Friday, February 17, 2012

The freedom not to provide birth control

An editorial from the New York Times, with my commentary.

The Freedom to Choose Birth Control
Published: February 10, 2012
In response to a phony crisis over “religious liberty” engendered by the right,
The whole point of the first two clauses of the First Amendment is to remove sneer quotes from religious liberty.
President Obama seems to have stood his ground on an essential principle — free access to birth control for any woman.
All men and women have legal access to contraception. Mostly free or damn cheap. New York City a year ago (on Valentines' Day!) announced the world's first Condom App for your smartphone, which will provide walking directions to the nearest 5 of the 3000 venues that give out free rubbers-- so "it's unlikely that a person would ever be very far from a gratis prophylactic." Now that's affordable healthcare! If you have a cardiac arrest on Second Avenue, odds are against a nearby defibrillator, but they can put a free condom on you while they're waiting for EMS.
That access, along with the ability to receive family planning and preventive health services, was at the foundation of health care reform.
Birth control access was "the foundation of health care reform"? Are they kidding? Birth control isn't even health care. Pregnancy isn't a disease.

The ostensible foundation of health care reform was to provide affordable health care to all. The actual foundation of health care reform was to expand government power, as this power grab makes clear.
Mr. Obama’s new rule on birth control coverage lets institutions affiliated with a religion shift the cost of coverage to their insurance companies,
Oh. So it's not free.
but Mr. Obama assured Americans it would not result in other women, or the rest of the country, subsidizing that shift.
 The whole health care boondoggle is about making people subsidize people.
By refusing to back down on Friday,Mr. Obama took an action that will help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and medical complications from pregnancy.
What about chastity? Always works. It's actually free.
Nonetheless, it was dismaying to see the president lend any credence to the misbegotten notion that providing access to contraceptives violated the freedom of any religious institution.
"Free exercise" doesn't mean just free talk. Exercise means living in accordance with your religious beliefs.
Churches are given complete freedom by the Constitution to preach that birth control is immoral, but they have not been given the right to laws that would deprive their followers or employees of the right to disagree with that teaching.
What a stupid assertion. Vile really.

People have the Constitutional right to live in accordance with their religious beliefs-- free exercise. That right is corporate as well-- it applies to Churches as well as to parishioners. It applies as well to people who have irreligious beliefs and practices.

The is no right to force anyone to pay for the beliefs or practices of another. If people who believe in contraception want to use it, they are free to buy it. They have no right to use government to force the Catholic Church to buy it for them, directly or indirectly.
If a religious body does not like a public policy that affects its members, it is free to try to change it, but it cannot simply opt out of society or claim a special exemption from the law.
The law is unconstitutional, so of course "a religious body" can opt out.

Note the liberal hypocrisy: a voluntary prayer in a school is a Constitutional crisis, requiring immediate federal court injunction to protect some atheist who claims harm from merely seeing a prayer.

But liberals claim that the federal government can force the Catholic Church to violate the basic precepts of its faith.
Besides, contraceptive access is already in place in 28 states, and has been the law in New York for a decade, without inflicting the slightest blow to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which has complied.
Liberal jurisprudence: 'a series of unconstitutional state laws makes an unconstitutional federal law constitutional.'
Mr. Obama had already gone too far out of his way to exempt churches and their religious employees from the preventative care mandate. It was not necessary to carve out a further exception for their nonreligious arms, like Catholic hospitals and universities, which employ thousands of people of other faiths.
An obvious purpose of the contraception mandate is to drive the Catholic church out of healthcare.
But Republican candidates and lawmakers know a good wedge issue, and they used this one to portray Mr. Obama as anti-religion and pro-government oppression.
It was also a good excuse to take another whack at the health care reform law. The White House’s failure to foresee this mischief produced several days of stammering.
The Obama White House understood exactly what they were doing. They didn't capture the presidency by being stupid.
If the president had simply made today’s announcement two weeks ago — explaining that the savings from expanded birth control access means no additional cost to any employer — he might have avoided the political grief.
Playing a shell game with cost won't make the issue go away. The Bishops have made that clear.
The Catholic Health Association of the United States, which represents Catholic hospitals, said it was “very pleased” with the announcement, while the bishops conference said it was still studying the new rule.
The CHA is a tool. They have shamelessly sold themselves to the left.
The president’s solution, however, demonstrates that those still angry about the mandate aren’t really concerned about religious freedom; they simply don’t like birth control and want to reduce access to it.
I am very much concerned about religious freedom. And I don't like birth control and I want to reduce it.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican of Florida, has introduced a bill that would allow any employer to refuse to cover birth control by claiming to have a religious objection. The House speaker, John Boehner, also supports the concept.
Let's pray the bill passes.
Rick Santorum said Friday that no insurance policy should cover it, apparently unaware that many doctors prescribe birth control pills for medical reasons other than contraception.
Santorum knows that. He also knows that many perscriptions for "non-birth-control" birth control are for birth control.
The White House promise that free birth control pays for itself will still have to be tested.
If it "pays for itself" it isn't free. Revenue-neutral isn't free. The moral issue depends not at all on revenue neutrality.
The rule announced Friday would be objectionable if it turns out that nonreligious employers are subsidizing the exemption of religious employers, in effect paying more for their insurance because they have to cover birth control.
That's how insurance works. You pay more for coverage you want.
For women, and for society at large, the principle of keeping open access to birth control is a major step forward.
If women (and men) want contraception, they are free to pay for it. Contraception isn't healthcare, and forcing people to pay for other people's lifestyle is wrong.

