The More Things Change : Contraception Controversy Edition

Over at the Atlantic, Brian Resnick has dug up two essays from his magazine’s October 1939 edition. One argues for legal contraception, the other against. Birth Control: The Case for the State by Don Wharton – arguing for legal birth control – can be found here; Father Francis J. Connell’s Birth Control: The Case for the Catholic, arguing (natch) against, can be found here.

They are both completely and utterly fascinating.

As Resnick himself notes, the thing that makes them most fascinating is how close each writer’s arguments echo the soundings of liberals and conservatives in current HRC birth control disagreements.

(First off, a confession: I must admit I was not aware – and in fact was shocked – just how recent a thing universal legal birth control is. In 1939 it was still considered to be outlawed as part of the Comstock laws, passed in 1873. It would not be until 1965 that the Supreme Court would rule that married couple’s need not face state penalties for willfully not driving up birth rates; it would not be until 1972 that this same courtesy was extended to unmarried couples as well. I’m already wondering if at least one of these cases will be part of Burt’s SCOTUS Greatest Hits compilation.)

Both of the old Atlantic articles are opinion pieces, and so they do not (and cannot) prove or disprove arguments by today’s liberals that contraception is inherently first and foremost a women’s healthcare issue. However, they do show that arguments by some conservatives today that the two being intertwined is a recent devise of political expediency are off by at least 70 years. Wharton’s pro-contraception article is based almost entirely on issues of women’s health – and not in a “My Body, My Choice” kind of way, but in the “mortality rates of mothers during childbirth” kind of way.

Also interestingly, according to Wharton some low-wage manufacturing employers in North Carolina not only stood on the pro-contraception side of the fence, they actually provided on-site clinics for their employees. This makes a certain amount of sense, when you think about it. Having employees – both mothers and fathers – that need to deal with repetitive pregnancies over decades surely creates a bevy of extra costs and inefficiencies that eat away at profits. In our own time, the metrics are different but produce similar results. Insurance plans that offer contraception are, over time, significantly less expensive to employers than those without. If conservatives hold on to the contraception issue for too long, they may see that their desire to highlight a legitimate religious freedom issue begins to tarnish their well-earned reputation as the group that defends small and medium-sized business interests.  It seems to have gone a similar route 70 years ago.

If there is a way that the article points out how things have changed, it’s not it the way we argue the issues related to contraception so much as it is how drastically contraception has changed our landscape:

“He had seen a Negro couple married seventeen years who had produced twenty children — twelve of them to die in infancy. Good, hard-working people, desperately poor — bewildered. ‘I’m for any way that will keep me from having another child,’ the mother pleaded. ‘Any way so long as I can keep from losing that man I got.’”

(For me personally, reading this is actually one of those time where I look back at the past and am glad to be rid of it.)

As for Connell’s essay, it more or less concedes the healthcare issue, and instead makes the honest argument that as he sees it contraception is a purely religious and therefore moral issue. This of course leads to the thornier question that we are still wrestling with today: If we are to agree that religious freedom is good then where do we draw the line? In Connell’s time the question was should the State allow a practice whose very existence infringes upon sacred doctrines, or should the State agree to discourage those doctrines being crossed and at the expense of protecting others from said doctrines? I bring this question up not to debate it here. (And I honestly hope we don’t – or perhaps more accurately, I hope that if we do we do it in a way that assumes good intentions on both sides.) Rather, I bring it up because it is the exact argument we wrestle with today. In fact, Connell’s refusing to acknowledge healthcare issues in the one essay and Wharton’s refusal to acknowledge religious issues in the other mirror our current GOP and DNC brethren in a way that is almost eerie.

Another note of interest was this argument by Connell:

“Birth control as it is now practised in the United States is bound to bring about a notable decline in our white population in the near future.”

I think in may ways this comment deserves more consideration, and maybe at some point a different post. And not because I think this The More Things Change : Contraception Controversy Editionargument shows that those that are either anti-birth control or pro-religious freedom today are racists – in fact quite the opposite. No, what I find fascinating about this argument is that of all Connell’s warnings about what would happen should contraception be made available, this is the one that has actually occurred. There are a myriad of factors other than contraception at work, of course, and the reality isn’t so much that the white population has decreased numerically so much as decreased as a proportion to the whole. But the concerns and fear that lie in Connell’s warning have most certainly come to pass. However, despite the concerns of 1939 America this hasn’t led to the destruction of our society. It’s strengthened it. And while I know you can find people on the fringe that would disagree, by and large we all recognize that the changes in this area that have occurred since 1939 have been a positive progress indeed, morally as well as logistically.

When we see things being debated in the public sphere today (as always), the side arguing against change invariably argues that change will ruin everything, and that change can be resisted. Those arguing for change always argue that only the thing being addressed will change, and all else will remain as is and be good. It’s a good thing to remember that both sides are always wrong. Change will happen, always, and our beliefs about what that change will ultimately mean is very likely to be way, way off.

In any case, I highly recommend taking sometime on this dreary, rainy weekend (don’t tell me if it’s sunny where you are) and read both pieces, and Resnick’s piece as well.

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484 thoughts on “The More Things Change : Contraception Controversy Edition

  1. In a purely religious way:  God said,  “Go forth and multiply.”  Humans have done that.  What’s next on the list?   Be good stewarts of the land.  How do we do that if there are eight people per inch?  So humans have to use contraceptives or invest heavily in space travel.

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  2. Sorry- Its sunny here. 10 degrees, but its sunny. Nice xc skiing weather.

    I’m not quite sure why you seemed to rule out racism as a reason for the “we’ll run out of white folks” argument. It was 1939, those kind of views were not uncommon.

    As on of the pro-BC people, i wouldn’t say BC isn’t a religious issues. In fact of course it is. People should consider their own beliefs about whether to use or not use BC. (Lets have a round of applause for the rhythm method.) The pro-BC side was saying employers shouldn’t be allowed to deny BC based on their own beliefs, that is quite a bit of different argument and not at all saying BC isn’t a moral issue.

    I was meeting with a client yesterday who was raised in a strict Russian Orthodox village. Her ex hubby was violent, often drunk and abusive. Her family did not support her getting a divorce and told her to stick it out. The provision of gov health care for the child and various kinds of welfare has made her more able to divorce the guy even though it means quasi-ostracism from her family.

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  3. No need to erase the comment. I should post what I emailed you here so that others can benefit from the Knowledge.

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  4. Yes, fascinating finds, Tod.  Connell pretty well captures the traditional Catholic argument against birth control, an argument that I, non-contraception-using Catholic,  find philosophically flawed.  Connell quotes a Dr. Alexis Carrol, who summarizes the argument:

    “The sex act has been deprived of its natural consequences by the technical progress of contraception. However, the biological law of reproduction remains imperative. And transgressors are punished in a subtle manner. It is a disastrous mistake to believe we can live according to our fancy. Being parts of nature, we are submitted to its inexorable laws.”

    This argument assumes that the biological purpose of human sexuality, which he calls the “biological law of reproduction,” establishes a moral imperative.  On its own, however, it doesn’t.  Nature isn’t normative.  And controlling nature isn’t necessarily tantamount to living according to our fancy. It could, instead, be living responsibly.

    Frankly I think the Church should drop this fallacious line of reasoning.  A better argument would be the strictly religious argument: God intends sex for X, one should do what God intends, therefore one should have sex in accordance with X.  But, of course, the strictly religious argument doesn’t have the same moral force.  It doesn’t speak to anyone who doubts or disbelieves what the religious authorities say God intends.  Nevertheless, trying to link up God’s will with “the ends of nature” is a fool’s errand.  Even Connell can only assert  the certainty of the connection: “Now it is certainly the will of the Creator who adapted these vital powers to definite ends that they should operate toward the attainment of these ends.”  Not so.  That a vital power is aimed at a definite end doesn’t mean that it ought always be aimed at that end.  For one thing, nature changes. It evolves.  For another, free will and rationality are also “natural” powers with the “natural” capacity to modify nature.

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  5. “Another note of interest was this argument by Connell:

    “Birth control as it is now practised in the United States is bound to bring about a notable decline in our white population in the near future.”

    I think in may ways this comment deserves more consideration, and maybe at some point a different post. And not because I think thisargument shows that those that are either anti-birth control or pro-religious freedom today are racists – in fact quite the opposite. No, what I find fascinating about this argument is that of all Connell’s warnings about what would happen should contraception be made available, this is the one that has actually occurred.”

    I think it’s really difficult to infer causality here. I’d be interested in some sort of roundtable of posts to hash it out.

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      • I’m unimpressed with most of the “if we allow contraception, this will occur” lines of argument, even when  they seem to have been prescient.

        I also think what they were being prescient about deserves some scrutiny. Does a particular woman owe anything to society, or the establishment, or the status quo (or whatever) to ‘preserve itself’ against her personal interests?

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    • I think perhaps I was saying something else. I agree that contraception was not the cause to reaching a state of non-white domination population wise. I was noting that of all the potential worse case scenerios offered, this is the one that actually came to be – albeit for completely different reasons. And having come to pass, it ended up being more of a best case.

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    • It’s certainly true of much of Europe, where the birthrate has cratered below replacement level.  In this way, the state actually has a compelling interest in banning contraception. Not that we think or speak like that in the 21st century, but it is socially/scientifically true.  In a strictly practical and empirical regime like China, a one-child policy or an anti-contraceptive policy would just be sides of the same coin of the state’s compelling interest in getting the population just right.

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      • What compelling interest is there in maintaining population level? If the United States were to have a reduced population to say, 2/3 of what we have now, why is that a bad thing?

        Is Europe seriously in danger of going extinct? Will there be a time when only the birds and beasts occupy the region from the Caucausus to the British Isles?

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      • Personally, I think the world would be better with one billion human inhabitants rather than seven billion.

        We’d pollute less, we’d have enough fish, and have less to fight about. The economic rationale for making more people frankly just creeps me out.

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        • This reminds me: out on this rural road at the south west edge of town that connects with a state highway, there’s a billboard up for an anti-abortion group. The picture part shows a smiling baby sitting in a box, and next to it it says “God’s Stimulus Package”.

          Makes no fishing sense whatsoever.

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        • There are definitely social problems with a collapsing demography, and not improper to inquire about the health of a society that cannot reproduce itself.  History is full of disappeared societies, cultures, peoples.  Why are there no Hittites in New York City?

          As for trimming the world from 7 billion to 1 billion, it reminds us of PJ O’Rourke—Overpopulation: Just enough of me, way too much of you.

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            • Those result for a multiplicity of reasons, each of which is a cautionary tale to be re-told when proposing those policies. Even then, I think, the overall good (on a cost/benefit analysis) weighs in their favor. The problem doesn’t reside on a lack of income-tax earners, but with the overall distribution of income. In my view, it goes back to more basic conceptions of what it means to be a member of society: if you benefit extravagantly from the social structures in place, then you pay taxes in proportion to the benefits received. So funding of social welfare may go down, but on a less steep curve than increased in taxes on the wealthy.

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          • Merely asserting social problems doesn’t prove their existence, let alone prove that they’re worse than the social problems caused by too-rapid population growth.  And the O’Rourke quote is just a snarky smear on people who disagree with you.

