The Catholic Bishops Are Right to Oppose the Health and Human Services Mandate
There’s a joke out there that the Obama administration has been able to do what the pope could never dream of doing: bringing almost all the U.S. bishops into agreement. As of now, 169 Catholic bishops have voiced their opposition to the HHS ruling that will require many Catholic institutions to cover contraceptives, regular STD check and sterilizations in their insurance policies.
From what I’ve seen, a lot of commentators simply don’t get why the bishops are so adamant about this. Most Catholics use contraceptives, and no Catholic is being forced to use them against his or her will, so what’s the problem?
Well, this: in addition to the mandate constituting a basic violation of religious freedom, it will inevitably result in material cooperation of Catholics with acts deemed immoral by their religion. Because the bishops, in keeping with the faith they’re charged with upholding, consider material cooperation with the use of contraceptives to be itself a gravely sinful matter, they object to Catholics being forced into such participation. The condition of being coerced may diminish the culpability of Catholics who are forced to cover the costs of contraceptives, and in effect pay for their use, but even so their participation still amounts to complicity and therefore something to be avoided. In sum, the mandate, by requiring in practice material cooperation with contraceptives, requires Catholics to act in a way contrary to the moral teachings of their faith. For these reasons, the Catholic bishops argue they have the right to oppose and fight the mandate.
Now I would be remiss to imagine that the religious and moral principles espouses by the bishops are the only ones at play here. As Noah Millman rightly observes, what we have here is a clash of values. The Obama administration has done what it thinks is the right thing to do: expanded access to contraceptives and sterilizations, which it, with most of society, sees as an important part of healthcare. In its view, the people who work for Catholic institutions, who, after all, are not all of the Catholic faith, should be included among those given greater access to contraceptives and sterilizations. The administration is looking out for the healthcare rights of people working in the United States.
So what’s the solution to this clash of values? In my not-so-humble opinion, religious liberty should win over government mandated access to healthcare. Here’s why. Because the mandate is an act of government, we are not, in assessing it, faced with the question of whether or not the Catholic Church should provide coverage for contraceptives. That’s an important question and one well worth discussing, but answering it, even in the affirmative, does not tell us whether the mandate is legitimate. Rather, the question with which we are faced is whether or not the government has the authority under the law to violate the Catholic Church’s religious freedom in order to provide greater access to health care goods and services.
Given that 1) protecting religious liberty is a more fundamental role of government than regulating healthcare and 2) the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraceptives, sterilizations and so forth do not, in themselves, constitute a grave harm (though they may be put to ill use), I have to say no, the mandate, as written, is neither legitimate nor just. Healthcare is part of the common good, and as such government has a responsibility to ensure that people have access to it, but it makes no sense to me for the government to undermine one of its fundamental reasons for existence in order to expand access to contraceptives and sterilizations, however important they may be.
A solution, of course, would be to have a public option of some sort anybody could buy into.
The core conflict is not just between religious freedom and the gov but also between religious freedom and the ability of private citizens to have the health care they want. The Church is putting their beliefs over the desires of individuals in their employ. They feel they should be able to dictate an employees health care, which is uncool.
Is it not reasonable to expect that a religious employer will seek to act in accordance with the tenets of its religious faith and that its doing so will affect the people who choose employment with it?
In this case, the demand by the bishops isn’t to dictate the healthcare of their employees, but to be exempted from participating in parts of it that it deems immoral. I doubt very much that the bishops are even monitoring the healthcare-related actions of their employees.
Well they are certainly trying to say their employees should get less healthcare then other employers get. I, as an atheist, used to work for a large Catholic charity. Most of us weren’t Catholic. As we took public funds there wasn’t any religious test to get a job there.
Well they are certainly trying to say their employees should get less healthcare then other employers get.
Less healthcare may in some cases be an effect of a church not providing coverage for contraceptives and sterilizations, if, say, the employee has no way of obtaining such things elsewhere; but the church isn’t by this saying its employees should get less healthcare. You could make that case, though, if it took measures to prohibit or prevent its employees from obtaining any of the healthcare services/goods it deems immoral.
So your cool with a Jehovahs witness run trucking company not offering blood transfusions in their health plan? Or a Christian Scientists run McDonalds franchise not offering anything but prayer?
See I tend to think that we should let the individual decide. I guess you would prefer out of touch old men deciding merely on the basis of economic power built on not paying taxes and shaming people who don’t give you money.
Especially when one considers that most Catholics use birth control.
I disagree with Kyle, but I think he at least tries to account for the objection you raise when he writes “Given that…the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraceptives, sterilizations and so forth do not, in themselves, constitute a grave harm (though they may be put to ill use),” he doesn’t see a sufficiently compelling government interest to override the religious one. I’m not sure I buy his claim–although that is not why I disagree with him–but he does try to take into account the extent to which the mandate is meant to address a public health concern.
What Pierre said.
“Given that…the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraceptives, sterilizations and so forth do not, in themselves, constitute a grave harm (though they may be put to ill use)”
Not everyone accepts that as given, though. Some (like me) believe that the teaching do great harm. That being the case, the employee who believes the teachings do great harm trumps the bishop who says it doesn’t.
Has anyone made the comparison to Christian Scientists or other religions who more generally oppose all modern medicine? Could the government compel a religious employer to provide even very basic healthcare insurance where the employer believes healthcare generally is immoral? That’s an interesting question, which occurred to me when reading your post, which seems to advance a rule that would come to the same conclusion.
As for the Catholics, they obviously don’t regard healthcare as immoral. I think it’s giving away too much to say that the HHS regulations involve the government’s interest in “regulating healthcare.” They involve specific kinds of services that, though they falls under the definitional umbrella of “healthcare,” do not improve or diminish anyone’s health, any more than Rogaine or the blue pill do.
Does anyone have any idea why the Obama administration (they obviously signed off on this) promulgated these regs now of all times? Does the guy want to lose the election? I mean, I’m grateful for the decision for that reason, but if I were on the other side of the aisle, I’d be very concerned that this is a huge strategic blunder.
Could the government compel a religious employer to provide even very basic healthcare insurance where the employer believes healthcare generally is immoral?
Good question. Perhaps the answer can be found in determining whether a refusal to offer any health coverage causes sufficient harm to justify government coercion.
Most actual catholics want to have their BC without a co-pay it is only the weird ones who will freak out.
Does the guy want to lose the election?
Well, that’s a question of whether the Bishops speak for the people in the pews, right? And in America, that seems increasingly rare. Not being Catholic myself, I hesitate to speak for Catholics, but as a general political observer I’d be hesitant to wager much on the prediction that Catholic voters will go the way their ostensible religious leaders will.
Does the guy want to lose the election?
