rule, participation in any economic activity can be conditioned on compliance with whatever ideological bent happens to have won the last election. That's why we have a constitution: to limit the power of electoral whim.

Well I agree with your last point there, of course. But...even assuming that the Catholic Church has "always" been an employer and "always" offered health insurance, so what? I mean, assume the Pope discovers an ancient text in the Vatican archives that prohibits the church from withholding taxes and reporting wages to secular governments, is it now exempt from withholding and paying over federal payroll and income taxes and filing W-2s?

No, birth control is not part of women's health. It is an option that women may or may not exercise.

Oh come off it. An overwhelming majority of women use contraception. Some of them even use it for reasons unrelated to sex (gasp!).

By the way, do these plans cover Viagra? How about other "options that men or women "may or may not excercise?"

My wife was put on birth control for a while for (I think) an ovarian cyst. And some women can't get pregnant without it causing serious complications. (It's almost like this stuff matters to people, and it's not just some ideological preference.)

Let's take Sapient's last comment as a starting point: "it has to offer contraception, because that's part of women's health."

No, birth control is not part of women's health. It is an option that women may or may not exercise.

This is argument by assertion and it ain't gonna hunt. Controlling when and under what circumstances they have children is probably the #1 women's health care issue.

So, offering health insurance, which until the last several months has rarely, if ever, included birth control

My vasectomy was nearly 100% covered by my health insurance, and I bet that's true for most major insurance plans.

I'm gonna need a cite for "rarely, if ever," please.

Regardless of how this turns out (whether the Obama administration caves or not), I really hope the RCC Hierarchy decides contraception is the hill to die on. BRING IT. PLEASE.

Meanwhile:

A judge has ruled that it's perfectly legal for the state of Texas to require women seeking abortions to first look at a sonogram, listen to the fetal heartbeat, and listen to a doctor's speil about possible dire consequences that could befall them for choosing to terminate their pregnancies. Don't Mess with Fetus!

The controversial sonogram law, HB15, was on hold due to a judge's injunction. But last month, a panel of judges decided that the law didn't violate anyone's rights because doctors were only providing women with medically accurate information. And on Monday, it went into effect.

Shockingly, women who decide to continue their pregnancies will not have the consequences of that choice explained to them, nor will the doctor be required to condescendingly read aloud the average cost of birth and delivery, how much a mother can expect to spend on diapers in a year, or how much college is projected to cost in the year 2030.

And, as I've mentioned, most abortions take place during the period where an external sonogram is unrevealing, meaning these women have to have transvaginal sonograms.

I bet all of this bother McK not a whit.

Dr S. this is a great post. Couldn't agree with you more regarding all points. PP is one of the finest and most effective organizations providing healthcare services in this country and contraception is probably the most effective service it provides.

I certainly have nothing to add or detract from your post. On a side note, I have always been puzzled by the seemingly unexamined great value placed on procreation, especially by religious groups and adherants. I mean 5,000 years ago it probably was a virtue. But today? Then again, I have met so many who feel that their greatest achievement, nay, their reason for existance, is to have children. Weird because there is so much lower tier DNA being passed along. Why is it a good thing?

McTx, "No, birth control is not part of women's health. It is an option that women may or may not exercise."

I couldn't disagree more with this assertion of yours. It is simply Wrong. I have worked on the payer/insurance side for 20 years and the plans that have employed me have always covered contraception and always considered preganancy to be a major, if not the most important, health care issue facing women (viagra is not covered). It isn't about sex. It's about health and general welfare.

So, offering health insurance, which until the last several months has rarely, if ever, included birth control, was never a religious issue for anyone. It is only a very recent addition to the scope of insurance, now mandated by the feds, and imposed on all.

This is absolutely false. Health insurance plans have long offered coverage for contraceptives, although under some plans it was optional for the employer, and more expensive (one of the many aspects of health insurance that was discriminatory against women).

There are a lot of "options" in health care. You can "opt" to get pain relief instead of endure pain, for example. I mean, if God didn't want us to suffer, we wouldn't have nerves, right?

I'd like to know what the distinction is between a woman being paid a salary by a Catholic institution, a part of which she chooses to spend on birth control, and a Catholic hospital providing health insurance that she chooses to have cover birth control. The money came as a remuneration from the Catholic institution. The health insurance came as a remuneration from a Catholic institution. The woman herself decides whether or not to use it.

This entire issue is a ploy by conservative Catholics to oppose the ACA, and it's working to persuade the gullible.

Phil:

This is your warning.

I bet all of this bother McK not a whit.

That is skating way too close to the ad hominem line. It's also way too close to shifting the discussion toward being about each other (=>personal attacks), and away from being about the *issues*.

Do it again and I'll ban you from commenting further on this post.

"Health insurance plans have long offered coverage for contraceptives, although under some plans it was optional for the employer, and more expensive (one of the many aspects of health insurance that was discriminatory against women)."

Sapient, actuarially speaking, it is more cost effective in the medium to long run to provide contraception as a bene, than to offer it at a higher price, for most risk pools.

Sometimes a plan gets greedy and figures that a demographic - say young professional women - will purchase their own contraception because they are that motivated and able, financially, to do so. So the plan avoids the set monthly cost per adult female member. Other plans cover some contraceptives (the cheaper and time proven ones) at no extra charge, but don't cover newer more expensive and less proven products. It really depends and it is a mixed bag. That said, I think all plans do cover *some* form of contraception as part of the basic package.

It really isn't about discrimating against women. It's just an attempt to do business in a way that maximizes profits and/or allows the plan to remain competitive in the maket place - or to simply not price employer groups out of the market; which would leave many with fewer or no HC insurance benefits.

Many plans do not cover procedures, etc that are for males only, either. For example, penile implants that permit a psuedo erection to be obtained post prostate surgery.

Not to nitpick, just saying......

Thanks, avedis. Interesting.