Forcing religious institutions to pay for contraception is unconstitutional and immoral, and is a major new salient in the left's war on Christianity.  


  1. Why on earth would there need to be a law forcing insurance companies to pay for rubbers?
    Another consideration: Almost everything in this country that is paid for by insurance is constantly rising in price. The people who make such products have a captive market, and know it.
    So will Mr Obama's No Prick Left Uncovered plan result in $30 or $50 condom boxes for all?
    You know, like ALL your other prescriptions down that way?
    Could this very strange move result in LESS access to birth control is exactly the segments of society it is supposed to 'help'?

    1. Hey soldier boy, this isn’t about rubbers, it’s about prescription hormonal birth control that cost from $600 to $1000 dollars a year. This is often the largest single health care expense for women in their 20’s and 30’s. Women also value the pill for more than its contraceptive properties because it regulates the menstrual cycle and results in shorter periods that are lighter in flow, rubbers don’t do that.

      Do you even know any women?


    2. Egnor: What about chastity? Always works. It's actually free.

      Except when it fails, which it does 90 percent of the time.

    3. When has chastity ever failed?

      Oh, you're one of those people who blame chastity when it's not actually being used. Which is kind of like blaming the condom when the guy didn't even strap it on.


  2. Here’s an interesting article that recommends hormonal birth control for Catholic nuns. It turns out that in addition to shorter and more regular periods with lighter flow, reduced water retention, and reduction or elimination of sometimes severe cramping, the pill also dramatically reduces certain cancer risks.

    I understand that Bishops may have a moral objection to paying for something that they feel will enable employees to have sex in a way that Bishops frown upon, but should women in the employ of notionally affiliated institutions be denied a means to get through the month with less discomfort and inconvenience and reduce their cancer risk?


    1. KW,

      Arguing the benefits of birth control isn't really the issue. No one is stopping the person from getting the pills. This is about the executive branch ruling by judicial fiat to force people to act against their conscience. When it happens to you--which means that I assume you actually have a conscience--you will understand. Just because I don't want to buy something for you doesn't mean that I am keeping it from you. Buy it your damned self.

      You know what's expensive? Guns. They're also a constitutional right. But my employer shouldn't have to provide one for me. If the government tried to make him provide a gun for me and he didn't want to, I wouldn't say that my employer is stripping me of my second amendment right to own a gun. I wouldn't run to the government and have the secretary of this or that force my employer either.

      I read the article about the Catholic nuns and the benefits of the pill. They pointed out that women who don't bear children have a higher incidence of breast cancer, which is something I knew. That's why, for example, there is such a high risk of breast cancer among lesbians and women who abort their children out of existence.

      The article does ooze with political bias, and I would point out that it comes from Time Magazine and cites Lancet. Still, I considered the facts on their merits. Maybe there's some truth to the article.

      All I know is that I have read in several other sources that birth control pills are actually a carcinogen. The World Health Organization lists birth control pills as carcinogenic, just like asbestos and cigarette smoke.

      It's an important point to keep in mind when you hear the spokeswomen of the baby-killing industry squaking about how women's health would be adversely impacted if the government were to ever cut them off from the teet. What would we they do if they couldn't shake down the taxpayer?!!!

      But if they really cared about women's health--you know, those mysterious "mammograms" they always talk about when they can't defend abortion--they would advise women to do two things. First, stop taking a pill that causes cancer. Second have children and breastfeed them. Don't abort them.


    2. "...but should women in the employ of notionally affiliated institutions be denied a means to get through the month with less discomfort and inconvenience and reduce their cancer risk?"

      You're back to the idiotic notion that if someone doesn't provide something for you, they're actually denying it to you.

      Your "liberalism" is actually totalitarianism. There's nothing "liberal" about your pushy agenda. Your "pro-choice" ideology is actually coercion, which is the opposite of choice. It has nothing to do with choice because you only care about choice when it comes to lethal violence against children, and even then you don't think people should have a choice when it comes to not participating in said lethal violence.