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                    • Heh.  Yuss he did.   But as is his wont, O’Rourke never seemed to have considered the consequences of his wit.   His summary in 2007, was to observe the Iraqis should “sit down, shut up and go to hell.”

                      I repeat myself, O’Rourke is the Andy Warhol of the Right.   Truman Capote was talking about Warhol to George Plimpton:

                      Have you ever read Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? All right. Now in that book you’ll remember that this deaf mute, Mr. Singer, this person who doesn’t communicate at all, is finally revealed in a subtle way to be a completely empty, heartless person. And yet because he’s a deaf mute, he symbolises things to desperate people. They come to him and tell him all their troubles. They cling to him as a source of strength, as a kind of semi-religious figure in their lives. Andy is kind of like Mr. Singer. Desperate, lost people find their way to him, looking for some sort of salvation, and Andy sort of sits back like a deaf mute with very little to offer.

                      That’s PJ O’Rourke in a nutshell, except turned inside out.   Where Mr. Singer was a confidant of many but a friend to none, O’Rourke prattles on about all the places he’s been, understanding none of it.   He’s funny enough, in a vicious and petty way but he’s heartless, an observer who consumes what he sees and shits it out again for the amusement of his betters.   Continuous eloquence wearies, said Pascal.

                      Warhol understood the world rather better than his admirers and I strongly suspect O’Rourke does, too, secretly laughing at them as they project wit and wisdom onto him.   There’s nothing in there.

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                    • That’s interesting. I like Capote’s critique of Warhol since I’ve always thought he was an empty vessel. That it extends to PJ is something I’ll have remain agnostic on – since I don’t know enough about the man to concur – but it strikes me as entirely reasonable. I’ve never read anything by O’Rourke (granted, it’s a limited list) that didn’t turn me off, and in pretty much the same way Warhol did.

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                    • I rather admired Warhol, as one might admire a particularly well-constructed robot.   I have a Betty Crocker cookbook he illustrated.   Warhol seized on something important about America and thrashed it about like a coyote with a hapless chicken:   America, for all its self-importance, is one vast parody of itself.   Warhol loped back to his den with that chicken, pulled out the feathers and ate it slowly, savoring every morsel.

                      Warhol emerged from Madison Avenue advertising and O’Rourke emerged from those hothouses of culture-mongerin’, Rolling Stone magazine and National Lampoon.   There is a practical difference:   Warhol really could draw.   I’m not sure what to say about O’Rourke, I’ve read his stuff over the years and can’t quite figure out if he was just having a fine joke at the public’s expense.

                      But the higher the monkey climbs, the better you can see his ass.   When O’Rourke set forth to write a book about Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, the shallowness of his intellect was at last revealed.   When he was carrying on about getting his Wing-Wang squeezed, he was a barrel of laffs.   When he decided to opine upon economics, he revealed himself for the idiot he truly was, all along.

                      Cato still keeps him on in some sinecure, though I can’t imagine they pay him anything.   He’s the Class Clown who’s still amused by fart jokes.   Maybe he will pay a visit to Cato, I’m given to understand they have a fine library and even a few economists who might put him to rights.

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                • PJ is a great coiner of Nifty Zingers, much admired by the Cargo Cultists who buy his books.   Beyond that, he’s the Andy Warhol of that most feckless variety of Libertarians, the wannabe Conservatives who still want to roll up a doob.

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                    • Look ,PJ O’Rourke became a Young Fogey and hasn’t matured enough since to warrant a fresh opinion of him.   O’Rourke developed a bromantic crush on Ronald Reagan way back when and the results were sickening.   You see, he’d spent some time with the far-out lefties and decided they were worse than the Establishment.

                      So one time he’s talking about why Wealth of Nations is a better book than Paul Samuelson’s economics textbook.   Wealth of Nations didn’t require any math or equations such as might determine useless measures of economies such as the M1 and M2 money supplies.   That’s the most startlingly ignorant thing I’ve ever heard anyone with a college education say out loud.

                      Satire is best left to those who understand what they’re satirizing.   O’Rourke is the buzzkill at the college kegger who laughed at his own jokes and parlayed his jejeune snark into a career doing same.   A witless wonder who actually thinks the Democratic Party is a conspiracy of egalitarianism, this man couldn’t count to 21 without the aid of his fingers, toes and male appendage.

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                  • Back in the day, when I shared PJ’s mancrush on Reagan, I read one of his books. In it, he travels aroound the world making hilarious smirking comments about the fools and knaves he meets all with that arms-crossed detached irony callow young men aspire to.

                    Then he writes about being in the Phillipines, wherein a young woman is murdered, and he witnesses her relatives digging up her corpse for reburial, and the attendant grief and horror of seeing her half-decomposed mud caked face.

                    His writing voice shifts, and he struggles to express his anger and rage over the injustice he is seeing. But it falls flat- the smirking adolescent frat boy was at a loss to deal with so vivid and real a horror as that.

                    Even as a fellow smirking young man, I felt ashamed. Never been able to read him after that.

                     

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              • OK, I read the article; basically Spengler is saying that the world’s population of educated affluent people is slowing,while the poor and less educated still have high rates of fertility. Shocking, that.

                The world population of humans will not shrink, anytime in the foreseeable future, under anyones estimation.

                There are many ways to deal with aging populations and shifts in demographics. Immigration of younger people from other cultures is one way.Adjustments in tax and benefit levels is another.

                Point being, like all changes, it threatens the status quo and those who are invested in it.

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                • Well, thx for reading, Lib60.

                  Immigration of younger people from other cultures is one way.

                  Yes, we’ll see how that goes [well, actually we won’t: we won’t be living by then]. “Not with a bang but a whimper” can operate all sorts of different ways: in this case by being swamped demographically.  Germany is particularly vulnerable here.

                  Der Spielgel: Graying Germany Contemplates Demographic Time Bomb

                  Germany is already facing a demographic nightmare as birth rates fall despite a slew of family-friendly policies. Now, new statistics show that more people are leaving the country than immigrating — adding to concerns about the country’s shrinking population.

                   

                  The point about the Romans is apt, but with the wrong lesson: Rome did indeed disappear, the language, the culture, the religion.  Modern Italy, like Germany, has a rock-bottom birthrate of ~1.4 or so.  It’s not improper to inquire about the health of such societies on philosophical or social-scientific grounds.

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                  • Please.   Educate a girl child for 12 years and she’ll have fewer than two children, statistically.   She will have them somewhat later in life, they will survive and she will ensure they’re educated.  The best birth control is a schoolbook.

                    Germany’s in no danger from its immigrant populations.    The kids on the street all speak German.   Nightmare indeed:  the ancestors of today’s Germans were terrified refugees from the predations of the Huns who ran into that forest and survived.

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                  • The Romans suffered from a rather violent immigration problem: Goths, etc. I think that whole Roman empire based out of Byzantium did fine for quite a while. But to be fair Latin is a lost language, who knows what it sounds like or who wrote in it.

                     

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                    • Latin, well, I read and write the language, rather like a man walking on stilts.   Latin lasted longer in Hispania than anywhere else:  they’re still called Latinos for a good reason.   The dative case lasted in modern German.

                      Latin was spoken as a trade language and changed significantly even during the Roman Empire, so it doesn’t really matter what it sounded like:  it was a second language for many peoples well into the Renaissance.   We do have a pretty good idea what it sounded like from the plays of Plautus, who gives us not only street Latin but the hilarious Latin spoken by the African provinces, influenced by the Punic language of Carthage in Poenulus.

                      The Latins always had an inferiority complex about their language.   High-born Romans affected Greek and Greek mannerisms, right down to their clothing.   After a while, the Roman toga became rather like our three-piece suit, worn for formal occasions.    Roman architecture was a fine thing:   Greek architecture mostly, enlarged by a factor of four and made of concrete.   That Constantinople would take to Greek should come as no surprise, even the jokey old Plautus gave his characters Greek names.

                      I did most of my work on second languages, demotic Greek and vulgar Latin are where I started, spent a lot of time on how French and English shaped Africa.   Languages are always in flux, shaped by the people forced to learn them.

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                    • I’m in no mood to disgorge what took me six terms and a sheaf of papers to learn about Grimm’s Law and the evolution of demotic languages.   I’m growing increasingly disgusted with looking like a pedant.   It only encourages the ankle biters hereabouts.

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                    • Here’s a little food for thought about Latin which might give some insight, without having to go into linguistics.

                      The Roman gods lived atop Olympus, a mountain in Greece.   Their foundation myths include the Trojan Aeneas.   The myth of Romulus says he couldn’t get anyone to live in his new city until he let every two-bit crook and fugitive turn up and live there.   This is not a people particularly impressed with their own origins.

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                    • Yeah, heh, and if you really think the Kurds come out of Medea instead of Anatolia, the Pashto think they’re the Bani Israel, the ten lost tribes.

                      The Kurdish language contains plenty of Hurrian constructs.  So does Greek, for that matter, read your Homer, the Trojan allies are in linguistic disarray but they all manage to talk to each other, though Troy clearly has Hittite archaeology underlying it.

                       

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                  • Thanks for the link- From the article:

                    He says that many people leaving Germany complain of the “narrow hierarchies in German companies, the poor chances of getting ahead and the lack of fairness in recognizing performance.” On the other hand, people in other countries are put off by Germany’s reputation for not welcoming foreigners, an image “that is not exactly inviting,” Bade told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

                    So one solution for Germany might be to become a more egalitarian societal structure that is welcoming of immigrants who bring youth and the ability to support the elderly population.

                    A win-win don’t you think?

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                    • Can the Turk immigrants actually become Germans?  That’s the rub.  The American culture has been more flexible and accomodating, for instance, taking in millions of Irish Catholics in several waves of immigration without altering its essential character.

                      Somebody will always live in Germany; the question is whether who’ll be living there in a few centuries will be “German” in the sense we recognize.  No offence to Tony Soprano, but how did mighty Rome become shitty little Italy?

                      Hey, Britain was taken over by the various Angles and Saxons, the Bretons headed for France.  Stuff happens.  Spengler:

                      Population decline is the elephant in the world’s living room. As a matter of arithmetic, we know that the social life of most developed countries will break down within two generations. Two out of three Italians and three of four Japanese will be elderly dependents by 2050. [1] If present fertility rates hold, the number of Germans will fall by 98% over the next two centuries. No pension and health care system can support such an inverted population pyramid.

                      [The] world’s population will fall by as much as a fifth between the middle and the end of the 21st century, by far the worst decline in human history.

                      The world faces a danger more terrible than the worst Green imaginings. The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world’s population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care. [2] For the first time in world history, the birth rate of the whole developed world is well below replacement, and a significant part of it has passed the demographic point of no return.

                       

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                    • Of course the Turks can become Germans.    When Alaric the Goth turned up at the gates of Rome, he had been in Roman employ for many years.     Rome had been on autopilot for centuries before the last emperor fled Rome.   The Goths didn’t destroy anything worth keeping.

                      Who cares if you recognize these Germans?   They’re German citizens.   They speak German.   What’s so essential about German anyway?   They weren’t even a country until the 1900s and even then they weren’t unified in any meaningful fashion.   Don’t put on airs about Deutschtum, it was always a myth.