My question to you is this: how many Catholics who opposed the President’s stand on abortion were voting for him but, now that he’s sided with contraception too, are going to not vote for him? I suspect the number is quite small, and I doubt it will have any influence on the election.
Your distinction regarding the priority of government prerogatives is interesting but I don’t think it’s sufficient, in itself.
Arguably, protecting any liberty is a more fundamental role of government than much (most?) other regulation. Obviously, government has to be able to enforce its policies (that is, infringe some liberty) in order to regulate. That is so even when the object of that regulation (common good though it may be) is of less fundamental value than liberty itself. If the fundamental value of liberty (religious or otherwise) automatically trumped the prerogative to pursue some less fundamental common good, then government would be effectively deprived of the power to govern.
I may have gone overboard with the parentheses in that last comment. Of course, one more pair (probably) couldn’t hurt.
Yes, that’s why the question was settled in an amendment to the Constitution that began “Congress shall make no law….” with respect to some of the most important liberties, one of which is at issue here.
Bravo on this one, Mr. Cupp: “protecting religious liberty is a more fundamental role of government than regulating healthcare…”
At least in the American view of government [“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”].
Thank you, Mr. TVD.
Mr. Cupp, I think my praise was too pale, upon further review. Your observation rings, of liberty. We speak so often of “rights,” and of the common good, but so seldom of liberty in any meaningful sense.
“protecting religious liberty is a more fundamental role of government than regulating healthcare…”
Liberty, particularly religious liberty, is a raison d’etre for America. In other nations, it’s more a pleasant afterthought, if not a luxury.
I don’t see how that applies. The HHS Mandate doesn’t run afoul of the anti-establishment clause because the mandate doesn’t target religious action specifically. Facially neutral laws to which some persons have religiously-based objections are not unconstitutional. So the first amendment doesn’t settle this question at all.
I’m not denying that there are questions of religious freedom involved here. Or that protecting religious freedom isn’t a more fundamental value than providing healthcare. I just don’t see how those truths provide an automatically winning argument against the mandate. At least, not without implying a staunchly libertarian position that would undermine most government regulation.
In Catholic thinking, indeed much religious thinking, acting in accordance with the moral law is religious action.
Certainly. I meant simply that the mandate does not explicity target religious practice. That is, target practices specifically because of their religious nature.
See, for instance, my quote from ED v. Smith, below.
IIRC, Employment Division v. Smith distinguished between prohibitory laws (in that case, against peyote) and mandatory laws (in this case, providing contraception and sterilization services). Being prevented from exercising my religious in certain ways is less offensive than being forced to do things that violate my religious beliefs.
This case falls on the unconstitutional side of that distinction.
I’m glad you’re in this discussion, Tim.
The bishops are trying to prohibit their employees from exercising the employees religious rights. For that reason, they are off-base.
How so, Jeff?
Following Tim, re: Employment Division v. Smith. Most legal commenters I’m aware of range between very uncomfortable to outright dismissive of that opinion. It is, indeed, the current ruling principle, but in its limitation of Smith’s religious freedom rights it has a lot of critics from both sides of the political spectrum. So if we apply their criticism of Smith, rather than Smith’s rule, we might get a different view of the HHS mandate than otherwise.
James — you’re right that Smith is disfavored. But if the HHS regs are unconstitutional even under Smith’s regulatory-friendly standard, as I argue, then its unconstitutionality is even more of a slam dunk if Smith were replaced by a rule that provided greater protection for religious exercise.
That’s pretty much what I was trying to say. But re-reading my comment, I can see that I wasn’t clear. A bit groggy and unfocused tonight. Thanks for stating it better than I did.
Interesting. Wherein does ED v Smith draw that distinction?
Looking at the case, I found this excerpt form the ruling, which better iterates the point that I was trying to make:
Again, this does not mean that the mandate is an unjustifiable infringement of religious liberty. It just suggests, to me, that the question of religious conscience is not sufficient, in itself, to invalidate a law.
Skimming the case again, my summary isn’t quite right. That’s probably how I roughly remembered the distinction between that case and Wisconsin v. Yoder, for example, which upheld the right of Amish parents to pull their kids out of otherwise mandatory schooling. Or Wooley v. Maynard, which invalidated a law compelling the display of a license plate message offending religious beliefs. But the principle the Smith court expressed to distinguish cases like Yoder and Wooley was that these were “hybrid” cases that involved more than “merely” religious exercise. The Smith court held that there had to be some other right at stake, such as free speech or parental rights.
I’m not sure if this is a “hybrid” case. The Sherbert v. Verner exception may apply to require a compelling government interest to justify the substantial burden on religion.
At any rate, I stand by the distinction between prohibitory versus mandatory laws. Though it turns out Smith does not establish this (and even seems to casually reject it), it reconciles that case much more neatly with Yoder, Sherbert, and other cases. Practically speaking, I do not see Scalia standing by this decision he authored to uphold the HHS regs. A criminal law prohibiting peyote is not in the ballpark of an insurance mandate requiring the Catholic church to be complicit in measures they’ve long taken a bold stand against.
Thanks for making me take another look at this.
“The bishops are trying to prohibit their employees from exercising the employees religious rights. For that reason, they are off-base.”
Let’s say that Sarah, a Jewish agnostic, work as a phebotomist at St Mary’s Hospital. Sarah believes that it is her religious right to obtain birth control. Centrufuge operators in other hospitals have birth control covered under their insurance, so why should Sarah have to either pay herself or find some other organiation to pay?
Sarah’s civil rights trump the hospital’s — or so I believe.
I agree that freedom isn’t absolute. Government has to limit freedom to operate and operate well, and doing this means weighing and measuring competing goods and claims. We do have something of an established hierarchy, though, and there are some freedoms that government cannot violate without delegitimizing itself.
Would you by chance have any links or references to the what and why the Catholic Church opposes contraception? I’m looking for something that states the Church’s rationale for its opposition and thought you might know of a better source than I can find by googling.
The papal encyclical Humanae Vitae would be the best place to start:
The short answer is that, according to the Catholic Church, the sexual act, which has its proper place in marriage, has a natural and sacred meaning which includes both unitive and procreative significance, and this meaning is such that it demands respect, i.e., people may not morally, of their own initiative, act contrary to this meaning. Contraceptives are used to prevent procreation, so their use goes against it. Infertility is not an act, so there’s no disrespect to the nature of human sexuality in an infertile couple having sex.
There’s some nuance I’m leaving out, but that’s it in a nutshell.
Thanks for the explanation, Kyle. I’ve always had a pretty good–or at least intuitive–notion of why the Church opposes abortion, but its opposition to contraception has been a mystery to me.