Also, something I didn't know when writing my previous comments is that:

Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception and since 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control, many Catholic institutions offer the benefit to their employees. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control.” Similarly, an informal survey conducted by Our Sunday Visitor found that many Catholic colleges have purchased insurance plans that provide contraception benefits: University of Scranton, for example, appears to specifically cover contraception. The University of San Francisco offers employees two health plans, both of which cover abortion, contraception and sterilization…Also problematic is the Jesuit University of Scranton. One of its health insurance plans, the First Priority HMO, lists a benefit of “contraceptives when used for the purpose of birth control.” DePaul University in Chicago covers birth control in both its fully insured HMO plan and its self-insured PPO plan and excludes “elective abortion,” said spokesman John Holden, adding that the 1,800 employee-university responded to a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission several years ago and added artificial contraception as a benefit to its Blue Cross PPO. Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., offers employee health insurance via the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, a consortium of Christian Bible and other private college and universities. Its plan excludes abortion, but probably covers artificial contraception as a prescription drug, said C. Gregg Conroy, the executive director of the TICUA Benefit Consortium. Boston College, the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts, and other Catholic organizations that are located in one of the 28 states that already require employers to provide contraception benefits could have self-insured or stopped offering prescription drug coverage to avoid the mandate — but didn’t do so. Instead, they — like many Catholic hospitals and health care insurers around the country — chose to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority of Catholic women and offer these much needed services.

It's more of an issue now because the Catholic bishops are Republicans and oppose the ACA on general right-wing principles. This religious liberty issue is just something to hang their hat on.

Let me correct: something deceptive to hang their hat on. The Maddow Amish bus driver analogy still hasn't been distinguished by anyone here who may be in support of the Catholic bishop position.

It is only requiring them to give people the option.

It's not even doing that.

It's requiring them, if they are going to provide health insurance at all, which they are not actually obligated to do, to provide health insurance that includes coverage for birth control, if that is something THE EMPLOYEE should decide as a matter of their own private conscience that they need.

That is what is being required.

There are approximately eleventy-billion things that public laws and regulations require people to do, which some religious group somewhere objects to. Folks who participate in those religious groups *are not forced* to do anything they don't want to do, nor is the Catholic Church, as an employer, being forced in this case to do anything it doesn't want to do.

It is virtually impossible for public policy to be crafted in such a way that the particular quirks of every religious community - or any conscience-based community for that matter - are accommodated.

Some religious groups are pacifist. Should we shut down the Dept of Defense?

Some religious groups are vegetarian. Should all government-sponsored entities that serve food stop serving animal protein?

Some very conservative or orthodox religious groups do not allow men and women to socialize or meet together. Should all public events and institutions be segregated by gender?

Christian Scientists don't believe in medicine, period. Should all medical insurance be outlawed?

I appreciate that *as a matter of conscience* the Catholic Church would prefer to not fund birth control, even if indirectly via a third party such as an insurance company. And *in the context of specifically religious institutions*, they will not be required to do so.

In the context of institutions that they sponsor and operate that *are not specifically religious*, that exemption will not apply.

A perfect solution? No, not really. Is everybody happy? No, not really.

But it's probably about a good a solution as we are likely to find.

It's impossible to operate in any kind of public context without drawing lines like this, because it's a very large country with lots of different kinds of people in it. Although I might not agree, I don't really have a problem with the claim that this particular line was drawn at not quite the right spot. But the idea that it represents some kind of anti-religious statist oppression is, to me, absurd.

It's a simple rule: if you offer health care as a benefit, it has to include certain things. One of those things is birth control. The Catholic Church objects.

Well then it is the Catholic Church's job to figure out how to do what they want to do, within the framework of the law. Just like every other group with non-mainstream convictions about things that touch on public life.

It's not everyone else's job to accommodate them in every particular of their institutional conscience.

Suppose insurance companies all decided that it was more cost-effective to offer birth control in their health plans than not. Then there would simply not be any birth-control optional plans on the market. Then what?

Nice job Sapient of pointing out the difference between "the Catholic position" and "the Catholoic Bishop position". You should change your monicker from Sapient to Salient!

Imagine the plight of Christian Scientist employers, let alone the Church itself, being required to either provide health insurance *at all* or kick dollars back to Uncle.

A clear example of oppressive anti-religious statist tyranny.

Thanks, Oyster Tea. :)

Gail Collins has a good article too, on the 98% (of Catholic women who have used birth control), and the bishops they contend with.

The other thing to keep in mind is that many women take oral contraceptive pills for medical reasons NOT RELATED to contraception (for example, PCOS, endometriosis, some pituitary disease, etc).

For a long time,insurance wouldn't cover contraception even when prescribed for these medical reasons. Thankfully, that has changed in recent years, but it is no way universal if my sibling's experience is anything to go by.

PaulB: Not being in the Land of the Free, I find it hard to make sense of all this. Free access to contraception is a social good, so the state should pay for it. Why make employers pay? Isn't it a bad idea to make it more expensive to hire women of childbearing age?

It may be hard to fathom from abroad, but the battle overcontraception, like the battle over abortion, is not actually related to the nominal issue. It's strictly related to sex. end of discussion.

In the minds of those opposed, sex is a Bad Thing except in very narrowly defined circumstances. As a Bad Thing, it should not only be discouraged. Anything which reduces the negative consequences must also be discouraged. If you have contraception, you can engage in this Bad Thing without chancing getting pregnant. If you have abortion available, even getting pregnant doesn't necessarily mean having to bear and raise the child. And the effort of having to bear and raise the child in the negaitive consequence that must be maintained to keep people from doing Bad Things.

Once you grasp the motivation, the rest follows inevitably. But if you don't grasp where the opponenets are coming form, it makes no sense whatever. (Note this is separate from whatever sense the motivating assumptions may or may not have.)

You know, we don't even need hypothetical examples like the Amish bus driver up there. We already know that Muslim cab drivers can't refuse to carry passengers carrying alcohol, and Orthodox Jews who operate a numbered bus line for the city of New York can't make women sit in the back.

"In the minds of those opposed, sex is a Bad Thing except in very narrowly defined circumstances. As a Bad Thing......."

yep.

and it's NOT a patriarchal plot either.