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                    • More likely, the “Germans” become Turkish.  And historically the “Turks” themselves started out in the Asian steppes, as you know, Blaise—not “Anatolian” or Hittite atall.  That the Hittites linger in trace amounts—in the form of remnants of their dead language and more importantly, kabobs—tells us more of loss than

                      To drop our exchange of inspired nonsenses—as enjoyable as it’s been—the Germans and other peoples/cultures whose reproduction rates are cratering face very real challenges to their survival.  Contraception—per the OP—has something to do with this, although it’s certainly more a means than a cause.  Still, it’s entirely proper if not necessary to ask why a society has apparently lost its will to reproduce, as a philosophical concern or one of social science or both.

                      The Bretons aren’t British anymore; they moved to France and are little more than a footnote to history.  Biologically and sociologically speaking,  they also exist only in trace amounts.

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                    • It’s not ROFL atall, Blaise.  It’s grave.  Attaturk’s center cannot hold in Turkey, let alone Germany.  Nor can Germany’s center hold if it’s doomed by its infertility.

                      That you choose to brazen out Godwin’s Law by doubling down on it is disappointing, the innuendo being I’m some sort of Nazi racist fuck.  That’s cheating, brother, cheating both me and the argument.  I love your philosophical boldness, it so stands out here LoOG.  But you & I must get our history part square.  Whenever we do, the discussion flows like Saudi sweet crude.

                      There’s nothing about Germany and Germans I particularly admire, in history or now.  They were the last to form a European nation out of their tribes and principalities; they initiated two world wars, perhaps 100 million dead, all told; and in the present day they are moral and political eunuchs.

                      No wonder, as a culture and as a people, they have no will to reproduce.  There is nothing good to perpetuate, except their cleverness at science and industry.  But cleverness is not a value, and it’s not even a virtue, as they are learning at this very moment.

                      In barely over this past century, their cleverness has brought them up short under the Kaiser, under the Weimar Republic, under the Third Reich, and now as the European Union, where as its leaders and  “rulers,” they’re are also the only ones pulling the cart—chief cook and bottlewasher.

                       

                      Now, that irony is the real ROFL, brother Blaise.  Let’s drink a toast to some righteous schadenfreude, ja?

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                    • Kemal Ataturk was a reaction to the Ottoman effetes and their Islamic hangers-on.   The Ottoman empire emerged from the wreckage of several other empires.   It would begin well enough, with an inclusive model, giving rights to its minorities.   As we all know, it ended very badly with the persecution of the Armenians.

                      What does it matter what we might Recognize?    Human civilization is not much different than weather reporting:   refugees and economic migrants moving like clouds from high pressure to low pressure systems.   Languages are constantly changing, immigrants haltingly learn to conjugate the verbs and decline the nouns of their new language.

                      It’s not invoking Godwin’s Law to note Deutschtum and Volksgemeinschaft have been codewords for concepts of ethnic superiority.   You chose unwisely in picking Germany for your argument:  it’s a particularly bad example of what comes of these ridiculous notions of Ethnicity.   I have not called you a racist, I have pointed out you are making a racist argument, begging questions like “Can the Turk immigrants actually become Germans.”   The Turks have been in West Germany since long before I soldiered there.   They’re German citizens, they speak German, ergo they are German. You can put “German” within double quotes, using interestingly repulsive phrases like Essential Character.   There were other ethnic groups within the German State considered beyond assimilation.

                      If Germany has preached from the racist tractates over time and been caught up short, that is precisely because they believed in the Deutschtum and pernicious doctrines of Der ewige Jude, the eternal Jew.

                      Your foot is in a bear trap you set yourself.   We can substitute Turk or Pole or Albanian or Gypsy or any other such noun for Jude in Der ewige Jude .  Germany does have racists, plenty of them.    If you aren’t a racist, and I’ve never supposed you to be one, you must distinguish your argument about what’s essential about Germany’s people from what others have said about  Das Wesen des deutschen Volkes.

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                    • Don’t worry, dear patient, any concerns you might have about your future are easily answered by noting that your “health” is irrelevant because 1) you’re easily replaceable, 2) we’re all dead in the long run anyway (so what’s it to you) and 3) it’s impolite (racist!) to even suggest that a declining birth rate does not reconcile with evolutionary fitness.  Awesome.

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                    • It’s not my problem, Lib60.  But it puts the question to the premises of German society, many of which some Americans think we should embrace as more “enlightened” than our own.

                      It’s not as though “the crisis of the West” is an entirely new theme.  The questions was being asked of Germany even before it started two world wars and killed tens of millions.

                      The new, pacifistic and demographically inert version of the past half-century has lost the will to live.  So why is this Germany’s problem?  As Spengler speculates:

                      The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world’s population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care.

                      If he’s correct, the question here isn’t very obscure.

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                • How could there not be a 2000-year-old man bit about the Lost Ten Tribes?

                  “Lost?  They could get lost going down the street to the tallis store. I used to know a mohel from Zebulun.  He gave them haircuts!”

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                  • So Bill Gates advertises for a new chairman of Microsoft Europe. 50 candidates show up at the job screening. They are assembled in a large room. Among them is Maurice Cohen, a French Jew, a small, bearded, speckled man. Bill Gates thanks the candidates for coming but asks all those who are not familiar with the Java programming language to leave; 20 people rise and leave the room.

                    Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I do not know this language but what have I got to lose if I stay? I’ll give it a try”. Bill Gates then asks all those who have no experience of managing teams of more than 100 people to leave. Another 20 people go.

                    Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I have never managed anybody but myself but what have I got to lose if I stay? What can happen to me?” Then Bill Gates asks all candidates who do not have PhD degrees to rise and leave; 5 people remove themselves. Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I left school at 15 but what have I got to lose if I stay? So he stays in the room.

                    Lastly, Bill Gates asks all of the candidates who do not speak the Serbo-Croat language to rise and leave; everyone but one other person rises and leaves the room. Maurice Cohen says himself, “I do not speak Serbo-Croat but what the hell! Have I got anything to lose?” He finds himself alone with one other candidate. Everyone else has gone. Bill Gates joins them and says: “Apparently you are the only two candidates who know Java, have managed large teams of employees, have PhD degrees, and who can speak Serbo-Croatian. I’d like to hear you converse with one another in Serbo-Croatian.”

                    Calmly Maurice turns to the other candidate and says to him: “Baruch ata Adonai.”

                    The other candidate answers: “Elohénu melech ha’olam”

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                  • A priest, a rabbi and a minister decide to see who’s best at his job. The test is to go into the woods, find a bear and try to convert it.

                    After they come back, the priest says, “I read to the bear from the Catechism, sprinkled him with holy water and next week is his First Communion.”

                    The minister said, “I found a bear by the stream, preached him God’s holy word and he let me baptize him in the river.”

                    The rabbi was bandaged from head to foot and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have started with the bris.”

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            • Mr. Drew, that one’s not as logical or as clever as you might have thought.

              Heh heh, via InstaP; “Unless you actually make a Catholic bishop hand condoms out, you won’t satisfy the urge behind the mandate.”

              There’s the fact.  Sorry to drag JB into all this—he has enough problems without me adding to them.  But the desirable end of free contraception could be achieved easily without coercing the Roman church to do it.  This whole thing ain’t about that atall atall.

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              • I wasn’t aware i was even attempting a logical progression of my own.  i was just noting how you quietly slip from a very strong claim to a very weak one, not attending to the impression you leave that you’re suggesting that by demonstrating the latter, you’ve demonstrated the former.  I wasn’t trying to be clever either, I just happened to think of the Moonwalk as an apt description of this tendency of yours to substitute a much weaker claim in place of the far too strong one you lead with initially in order to make a semblance of demonstration a doable feat.  (though not to worry abt it – you’re hardly alone.).

                Also, the question you raised was a state interest in banning contraception.  That’s got nothing to do with the mandate.

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              • When Obama said that the Catholic Church didn’t have to pay for contraceptives, you still claimed the was a “religious freedom” [*] issue involved.  So were the bishops wrong to protest the accomodation?

                [*] — “Christian-speak” for trampling on the rights of others, from what I’ve seen.

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    • Not sure where to leave this comment, but it’s worth noting that the argument actually occurred even more dramatically if you remove the effects of the gradually increasing definition of “white”.  I think in the 30’s the Irish were not completely accepted as white.   The Italians were brown people, along with other southern Europeans and Slavic peoples of eastern Europe were also not considered white.  If we were to use this sort of definition today, the “white” population would be dramatically smaller than current descriptions.

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  6. From Connell’s article, “Even now there are many thoughtful men and women in our land who are gravely disturbed over the decline of the population and are engaged in a campaign for more births, although some of them continue to advocate the use of contraception by persons whose offspring are liable to be unsound in mind or in body.”

    Contraception is not acceptable, unless of course it prevents people with disabilities from being born. Who didn’t see that coming?

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    • Given that the article was written in 1939 we must keep in mind that Eugenics was an acceptable approach to solving human problems. (It took the exposure of the Nazi holocaust to change the worlds attitudes) Last night on CNN they reported that 60k folks in the US were sterilized between WWI and WWII  and later if Wikipedia is correct by the various states.  As suggested in the Wikipedia article the 1924 immigration law was somewhat based upon Eugenics as a way of keeping undesirable (read southern Europe) nationalities out of the US.

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      • I completely understand that eugenics was acceptable at the time. That does not prevent me from being disgusted. In fact, the idea that people could be so cruel and closed minded for such a long period of time before coming to their senses both saddens and angers me. I’m willing to bet a large majority of those 60k were people who experienced disability. Even post WWII people were being sterilized. I know a 50 year old woman with an intellectual disability who was starilized by the state while residing in one of their institutions.

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  7. <i>Insurance plans that offer contraception are, over time, significantly less expensive to employers than those without.</i>

    Do you have research that confirms it? I can see how this could go either way, depending on the elasticities. I would imagine it depends on the characteristics of the employees. It takes a certain kind of woman to say “Screw it, I’ll just take my chances” in response to not being given free birth control pills.

    <i>If conservatives hold on to the contraception issue for too long, they may see that their desire to highlight a legitimate religious freedom issue begins to tarnish their well-earned reputation as the group that defends small and medium-sized business interests.  It seems to have gone a similar route 70 years ago.</i>

    This would make sense if conservatives were proposing that contraceptives be banned, or that employers be legally barred from paying for their employees’ contraception. They’re not, so it really doesn’t.

    Fun fact: Failure to acknowledge the not-at-all-subtle distinction between “The government should not mandate/subsidize this” and “The government should not allow this” is the leading cause of palm-shaped imprints on the faces of libertarians.

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  8. I guess I still fail to understand what all the kurfuffle is about. The Church doesn’t want to provide birth control. It’s antiquated but so are a lot of things in religion. Beyond the Church, is there really a significant % of the population that believes contraception should NOT be available? Does anyone have any polling data on the subject? I just can’t imagine this is a major issue in real time.