For the record, I was supposedly raised Catholic and I don’t recall ever being taught any of this. That’s not meant as a criticism of anyone–the laypersons who taught Sunday school probably didn’t know much of the doctrine, and my parish was in some ways quite liberal (it had a bishop in residence whom the Pope had allegedly silenced because he spoke out too much about women’s rights…..although I’m sure there’s another side to that story).
At any rate, thanks again for the explanation and the link.
Just a note:
The Humanae Vitae was not exactly a controversy-free document. I actually know someone who was on the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_Commission_on_Birth_Control).
A good number of the commission members were surprised by the Humanae Vitae.
Now, granted, the Pope is still head honcho in the church and thus that which he says (or his successors say) is the official teaching of the Church. But the Catholic Church, as a body, has a long standing internal dialogue going on regarding birth control.
Just pointing out that there are plenty of Catholic theologians who argue for certain types of contraception.
Definitely worth thinking about, Patrick. It’s cool that you know someone on that commission.
What the bishops are saying is that they can dictate the morals of their employees, regardless of said employees own views. This is catagorically untrue, and has been untrue for quite some time — Catholic employers can’t discriminate against divorced employees, for example. HHS is telling the bishops what they already know, but the bishops are in full “persecution mode”.
Note that there is a difference between religious employers and religious institutions. If HHS was to try to mandate something within a church, the howls would be appropriate. Here, I think it’s just more “We Christians are the most hated people EVAH. Now pardon me while I kick a ****.”
Nah. Others are hated more than we are.
Anyhow, where’s the persecution and discrimination here? It’s not like the bishops are saying, “We’ll pay for contraceptives for this group, but not for that one.”
What the bishops are saying is that they can dictate the morals of their employees, regardless of said employees own views.
This is incorrect. The Bishops aren’t asking to be able to terminate employees who use contraceptives. They’re only asking that they not have to provide those contraceptives for their employees who are going to use them.
In other words, “if you want to sin, it’s on your own head; we shouldn’t have to provide the means by which you’ll sin.”
Then they can write a letter stating, “sorry, we’re no longer to cover the thousands of poor and elderly we take care of daily because we’ll be forced to pay for Nurse Wilson’s birth control.”
This isn’t about the Church. This is about the Church’s businesses. There’s already an exception for the actual churches.
I find the distinction between the church and the church’s business to be somewhat less than perfectly distinct, and suspect any claim that it is clearly distinct to be a mere political convenience.
And from a practical perspective, in which we don’t just pretend to care about the women affected but actually consider all the affected people, which is the worse outcome: some women having to pay for their own contraception, or the Catholic hospitals shutting down and no longer taking care of the thousands of poor and elderly.
Here’s the most practical thing. Women not having to pay more for basic health care and poor people not being turned away. All the Church has to realize is they’re not special. They’re just like Wal-Mart and General Electric in that they are large employers. If we start granting exceptions, some large employers will lobby to get a free ride by seeking exemptions and providing insurance that is less comprehensive than the plans that will be offered on the exchanges.
Also, contraception isn’t “free.” Contraception will not, of course, be “free”, because those women have earned health insurance just like they earn a pay check. They’re paying for contraception just like they’re paying for “well woman visits” or “diabetes screening” because the cost is included in the cost of the health insurance premium.
I agree that the distinction between the church and the church’s business is not at all clearly distinct. But if I were to be charged with drawing the distinction, I would, in theory, prefer to draw it so that what constitutes the Church is fairly circumscribed. But that’s my own preference, and I think it’s also where I happen to disagree with Kyle. In theory, at least, my disagreement with Kyle is, probably, irreconcilable because I assume different values about the state’s prerogative to regulate health care vis-a-vis the Church’s prerogative to decline to participate in one component of that health care regulation.
However, as you note, there’s a practical perspective, and I think I’m in agreement with you (and with Kyle). If the practical upshot of these new rules is to encourage the Church to disengage from much of its socially valuable contributions–or to discourage it from contributing further–then that is a bad thing. In other words, I would probably support an exemption in practice, even though I oppose it in theory.
Certainly not brain surgery here. We can debate the importance of providing contraception and abortifacients to accomodate promiscuity all day long (what’s one more harmless initiative to fuel our declining culture). In my view the overriding issue here is once again the growing overreach of government. I guess one of the Dreams From Obama’s Father was to be able have sex with as many women as possible (and of course now vice versa) without making so many babies! Now that’s change we can believe in!! Thanks Kathleen and Barry … that’s leadership!
I guess for me it is a matter of which causes the most harm.
Forcing the Church to offer contraceptives to their employees does not force them to “participate” in contraception in any meaningful sense; its so slight and tangential a connection-compared to the very real and direct harm caused by allowing the Church to deny covereage to their secular employees.
I don’t accept the Church’s reasoning; it seems a lot more reasonable to conclude that their real objection is that they can no longer use their employer power to prevent people from doing what they want.
Forcing the Church to offer contraceptives to their employees does not force them to “participate” in contraception in any meaningful sense;
If I pay for X so you can use it, and X is morally bad for you (or I believe it is), then I’m complicit in your use of X. I’d say that’s meaningful participation.
I don’t accept the Church’s reasoning; it seems a lot more reasonable to conclude that their real objection is that they can no longer use their employer power to prevent people from doing what they want.
Really? Because only a very small number of people actually work for the Catholic Church. If power over people is the Church’s true aim, not paying for employee contraceptives and sterilizations is a piss poor way of exercising power and influence. Surely they could do better.
Especially since the Church isn’t actually preventing people from buying and using condoms or paying for and taking the pill. That’s a pretty weak form of “prevention.” I wish the government would limit its efforts to prevent people from smoking pot to that level of prevention.
Yes, they just want to be not liable for the cost unlike every other large employer per the ACA.
Agreed with that. But it’s clearly not just about controlling costs–they have an actual principle involved. You and I may not agree with that principle (I truly don’t), but we walk down a dangerous path when we simply start dismissing other people’s principles as not worthy of at least serious consideration. It’s not impossible that one could still come to the same conclusion you hold even while taking their principle seriously. But refusing even to take another’s such principle seriously doesn’t lead to meaningful dialogue.
There are lot of principles that people hold I’m sure we both find silly. For instance, I’m sure the crazy homeless guy that lives downtown in my city firmly believe the aliens disguised as horses are out to get me.
Just because a principle you hold dear means you get to not follow the law. Either follow it or face the consequences. For instance, if a law was passed tomorrow re-instituting segregation, I would have to make a choice to follow my principles and face punishment or go along.
That argument doesn’t fly. The Constitution doesn’t provide special protection for the beliefs of the guy who believes aliens disguised as horses are out to get him. To an atheist (not that I know if you are), belief that there’s such a thing as god, that this god became a human, that he died, and that he came back to life, is just as crazy as alien horses, but the Constitution explicitly gives the latter crazy belief special protections, and you don’t get to wave that away as though it’s not relevant.