Just as many women identify with the anti abortion/anti-contraception movement as men. The women derive a sense of self worth from carrying, bearing and raising children and maintaining a happy home and all of that and are threatened by women who live lives outside of that meme. Being threatened, they wish to eliminate the threat, as wj says, by imposing their beliefs on others. This is where religion and "morality" clashes with the Consitution and where political leadership should call a spade a spade and be done with such nonsense.

OK, now the issue has broadened, and now it's any Catholic employer. Not just the church, but any Catholic lay person, anywhere in the US, who employs other people and provides health insurance as part of their compensation.

Open a Taco Bell as a Catholic, and you are subject to the tyrannical thuggish brownshirted godless bootheel of Obama's fascist / socialist / sharia-ist / whatever-ist state.

There are a lot of people in this country, Catholic and non-Catholic, who hold personal religious or ethical beliefs that are in conflict with mainstream values.

It *is not* the responsibility of the population at large to accommodate those beliefs at every point at which they come into conflict with the mainstream of public life.

It is the responsibility of people who hold strong positions of conscience to figure out how to live in such a way that they neither violate their conscience, or the law.

Sometimes that may actually cause them some inconvenience. Sometimes they may have to, and many quite often do, accept that there is a boundary beyond which their preferences will not apply.

Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, Mormons, Quakers, orthodox Jews, conservative Evangelical Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians. Atheists and secular humanists, for that matter, who are often required to sit through public prayers that mean nothing to them, and which may in fact be offensive to them.

If you want to live where everything is exactly the way you think it should be, you need to go find a different country to live in, because this particular country is not going to be it.

This whole controversy is a pile of partisan crap intended to give Republican candidates something to beat Obama over the head with.

The PPACA is chock full of exemptions for religious practice and conviction. Employers who happen to be religious organizations operating or supporting non-religious institutions don't happen to be one of them.

If the Catholic Church needs to make adjustments to how it deals with providing health insurance to its secular employees, then they will have to deal with it.

Like every other religious community in the country. Everybody's got something they don't like.

Seriously, claims of statist anti-religious oppression make me laugh. People have no idea how freaking good they have it.

Seriously, claims of statist anti-religious oppression make me laugh.

yep.

but, they've been waiting so long for some evidence to back up their assertions of Obama's tyranny that they can't help but pile on this one.

confirmation bias is a hellof a fallacy.

There was a situation in Arizona wherein a relgious nut who thought the earth was created on a certain date not too long ago claimed she was the victim of persecution because the geology dept. of the universtiy she attended offended her sensibilities by teaching science. At about the same time religous nutcases succeeded in imposing religously based literature about the formation of the Grand Canyon on the National Park Service. Of course we've got the religous colleges turning out pharmacists who refuse on religious grounds to do their jobs.

Mostly this pattern of bullying is centered on someone trying to inflict his or her notions about sex on someone else while pretending to be a victim, but sometimes the fauxvictim bullying behavior has another focus like alchohol or flatearth geology. In the end it is al about people having weird relgious nations who can't tolerate other people not agreeing with them.

I suppose Catholics should avoid buying, say, Apple computers or iPhones, if Apple provides health insurance that covers birth control to its employees. Why should these concerns stop at directly employing people? One shouldn't support, even as a customer, any organization that engages in such objectionable practices. Turn off the lights if your electricity provider does this stuff. Close your bank accounts and cut up your credit cards, too. It's vital to your moral well being, you know, as a matter of conscience.

While I think there's some purchase in the thought, as expressed by sapient and HSH, that there shouldn't be a difference between the Catholic Church handing money directly to a birth-control providing insurance company and doing the same thing indirectly through an employee (or offering an option), I don't think it quite completes the deal.

In particular, the Church has to sit down and negotiate the health insurance benefits with the insurance company, what they will and won't cover, and thus directly has to face the question and hand over funds. Whereas the Church, or anyone/thing else for that matter, couldn't function if it had to account for all indirect things.

That said, I still think the correct answer Constitutionally and otherwise is "too bad." It really does come down to the government saying "if" you want to do X (or obtain benefit Z), "then" you have to do Y.

It really is a subset of what (IIRC) is the general 1st A free exercise doctrine under the Constitution: you can believe anything you want, but that doesn't mean the state can't restrict you from acting on those beliefs (that is, belief and action are two different things and the latter is subject to state regulation/prohibition).

In particular, the Church has to sit down and negotiate the health insurance benefits with the insurance company, what they will and won't cover, and thus directly has to face the question and hand over funds.

Yes, but the funds they are handing over are being paid to the insurance company, not to anyone providing actual medical services. And if it is a requirement by law that the covered services include certain things, there is no question to face regarding covering those things, assuming you are going to provide insurance in the first place.

Besides that, I'd like to know if a single Catholic is required by the law to use birth control - or if any church is required to run a hospital, or provide health insurance at all to anyone. (Well, I do know these things - just rhetorical.)

Not that you didn't already write this, Ugh:

It really does come down to the government saying "if" you want to do X (or obtain benefit Z), "then" you have to do Y.

I'm not exactly arguing with you here.

Let's not pretend there is a bright line here. There isn't.

The problem is that the line keeps moving. And for some reason, it always focuses on women and their health and well-being.

First, pharmacists could refuse to dispense contraception if it offended their moral beliefs. Then, they could refuse even to direct the customer to another pharmacy that would fill their prescription. What's next, the morals police? I will not permit you to impose upon my beliefs, but I surely will impose mine on others.

I meant religious notions!

No, birth control is not part of women's health.

A claim that is so utterly and astoundingly wrong that it leaves this reader speechless. Thankfully, my fingers still work a bit ;)

Good job as usual, Doc.

Sapient touched on this above, but this link gives the states that already require, to varying degrees, contraception services:

http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_ICC.pdf


Andrew Sullivan quoted Frum:

Republicans are not proposing to allow employers and plans to refuse to cover blood transfusions if they conscientiously object to them (although there are religious groups that do). Or vaccinations (although there are individuals who conscientiously object to those as well). Or medicines derived from animal experimentation. (Ditto.)