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    • I’m perplexed as well.
      It looks like there’s actually three issues at stake and contraceptive care is only a small part of one of them.
      1). Employer-based health insurance (without considering the unemployed); one policy vs. supplemental policies; HSA’s & other incentives; caps on pay-outs & other insurance and delivery related issues;
      2). Churches, religious organizations; ministerial duties, and acting under the direction of a minister; faith-based and affiliated organizations; the scope of religion;
      3). Prescription coverage, accessibility issues; recurrent medications: high blood pressure, diabetics, contraception.

      One of the things that distorts the discourse is the use of magic word.
      The pronouncing of the magic word occurs many times in debate with persons of the Far Left when discussing various issues.
      If the issue is abortion, contraception, or by tenuous vicariousness the Pope (attending to the Germanic history theme up-thread), the magic words (as she is spoken in the vulgar) are:
      A woman’s right to her own body
      And that’s the answer for everything.
      You can read through each and every item enumerated as if it were an interview and the answer to every question was “Rape.”
      Like so:
      Q. Employer-based health insurance (without considering the unemployed)?
      A. Rape.
      Q. One policy vs. supplemental policies?
      A. Rape….
      Q. Churches, religious organizations?
      A. Rape.
      Q. Ministerial duties, and acting under the direction of a minister
      A. Rape….
      Q. Prescription coverage, accessibility issues?
      A. Rape.
      Q. Recurrent medications, high blood pressure?
      A. Rape….

      That’s all I get out of it.

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      • Care to provide evidence where people call all those things in your list ‘rape’? Otherwise  I’m calling bullshit. I’m kinda wishing you guys don’t post about this subject anymore, reading the comments are making me lose respect for people I didn’t think was all that bad before.

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        • Just to clarify, this is not a call for censorship. Just a “I wish” thing. It’s like reading a liberal blogger for years and suddenly finding out that he’s one of those people who think that Roe v. Wade being overturned would be the best thing to happen to the Democratic party (all that increased turnout, you know!). Or talking to a guy you thought is pretty interesting, until the subject turns to computer and he goes into a loooong rant about how awesome Apple is and how PC users are merely pawns of evil corporation. It’s …. disappointing.

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        • I kind of echo this sentiment. I’ve found it harder to stay engaged on the blog and have had trouble finishing up some posts after the sick feeling I got reading through some of the recent contraception and ultrasound related threads and discussions.

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      • Here’s what I got out of it.

        There are issues with treating contraception as wholly separate from the larger issue of women’s health care.  A woman testified about that in front of Congress, and for her efforts was called a slut and a whore, and even more creepily told she had an obligation to perform sex acts as public entertainment.  While a pro forma apology was eventually given for the worst of this, her testimony continues to be distorted as “I have a right to fuck on the public dime.”  Her testimony about women who were denied needed treatment precisely because the medications required were stigmatized as contraception and therefore not a medical necessity, continue to be largely ignored.

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        • +1

          Effective birth control has changed the paradigm.   I’ll donate $20 USD to the Red Cross every time I use that word, keeps my use of it to the absolute bare minimum.    Heretofore, sexuality and the mores which surround the issue were based on restraining people’s natural impulses from creating unwanted children, confining sexuality to marriage and procreation.   Seen in the light of a world where unwanted children were a dreadful fact of life and chastity a virtue, marriage was intended to protect women from concubinage and sexual slavery.    Those mores and proscriptions did nothing of the sort:   women were the property of men, women were denied any semblance of equality and prostitution flourished openly.    The old mores never worked:  the hypocrisy seemed to stimulate even more appalling treatment of women.

          How do we cope with a world where women now have enough power over their own lives and bodies to plan their pregnancies?    Regardless of one’s position on the issue of publicly-funded contraception, if our core concepts of justice are based on the proposition of equal justice under law, maximizing for individual liberty, effective contraception has created a new liberty.    Antique tabus on the subject are now rendered moot.   The technology has advanced faster than our ethics.

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            • For the most part, they do.

              It’s similar to the internet in that way.

              And, much like when it comes to the internet, there is an argument over whether there is a difference between having a right to access this thing and having a right to have it provided at a (heavily) socialized cost.

              The liberty people tend to be crazy in two ways at once: they argue that access should be unimpeded (make it available over the counter!, they cry. Like Sudafed!) but they also argue that people should pay for it themselves (Like Sudafed!)

              “I thought you liked Liberty?”

              “I love it. But there’s more to it than socialized costs for technological advancements.”

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                • Not at all. But neither would I require institutions that have silly misgivings about providing coverage about contraception to do so against whatever rules of conscience they have. If a supplimentary insurance program would cover this, that’s a better road to go down than one that doesn’t respect silly religious views.

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                  • Not even going there, Jaybird.   I’ve already established why these institutions’ rules of conscience are misguided by antique thinking on the subject.    Either we shall have equality under the law or we shall not have it and Supplementary ain’t Equal any more than Separate was Equal.

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                    • Is that a door we really want to open, Blaise? What could be done to Muslims under the guise of “their rules of conscience are misguided by antique thinking”?

                      What could be done to you under that assumption?

                      Let’s go the full Godwin and point out that the 20th Century is full of groups that felt justified to do things because other groups were misguided by antique thinking.

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                    • Now hath the Flying Spaghetti Monster delivered you into my claws.   The Reich had a plan for increasing the numbers of the Master Race by siring more of them upon single girls with the assistance of the SS.

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                    • I’m not so sure.
                      I can see that everybody has a right to eat.
                      And everybody has the right to keep from getting their teeth kicked in.
                      But I don’t see where that translates to the idea that everybody has the right to free dental care.

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                  • I’m not sure I follow. You don’t oppose laws mandating public funding/insurance coverage, just as long as the mandate applies only to a supplemental plan? Like a dedicated ‘contraception for women’ plan? Or by AFLAC? Or…?

                     

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                    • I see the health insurance industry as a leech upon the health industry (though, when it was created, it wasn’t quite so bad). The idea of having first dollar coverage for absolutely everything through government mandated insurance plans is one that doesn’t make sense to me. Single-payer makes more sense to me than universal first dollar coverage through government mandated insurance plans.

                      Divorcing coverage from job benefits is something that would definitely help with this but… alas, it was not to be. So we’re stuck debating over whether issues of conscience should be sufficient to allow Catholic institutions to continue to provide health care plans that don’t cover contraception (in the way that they have for decades).

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                    • JB, I’m with on the whole private insurance/employer/government mandate nexus. But! It is what it is. So, given what’s in place, the question is whether contraception ought to be included in the general health insurance plans required by law.

                      And given that, your argument above is confusing to me: you say you don’t oppose the mandate that contraception be covered, but only if it’s a supplemental policy outside of the existing PPACA laws. Is that right?

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                    • I see the contraception mandate as something vaguely inevitable (atheist god only knows what people will be screaming to have first dollar coverage for in 50 years because provision of this product will be argued to be a human right).

                      So, given what’s in place, the question is whether contraception ought to be included in the general health insurance plans required by law.

                      Given the number of institutions that have misgivings over being forced to provide this coverage (not because of its cost but because they have silly beliefs), I think that the contraception coverage should not be mandatory for these silly institutions. If we agree that it should still be covered, it seems to me that supplimentary insurance could resolve this problem while still allowing these silly people to act according to the dictates of their conscience.

                      Win-win-win.

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              • Look, I’m not going to rehash this stupid idea wherein women can be denied the right to have contraception on their health insurance policies.   We both know why Certain Factions oppose this right and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Public Dole.

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                • A) the right to access to contraception

                  B) the right to have contraception covered on their insurance policies

                  It seems obvious to me that these two things are not equivalent… and you can swap out such things as “internet access” for “contraception” and go back to arguments we’ve had, on this very board, about whether we should provide this as a heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone.

                  It doesn’t strike me as obvious that we should.

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                    • a women’s right to equal access to medical procedures and services necessary for her biological health

                      I’m going to need this unpacked. The three things of “access”, “coverage”, and “the product itself” are three very different things entirely but it seems that they’re always used co-extensively in arguments about health care.

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                    • Contracpetion coverage isn’t a right in exactly the same way that a prostate exam isn’t a right, having your teeth cleaned isn’t a right, etc. But if insurance plans offer a baseline set of medical procedures governed by law – as medically necessary services and procedures for overall health maintentance (or whatever the words are) – then excluding coverage of specific medical procedures necessary for the maintenance of a woman’s biological health requires an argument since that restriction (or exclusion) would appear to violate women’s rights to equal access to otherwise justified coverage of those services and procedures.

                      I’m not saying that the argument cannot be made, but I am saying that it hasn’t been made and that it needs to be made.

                       

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                    • I did a search a little bit earlier and saw that Target has birth control pills (generics) for $4 a month ($10 for 3 months).

                      It seems to me that this price is somewhere around negligible. If this doesn’t qualify as access to a baseline of care, what would?

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                    • But doesn’t that sorta miss the point? I mean, I’m making an argument here, brother!

                      In my mind, this issue can be quite legitimately understood as a case of discrimination against women. If so, then the side arguing for exclusions has the burden in justifying why the otherwise applicable criteria governing the provision of medical services and procedures by insurance companies don’t apply in this specific instance. So, the price of birth control isn’t relevant.

                      On the other hand, if the price is so low, then why worry about socializing those negligible costs under a policy which mandates they be included?

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                    • In my mind, this issue can be quite legitimately understood as a case of discrimination against women. If so, then the side arguing for exclusions has the burden in justifying why the otherwise applicable criteria governing the provision of medical services and procedures by insurance companies don’t apply in this specific instance. So, the price of birth control isn’t relevant.

                      So by having these women purchase the drugs with their own money or asking these women to purchase suplimentary insurance to cover these drugs, we continue to discriminate against women?

                      Is it possible to say that forcing these institutions to cover these things against their conscience counts as discrimination against certain creeds? If so, does that matter less be we know that these creeds are silly?

                      On the other hand, if the price is so low, then why worry about socializing those negligible costs under a policy which mandates they be included?

                      The freedom of conscience thing. If you see that as a thing that is not important enough to include in the discussion (and many don’t), then I understand why my position is incomprehensible.

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                    • Pardon me.

                      It seems obvious to me that a Catholic institution being told that it must provide health care coverage that includes birth control is acting in violation of the conscience on the part of the institution providing coverage. This strikes me as problematic.

                      It also seems obvious to me that BC is, in the overwhelming number of cases, available cheaply (if not for a negligible price). It does not seem obvious to me that asking people to take responsibility for their own BC acts in violation of anyone’s conscience.

                      Given that I see “freedom to live in such a way that one not be forced by the government in opposition to one’s conscience” as a fairly important thing, I see the legislation forcing the Catholic institutions to act against their (silly!) beliefs to be wrong in a way that I don’t see asking people who want BC to be responsible for their own BC to be wrong.

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                    • O.K., cool.

                      Of course, people’s consciences (and silly beliefs) can require a whole slew of different things about how they must be allowed to live, far beyond what beliefs stemming from subscribing to Catholicism do.

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                    • Everyone has the right to full coverage auto insurance.
                      A lot of people have that. But it’s not required by law.