Just because a principle you hold dear means you get to not follow the law. Either follow it or face the consequences.
Not true in all cases, and you know it. It’s illegal for General Motors, the Red Cross, and the University of Michigan, to discriminate against women in hiring, but the Catholic Church does not have to allow women to be priests.
Taken at face value your argument says that any generally applicable law binds religious organizations, but the very foundation of the debate is the reality that in America that’s not necessarily true, and the point of the debate is to determine whether it’s true in this particular case or not. There’s nothing wrong with you arguing that it is true in this particular case, but there is something wrong with suggesting that there is no actual question about it.
Yes, the Constitution gives special protection to actual religious institutions. St. Mary’s down the street that employs Jews, Mormons, atheists, women, men, gays, and so on isn’t a religious institution. That doesnt change just because they’re a non-profit.
St. Mary’s down the street that employs Jews, Mormons, atheists, women, men, gays, and so on isn’t a religious institution. That doesnt change just because they’re a non-profit.
What offends me, Jesse, is that you make this claim so glibly. My interpretation is that it suits your ideology, and so you find it convenient to accept this definition without really examining it, and probably would find it really inconvenient to think deeply about it. There’s an essential shallowness to the argument. I know I’m pretty harsh toward you sometimes, but it’s because it feels to me like you’re not making appropriate use of your obvious intelligence. If I thought you were an idiot, I’d say you’re an idiot and be done with you. Instead you frustrate me the way some of my students frustrate me–I see potential, but I see a reliance on glib ideology in place of a more serious analysis. At your best you are a damn good political commentator, and you write some damn good posts. But you’ll never reach your potential as long as you take the easy path on things like this–then you just become another team blue v. team red kind of guy.
That probably–because I’m not always a good clear writer–came off as really condescending. I don’t mean it that way. I just want to get in your face like a coach and say quit sandbagging and get serious about this game.
“I don’t accept the Church’s reasoning; it seems a lot more reasonable to conclude that their real objection is that they can no longer use their employer power to prevent people from doing what they want.”
A million times this. People get really, really upset when you tell them they can’t control how women behave in the bedroom. It’s sort of a running theme around here.
But, again, the Church isn’t actually making efforts to control women’s behavior in the bedroom.
First, it’s just refusing to subsidize what it sees as immoral behavior. If I refuse to pay for my child’s weed, does that equate to an effort to prevent them from smoking pot? If I was a parent concerned about that, it would be a pretty weak method of prevention.
Second, the Church would object to being required to fund condoms for men as well. It only appears to be about trying to control women because the law only requires coverage of contraceptives for women, and not for men.
I’m not real comfortable taking the Catholic Church’s side on this (I’m an agnostic leaning toward atheism, Protestant to the extent I have any religious affiliation, and pretty pro-choice), and I think I’m potentially, if not easily, persuadable that the law trumps their interests. But I’m not seeing persuasive arguments to that effect here.
1. I think refusing to pay for your child’s weed, if coupled with a general position you have taken that no one anywhere should smoke weed, would constitute an effort to prevent him/her from smoking weed. It might not be the jack-booted, iron-fisted campaign of the dictator, but it’s not like we don’t know what you’re trying to do. You and Kyle are playing far too coy on this.
2. Reality is a bitch, ain’t it? The Church also opposes abortion for men and the convent for men and the priesthood… oh, hell, forget it.
3. I have attempted an argument that may be more targeted to you below, about how running a hospital is a commitment to provide a certain thing that we define in policy, not a core religious function. You may pick at that at your leisure.
I think refusing to pay for your child’s weed, if coupled with a general position you have taken that no one anywhere should smoke weed, would constitute an effort to prevent him/her from smoking weed. It might not be the jack-booted, iron-fisted campaign of the dictator, but it’s not like we don’t know what you’re trying to do. You and Kyle are playing far too coy on this.
OK, so if I refuse to buy you a gun to kill your boss, and tell you that nobody ever should kill their boss, but make no actual effort to stop you from actually killing your boss, even though I know you’re probably going to do it, is anyone really going to believe that I really tried to prevent you from doing so? I’m envisioning the following conversation with the police:
Police: So you knew he was planning to kill his boss?
Police: So what did you do?
Me: He asked me to give him a gun, but I refused to, and told him he shouldn’t kill his boss.
Police: But you were sure he was going to do it anyway?
Me: Oh, yeah.
Police: And you didn’t do anything to prevent it?
Me: Well, I told him not to. And I didn’t give him a gun.
Police: But you didn’t warn his boss? You didn’t call the police? You didn’t take away his gun when he got one?
Police: Well, at least you tried.
Somehow I can see that whole conversation going like that, except for the last line.
(Oh, and comparing male abortion to male contraceptive? Really? You do know that latter is actually possible, don’t you? Check out the pharmacy section at your local drugstore! *grin*)
I’m not saying the Church is doing everything it can to stop people from using contraception; I’m saying it’s not doing nothing. Are you insisting that the Church is not committed to getting people to stop using contraception? Although if you want to have the discussion, it might actually not be, given that 98% of its sexually active membership uses contraception. In which case, this entire thing just looks completely insane. Which it is.
I can’t argue that there’s not some real insanity here. But, no, I really can’t agree that saying “don’t do it, and I won’t enable you” is the same as actual prevention.
Let me try another analogy. You’re at a party at my house, drinking it up. But it’s all BYOB, I haven’t provided any alcohol for you–in fact several times during the night I suggest that you ought to not have any more drinks, but you ignore me. At the end of the evening you want to drive home, so you ask to borrow my car. I say no, and tell you you shouldn’t drive while drunk. You turn to another party-goer, in my presence, and ask to borrow his car, and he agrees. I say again that you shouldn’t drive while drunk, but make no further efforts. You run a red light on the way home and kill a child.
I may not be legally culpable, but would anybody think I had actually tried to prevent you from driving drunk? I’m just not seeing it.
For some reason, I think a woman might be a little perturbed you’re comparing a totally legal health activity to driving drunk. As been stated before, this is the Church’s business activity. Just like they have to follow all the other laws of employment, they have to follow this one.
For instance, let’s say this was 1967 and the Mormon Church still considered African-American to be the spawn of Cain and less than human beings. Because this was a deeply held religious belief should they have been allowed to refuse to hire African-Americans in non-church roles? Would a Mormon supported hospital be allowed to refuse to hire an African-American doctor, for example?
For some reason, I think a woman might be a little perturbed you’re comparing a totally legal health activity to driving drunk
Oh, lord, are we going to play the game of “you compared puppies to Hitler?”