No, Marco Rubio's Religious Freedom Restoration bill provides for one conscientious exemption only: contraception and sterilization. Which means it will be very hard if not impossible to persuade the target audience that this debate is not in fact about contraception. Everybody quite sure that's a wise debate to have?

I feel reminded too of the debate about legal employee discrimination on 'moral' or religious grounds. Over here there were cases where for example catholic (but public*) kindergartens fired teachers (not necessarily a catholic one!) for violating catholic teachings in her private life (like using contraception, remarrying after a divorce etc.). Those cases went to court but I do not remember what the current legal situation is. I know that in job interviews certain questions are illegal (e.g. asking about pregnancy unless the job poses specific health risks). Could an employer in the US legally make use of contraptives a firing offense? Retroactively too?
In case of taxes the topic is clear. Noone can legally refuse to pay taxes because the state uses part of the revenue for purposes morally repugnant to the individual taxpayer.**

*i.e. not reserved for catholic children only
**but there would of course be an uproar of protest should the state introduce a special designated tax to fund certain things. That's the reason for 'general' taxes that don't state where the money is going to go.

HSH: I'm not exactly arguing with you [Ugh] here.

Absolutely, the liberal circular firing squad only operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and, of course, Sundays.

Speaking of which, the Obama Administration is already signaling that they're going to back down or "compromise" on the contraception point (and Joe Biden was on the radio this morning in DC saying the same thing).

Between this and the disgusting Plan B decision, along with the other associated awfulness of the administration in other areas (many directly contrary to candidate Obama's expressed views), I'm considering throwing in the towel because at the least the GOP has a track record of doing sh1t that benefits me directly, even though they tend to screw everything else up.

The problem is that the line keeps moving. And for some reason, it always focuses on women and their health and well-being.

yes, it does. but i feel compelled to point out that contraception is an important matter to men, as well. while the consequences of unprotected sex for women are obviously far greater for women, they are not insignificant for men, either. an unplanned child will change a man's life, too (as will a planned child).

making the Catholic insurance issue all about Catholics v. women seems to needlessly leave men out of the discussion.

cleek, although I agree with you that contraception is a men's issue as well, contraception directly affects a woman's physical health. Pregnancy is a health risk that women can prevent with medication (unless they wish to bear a child). High blood pressure is a health risk that people can prevent with medication.

People (example: McKinney) need to learn that it's not just a matter of women's psychological health or life circumstances (although those things are implicated too). It's about women's physical well-being.

Yeah, I noticed that other potential religious "concience" objections have been utterly ignored. Only contraception and abortion seem to matter. Gosh, I wonder why.

The upside, as I see it, even if Obama caves (again), is that in the long run the Church is screwed on this topic. They actually lost a while ago, and this is just the hierarchy raging against that decades-old defeat. Their own flock totally ignores them on this issue, and they know it.

Ah, well, whatever it takes to pass the time between kiddie fiddling, I guess...

although I agree with you that contraception is a men's issue as well, contraception directly affects a woman's physical health.

right. hence "...while the consequences of unprotected sex for women are obviously far greater for women..."

but my point is that making a discussion about contraception strictly about women seems to deliberately leave some persuasive points out of the discussion. contraception isn't just about women: a child changes the father's life, too.

It *is not* the responsibility of the population at large to accommodate those beliefs at every point at which they come into conflict with the mainstream of public life.

It is the responsibility of people who hold strong positions of conscience to figure out how to live in such a way that they neither violate their conscience, or the law.

This is exactly the polar opposite of why we have a constitution. We do protect minority viewpoints and beliefs, especially those we don't agree with.

Long before there was health insurance or birth control, there were religions. We have an express constitutional provision for protecting religions. As an offshoot of that provision, for example, a famous boxer was able to avoid military service because of a deeply held religious conviction against taking the life of another. Liberals cheered this decision. At least, back then.

But, to turn this argument back against Russell, suppose a majority of country were to vote (1) that abortion as a means of birth control is illegal or (2) gays shouldn't be allowed to marry. Would you defer to the majority view? I think not.

The debate here is being framed along several different lines.

1. The Catholic Church is trying to force its beliefs on others. Really? Seems to me, the RCC's beliefs and position on birth control and abortion well predated mandatory insurance mandating birth control. Rather than the RCC imposing anything on anyone, it is just the opposite.
Gov't and its supporters are compelling a religious body to act in violation of long standing and widely known beliefs. As a footnote, when the HRC debate, such as it was, took place, the Obama administration feinted in the direction of accommodating religious views, which was essential to passing that 2500 page melange of gov't mandates.

I will not permit you to impose upon my beliefs, but I surely will impose mine on others.

Exactly, although I am sure Debbie doesn't appreciate the irony of her statement.

2. Birth Control is part of women's health. No, it is birth control. In specific instances, where pregnancy poses an elevated risk of harm to a women, it is a health issue. Where the pill is used for therapeutic reasons separate and apart from birth control, it is a health issue, but that is not the debate nor is it the issue now being debated. It is straight up contraception as a mandatory part of a mandated insurance program.

3. 98% of Catholic women practice birth control. So what? Other than completely contradicting the bizarre notion that there is some sizable group, other than the RCC hierarchy, that has a secret agenda for controlling women's bodies and sexual activity in general (good luck there, sex controllers, that battle was lost thousands of years ago), this simply shows, assuming its true, that the legitimacy within the Church of that doctrine is nil. That's their business, not mine and not anyone else's.

4. The RCC is motivated by intolerance. As if the progressive left is bending over backward to tolerate opposing views. Please. Does no one here not appreciate the irony of the state compelling someone to do something they fundamentally disagree with?

5. If the RCC was consistent, it would restrict how its members spend their money. Well, it does, indirectly. If someone chooses to be Catholic, they sign on to a lot of beliefs that, while they seem odd to me, require confession and absolution in order to be in communion with Christ, which is the, as I understand it, basic goal of the Church. I'm Episcopalian, so the rules I consent to are much less demanding. But, again, membership in the RCC is voluntary and it's not may place to tell them how to run their business.

Abortion is, for the left, simply a facet of birth control. I'm fine with paying for birth control as a part of my firm's insurance program, for several reasons: first and foremost, it's a lot cheaper for me if my female employees don't get pregnant and, second, I am fine with birth control.