                      If I’m required by the gov’t to purchase health insurance, then I want a very low-cost option available. The bare bones stripped-down one.
                      If I want more, then I’ll take care of that on my own.

                      When the government puts their hands in my pocket, that’s not me exercising a right.

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                • Nonsense and you know it.  Every time you put some straw man into evidence, usually surrounded by quote marks, or put words in people’s mouths, as you have #100, you weaken your case.

                  Now here’s what’s obvious:   contraception has created a new liberty for women.   I have not put the word Subsidy into anything I’ve said so far on the subject.   Refrain from your profligate use of the quotation mark, it gets you in too much trouble.

                   

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                  • As far as putting words into people’s mouths, turning “Well said. Liberty lovers ought to love it!” into “I thought you liked Liberty?”, is something that I’m comfortable doing.

                    Now here’s what’s obvious:   contraception has created a new liberty for women. 

                    I agree that it has.

                    I have not put the word Subsidy into anything I’ve said so far on the subject. 

                    Have you used the term insurance coverage? If so, then we’re discussing socializing of costs. Here’s a direct quotation of the term that *I* used: “heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone” and the other one was “socialized costs for technological advancements” and, again, “there is a difference between having a right to access this thing and having a right to have it provided at a (heavily) socialized cost.”

                    I put a lot more emphasis on socialized cost than subsidized cost.

                    If saying that insurance coverage is socalizing the cost of something is a misrepresentation that you find dishonest, please let me know a better way to phrase the relationship between insurance coverage and price of the product covered that will strike you as less offensive.

                    Refrain from your profligate use of the quotation mark, it gets you in too much trouble.

                    It seems to me that you might wish to use it a bit more, lest others find your unquoted paraphrases of their arguments be misrepresentations.

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                    • Bang your little soup spoon on the bottom of your saucepan, an it please thee.   Socialized costs, my ass.   Let an unwanted child enter the world and let’s see you tell me what we should do with that child.   Health insurance policies offer contraception as a great value for money, saving them the expensive proposition of paying for prenatal care and hospital delivery.

                      I will not be called a liar and a misrepresenter by you, Jaybird.   Your rhetoric is too flabby.   I shall toughen you up most considerably and very likely hurt your widdle feewings in the process if you don’t sit up straight and argue effectively.

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                    • Socialized costs, my ass.   Let an unwanted child enter the world and let’s see you tell me what we should do with that child.

                      Obviously, we should socialize that cost. We need universal child care to help the child while the mother is out working, universal education when the child hits 5, keep the child in school until s/he is 17, then pay for universal college education… at which point the child is entitled to a job.

                      I will not be called a liar and a misrepresenter by you, Jaybird.

                      There you go. Putting words in my mouth again. I understand why you’d want to argue against the positions you’re arguing against rather than mine, for what it’s worth.

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                  • I have said the opposition to the inclusion of contraception in health insurance policies arises from an ethical structure opposed to contraception in principle.   I have laid out the case for that opposition and explicitly said those who oppose public funding of contraception (which insurance is not) are entitled to their opinions.

                    Now stop your disingenuous wriggling on this subject.

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                    • Yes you are talking about public funding.

                      It seems obvious to me that these two things are not equivalent… and you can swap out such things as “internet access” for “contraception” and go back to arguments we’ve had, on this very board, about whether we should provide this as a heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone.

                       

                      That, Jaybird, is dragging public funding into the picture.   Do not say otherwise.   I am specifically NOT going back to the same tiresome arguments we’ve had on this board.   You’re the only one dragging them up.

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                    • Wrong?   By whose lights?   Yours?   I’ve already established the premise of how effective contraception is changing much of society’s thinking on this subject.   All you can manage is to once again tell us how we ought to cling to the old thinking on this subject, as if you haven’t hectored us enough on this subject with your whining and aspersions.

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                    • Listen.  This isn’t a damned bit of good.  You’ll never understand me, but I’ll try once more and then we’ll give it up.  Listen.  When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something …

                      I’ll start over.

                      Listen. The line between contraception and medical necessity is not clear and bright. It’s fuzzy. Pretending it’s clear and bright hurts women’s health.  The Isaa committee, in restricting witnesses to members of the clergy, was the equivalent of a commission on industrial safety that only calls factory owners. This is worth discussing..

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                    • Freedom of religious conscience is a pre-political right; free contraception is being proposed as a political right. [If honestly put, anyway.  One can propose gov’t financed contraception as an unalienable right, but even a supporter might have trouble keeping a straight face.]

                      If we’ve reached the point where we don’t give a crap about matters of conscience when it comes to setting policy, let me know.

                      Oh, I think we have, JB.  That’s precisely the point, and why this issue is more than just a matter of policy.

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                    • The line between contraception and medical necessity is not clear and bright. It’s fuzzy. Pretending it’s clear and bright hurts women’s health.  The Isaa committee, in restricting witnesses to members of the clergy, was the equivalent of a commission on industrial safety that only calls factory owners. This is worth discussing..

                      Sure, absolutely. The fact that the line is fuzzy allows us to discuss such things as freedom of conscience and whether institutions run by people with silly beliefs ought to be compelled to act against those silly beliefs. It seems that that line is much brighter than the fuzzy one.

                      The fact that options such as suplimental insurance are not seen as sufficient to solve the problem also makes me wonder exactly what is going on here.

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                    • “The fact that options such as suplimental insurance are not seen as sufficient to solve the problem also makes me wonder exactly what is going on here.”

                      This doesn’t really address any of the underlying issues, but you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for birth control, in the same you you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for having your teeth cleaned on your dental policy.  Each is a regular occurring and known expense that are usually included in the policy to make more severe costing claims less frequent.

                      If your health insurance provider does not provide birth control then you just buy it.  There is no insurable risk to have a policy for, and no reason to hire a company to process the “claims” you intend to have every month.

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                    •  The fact that the line is fuzzy allows us to discuss such things as freedom of conscience and whether institutions run by people with silly beliefs ought to be compelled to act against those silly beliefs. 

                      If anyone’s saying “Of course some women won’t be covered for treatments they’ll need, but my freedom of conscience is OK with that”, it’s escaped me.

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                    • This doesn’t really address any of the underlying issues, but you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for birth control, in the same you you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for having your teeth cleaned on your dental policy. Each is a regular occurring and known expense that are usually included in the policy to make more severe costing claims less frequent.

                      Yes. Thanks for saying that more clearly than I could. The concept of supplemental limited to a specific provision makes no sense in this case. That’s what I was wondering about earlier.

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                    • Ironically enough, I read that the PPACA was written in such a way that organizations could pay a fine instead of offering coverage for their employees.

                      Is this true?

                      If it is true, is that an elegant solution for everyone involved? Just have Georgetown not cover anybody and let Obamacare provide first dollar coverage for pretty much everything?

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                    • That would be elegant.  I admit I would be confused, though, as to how “employer pays plan for all but BC, and aggregate insurer monies fund BC” is morally objectionable to Georgetown, but “employer pays plan for all but BC, but then pays fines to government, monies of which are used to aggregately fund BC” let’s you escape from that same moral conundrum.

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                    • I’m not one of those papist idolators. I don’t understand how they think about these things. I think it’s one of those things where they aren’t the ones doing it and so, therefore, the blood is not on their hands. Or whatever it is isn’t on their hands.

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                    • I’m afraid I don’t know the difference between those two things.

                      I suspect that “freedom of religious conscience” (superstition!) is inferior to “freedom of conscience” (reason!) but that might be the old Superatheist Jaybird projecting what he would have meant had he made such a distinction.

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                    • Ok, let’s scatter the conscience and the religious aspect of the church aside.
                      We’re talking about a public organization (no IPO’s yet, but we’re waiting) with an organizing charter.
                      Look at it as a legal entity similar to a 501 (c)(3).
                      The rules are a bit different, but they are structured similarly.

                      You’re asking a public institution which provides a public service to violate the terms of its charter.

                      That’s what’s at issue.

                      Their beliefs are entirely beside the point.

                      Does this organization have a right to its founding charter, yes or no?

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                  • Dangit, homonyms get me again.

                    Well, in Canada, they have a system where everybody gets X. If you want more than X, you can either pay for it yourself or you can purchase supplemental insurance. If, say, you want a semi-private room instead of a bed in a ward, you can get insurance to cover that.

                    In the same way, people who work for Georgetown and accept the health plan(s) that they make available get X. If they want more than X, they can either pay for it themselves or they can purchase supplemental insurance.

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                    • And the left responded in kind, with all kinds of “War on Women” rhetoric.  All over an issue that I believe 99% of everyone feels pretty much the same way about.

                      What is the issue that 99% feels the same way about? Contraception?

                      When you see a certain pattern, it’s not merely a rhetorical device to say War on Women. But I guess the left is just overreacting, as per usual.

                       

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                  • They actually have that in the US, too.  But those are things that may or may not happen, and if they do may cost X or may cost Y, and are therefore insurable risks.  BC is a regular and known expense.  You can’t insure against it solely.  You can only offer to cover it to reduce the frequency of more severe claims.  (e.g., childbirth or any bad but infrequent conditions associated with birth or pregnancy)

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                    • No, I’m not saying that there is a moral way to tackle anything.  I’m just saying I cannot figure out why the plan on the table is immoral, and the one you note is moral, from anyone’s point of view.  (Even the Catholics.)

                      As to the question of BC in general, I have never thought that having it mandated by the government was important back when it was a private enterprise affair.  But I get that it’s different now with Obamacare.  Now we are head butting against a situation where either the Church might have to pitch in dollars for something it thinks is immoral, or the government will have to make an exception in a national, government controlled HC system that penalizes (albeit in a relatively small way) an employee of an employer that has different religious beliefs.  What’s the correct answer?  I’m not entirely sure I know, frankly.  Were it up to me, I would be OK with a system where churches were allowed to pass, but employers who weren’t churches didn’t have the option.  But I recognize that has to do more with me and my belief systems than a pretense of moral authority I hold.

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                    • It seems to me that the moral intuition that says “we must force the Catholics to provide this piece of health care coverage” has about as much (or as little, whatevs) grounding in Truth as the silly Catholic inclination to say “we don’t want to cover this”.

                      If we’re cool with saying that our moral intuitions trump theirs, we ought not be surprised if, say, a group of people says something that we find morally incomprehensible (like “gays shouldn’t get married!” or something equally silly) starts being written into Constitutions or whatnot.

                      The wall of separation between church and state should not have a bunch of one-way doors in it. It might quickly find that it’s not much of a wall anymore, after a while.

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                    • “It seems to me that the moral intuition that says “we must force the Catholics to provide this piece of health care coverage” has about as much (or as little, whatevs) grounding in Truth as the silly Catholic inclination to say “we don’t want to cover this”

                      I agree with this, which is why I have no problem with giving the Church a pass, and why I think the White House had overstepped its bound with its original mandate.

                      For me it gets a little quirkier with the next step, where any employer that thinks that birth control is immoral can keep it out of government mandated health plans for their female employees.  The idea of employers beginning to have a say in what their employees do in off hours (based on their own reading of a religious text) is one that I am not very comfortable with, and just feels like a door I don’t want opened very far.