Fine, let’s play. I think it’s wrong for you to drink beer, even though it’s perfectly legal for you to do so. You ask me to buy you some, but I refuse and give you a long lecture on the evils of drinking. You ignore me and drink anyway, and I don’t try to get in between you and the beer can, or trail you around trying to prevent you from going to the liquor store or the beer section of the grocery store, etc. etc.
Have I really “tried” to prevent you from drinking?
Now I suppose you’re going to shift to, “but nobody’s legally required to buy anyone else beer,” and by that point it will have been totally forgotten that the point of the analogy was only about whether refusal to provide X for someone and encouragement that they not do X can seriously be understood as an actual effort to prevent them from doing X.
In answer to your question about the Mormon church and African-Americans pre-1967, that has no bearing on the point I was making about what counts as “trying to prevent someone from doing X”.
But what that is relevant to is my argument below about how deeply religiously oriented the institution is and how much of an intrusion the particular law is. The answer to those two questions provides the answer to your question, which will differ for different types of laws. And in fact for the Mormons it was never a violation of their religious beliefs to employ non-whites, only to bring them into the church membership.
And, by the way, calling the hospital the church’s “business” is wholly disingenuous unless the hospital is designed to provide a profit for the church. It’s is the church’s charitable operation–it occupies an intermediate role between actually being the church and actually being a business. That what makes the issue complex–if we were talking about making the church provide contraceptive coverage for nuns, few people would support the law; if we were talking about making a church provide contraceptive services for an auto-parts factory it ran on a for-profit basis, few people would oppose the law.
By trying to obscure the intermediate role of a charitable operation you are, whether inadvertently or not, glossing over the real issue.
The Catholic Church has provided more Hospitals, Schools and Various Charities than any other religious organization. The government just wants to control the Catholic Church! The Catholic Church has been teaching about the grave sin of birth control for 2000 years. Do you think it’s going to buckle now? The Catholic Church is not going to provide any health services for any person (no matter what their beliefs) where they think they will put their soul in mortal danger. Because that’s how much the Catholic Church cares about all people.
This has nothing to do with the Church. The Church can refuse to pay for contraceptives for employees of the Church proper. What it can’t do is refuse to pay for them for employees of the non-religious aspects of Church activity: hospitals and such. Those hospitals are not permitted to discriminate in any number of ways (in hiring, treatment, etc.) – why would we protect their “right” to do so in this one instance?
But even the Church proper acts in what you’d call “non-religious” ways: helping the poor, visiting the sick, etc. Really, by your way of thinking, this mandate ought to apply to Catholic parishes.
And where’s the discrimination? A blanket refusal to cover contraceptives doesn’t discriminate, does it?
Again, as I said below, I don’t see why we’re letting employers provide health care/insurance in the first place, other than we’re stupid. As long as we are, I’m cool with the Church confining its barbaric superstitions to people employed within its church structure. It’s a compromise like any other.
A blanket refusal to cover contraceptives discriminates against non-Catholics and, you know, women. But women don’t really count as people.
How is it discriminatory? It’s “treating” everyone the same.
How are poll taxes discriminatory? Surely you’re smarter than this.
Or, if you prefer Anatole France:
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
Sorry, I don’t buy it. But maybe I’m not as smart as you think I am.
C’mon, Kyle. You “don’t buy that”? So if Obama were to pass a law saying no one was allowed to put ashes on their face for Ash Wednesday, you’d agree that it isn’t discriminatory since NO ONE — not just Catholics — was allowed?
No, Elias, I don’t buy the comparison. Nor yours. A ban on ashes would target a specific group of people with a prohibition.
I get that people who cannot afford contraceptives would be affected by the church’s policy, but there are ways around this that don’t violate religious freedom: for example, a medicaid program specifically for contraceptive related care of those who have no insurance for such.
Does such a Medicaid program exist?
My point isn’t that it discriminates against the poor, however, but rather that the burden is disproportionately placed on women. Ryan’s poll tax example is probably better than anything I can come up with as a comparison.
I wrote a post on this where I came ambivalently to the conclusion that the negative repercussions of the mandate were smaller than the negative repercussions of not having the mandate. I understand it is rather fundamental that religious organizations tend to privilege their rights as being higher than any others, but, mercifully, this is becoming an increasingly archaic point-of-view.
I’m not sure there is one, but there could be, and it would resolve this clash of values.
Yes, I’m sure the Religious Right in America would be fine with Medicaid giving out contraceptives.
They’d complain, but I’m not sure they’d have a case. Material cooperation through taxation is more remote and therefore less of an ethical problem.
Philosophically/intellectually, I think you’re right. Politically, not so much.
All of this, of course, is yet another reason why the state should be the one paying for health care. As Tim points out, it’s really unclear what happens if a group of Christian Scientists insist on providing health insurance that doesn’t cover modern medicine. So then Kyle resorts to this “grave harm” or “sufficient harm” distinction, for which there are two responses that strike me immediately:
1. Denying women control over their sexuality and reproductive health just is a grave harm. It causes them actual physical harm and is a gross violation of their rights. That it’s being perpetrated by an explicitly misogynist hierarchy is not helping.
2. What constitutes this kind of harm and how do we determine it? If the answer is democracy, then it seems like we’ve already decided. Kevin Drum is doing yeoman’s work on this topic, and he’s demonstrated pretty clearly that democracy is on Obama’s side on this one.
Sorry, wasn’t quite done there. After all that, we’re back to this basic conflict between the democratic process and religious “freedom”. Seems like you get rid of the whole problem by just not having religious organizations in the business of providing their employees health care.
You would get rid of this particular problem by not having religious institutions providing health care to their employees, but there is that ACA mandate, right?
Right, and the ACA mandate is dumb. The state should be paying for health care services. As long as it’s not, though, someone has to. And I don’t see any compelling reason why a hospital that employs non-Catholic people and treats non-Catholic patients should get out of the mandate just because Catholics foot the bill.
I’d say religious freedom is a compelling reason, but that’s just me.
Again, it has nothing to do with religion. This is a completely nonsensical position. It’s a hospital that employs non-Catholics and treats non-Catholics. For that matter, it’s a HOSPITAL. Hospitals are not churches.
Where does religion come in to this question?
Because we’re talking about Catholic hospitals, hospitals that are part of the larger church structure.
Are they places of worship? Is the Obama administration’s rule preventing them from freely exercising their religion? Is there something about making hospitals pay for their employees’ contraception that interferes with the Eucharist?
The hospitals are in no way a core function of the exercise of the Catholic religion. The Church, for largely admirable reasons, has taken upon itself the task of providing health care. In the United States, “health care” has a meaning that is fixed by policy. That meaning now includes the provision of contraception. That is now a thing we have decided, as a nation, that is part of “health care”. Unless we’re interfering with the ability of Catholics to exercise their religious practices, and we are not, I see no conflict here.