I am not fine with paying, directly or indirectly, the cost of elective abortion. I can't prevent others from doing what they will with their own money. I do like having a bit of a say-so with how my money is spent.

So, I have a dog in this conscience fight and so does everyone else who opposes elective abortion, as many, many people do. People who tell me I have no choice in the matter ("choice" being the operative word) will get just as much push back from me as I get from them.

People (example: McKinney) need to learn that it's not just a matter of women's psychological health or life circumstances (although those things are implicated too). It's about women's physical well-being.

And Sapient and others need to learn that, in America, not everyone agrees with every premise of what the left thinks is good policy. There are limited instances in which the disagreement is fundamental and in which there are competing constitutional and societal interests. The automatic default is not, in every instance, the left's policy preferences. Or, the left's views on what is or is not a woman's health issue.

The burden of not compelling employers to fund either birth control or abortion is not so great as to justify the compulsion that the left finds so easy to impose.

Your view of "women's health" is pretty damn narrow, McTex.

Anyway, so businesses owned by the Jehovah's witnesses should not have to pay for insurance that covers blood transfusions, right? Organizations run by anti-vaccine nuts shouldn't have to pay for plans that cover vaccination, right? And so on and so forth... until...

Where is the line drawn? When does a religious objection become unacceptable to you? I'm sure there is a line - we all draw it somewhere - but where is yours?

By the way, it's not even clear to me that an insurance plan that covers contraception would be more expensive than one that does not (wouldn't it actually be more expensive, given the cost of pregnancy?), so the argument that the Church doesn't want to pay $$ for such a plan is something I'm struggling with, just as a practical matter.

For twelve years, all the way thru the Bush administration, this was not an issue. Suddenly in an election year when the Republicans as usual cannot afford to talk about the real issues this faux-outrage faux-victimization pretense of protecting religous freedom comes flying out of nowhere and R politicians who haven't given a shit about it in twelve years are suddenly all full of concern.

It's all partisan bullshit. The Rethug pols and opinion leaders will hyperventilate about it for another week and then its on to the next "issue". Anything to keep the discussion away from how their tax cuts for the rich caused most of the deficit, or their systematic nation wide union busting or their plans to gut Medicaid and turnMedicare into an underfunded voucher program Anything to avoid discussing their lack of a jobs program and their love affair with the only people whose interests they really represent: Wall Streeters.

It is not a issue at all. It's a con game for suckers.

This is exactly the polar opposite of why we have a constitution. We do protect minority viewpoints and beliefs, especially those we don't agree with.

Not to the extent of allowing people to ignore generally applicable laws, we don't.

We have an express constitutional provision for protecting religions. As an offshoot of that provision, for example, a famous boxer was able to avoid military service because of a deeply held religious conviction against taking the life of another. Liberals cheered this decision. At least, back then.

And did that decision cost him anything, or have any real-world consequence?

So, I have a dog in this conscience fight and so does everyone else who opposes elective abortion, as many, many people do. People who tell me I have no choice in the matter ("choice" being the operative word) will get just as much push back from me as I get from them.

Replace "elective abortion" with "death penalty" in this sentence, and then maybe sit back and think about it for a little while.

And also think about the David Frum quote above -- why are no other religions being accommodated on "matters of conscience," just Catholics and contraception? (And, again, ABORTION IS NOT AT ISSUE HERE.)

And also think about other laws that religious groups have claimed don't apply to them like the Muslim cab drivers and Orthodox Jewish bus drivers I linked to above.

Why is *this issue* for *this one group of people* so extra super special that it gets to be treated differently from anything else? (And, again, ABORTION IS NOT AT ISSUE HERE.)

Also, I object to paying taxes for bombing people (even our own citizens) on the other side of the world. Conscientiously! Deduct that from my tax bill, please.

Oh, wait, I can't do that? TYRANNY!

We all end up contributing to things we object to. Welcome to real life.

I note the RCC hierarchy has been rather quiet about various other things our government has done that seem to violate their core beliefs. Where was the RCC's brave moral stand against the invasion of Iraq? Or the Libyan adventure? Where was their meltdown over the Bush torture regime (too much like the inquisition, I guess?)?

I call bullshit.

Seems to me, the RCC's beliefs and position on birth control and abortion well predated mandatory insurance mandating birth control.

Who is mandating birth control? No one, not one single person, is compelled by the law to use birth control. This is horsesh1t. No one is even forced to provide health insurance. Pay the 2 grand per employee and be on your way, if that's where your conscience takes you.

Freedom of religion - how you worship, what church you go to, what you believe, and how you, in your personal life, behave is, within certain reasonable limitation, up to you. This madate does not change that. Not one single Catholic is required to use birth control, and not one single Catholic is required to advocate for that use.

The Church, through its various extended endeavors, just isn't allowed to restrict others (employees, Catholic or otherwise - individual human beings who can act according to their consciences) access to birth control by denying them insurance coverage.

They can teach their adherents whatever they like regarding birth control, and their adherents can follow those teachings if they so choose. AFAIAC, that's freedom of religion, in whole.

McTx: We have an express constitutional provision for protecting religions. As an offshoot of that provision, for example, a famous boxer was able to avoid military service because of a deeply held religious conviction against taking the life of another.

Assuming you're referring to Muhammed Ali and Clay v. United States, if wikipedia is to be believed, you're misstating the grounds upon which Ali/Clay's conviction was reversed by SCOTUS (technical errors by the Justice Department). And, upon an admittedly brief search, it doesn't appear that the conscientious objector exception is somehow constitutionally mandated (though I guess you did say "offshoot"), or that it is limited to religious beliefs.

Gov't and its supporters are compelling a religious body to act in violation of long standing and widely known beliefs.

Whether a hospital or charity, as opposed to a house of worship, is a "religious body" is part of what is at issue. Further, SCOTUS has already ruled in Smith (as I note above) that even in cases where people are doing things in pursuit of their religion and nothing more, the government can step in and stop them (or force them to do things like register for the draft). To wit, "To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself."