      And I like Trish's comment. If PP gave a rat's patoot about cancer, they'd have to make some policy changes. Stop prescribing a carcinogen, for example. It would be like the American Cancer Society handing out cigarettes.


    3. Under the new rule stands now the institutions that object to providing contraceptive coverage for their employees don’t have too. The insurance company will pay for it. Why all the continued whining? It’s obvious, this is, and always has been, about trying to control the sexual activity of people who don’t share your puritanical religious views.

      For a young woman making $10-$15 an hour a $600-$1000 dollar annual expense is not trivial. For someone with roommates it could equal a couple of month’s worth of rent. There is no doubt that some women will decide to go without hormonal birth control because of the expense. If an institution has to ask the insurance provider to remove contraceptives from the insurance company’s standard level of coverage they are indeed working to deny their employees contraception.


  3. "Forcing religious institutions to pay for contraception is unconstitutional and immoral, and is a major new salient in the left's war on Christianity."

    Pretending that this is unconstitutional, when it has been demonstrated through litigation that it is not is among the many reasons why you claim the title "lying sack of shit". Twenty-eight states already have this exact mandate for coverage by employers. Eight states don't even exempt churches from the requirement that birth control be provided as part of health care coverage. Challenges were raised to them, and they all failed. Judges in multiple jurisdictions all came to the same conclusion: this mandate does not infringe upon religious liberty.

    Compounding this idiocy on your part is your claim that this is part of the "left's" war on Christianity. I suppose you think that in 2000, when Bush was President, he was part of the "left" when he let stand an EEOC interpretation that health care plans that did not provide birth control coverage were in violation of Title VII? But no, you probably didn't know that. Because you don't bother to do any research other than to parrot uninformed right-wing screeds. Because you appear not to mind being a lying sack of shit.

  4. If you don't believe that there's a war on religion, just read this page for a while, particularly comments from Anonymous (pain in the ass lawyer), KW, and Oleg. They're the resident spokesmen for anti-religious bigotry. They will ALWAYS defend it while claiming that it simply doesn't exist. It's all in our minds...


    1. When religious people try to force others to live as if they shared the faith they’re fighting sin and doing Gods work. When non-believers try to defend their liberty its anti-religious bigotry.


    2. KW,

      Let's examine here for a moment who is forcing whom to do what. The executive branch, under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued an ultimatum to all employers that they provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion coverage. They backed off of that, and now they're "only" forcing the insurance provider of said organzaitions to provide it for "free".

      You are FORCING others to do things your way. There is no nuance here. The coercion is entirely on your side.


    3. "Let's examine here for a moment who is forcing whom to do what. The executive branch, under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued an ultimatum to all employers that they provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion coverage."

      A requirement that has been in place nationally since at least 2000, when the EEOC interpreted Title VII to require such coverage. But maybe you didn't know that. Which is it? Are you ignorant or a lying sack of shit?

      Also, a requirement that has been in place in 28 states for years - in many cases even before 2000 (with 8 states not even exempting houses of worship from the provisions). These provisions have been tested by litigation, and in all of them they were upheld despite religious objections. But maybe you didn't know that either. Which is it? Are you ignorant or a lying sack of shit?

      They backed off of that, and now they're "only" forcing the insurance provider of said organzaitions to provide it for "free"."

      And exactly what is the religious objection to this requirement? Not that it matters. The original requirement was fully in accord with established Constitutional law.

    4. "You are FORCING others to do things your way. There is no nuance here. The coercion is entirely on your side."

      The government FORCES an employer to pay their employees at least minimum wage. The government FORCES an employer to contribute to unemployment insurance. The government FORCES you and your employer to contribute to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. The government FORCES an employer to pay most employees overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. And so on and so forth.

      Whining that the government is FORCING particular conditions on the form compensation takes is stupid. The government does it all the time.

    5. The denial of contraceptive coverage will certainly force some number of women to change there sexual habits and deny themselves the regulatory benefits of hormonal birth control. The question for me is; do we want to live in a country where our employers are empowered to use religious standards to influence our most personal and private choices? Is it fare to ask an employee to take on an extra expense or potentially physically suffer because they don’t want to follow your religious practices? I think the answer to both questions for someone who truly values individual religious freedom has to be no.

      Republican politicians and the clergy are now pushing for legislation that will allow any employer to opt-out of any coverage they find religiously or morally objectionable. This is incredibly over-reaching to the point of being absurd. Someone could claim they have a deep moral conviction that something must be done about overpopulation and only cover contraception and abortion but not maternity. The number of truly horrible scenarios is mind-boggling and underscores the fairness of universal minimum standards.

      It’s an election year, and the economy is getting better, ‘tis the season of manufactured culture war outrage. It’s going to be fun watching you all get led around by the nose.


  5. "ratfink"

    You don't see that too often.