My hope is that this rule won’t stop the Church from providing health care. Given that it still does so in the 28 states that already have this rule, and given that a majority of actual Catholics support the rule, I am not terribly worried about it.
What about a church affiliated college? It’s not in itself a church, so how much can it be regulated? Can a conservative Protestant College require all its faculty to affirm that they believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and refuse to hire a Muslim?
I’m not saying that’s particularly analogous to health care. Rather, it gets to the question of where we draw the line between what’s actually a church and what is church-affiliated but un-churchy enough to be subject to generally applicable laws on these types of things.
I don’t think it’s an easy line to draw, except, perhaps, if a church is running a purely for-profit business. But that’s not the case in either of these examples.
Is the Obama administration’s rule preventing them from freely exercising their religion? Is there something about making hospitals pay for their employees’ contraception that interferes with the Eucharist?
Ryan, I can’t buy that you think the Eucharist is the only relevant part of the Catholic Church’s religious exercises.
For most Christians, if not all, assisting others in the commission of a sin is itself a sin. If you require them to assist others in the commission of a sin, you are violating their free exercise rights by preventing them from avoiding what their religion treats as sinful actions.
I think some of the questions here are interesting but slightly beside the point on this particular topic. Notably, Catholic churches *don’t* require their employees to be Catholics. They are – insert “Cafeteria Catholic” joke here – picking and choosing where they want to draw the religious line. If they want to run *explicitly* religious hospitals that require loyalty oaths or whatever, that’s a different question.
On the school question, I’m not sure. I don’t think a Catholic primary or secondary school has the right to refuse to teach a curriculum settled in law (although this is less of a problem with Catholics, who don’t need to make ideological hay out of evolution), but we don’t have a national curriculum for post-secondary education. There aren’t any laws at stake here. If there were, I would probably side against the Church. The provision of colleges isn’t a fundamentally religious activity; expecting anyone who provides one to comply with the law of the land is not an imposition on religious activity.
James, I think that second argument is far too loosely stated. What if my religion holds that selling a house to a black person is a sin? Can my real estate company be forced to comply with non-discrimination laws without violating my First Amendment rights?
(The general libertarian answer may be “no” here, I will admit.)
Ryan, combing both your above comments in my response.
If they want to run *explicitly* religious hospitals that require loyalty oaths or whatever, that’s a different question.
That may be. I’m not sure whether or not it is as a matter of law, but I think that’s a point you can reasonably hang your argument on. Anyway, it’s a lot stronger than (to paraphrase), “forcing you to commit sin isn’t a violation of your religious freedom.”
On the school question, I’m not sure. I don’t think a Catholic primary or secondary school has the right to refuse to teach a curriculum settled in law (…evolution),
Actually, they can. They may run into problems with their students being accepted into public universities on the basis of such education, but that’s a different issue and probably not a primary concern for the fundies who go to that type of school (who are likely to think public unis are institutions of godless communism, after all).
The provision of colleges isn’t a fundamentally religious activity;
Hmm, that bears some thought. Providing, say, education in chemistry or psychology might not be a fundamentally religious activity, but providing theological education certainly is, and of course churches were operating colleges before just about anyone else, so it has been a religiously sponsored activity longer than it has been a state-sponsored one (at least in the Anglo-American context). I’m not sure what that all amounts to, but it’s interesting to ponder.
expecting anyone who provides one to comply with the law of the land is not an imposition on religious activity.
Again, I think it depends on just what the law requires. If a college is very religiously oriented–required courses in Christianity, required religious services–but also offers chemistry, history, art, etc., it’s not engaged in a purely religious activity, but a major purpose of its raison d’etre is to provide religious education–and having a Muslim who says, “all your religion teachers are wrong, Jesus was not God, but a prophet, a man,” would interfere with that.
On the other hand, requiring them to have fire alarms and extinguishers in all buildings wouldn’t interfere.
I think the issues are more complex than most people are willing to accept, because it depends both on the particular law and the particular degree of religiousness of the particular activity we’re talking about–and since both of those can vary, bright lines may not really be available.
I’m actually working on a front-page post on this topic, to try to gather my thoughts together, but I’ll respond a little here:
1. No one is forcing anyone to commit a sin. The law does not say Catholic churches, in order to exist, must pay for contraception. That really does strike me as a bridge too far, although even then I think there is room to argue. A Christian Scientist church, for instance, shouldn’t be legally permitted to refuse to provide any health care coverage. If the democratic process has resulted in contraception being considered part of the “health care” package (much the same way penicillin and MRIs are), then we have a real problem. I think we are actually at that point.
2. What religious schools *can* do and I what I think they *ought* to be able to do are different questions. As you say, under existing law they may have certain rights I don’t think they’re particularly entitled to.
3. What if Catholicism or some other religion did think that fire extinguishers were un-kosher? Again, as you say, we’re in the business of drawing some lines here that are very complicated. I’ll just refer back to point 1 and the ways in which the democratic process interact with this.
Looking forward to your front-page post.
Re: your point 3. I almost used the example of required number of parking spaces, then I thought, “what if we’re talking about an Amish college?” Not that there are any, to the best of my knowledge (they don’t encourage much formal education), and if there were we could probably talk about the need for spaces for wagons/carriages when they dropped students off, but…yeah, what if there were a religion that was anti-fire extinguisher? But even if there is, my point is, “what about rules that don’t actually have any bearing whatsoever on religious beliefs?” I assume there are such, and think nobody could plausibly argue against their applicability on religious grounds. It’s a baseline position–beyond that baseline the issue gets increasingly tricky with each step-level increase in how much the law bumps against religious doctrine, and where we draw the line is, I think, determined on a case-by-case basis that depends on the two variables of how much the law bumps into the doctrine and how deeply of a religious nature is the particular institution in question.
So I agree with you that Catholic (Methodist, etc.) hospitals stand on a different level than actual churches do. But I’m not certain that in this case the level is enough lower in relation to the intrusiveness of the particular law in question here.
Whether or not I’ve been at all persuasive to you, this has helped clarify my thoughts…on a topic I’d initially avoided because I just didn’t know what I thought about it. So thanks for the conversation!
Exercising religion means more than worship or participation in liturgy: it includes living according to religious norms. The HHS mandate requires Catholics and Catholic institutions to act contrary to their religious norms by materially cooperating in acts they deem sinful.
James: Agreed. This has been very valuable to me.
There’s already forced to live against their religious “norms” in 28 states. Why is it a big deal now? Did they just realize or not care they have to pay for birth control in New York and California, but must stand up for the Catholic bishops of Nebraska (note – state chosen at random)?
Now that’s a fair and reasonable question.
A) Would you mind providing a link to that info?
B) Would our Catholics please address it?