Does no one here not appreciate the irony of the state compelling someone to do something they fundamentally disagree with?

The state is not compelling the Catholic Church, for example, to operate hospitals, or charities, or generally employ people for compensation.

Not to pile on, or anything, McKinney. :-)

And the Catholic Church is not a "someone." Catholics are someones, and they don't have to use birth control if they don't want to.

Where is the line drawn? When does a religious objection become unacceptable to you? I'm sure there is a line - we all draw it somewhere - but where is yours?

I draw it at birth control because the next step is abortion. Blood transfusions are not, in the vast majority of cases if not every case, a discrete, stand-alone medical procedure. One doesn't go to the pharmacy and get a pint of blood or drop in for an outpatient visit for some hemoglobin. I do agree that a line has to be drawn somewhere.

For twelve years, all the way thru the Bush administration, this was not an issue.

Correct. It was not. There was no federally mandated insurance.

It is not a issue at all. It's a con game for suckers.

Well, that settles that. Thanks for clarifying. I turn over my king.

Replace "elective abortion" with "death penalty" in this sentence, and then maybe sit back and think about it for a little while.

You are being asked to directly fund 'death penalty'? Or compelled as a juror to impose it? I think not.

Why is *this issue* for *this one group of people* so extra super special that it gets to be treated differently from anything else? (And, again, ABORTION IS NOT AT ISSUE HERE.)

Because it is a fundamental tenet of their faith, which is well known, longstanding, etc. Because we do protect conscience, constitutionally. Because the burden of requiring women to pay for that aspect of their coverage is not so onerous as to justify setting aside the constitution.

And, just like Obama's feint toward religious accommodation pre-passage of HRC, it is absolutely about abortion. That is the next, inevitable step. Your assurances to the contrary are of zero comfort.

McTx: Correct. It was not. There was no federally mandated insurance.

Well there's this story, which I assume Laura is referring to above, and it does note that:

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn't provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don't offer prescription coverage or don't offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC's interpretation of the law, you can't offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

So perhaps there's an "out" there that doesn't exist anymore under the Affordable Care Act and/or the new reg, but somehow I find it hard to believe that all the Catholic operated hospitals and charities in the country either didn't offer health insurance at all or, if they did, none of them offered prescription drug benefits.

Which is not to say that that makes the Obama Administration's rule fine and dandy/constitutional on a "but you did it too" theory; however, it does seem add some useful context to the current outrage from those on the right (though not you in particular, McKinney).

I draw it at birth control because the next step is abortion.

Not if used properly, it isn't. Also, so what?

You are being asked to directly fund 'death penalty'? Or compelled as a juror to impose it? I think not.

What do you think the portion of my Ohio state taxes that funds its penal system is for? (Also, if I state in voir dire for a capital case that I categorically reject the use of the death penalty, I will be voir dired right the hell out the door, and you know it. In effect, holding the belief I do is a bar to jury service.)

Because it is a fundamental tenet of their faith, which is well known, longstanding, etc.

So are all the other cases cited in this thread, and none of them get a "Get Out Of Following The Law Free" card.

Because the burden of requiring women to pay for that aspect of their coverage is not so onerous as to justify setting aside the constitution.

Says you. Argument by assertion.


The Church is now saying they don't want a broader exception for religious institutions; they want the mandate removed, period. Including for private employers with no religious affiliation, because the owners might be Catholic.

I'd love it if the end result were public single-payer funding of contraception coverage, but of course that won't fly either because it offends the religious sensibilities of taxpayers.

(Like when we force Quakers to fund the military. Actually, I looked into this, and some Quakers have an interesting thing going where they refuse to pay that part of their tax and instead put it in an escrow account that the government can access if they say they're using it peacefully. The government, of course, takes a dim view of the whole thing, and in practice what happens is that the money gets returned when the IRS levies their assets. But Quakers aren't a large enough bloc to do more than that. Anyway, it's interesting that they'd be satisfied with the government promising to spend the money on peaceful purposes, instead of complaining that it wouldn't matter anyway because money is fungible.)

"The state is not compelling the Catholic Church, for example, to operate hospitals, or charities, or generally employ people for compensation."

and

"And the Catholic Church is not a "someone.""

This is the very essence of the astounding policy shift. The only thing thatt a Catholic can do as a religious activty is go to church. This doesn't agree with any view of religious charities (including nonprofit hospitals) I have evr heard. It is ridiculous, these institutions are the heart of the support systeem for the poor and downtrodden in our society. It is where the poor go for help. Now the government says that, BECAUSE it is where the poor go for help then the state gets to tell them what to provide. for once Krauthammer gets it right

Great hypothetical from Jonathan Zasloff at the RBC:

if Bob Jones University opened a restaurant and decided not to serve Blacks, should they be exempt from civil rights laws if they say that their religion requires it?

God dammit Marty, don't make me go read Krauthamer...

if Bob Jones University opened a restaurant and decided not to serve Blacks, should they be exempt from civil rights laws if they say that their religion requires it?

Yes!

/Rand_Paul

...The administration just announced a different way out, which is interesting: if the employer announces a religious objection to providing contraception coverage, it's on the insurance company to provide it.

I don't suppose that will be satisfactory either, since after all people with religious objections to contraception own stock in insurance companies. But pushback on that will be more like the "pharmacists' rights" movement to restrict things at the pharmacy counter, with the idea that I can claim to be a general secular provider of health services and then selectively deny them on religious grounds.

The only thing thatt a Catholic can do as a religious activty is go to church.

No. They can do all sorts of things, but they can't expect special carve-outs from the law. Add up all the special carve-outs that one might want, depending on the tenets of his or her religion, and you have no law to speak of, except maybe for athiests and agnostics.

Again: They can teach their adherents whatever they like regarding birth control, and their adherents can follow those teachings if they so choose. AFAIAC, that's freedom of religion, in whole.

Also, too, again: Who is mandating birth control? No one, not one single person, is compelled by the law to use birth control.

It is ridiculous, these institutions are the heart of the support systeem for the poor and downtrodden in our society. It is where the poor go for help. Now the government says that, BECAUSE it is where the poor go for help then the state gets to tell them what to provide.