                      And yeah, I get that you don’t want your tax/fee/etc dollars going to something you think is wrong or even immoral, but that seems like a train we we got on a long, long, long time ago. And may in fact be a train you can’t avoid getting on at all regardless of what kind of government you live with.

                      And on top of all of this, I’m still not convinced this whole issue has as much to do with either contraception or religious freedom as we like to pretend.

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                    • Tod, just want to chime in to say I agree with all this. I think the requirement is prima facie justified, and defeating it as a fully generally provision has the burden here. And I also agree that exemptions from the requirement ought to be restricted to a very narrow reading of what constitutes a religious institution.

                      And on top of all of this, I’m still not convinced this whole issue has as much to do with either contraception or religious freedom as we like to pretend.

                      I also think this is the case. So I’m curious as to what you mean here. Care to elaborate?

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                    • What I mean is that I think that of all the issues for everyone to be bitterly divided, this just isn’t it.  What happened, from where I sit, is that the GOP ratcheted up opposition to a poorly thought out mandate – as they should have.  But then when the White House backed off, they kept pushing.  And I think it had less to do with policy or “natural rights” than it did pushing for the sake of pushing.  They came off looking as anti-contraception, but clearly they aren’t – any more than they are anti-“stay in school and grow up to be good citizens.”  It was just pushing.

                      Worse, it came on the back of the ultrasound thing, and then to make matters worse the one guy they are afraid to tell to shit up put his foot in in big time, and gave them a huge political ball of pooh.  And the left responded in kind, with all kinds of “War on Women” rhetoric.  All over an issue that I believe 99% of everyone feels pretty much the same way about.  If the compromise the WH proposed after they overstepped had come out of some bipartisan committee no one would ever have heard about it, and if they had they would have said “Oh…. Ok…. Next?”

                      That’s what I meant.

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                    • The Church is not being asked to pay for anyone’s birth control; they are being forced to offer coverage for their secular employees, which is paid for by the employee in lieu of pay.

                      And these are not churches- these are businesses that are owned by churches.

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                    • Wow, Tod, you make it sound like all this stuff was some weird crazy coincidence- “Huh, whouda thunk that at the very moment when The Conservative Church was upset at the BC mandate, a Conservative campaign financier would talk about holding an aspirin between their knees,then a Conservative Congressman would hold a hearing on women’s health with all me, n then  the Conservative Republicans would propose crazy ultrasound abortion restrictions- and then, Conservative kingmaker Rush went on a crazy slut-shaming smear.”

                      Man, what are the odds? There isn’t even  like any common thread that ties all these together!

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                    • Heh. It’s not as if this stuff emerges in a vacuum. Or because Obama/the Dems overstepped their bounds. In this case, I think a legitimate argument could be made that they didn’t overstep their bounds. But more importantly, I think it’s a matter of definitional truth to the conservative base that anything Obama and the Democrats do constitutes over-reach.

                      Tod (if you’re reading this), this,

                      They came off looking as anti-contraception, but clearly they aren’t

                      is pretty hard to justify given what the GOP has been saying and proposing for quite a while now. So yeah, there’s something else going on here, but I don’t think it’s accounted for by diffused, unfocused political inertia.

                       

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                    • Lib, I would actually say that the common thread that tied most of that together was really poor leadership (if not absolutely no leadership).  If there’s one thing I feel pretty confident about regarding the GOP, it’s that they want to be in power.  Almost everything they have done in the past 2 months has lessened their chance of taking the Senate (their minor goal) and pretty much sunk their chances of unseating Obama (their major goal).

                      So yeah, until I see some indication that the GOP and conservatives have decided that they have no interest in winning national elections I’m going to have to assume this is not the script they had wanted to be reading.

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                    • Still, I would tend to agree with you if it hadn’t been for everything else I’ve seen from the GOP over the past four years.  As I said above, these are the same people who cried fascism when the president said “stay in school.”  They’re the same people that cried treason because the president wouldn’t intervene in Libya, and then cried treason because he did.  They’re the same people that swore an oath to not allow new taxes and cut the ones that existed, and then when the president cut one this winter threatened to shut the government down to get that tax back in place.

                      Do I know any republican that has not used BC, or had sex for non-procreational sex?  Nope.  Have I ever known one that didn’t brag, giggle, or beam with happiness because of said getting’ downness?  Nope.

                      So when I compare those to bits of observational data, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that the GOP is against contraception – except in the cases where Obama is for it, because Obama is for it.

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                    • So yeah, until I see some indication that the GOP and conservatives have decided that they have no interest in winning national elections I’m going to have to assume this is not the script they had wanted to be reading.

                      Yeah, but you’re assuming they believe that being anti-contraception will cost them in the national election. Maybe they don’t; maybe they think it is a winning strategy. Maybe they don’t think people will see them as being anti-contraceptive or anti-woman, just anti “Obamacare”, or anti that Kenyan Muslim who’s trying to snuffle religious freedom. Who would have thought “the left” would be so sleazy to use the opportunity to claim War on Women, right?

                       

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                    • [T]hese are the same people who cried fascism when the president said “stay in school.”  They’re the same people that cried treason because the president wouldn’t intervene in Libya, and then cried treason because he did.  They’re the same people that swore an oath to not allow new taxes and cut the ones that existed, and then when the president cut one this winter threatened to shut the government down to get that tax back in place.

                      Awesome passage, Tod.   I’ve never seen anyone put it quite as well.

                       

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                    • What happened, from where I sit, is that the GOP ratcheted up opposition to a poorly thought out mandate – as they should have.  But then when the White House backed off, they kept pushing.  And I think it had less to do with policy or “natural rights” than it did pushing for the sake of pushing. 

                      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- it seems to me that this whole thing is about dueling demagoguery at this point. Does anyone seriously believe that the Republican position is simply that they’re opposed to anyone using birth control or they’re trying to wage a war on women? Does anyone seriously believe that the Democratic position is that they want the state to subsidize recreational sex or that they’re trying to wage a war on Catholicism? Sure, there probably are some dupes who believe that stuff; I think the rest are trying to score as many points as they can out of this mess before it’s resolved.

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                    • Rufus: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- it seems to me that this whole thing is about dueling demagoguery at this point.

                      Tod: So when I compare those to bits of observational data, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that the GOP is against contraception – except in the cases where Obama is for it, because Obama is for it.

                      Rufus and Tod, I think it’s more nuanced than what you’ve both suggested. But I just want to point out one thing: if the GOP opposes whatever Obama and the Dems support Roe V Wade, and they support abortion services, and funding for contraception, and funding for PP, and no transvaginal ultrasounds, and OTC plan B, and a bunch of other stuff, and the GOP opposes all that stuff (for whatever reason!), then I think we’re talking about something a lot more significant than demogaguery, and that saying it’s all politics is a distinction without a difference.

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              • The comparison is good up to a point.
                But it breaks down at the cost level.
                The internet is a public good in the classic sense that the cost of adding one more user is negligible or nil.
                Not so with BC.
                So, the gov’t interest in regulating the internet has to be something different than in regulating BC.

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        • That whole incident was fabricated for the outrage machine.
          I wasn’t referring to that at all. (I would prefer not to, really.)
          I will now though:

          Contraception is only a small part of what is at issue there.
          The issue is one of an employer-based delivery system, and what manner of exemptions certain types of organizations should have.
          With all the excesses in the intelligence community, surely Congress has received a briefing concerning where babies come from. Maybe the GAO has a chart printed up.
          First of all the faux outrage over not having a woman testify about religious exemptions.
          Then finally they get one.
          They knew that she was coming in as a target to begin with.
          They set her up for that.
          Now somebody said something stupid. When you have someone like Michael Savage on the radio every day, why waste your time getting all concerned over something Rush said that was comparably tame?

          For the record, my own position is that yes, churches and faith organizations– and their subsidiaries– should receive exemptions.
          And yes, we should find a way to provide contraception coverage for those persons who need it.
          And yes, I believe we should reduce the growth of entitlement spending by doing things like, oh say, capping prescription payouts to $2000/yr.
          Which means Ms. Fluke would still have to come up with $1000/yr for her contraception coverage if I had my druthers.
          Lots of people would go without their medication, and I would feel good about it– much better than if I had to go pay for it for them.
          Think of how many boxes of comdoms that $3000 could pay for, all of which could be passed out to high school students.

          Now, there’s two BIG problems going on here that don’t get much air time:
          1) Employer-based coverage isn’t the best of delivery systems. But we seem to be stuck with that. Rather than twisting things around to make them fit, why can’t we look toward a meaningful progression?
          If the State can dispense methadone, why can’t they give out contraception?
          Generally, when I hear someone whining about this or that, and we need this or that, etc., I try to look to see what other affected parties there might be.
          But nobody seems to be that concerned about the rights of unemployed women to their own bodies. So I’m thinking that one is really a smokescreen.

          2) We’re tackling the issue at a national level. Both the Canadian and Australian systems evolved from State & Provincial systems already in place. I believe Ontario bought into Alberta’s program, and the Canadian plan went national shortly thereafter. I forget which State started Australia’s program.
          To date, the only State program I know of is Mass.’ RomneyCare, which, to my understanding, is something of an extension of the mandatory liability for motorists.
          And I can’t get past the incongruity of the arguments.

          Ok, so I have a legal obligation to purchase health insurance, whether I want to or not, simply because my corporeal form is presently located within the geographical boundaries of X. (I’m not sure how hovering in the airspace of the geographical boundaries of X might affect things, if at all)
          I am required to make this purchase because of an inherent right to my own body.

          There’s no way for me to reconcile that.

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          • Because of the comment system, I’m not sure what you are referring to with “that whole incident”. Are you referring to Rush calling a woman sluta nd prostitute? Who fabricated it? “The far left”? Did we create a fake Rush Limbaugh to say all those things?

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              • Limbaugh was the one who fell for it, no? If the whole thing is staged, why not ignore it? Why go into a slut-whore-prostitute spree and makes the story about him? I mean, if he didn’t go into the slut-whore spree, no one on the left can act so evil as to take the opportunity to “demagogue” and whatnot. Maybe instead of yelling at “the left” all the time, you guys should spend some time yelling at Limbaugh the useful idiot.

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                • Not just Limbaugh, but Romney and Santorum, who were too afraid of the big bully to say more than “I wouldn’t have used those words” or “entertainers are allowed to be absurd”.

                  When it comes to having a shred of human decency, I think Republicans are being oppressed by the tyranny of low expectations.

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                  • Do you really think their expectations are all that low?   The Republicritters of my acquaintance hang their heads in their hands and bemoan the collective lunacy on the hoof down at the GOP Corral.   Nobody I know likes these candidates and this is a pretty hard-core GOP area.   Had this discussion with the guy who works on my truck, salt-of-the-earth guy, he wishes these guys could be put into an extractor to get the best parts off each one and make some Frankenstein’s Monster candidate who might appeal to more than ten people.

                    If there’s a Tyranny of Low Expectations, it seems to me the GOP leadership is treating the electorate like Rush treats his audience, whipping them up with cheap and meaningless rhetoric about what they’re Against.   What they’re actually For, nobody seems to know.   This is one place where the Conservatives could shine but their policy guys are all asleep or drunk or something.   Conservatives usually hold lots of trump cards in terms of the Way Things Ought to Be but they’re missing every trick this outing.