My post (now up, and so long) contains this link:
Thanks to both of you.
If these laws have been challenged by the Church, and they have lost, Catholics could still plausibly argue that the decisions were wrong, but we would also have the benefit of actually seeing the arguments that successfully won out as a matter of law.
If these laws have not been challenged by the Church, then the question for supporters of the Church’s position in this case is “what makes this one different?” (And hopefully there’s a better answer than “Bill O’Reilly and Pat Buchanan hate Barack Obama.” *grin*)
I haven’t looked into all of the relevant cases, but my understanding is that at the Church has challenged the policies in at least some of the cases, maybe all of them for all I know.
I seem to remember a story of a hospital that ceased to be associated with the Catholic Church.
“Can a conservative Protestant College require all its faculty to affirm that they believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and refuse to hire a Muslim?”
I would say that they can require that of the faculty, but not of the staff.
I would say that a Catholic hospital is more like another hospital than it is like a church, and the staff is that of a hospital, not a church.
How is the Catholic Church “denying women control over their sexuality and reproductive health”? If it were seeking to enshrine its anti-contraceptives policy in the civil law, I could see this, but simply not wanting to pay for contraceptives hardly qualifies as a denial.
For the record, I agree that the state should pay for health care.
I don’t necessarily agree with Ryan’s argument, but if the state did pay for health care, would the Catholic bishops support the state paying for contraception, especially since Catholics, among others, would be charged with paying taxes to fund the state payments? If the state did pay for contraception, would the Bishops want a conscience clause for practicing Catholics, and for others who question the practice?
Whatever the correct answer is, I recognize that that’s different from asking the Church to pitch in, but on some level, almost everyone in practice, in practice, agrees to paying for things they find morally wrong. And in the case of the Church as employer, it is choosing to participate in the labor/employment market in a way that is clearly linked to its mission as a church, but also in a way that represents a choice to become an employer in the wider (non-Catholic, or extra-Catholic) labor/employer market. It seems to me that the choice to become an employer in this market represents a choice to comply with certain regulations aimed at what employers do.
As I think I said above (although perhaps unclearly), this is where I do not share your views. I see granting such exemptions as the bishops are requesting as something akin to an “establishment of religion,” although not on as large a scale as tax exemptions for religious institutions, which I in theory oppose, too, on the ground that they constitute a de facto establishment of religion. (However, I need to learn more about them: are these exemptions on a part with 501 c 3 exemptions and open to everyone who meets certain institutional and eleemosynary criteria, or is there as special status accorded to religious institutions qua religious institutions.)
In practice, of course, I live in the real world and see a precipitous disestablishment on terms I favor as potentially quite harmful. So in practice I would be fine with such an exemption.
As an aside, and hopefully not to try your indulgence with too long a blog comment, I do question how central the Church’s opposition to contraception is in its overall conception of how to do good in a world condemned to do evil. I confess that I still have not read the link you (Kyle) sent me, but I am aware of certain schools of thought that say, for example, the sins of the flesh like lust and gluttony are not as deadly or as corrosive as, for example, the sin of pride, and not to be too casuistic, I wonder if acquiescing to this sin is a price that, however frustrating and in a sense unfair, is payable if caring for the sick and poor is nevertheless the greater good that the Church thereby accomplishes. That’s a bold and perhaps too confrontational claim that doesn’t really touch on the principle you’re writing about in the blog post or about the Church/state concerns the bishops are raising, but I’m curious nevertheless.
The Catholic bishops would not support the state paying for contraceptives, but they’d have little to no ground to oppose. And there wouldn’t be quite the same level of moral concern as we have with the HHS mandate as funding of contraceptives through the state would be much more remote cooperation.
They’re denying woman equal access to contraceptives at the same cost as other women with the same job in the same industry in hospitals of the same size.
Although you could go to the local Planned Parenthood clinic and get birth-control pills at extremely reduced cost, possibly even free.
So what they’re “denying” women is the ability to use their birth-control pill spending as a way of filling up their medical-insurance deductible. Which is getting to be something of a second-order effect.
Assuming of course you can get to the PP clinic when it’s open, there’s one open close to you, and so on. I realize women having basic health care paid for by their health insurance is such a small matter compared to the ability of religious leaders to continue to not pay for that care based on a policy 97% of their followers ignore, but I’ll side with the HHS here.
Don’t like Planned Parenthood? Go to Wal-Mart and get ’em for nine bucks a month. Birth control pills are not some incredibly expensive and limited-availability treatment.
Assuming the OTC birth-control pills are of course, ones that actually work for you.
And of course surveys (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/survey-nearly-three-four-voters-america-support-fully-covering-prescription-birth-control-33863.htm) have shown that, “one in three women voters (34 percent) have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives. For young adult women, who are most likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, more than half (55 percent) experienced a time when they could not afford to use birth control consistently. “
Of course, all of this is weird to me. If a bunch of hippies march and say, “we’re morally opposed to our tax money going to wage a war of aggression to kill thousands and displace millions,” everybody in power laughs at them.
But when a group says their leader got a message from God and as a result that they really don’t want to follow the same rules as other businesses of the same type and size, it’s just horrible if we force them to spend money in a way that would violate their principles.
Dear Gentlemen…hopefully, the following will shed some light!
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 FOURTH STREET NE
WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194
The HHS Mandate for Contraception/Sterilization Coverage:
An Attack on Rights of Conscience
How important is the right of conscience in American tradition?
It has always been of paramount importance: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority” (Thomas Jefferson, 1809).
In the past, has the federal government respected conscientious objections to procedures such as sterilization that may violate religious beliefs or moral convictions?
Yes. For example, a law in effect since 1973 says that no individual is required to take part in “any part of a health service program or research activity funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services” if it is “contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions” (42 USC 300a-7 (d)). Even the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which requires most of its health plans to cover contraception, exempts religiously affiliated plans and protects the conscience rights of health professionals in the other plans. Currently no federal law requires anyone to purchase, sell, sponsor, or be covered by a private health plan that violates his or her conscience.
How has the Department of Health and Human Services departed from this policy?
By issuing a mandate for coverage of sterilization and contraceptives (including long-lasting injections and implants, and “morning-after pills” that may cause an early abortion) in virtually all private health plans. In August 2011 HHS included these procedures in a list of “preventive services for women” to be required in health plans issued on or after August 1, 2012. On January 20, 2012, HHS reaffirmed its mandate while deferring enforcement against some religious employers until August 2013.
Is it appropriate to require coverage of these as “preventive services”?
No. The other services on HHS’s list seek to prevent serious disease – breast cancer, lung cancer, AIDS. Pregnancy is not a disease. The Institute of Medicine committee that compiled the “preventive services” list for HHS said in its report that unintended pregnancy is “a condition for which safe and effective prevention and treatment” need to be more widely available – setting the stage for mandated coverage of abortion as the “treatment” when prevention fails. Note that women who suffer from infertility, which really is an illness, were ignored in this mandate.