I'd say, if people don't want the government to say that, they should stop trying to tear down nonreligious support systems for the poor.

"See Rachel Maddow's Amish bus driver rule. (An Amish person can apply for a job as a bus driver, and he can't be discriminated against in hiring, but if he gets the job, he has to drive the bus. If the Catholic Church wants to be an employer and offer health insurance, it has to offer contraception, because that's part of women's health.)"

I think this is a particularly bad analogy for this case. The history of Catholic hospitals and health care providers in most places is along these lines: they provided/provide health care for poor people in places where the poor people were not getting health care. These Catholic institutions did the best they could with limited funding and semi-volunteer staffing. Various arms of the US government wanted more poor people being served in such areas, but didn't want to put down the serious funds to start new fully publicly owned hospitals. So they provided funds to the Catholic hospitals so that the hospitals could expand their services and provided reimbursement for the costs of providing for some of the poor people being served.

I'm not a big fan of the Catholic church AT ALL, but comparing the situation where they are already providing a service and the government tries to get them to expand that service so that the government doesn't have to with a situation where the government already provides a job and the Catholics apply for it, is deeply misleading.

As for the "they already do it in X states" argument, this seems to me to be a failure of reporting one way or another, and I can't tell which way. I'm pretty sure that states like New York offer exemptions for things like Catholic charity organizations. But in any case real reporters could be looking into why the Catholic church is ok with the NY law but not the new Obama regulation. As I say, *I strongly suspect* that it is because they offer exemptions. If so, that would be worth reporting. If not, it would be worth reporting on why they are causing a stink now, when they have been dealing with it for years in New York. If only there were a big assembly of high profile reporters in New York that were capable of looking into something like that. It really is too bad that there isn't a high profile newspaper or something there that could do reporting like that.

if the employer announces a religious objection to providing contraception coverage, it's on the insurance company to provide it.

well that seems rather silly.

employers will just scream that, since nobody pays premiums a la carte, some percentage of its premiums must going to fund the insurance company's purchase of contraceptives.

...but thanks for the reminder of why I don't read him, now that I've finished the column.

And the argument that the Church might choose to close hospitals and no longer serve the poor has nothing to do with the Constitution. That's a practical matter, and maybe one that isn't completely irrelevant. But let's not get this things mixed up with one another.

On the other hand, let's not pretend that hospitals aren't large institutions, as opposed to, say, bananas or grains of rice, which don't tend to displace one another in a way that much matters. You don't like one, grab another.

There are only going to be so many hospitals for a given area or a given population, so Catholic hospitals, which might deny services to patients or benefits to employeees, are displacing those who will provide those services and benefits. And that makes life harder for the people who might need those services and benefits.

You are being asked to directly fund 'death penalty'? Or compelled as a juror to impose it? I think not.

What the hell?

Tax dollars fund the death penalty (in states that have the DP). So yes, he helps fund the DP. Just like I helped fund the invasion of Iraq (or rather will fund it, once taxes are eventually raised to pay for debt created by the war). Just like you helped fund the Stimulus.

If your argument is that this funding is indirect, well so would the RCC's funding of contraception (via a group insurance plan that covers contraception if - and only if - the employee - who may or may not be Catholic - wants/needs contraceptives).

Also, "compelled to impose the DP" is a poor analogy, since no one is compelling Catholics to use birth control. They are being asked to provide health insurance that includes coverage for contraceptives if they run something like a hospital (as opposed to a Church, seminary, etc).

@cleek: Yeah, I don't expect this is over. But I think the point of the compromise is to try to push opponents of the mandate back into a position that is more and more like saying: on the basis of religious freedom, I reserve the right to prevent other people from getting contraception, full stop.

But in any case real reporters could be looking into why the Catholic church is ok with the NY law but not the new Obama regulation. As I say, *I strongly suspect* that it is because they offer exemptions. If so, that would be worth reporting. If not, it would be worth reporting on why they are causing a stink now, when they have been dealing with it for years in New York. If only there were a big assembly of high profile reporters in New York that were capable of looking into something like that. It really is too bad that there isn't a high profile newspaper or something there that could do reporting like that.

This is so on the money it isn't even funny, and also, once again, displaces the myth of the "liberal media," since you'd think they'd be jumping at any chance to rescue the administration's bacon, denigrate the Church, or both.

it would be worth reporting on why they are causing a stink now,

One wonders, doesn't one?

Seriously! The media isn't liberal. The media is lazy. [yes, I'm aware that some conservatives think these are the same]

" are displacing those who will provide those services and benefits."

There are legitimate cocerns that in some places there are few hospitals. That is pretty irrelevant. If the Catholic church chooses to open a hospital there it is a good thing. Otherwise, there is plenty of hospital competition and, in most healthcare jobs, lots of competition for labor. Like every other benefit package in the world, people have the opportunity to compare it as part of their overall comp package.

Of course, the part that amazes me is the complete confusion in the discussion between being required to provide it, and required to insure it.

For those people who actually have a job at a Catholic hospital and would have the insurance it seems silly to say that they can't get contraception. Even if it is not covered. Really? Catholic hospital workers wouldn't be able to figure out where to get contraception?

For those people who actually have a job at a Catholic hospital and would have the insurance it seems silly to say that they can't get contraception. Even if it is not covered. Really? Catholic hospital workers wouldn't be able to figure out where to get contraception?

You know, the coverage of contraception wasn't dreamed up as a way to make the Catholic Church do stuff it doesn't like. It's about an effective health-care system where people can afford the care they need, particularly when that care will prevent the need for far more expensive care in the future.

Why is it that the choices the Church has to make under the mandate are so much more important that the choices everyone else would have to make without it? (Just go work somewhere else, a..hole!)

If the Catholic church chooses to open a hospital there it is a good thing.

Apparently, not as good a thing as someone else opening a hospital. (At least not if Planned Parenthood isn't next door.)