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                    • Conservatism is an opposition to radicalism.  Obama will be shown as a radical, and the fiction he’s some sort of moderate will be peeled away.

                      The Republicans—particularly Romney, the nominee—haven’t even begun to expend their ammo on BHO’s record.  It’s too soon, people would get tired of it, Obama’s defenders will pooh-pooh it as “old news.”

                      Right now, Obama’s sinking in the polls without much in direct attacks.  Once the election is put on its proper footing—his record—we’ll see what’s what.

                      The new Post-ABC poll shows that “46 percent approve of the way Obama is handling his job; 50 percent disapprove. That’s a mirror image of his 50 to 46 positive split in early February. The downshift is particularly notable among independents — 57 percent of whom now disapprove — and among white people without college degrees, with disapproval among this group now topping approval by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, at 66 versus 28 percent.”

                      While some of this is certainly attributable to gas prices, his handling of the economy is also a sore point with voters. Thirty-eight percent approve of his handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove. Moreover, President Obama’s “strongly disapprove” number (39 percent) leads the “strongly approve” number (28 percent), highlighting that anti-Obama voters are more intense and plentiful than pro-Obama voter.

                      Voters are split 49-49 percent on whether they think the economy is recovering. Of those who see improvement, a whopping 74 percent think it as a weak recovery. That is an electorate ripe for the argument that we can do better than the Obama economy.

                      Obama also has a substantial problem with independents. The Post’s pollster tells me that Obama trails Mitt Romney 42-50 among independents; against Rick Santorum he trails by a smaller margin, 45 to 48 percent. Overall, Romney leads Obama by a statistically insignificant point (47 to 46 percent), while Santorum trails 46-49 percent.

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                    • Tom, nobody’s political record means Jacques Schuitte.    The more the GOP yammers on about what a Nasty Ol’ Radical Obama is, the worse they look.

                      There are only two vectors which you may sum at your leisure to predict the odds of Obama’s re-election:   the price of gasoline at the pump and the unemployment rate.

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                    • Are you hiding this radical Barack Obama in your basement, Tom? Because I know plenty of liberals who would love to meet this so-called radical Obama. Where has he been hiding all these time? Oh you mean he hangs out with “radical” black people like Derrick Bell, hugging them and all that? I thought you meant policy.

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                    • You’ll see: I’m not going to engage the shoutdown at this time.  And yes, killing the oil is radical.  The mandate is radical.  Muscling the churches is radical.  His green energy policy is radical, and a failure.  Refusing to cut spending isn’t radical, but it is irresponsible.  Even the Eurostate paradises have got hip that the social democrat paradise is going broke years ago, but every time this guy opens his mouth, it costs another couple billion.

                      Hey, BHO still might survive, but he’s getting a free ride on criticism of his record at this time and his poll numbers are still pretty crappy.

                      Hey, I’m just calling the horse race.  Let’s stay chill.

                      http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/03/romney-readies-%E2%80%98prosecution-obama%E2%80%99/351591

                      And the original point is that conservatism is best seen as an opposition to radicalism.  Since the conservatives are keeping their powder dry on Obama’s record, it’s axiomatic that they seem to be quiet.  And Romney in particular is a fixer, not a visionary.  Thank God.

                       

                       

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                    • Obama will be shown as a radical, and the fiction he’s some sort of moderate will be peeled away.

                      Tom, I’m going to directly challenge you on this one–straight up counter-claim that you are factually wrong. No arguments about what X means, etc.  Just the facts.

                      I predict that–whether Obama wins or loses the election–he will not be shown as a radical in any sense that moderates find persuasive.  I’m not sure how we’d demonstrate that, but I’m willing to take a stand on it right now.

                      The Republicans—particularly Romney, the nominee—haven’t even begun to expend their ammo on BHO’s record.  It’s too soon, people would get tired of it, Obama’s defenders will pooh-pooh it as “old news.”

                      I predict that the Republicans will not successfully bring any new ammo about Obama’s alleged radicalism.  The predominant issue in this campaign will be the economy (and gas prices, if they remain high) and the war on terror.

                      Right now, Obama’s sinking in the polls without much in direct attacks.  Once the election is put on its proper footing—his record—we’ll see what’s what.

                      The source you link to show he’s sinking in the polls because of economic issues, not his alleged radicalism. I ask you, what are these radical issues that the public is apparently unaware of, and that will grab their attention and concern when Romney gets around to making them public?  What do you believe are the issues that prove Obama’s radicalism?  To be upfront, I am not going to be very persuaded on the contraception issue–I know that you think it’s an assault on the Church (and keep in mind I’m very sympathetic to the religious freedom argument), but to count as radical for electoral purposes, the issue has to be something that the middle will find intolerably left-wing, and I don’t see the evidence that they find that issue intolerably leftist (I’m open to considering such evidence, of course).

                      This is a put your money where your mouth is challenge.  I’m willing to make some wagers on the election.  Small ones, as I’m not wealthy enough to take big risks, but real ones nonetheless.

                      My first specific, provable, prediction on which I challenge you is that unless the economy drops to below a 1.5% annualized growth rate prior to September, Obama wins re-election.

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                    • Nobody I know likes these candidates and this is a pretty hard-core GOP area.

                      Does that mean that they’re going to vote for Obama, or for the candidates they don’t like?

                      If there was a Democratic candidate as loathesome as the current crop of GOP, I would vote them out. (And I have — I voted against Grey Davis in the recall.)

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                • The lightning rod gets struck by lightning.
                  That’s what the lightning rod does.

                  It’s not about the persons involved.
                  It’s about the function of the persons involved.

                  I’m not Rush’s personal handler.
                  I’m not Fluke’s either.
                  All that’s beside the point.

                  Yeah, I agree that Rush has way too much influence and way too negative of influence over the Republican Party.
                  Doesn’t change the fact that he’s fairly predictable.
                  Limbaugh’s not in the game for the long-term health of the Republican Party.
                  He has his own angle.

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          • Uh. Again, not to bash on a stupid falsehood because it should long have been a dead horse…

            But the testimony said over the course of law school, which (unless you go to Conservaverse University school of law) is a 3 year program. That means $1000/year over 3 years = $3000.

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              • That’s less than $100 a month. Doesn’t seem so amazing to me. Of course it sounds amazing when every Tom, Dick and Harry keeps repeating $3000, three thousand dollar!!! as the magic word without mentioning the time duration. (Not on purpose, I’m sure, just couldn’t be bothered to check, is all).

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                  • From the Fluke testimony

                    “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. ”

                    That sounds like approximately $1000 per year or less then $100 per month. Various websites have estimates of the cost of birht control which can be up to $90 per month.

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                    • One other thing that may or may not be worth keeping in mind – everyone keeps assuming law school = 3 years.  Not all law students are full-time, though, and the DC law schools, including Georgetown, usually have fairly well-attended part-time programs, which are 4 year programs.

                      FWIW, while it’s easy to switch from the full-time program to the part-time program, the same is not true of the reverse.

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                    • Also the operative word “can”… Not “does” or “always” or “will”. I’d be shocked if there weren’t several women who could have spent over $3000 during their law school career on contraception. With that in mind, since some folks want to play things obscenely tight to her exact words (or, really, the words and numbers they prefer to the exclusion of all others), I find it interesting they are hanging their entire rebuttal to Fluke on the $3000 figure.

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            • The figures I’ve seen–and that our very own Dr. Saunders also found–were $20-$50 per month.  If we allow the high end figure just to set the outer limit, we’re looking at $600/year, or $1800 over 3 years.

              Did Ms. Fluke give too high a figure? Yes.

              Was it astoundingly ridiculously high?  Depends on your interpretation, but I’ll admit that a 40% over-estimate seems a bit of a stretch to me.

              Did Ms. Fluke lie, mis-speak, or just not know what she was talking about? I doubt any of us are in a position to know.

              Is her “over-estimate” the real issue? I can’t for the life of me imagine why that should take center stage in this debate.

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                • Of course she gets a pass for her gross exaggeration.  That’s the whole point.  This whole phony issue is about one Starbucks a week.  Or you can go down the street from Georgetown to Planned Parenthood.  

                  There are three federally funded Planned Parenthood clinics in Washington, D.C.–none being more than 3.2 miles from the Georgetown Law School.

                  There’s not a shred of reality to any of this, that people are not having sex because they can’t afford the contraception.  It’s complete nonsense.  The “facts” of her testimony have been left unchallenged because of the Limbaugh flap.  So it goes.  The only thing I wonder is whether her advocates are walking past the facts by intention or ignorance.  On the other hand, I just don’t care anymore.

                   

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                  • So challenge the facts, Tom.

                    And, while we are talking about facts, let’s remember a few more:
                    – Fluke was talking about medical implications that can result from a lack of contraception unrelated to sex
                    – As I said above, we don’t know all the costs she was factoring in. She might have included doctor’s visits, transportation, and other medications necessary to treat side effects related to contraceptive use. In this case, I’d agree that is less than the most accurate accounting, but considering the totality of costs isn’t lying, nor does it discount her broader message.
                    – There are over 100 types of oral contraception. PP carries but a few. Many women require a specific formula which very likely would ot be available at PP. It is ot a choice for everyone.
                    – For someone who claims not to care, you sure do chime into the conversation quite a bit.

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                    • There are over 100 types of oral contraception. PP carries but a few. Many women require a specific formula which very likely would ot be available at PP. It is ot a choice for everyone.’

                      Are all of these types of oral contraception covered by any given insurance plan today?

                      Is forcing the Catholic institutions to provide coverage for every single one of these 100 types a moral obligation on the part of society or could they get away with only providing coverage for, say, 60 of them?

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                    • I object to the distortions and elisions, BSK.

                      – Fluke was talking about medical implications that can result from a lack of contraception unrelated to sex

                      I know what you mean here, contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.  But of course, her argument goes unchallenged because Rush Limbaugh said “slut.”

                      But at some point, this is going to court on the real issue, whether the gov’t can force the churches to do its will.  The literal First Amendment argument is tough; a better case here under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993:

                      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577223003824714664.html

                      You know, BSK, for those—maybe even you!—who are interested in the real world part of this, not talk radio and “slut,” which amounts to no more than a political football for Obama to try to save his ass.

                      http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/213955-obama-asks-to-give-commencement-address-at-ny-womens-college

                       

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                    • JB-

                      I don’t know the in’s and out’s of insurance to say what should or should not be covered.  Is it more expensive to cover 100 versus 10 formulations?  No clue.  Do the different formulations work in different enough ways that the moral calculus of each one varies?  Again, I don’t know.

                      I’m on the record as being uncomfortable with the mandate in general and its applicability to religious institutions specifically.  If forced to decide, I’d probably say that non-church institutions ought to adhere to all laws that any other employer must and that exemptions should be limited to the Church itself.  Honestly, much of this is neither here nor there.  My contribution to this conversation here has to do with the way in which facts are being manipulated in support of predetermined conclusions.