Didn’t HHS include a religious exemption?
Yes, an incredibly narrow “religious employer” exemption that fails to protect many, perhaps most, religious employers. To be eligible an organization must meet four strict criteria, including the requirement that it both hire and serve primarily people of its own faith. Catholic schools and hospitals would have to eject their non-Catholic employees, students and patients, or purchase health coverage that violates their moral and religious teaching. Jesus and his apostles would not have been “religious enough” for the exemption, since they healed and served people of different faiths. The exemption provides no protection at all to sponsors and providers of health plans for the general public, to pro-life people who own businesses, or to individuals with a moral or religious objection to these procedures.
Isn’t this an aspect of the Administration’s drive for broader access to health care for all?
Whether or not it was intended that way, it has the opposite effect. People will not be free to keep the coverage they have now that respects their convictions. Organizations with many employees will have to violate their consciences or stop offering health benefits altogether. And resources needed to provide basic health care to the uninsured will be used instead to facilitate IUDs and Depo-Provera for those who already had ample coverage. This is a diversion away from universal health care.
But won’t this provide “free birth control” for American women?
That claim is false for two reasons. First, the coverage will be mandatory, not a matter of free choice for any woman. Second, insurance companies will not be able to charge a co-pay or deductible for the coverage, so they will simply add the cost to the standard premium everyone has to pay – and among those being required to pay will be people who oppose it on conscience grounds. That is no victory for freedom.
By objecting to this coverage, is the Catholic Church discriminating against women?
Not at all. The Church’s teaching against early abortion is based on respect for all human life, male and female. Its teaching against contraception and sterilization is based on respect for the power to help generate a new human life, a power held by both men and women – so health plans in accord with Catholic teaching do not cover male or female sterilization. It is the HHS mandate that shows disregard for women, by forcing them to purchase this coverage whether they want it or not.
Do religious employers violate the consciences of women who want birth control, by refusing to cover it in their employee health plans?
No, they simply decline to provide active support for procedures that violate their own consciences. If an employee disagrees, he or she can simply purchase that coverage or those procedures elsewhere.
What solution to this dispute would be acceptable?
Ideally, HHS can leave the law the way it has always been, so those who provide, sponsor and purchase health coverage can make their own decisions about whether to include these procedures without the federal government imposing one answer on everyone. If HHS refuses, it will be especially urgent for Congress to pass the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” (HR 1179/S. 1467), to prevent health care reform act from being used to violate insurers’ and purchasers’ moral and religious beliefs.
Six Things Everyone Should Know About The HHS Mandate
“For example, a law in effect since 1973 says that no individual is required to take part in “any part of a health service program or research activity funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services” if it is “contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions” (42 USC 300a-7 (d)). ”
This is not affecting a health service program, but merely how such a program is paid for.
“If an employee disagrees, he or she can simply purchase that coverage or those procedures elsewhere.”
HA HA HA!!!! The Church knows that, in the US, health insurance is provided by employers. There is no “elsewhere” for the employee to go.
BS — all of it.
In this case, there are plenty of elsewheres for the employee to go, because the pill–to say nothing of condoms–is inexpensive and readily available.
Of course, you say, assuming all birth control works for all women the same and condoms are 100% effective by themselves.
Jeff, I would hope that someone interviewing for a position would ask what the employers health care benefits were PRIOR to ever accepting a position. That’s just common sense. My benefits at a private non-profit ( & non-religious) organization does not provide vision nor dental coverage. I knew that before accepting the position. There is supplemental insurance for individuals and groups to help pay benefits your major medical insurance doesn’t cover. For example, older adults or seniors that qualify for Medicare purchase additional medical insurance (Medi-Gap) to pay for costs that Medicare doesn’t!
…and guess what, if the government said vision and dental benefits have to be part of health insurance through the democratic process, your private non-profit job would have to cover that too. The whole point of the ACA was partly so people wouldn’t have to buy supplemental insurance for basic health care, such as contraception.
Jesse, aren’t you missing the point? “…and guess what, if the government said …” I happen to like that we are a free society. I don’t want federal bureaucrats providing health care or telling me, or my employer, my state, or my church what services they have to provide.
So, you don’t believe in any regulation at all?
That’s not fair. There’s a big jump from that to “no regulation” period.
OK, no regulation in health care. Because that’s what saying, ” I don’t want federal bureaucrats providing health care or telling me, or my employer, my state, or my church what services they have to provide” sounds like to me.
Now, you’ll say see just wants the state or local government to decide those regulations. She can jump in if she wants, but I highly doubt Karen here wants any governmental organization to tell “my employer, my state, or my church what services they have to provide.”
Why didn’t the administration just mandate that insurance plans which don’t cover birth control offer an HSA? That way people could buy the birth control themselves.
Because it’s much easier, simpler, and cheaper for it to be paid for the insurance through the power of bulk purchasing. That’s not even getting into the fact that as a large employer, if Wal-Mart and General Electric has to cover it, so does St. Mary’s.
Birth-control pills can be had at Wal-Mart for $9 a month. That’s the cost of lunch.
You’re assuming of course, that that OTC birth control is the birth control that’s best for every woman. Some women are fine with the $9 birth control.
Again – (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/survey-nearly-three-four-voters-america-support-fully-covering-prescription-birth-control-33863.htm)
One in three women voters (34 percent) report having struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point.
This figure rises dramatically among specific demographic groups:
55 percent of women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.
57 percent of young Latina women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.
54 percent of young African-American women 18-34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control.
Now, maybe all these women are selfish dumb women who care more about their cell phone and getting crunk than their birth control. I somehow doubt it.
Are they right to support stuff like this, too? This seems a bit borderline…
assuming that the church’s contraception policy causes no grave harm flies in the face of world wide data that shows lack of birth control directly causes all the misery that accompanies over population namely famine and disease. also the obama compromise has even further removed the church from adopting what it sees as a morally unacceptable position by providing for contraception outside of the church by alternative insurance providers.
The issue is not whether contraception is wonderful or dangerous. The issue is government compulsion. The issue is morality over government use of force. I notice that you avoided that simple point while claiming a world of benefits for population control. Just the facts, ken. Just the facts.
Who is thinking about what will happen when the bishops defy the hhs mandate? What will happen at each school, hospital, convent and seminary?
They’d like to be arrested, civil disobedience, cameras, etc., I think. But I doubt the Obamans will oblige.
Further, I think even Justice Ginsburg will uphold the religious freedom angle.
BTW, Mr. Morse, your blog’s title is exc. Good stuff in there, too.