So right after here, I was reading Kevin Drum and got referred to a blog I've heard about but never read: the daily howler. And he has a similar complaint but with more facts. First, the quip about the state laws seems to have mysteriously shrunk from 28 states to 8 states. So fact checking seems to have winnowed it down already (which isn't going to stop the 28 state quote from floating around forever at this point).

He highlights some loopholes in even the remaining states' laws. But in this case my intuition on the matter looks very likely to be vindicated. There is pretty much no way that the Catholic church has been quietly paying for contraception in 28 states but only now decides to fight it. In 20 of those states they appear to have an explicit exemption. In at least some of the remaining 8 states there seem to be easy work arounds. I go so far as to guess that in none of the states there has been enforcement.

So, I'd say it is looking like the widely circulated claim that the Catholic church has already been largely doing this, is flat out wrong.

McKinney: Birth Control is part of women's health. No, it is birth control. In specific instances, where pregnancy poses an elevated risk of harm to a women, it is a health issue.

This is factually wrong. Pregnancy always poses an elevated risk of harm to women. Always. Read what avedis said, and think for a moment why insurance companies are anxious to cover contraception. Because pregnancy itself is a health risk. Nobody can predict whether she will have, say, gestational diabetes, pregnancy related high blood pressure, ectopic pregnancy. These things happen because of the fertilization of a woman's eggs. This isn't a "leftist" issue. It's a medical fact. (Or maybe another instance of the "left" being reality-based.)

Some women choose to take the risk of pregnancy in order to produce children. Most women (including 98% of Catholic women) choose to avoid pregnancy for some periods of time during their fertile years by using birth control. The people who are concern trolling this issue are Catholic men and Republicans who oppose the ACA.

I realize that the only person arguing that contraception is not a women's health issue is McKinney. He's unlikely to change his mind from any evidence I present. He, instead, refuses to talk about the evidence, preferring to say that contraception is a "choice", while ignoring that pain relief is also a "choice," and preventive medicine for heart disease is a "choice" and being treated for cancer is also a "choice."
Contraception lowers women's mortality rates, as well as infant mortality rates.

This is the evidence. What's your contrary evidence, McKinney?

This is exactly the polar opposite of why we have a constitution. We do protect minority viewpoints and beliefs, especially those we don't agree with.

And I'm all for that.

And, I don't think that the Catholic Church as an employer should be forced to do, or pay for, something they don't support.

And, they have not been and will not be forced to do so.

IF they wish to provide health insurance as part of their compensation, which they ARE NOT required to do, then the requirement is (soon to be was) is that whatever health insurance plan they offer has to cover birth control expenses.

If they cannot do that in good conscience, their employees can purchase insurance on the private market. PPACA intends to establish exchanges to make that easier. It works not-too-badly here in MA.

If that puts the Catholic Church at a disadvantage as an employer, they can sweeten the pot by making up for it in other ways.

Time for them to get creative.

Is it a PITA? Yes it is.

Is it the responsibility of government to carefully craft its laws so that it is never inconvenient or anything less than a PITA for people with strong religious or moral convictions to act on those convictions without falling afoul of the law?

No, really it's not. And it can't be, because otherwise it would be plainly impossible to have any public law or policy touching on any issue that has any moral or ethical aspect, whatsoever.

Not least because different groups of people in this country have strong religious, moral, and ethical convictions that conflict with each other.

So lines get drawn, and folks figure out how to work within them.

It IS the obligation of our government to not prevent you from practicing your faith. It IS NOT the obligation of our government to ensure that it is never inconvenient or costly in any way for your to practice your faith.

Especially when honoring your convictions incurs a cost for someone else.

As it turns out, the Catholic Church will probably get a carve-out on this. Because they're big enough to have their point of view carry weight. In other words, they can have an effective influence on electoral politics.

Not what they're supposed to be doing, but when you're one of the big dogs, you get your way more often than not.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

We'll wait and see if all of the other folks who have strong religious, moral, and ethical convictions about any number of other public laws and policies get an equal hearing.

Because they're big enough to have their point of view carry weight. In other words, they can have an effective influence on electoral politics.

Right. And it's entirely possible that one might decide that it's better in practical terms to give them a pass to keep their hospitals open, because that's what the Church wants, not because the Constitution requires it.

I'd like to think there were other options. Maybe there aren't.

But I'm putting this out there once again, and I might several more times so no one forgets: They can teach their adherents whatever they like regarding birth control, and their adherents can follow those teachings if they so choose. AFAIAC, that's freedom of religion, in whole.


So Obama is on tv floating a semantic change to accomodate the Church.

Insurance companies have to provide it, the hospitals don't have to pay extra for it in their insurance.......


hmmmm. We'll see.


I suspect the pessimists are right: the RCC will smell blood and say that's not good enough.

Developing...

"For those people who actually have a job at a Catholic hospital and would have the insurance it seems silly to say that they can't get contraception."

This seems like a valid point. Given the high demand for health care labor and assuming a free market, the workers will negotiate an extra bit of salary - what, $50 to $100 a month - so they can privately purchase contraceptives. The Catholic employers should be even more willing to pay the nominal extra salary because they should be saving approximately the same on the insurance premium given non-coverage.

The real issues here are: 1. Obama caving in to ridiculous pressure from religious fanatics and 2. The ridiculous beliefs of the religious fanatics that are completely out of touch with what the vast majority of its own adherants actually wants. 3. That in the 21st century some archaic supersticious - and arguably corrupt -belief system can disrupt progressive secular civil discourse.

The whole thing is insane and reaking of hypocrisey. Do catholic org.s really want their employees to be having like 12 children? Do they really want to pay for all those labor and delivery and neonate insurance claims? Do they really want to be stuck with all of the maternity leaves?

This was an excellent opportunity for Obama to put the church in its place and he failed; miserably.

Sebastian, reading the The Daily Howler piece that you linked to doesn't challenge the facts in the paragraph that I provided earlier which says: "Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception." In other words, contraceptive pills are treated like any other prescription medication in those states. Do you have evidence of which Catholic institutions have opted out of providing prescription insurance because it violated their conscience?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


  • visitors since 3/2/2004

August 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31            
Blog powered by Typepad

QuantCast