                      A certain segment of the population was going to have an issue with Fluke’s testifying no matter what she said.  Some of those have latched on to the potential that a number she offered during the course of her testimony was exaggerated, without offering much evidence for their claim.  In doing so, they have demonstrated an almost willful ignorance of some very basic facts in this situation, both relating to what Fluke actually said and on how contraception actually works.  And by putting their eggs into this basket, they seem to make the case that the economics of the situation are important when most of them would likely argue that economics be damned, this is a moral/religious freedom/whatever issue.

                      It just feels like there is a lot of dishonesty in the air and that some people are deliberately putting it there or playing it up because they are more interested in drawing sides.

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                    • “I know what you mean here, contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.”

                      What is the main issue?  And why do you get to decide what Fluke’s main issue was?  Certain* religious institutions ban on contraception coverage mean that some woman will be unable to afford medicines they need to live a healthy life.  This is an oft-ignored fact in this conversation that Fluke brought to light for many people.

                       

                      * I say “certain” because it is my understanding that some institutions do allow for contraception coverage in these cases, but most do not make any distinction.

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                    • “But of course, her argument goes unchallenged because Rush Limbaugh said “slut.””

                      Then challenge it.  This is like listening to right-leaning members of the media, some of whom have the highest ratings in the biz, complain about how the media is ignoring issues they won’t shut up about.  If you want something done right, do it yourself.  Last I checked, you had front page privileges here, Tom.  If you are unhappy with the way Fluke has been challenged, step up to the plate yourself.

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                    • contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.

                      It’s not a separate issue.  For thousands upon thousands of women it is the core issue.  Now I disagree with those who say this isn’t a religious liberty issue–I think they’re wrong. But I also disagree with those who say that the health care, medical uses of contraceptives, aren’t at issue–that’s just as dead wrong.

                      But what I really object to here is that you are focusing really heavily on the use of contraceptives for birth control, so when you say “medical purposes” is not the issue, you leave a very strong implication that the real issue is wanting birth control just to have lots of sex without getting pregnant. I can’t say whether that’s what you really mean–I don’t know that it is, and I’m not going to imply that it is–but that’s the implication created by the structure of your argument.  And whether it’s intentional or not, that’s really really ridiculous.

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                    • You’re covering the contraception angle better with JB, BSK.  I need to get out of here anyway.  Peace.  If the Church is denying contraceptive drugs needed for non-contraceptive uses, it’s a much weaker position than what you’re discussing with JB, and I’m not particularly interested in defending it.

                       

                       

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                    • “Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]”

                      31% is a whole heck of a lot!  That is about 20 million women.  TWENTY MILLION WOMEN!

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                    • But, Tom, the issues can’t be separated quite so neatly.  Suppose a woman needs contraception for issues unrelated to pregnancy and sex.  The Catholic hospital she works for decides to cover it.  If they find out that, while on that contraception, she had unprotected sex, eschewing the condom because she knew the birth control would prevent pregnancy, will they suddenly stop covering it?  If there was an easy way to cover contraception for non-sex reasons and not cover contraception for sex reasons, this would make a compromise a hell of a lot easier.  As far as I know (and I’m not a doctor), there isn’t really a way to do this.  WIth this in mind, the Church falls on the side of banning it entirely.  Which says a whole hell of a lot about their own moral calculus right there… “Women are suffering?  Tough.  Someone might enjoy getting their rocks off in a way we don’t approve of.”

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                    • BSK, also from Guttmacher:

                      The study documenting this finding, “Beyond Birth Control: The Overlooked Benefits of Oral Contraceptive Pills,” by Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, also found that more than half (58%) of all pill users rely on the method, at least in part, for purposes other than pregnancy prevention—meaning that only 42% use the pill exclusively for contraceptive reasons.

                      I don’t know what it means to say that something most of the people using the pill do is an exception rather than the rule. This use of the phrase “exception rather than the rule” is, to me, an exception rather than the rule.

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                    • “Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]”

                      That needs to be unpacked more, BSK.  Women who are trying to get pregnant are using contraceptives?

                      Basically, this is grenade toss and not a search for truth.  if you have a case than make it, flinging a factoid in my direction is not a discussion.

                      BTW, from your same source:

                      WHO PAYS FOR CONTRACEPTION?

                      • One-quarter of the more than 20 million American women who obtain contraceptive services from a medical provider receive care from a publicly funded family planning clinic.[5]

                      • In 2008, 7.2 million women, including 1.8 million teenagers, received contraceptive services from publicly funded family planning clinics in the United States.[5]

                      Clearly, there are other ways—publicly funded, at that—to get contraception to these women without steamrolling the Church into doing something it considers immoral.  This is bad governance in the least, majoritarianism at its worst.

                      If not unconstitutional or a violation of the Religious Freedom Resoration Act of 1993, see elsewhere in this thread.

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                    • Tom-

                      The only unpacking needed is with your initial insistence that women seeking contraceptives for medical reasons unrelated to sex or pregnancy is an exception. Clearly, there is a great many number of women using and/or seeking contraceptives for reasons completely unrelated to sex or pregnancy.  It would behoove you to acknowledge the flaws in your initial position on this issue.

                      Contraceptives are medicine.  This is an important point.  The Church, through its various institutions, seeks to deny women coverage for medicine that A) the government requires them to cover and B) the usage of which does not violate a single tenet of their faith.  If the Church has a mechanism to deny coverage for contraceptives to women using it exclusively for the prevent of pregnancy while allowing it for women using it for other, medically necessary reasons, I am fully on board with that.

                      WIth this in mind, Fluke’s testimony absolutely matters.  Fluke gave a face and a voice to women whose health suffered because they were unable to access medically necessary contraceptives.  It was a face and a voice that was largely absent from the conversation to that point.  You can choose to continue to ignore it because of all the circusy stuff you bemoan, or you can acknowledge that this issue is about more than sex, more than religious freedom, more than one shock jock’s choice of language… it is about the health needs of a great number of women, which can be met without impinging on the Church one iota.

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                    • Goalposts moved, BSK.  If you look the polling, not one contemplates the non-contraceptive exceptions we’re now speaking of [and which Fluke tried to lump in with the larger story].  [Even 1/3 is the exceptions, not the rule, and you did not sort all that out.]  The whole issue is muddied; how much of that is intentional and how much is people honestly muddying it I do not know, but you haven’t stated either my or JB’s arguments accurately, so this is useless.

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                    • Why does polling sudden,y matter? Either something is right or its not, regardless of popular opnion. My contention is that the church is wrong to insist on a legal waiver to continue denying women medically necessary contraception used in a way that dows not violate their faith.

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                  • So, the solution is we should open more Planned Parenthood clinics? I thought you guys are in favor of defunding PP.

                    Plus, if your side thinks her testimony is wrong, it’s YOUR JOB to challenge it – hey, call her  a liar if you want, I don’t care. But nope, slut-shaming is a lot more fun, and defending people doing the slut-shaming is more important.

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                  • Once again, the GOP has set up its Circular Firing Squad to demolish these pesky fact-deprived protesters.

                    Get real, Tom.   The GOP’s strategy here has been disastrously stupid.   Had they simply allowed her to testify, this whole thing would have blown over.   If they’d played their cards right, and your facts are correct, they could have blown her out of the water.   But Nooooo, in typical GOP fashion, dumbassery wins the day and now the GOP looks like a bunch of Taliban mullahs.   Too stupid to walk upright and carry a plate of biscuits in front of them, the whole lot of them.

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      • Here`s the thing I like to do: instead of actually debating issues with people who might well say something more reasonable and compelling than I had expected, I like to imagine the most outrageous and absurd arguments that they might hypothetically make and then disagree with those before anyone actually makes them. Saves time.

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      • Will H.: Dude. This is way beyond the pale. It’s one thing to throw out an outrageous straw man argument. But to use that analogy in support of the straw man is calculated to offend in the extreme. It’s not technically a violation of the commenting policy, but it is seriously making me think that we need to make the commenting policy tougher.

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        • I think you’re reading more into it than was there.
          I was making a general comment about shutting out debate.
          I certainly didn’t do that toward the end of shutting out debate.

          It’s not a strawman.
          I don’t know how that tendency could have escaped your notice.

          But I wasn’t referring to recent events even slightly; just a general tendency.
          And I wasn’t referring to the commenters here, but persons generally.

          But as far as that goes, the comment itself seems to have spawned a whole new sub-thread. Not my intent.
          But it’s interesting to see persons I know who fall on the other side of the issue raising some of the same concerns.

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  9. ‘ll admit I haven’t read all 197 comments above but I do have a tangential question based on my understanding of a couple of points.

    • Insurance is based on risk assessment, to work it assumes that the likelihood any one policy holder will claim is low enough that payouts can be made from the pool of everyone’s premiums including those who haven’t claimed.
    • Birth control pills have to be taken regularly to work, so if you want to be taking them you will be. This means that in the population of women who seek insurance for birth control pretty much 100% will claim on that policy.

    Given the above, and please tell me if either is wrong, how does a scheme for paying for birth control pills come under the category of insurance?

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  10. Matty, women generally take birth control pills for just some amount of time, not from puberty until menopause. Although when the7y take it for homonal reasons, that might be different.. I have heard it stated that insurance plans that cover the pill are more affordable than the ones that don’t, for whatever that’s worth.

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  11. Last thoughts on this post (which I am surprised has still been going) and ignoring the interesting history and focusing on current events with everyone else: I think that there are only two real issues that are worth much discussion here, with everything else being noise:

    The Big Picture Issue: Now that we are moving into a time where the government will actively be taking part in the healthcare system, where do we draw the lines when healthcare issues cross paths with religious beliefs?  Do we draw the line at a Church, or at an employer who has certain religious convictions, or do we force everyone to offer identical healthcare even if it is against their faith (or universally refuse to cover it even if t’s not against the faith of the patient)?  Or, looking at how this might muddy up the whole system, does this lead to questions that might make us reevaluate HRC altogether, and either move toward a single payer system, or step back to what healthcare was in 2008 and before?  My understanding of the whole HRC was that it was intended to be set of first steps.  Since we are getting close to implementing it, taking a look at what those first steps should be (including potentially backward in nature) through the prism of this issue seems both necessary and a good idea, no matter who wins in November.

    The Horse Race Issue: Especially as this is an election year (and we are smack dab in the middle of the primaries), it seems valuable (and to me, interesting) to ask how this issue is being tackled by both sides, and how it might help or hurt each side.  I’ve obviously already weighed in here, but would most interested in an argument that this will actually hurt the Dems and buoy the GOP.

    I must admit, though, I’m not sure that I understand the point of the rest of it.  Is the most one might pay for BC without insurance $50 a year, or $600 a year, or $1,000 a year?  Is Fluke 23, or is she 30?  Is it possible that someone might take hormones for purposes other than BC?  All of these questions seem like they would have very clear answers; they all also seem somewhat irrelevant.  The concern for the Catholic church isn’t cost, it’s one of morality.  Fluke’s being 30 is utterly irrelevant.  If someone is taking hormones for health reason that are apart for BC, I am going to assume no one will really have a problem with that.  All of which is to say, I would have preferred to have a conversation on the big picture stuff, or the horse race.  And that’s probably on me, as the OP writer a