The Lewisville Police Department will participate in a warrant round up beginning February 25th. More than 250 jurisdictions across Texas will participate in what is believed to be the largest joint operation of its type. The list of outstanding warrants for the city of Lewisville is here. People with warrants outstanding are urged to contact the court to dispose of their cases voluntarily, rather than risk arrest at home or work. The City of Lewisville Municipal Court can be contacted at (972) 219-5022.
That drummed-up "controversy" over requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage as part of any employer-sponsored health insurance, even when the business is owned by religious institutions: Juan Cole has an excellent breakdown of the situation, and the hypocrisy displayed by the demagogues making the most hay over it.
I'll add my own two cents here, that some folks won't like: Objection to birth control based on Christianity is simply wrong, and has no basis in scripture. Even if Catholics could find some basis in scripture, it's still wrong. I can respect that they are entitled to their beliefs, but sometimes religion gets it wrong, as they have in this case, and which religions do all the time. Rank and file Catholics largely reject that teaching of the Church on this matter, because unlike the entirely male celibate leadership, they know about real life challenges with relationships and sex and child rearing.
The reason there is controversy is because the government mandate is broader and the religious exemption to the mandate is narrower than before. Simple as that. So called "individual freedom" is taking precedence over religious freedom and this disregards historical protections and legal precedent.
Previous to this mandate the federal government did not dictate to private businesses, much less to non-profits affiliated with churches, what they can and cannot include in their health care policies. With Obamacare, the federal government does dictate to both private employers and to non-profits affiliated with churches. This is a change; and it cuts against religious freedom: this much is indisputable.
If you do not have a problem with this change, then you are saying that you believe more in the so-called "individual freedom" of a person to have access to these preventative services, including "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures" over religious freedom.
The approved FDA methods for contraception may be found here, but include male and female condoms, diaphragms, sponges and cervical caps, the pill, the patch, shots or injections, emergency contraception which includes "the morning after pill", IUD's, implantable rods, and permanent sterilization for men and women.
Regardless of how you might feel about the use of contraception, some religions, yes, including the Catholic religion, believes it is a sin to use and now they are being forced to provide and pay for something they believe is wrong (yes, even after the "compromise" offered by this administration that is no compromise). Previously, due to their religious beliefs, religiously affiliated universities, hospitals, soup kitchens, adoption agencies, etc. were exempt from these types of government mandates. Now they are not. This is a change. It is not one that I like; I believe that freedom of religion is one of the core principles of our nation.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." This is plainly worded. It is also plain that the federal government with its broad mandate and narrow exemption oversteps its bounds.
Since 2000, employers with 15 or more employees (including all religious institutions) have been required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees IF it provides prescription drug coverage. The change is that the rule will now apply to smaller employers and will eliminate co-pays.
(The elimination of the co-pays is the larger concern to me, since it encourages gouging by drug companies. I think insurance companies ought to set their own formularies based on science and cost-effectiveness.)
This is not an issue of religious freedom, since individuals are free to practice their religion however they choose within the bounds of the law. Nobody is required to take contraceptives. The organizations, as employers subject to all of the other laws of the land have to pay their taxes and comply with employment law.
Freedom of religion only goes so far, as we all must bend in order to have an orderly society. Here's a quote from the decision of Oregon v. Smith - a case where the Supreme Court ruled that a law could not be overridden simply because it disagreed with someone's religious views:
"It is a permissible reading of the [free exercise clause]...to say that if prohibiting the exercise of religion is not the object of the [law] but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended....To make an individual's obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law's coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State's interest is 'compelling' - permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, 'to become a law unto himself,' contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.' To adopt a true 'compelling interest' requirement for laws that affect religious practice would lead towards anarchy."
The majority opinion was written by Justice Scalia.
I'd like to claim a religious exemption against paying taxes to support war, since my bible says "thou shalt not kill", and forcing me to pay all of my taxes in effect violates my religious objection to killing. What, does that sound ridiculous? It is.
One more thing: Covering contraception reduces the total cost of providing health care. It's much cheaper to pay for pills than the $5 - $10k on the low end to deliver a baby. Add to that the fact that women need these pills for a variety of reasons other than as a contraceptive, and that some women MUST be on a contraceptive due to life-threatening or birth-defect-inducing contraindications for pregnancy.
For what it's worth, there is one way to avoid all of this controversy, fake or real: Get employers out of the business of providing health care. The health care burden on business in this country is stifling the economy and putting the US at a competitive disadvantage. We need to go to a single-payer, private delivery system. Instead, we ended up with the Republican plan, a warmed over version of what Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. I think it's better than the previous broken system, but single-payer seems to me the only sane way to reduce the burden, provide equal access, and control costs.
Even using your "facts", my main thesis remains intact: the mandate is broader and the religious exemption narrower. However, your statements regarding the current status of the requirement to provide contraceptives is plain incorrect.
You didn't provide links to support any of your claims, so here is a quote from a LA Times article that you seem to be drawing your understanding of current rules from: "Three years later, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for enforcing laws against workplace discrimination, ruled all employers with more than 15 workers must cover contraceptives for women if they offer health plans that cover preventive services and prescription drugs." The article makes this claim also "At the federal level, President George W. Bush never challenged a similar federal mandate imposed in 2000." They present these like two separate cases but really they refer to the same thing. Here is an article effectively rebutting these false claims.
OK. How does it compare with other states: "On the State level, the federal mandate is unquestionably broader in scope and narrower in its exemption than all of the 28 State’s comparable laws. Almost half the States do not have a state contraception mandate at all, so there is no need for an exemption. Of the States that have some sort of state contraception mandate (all less sweeping than the federal one here), 19 provide an exemption. Of those 19 States with an exemption, only three (California, New York, and Oregon) define the exemption nearly as narrowly as the federal one, although the federal exemption is still worse because of the regulation’s discretionary language that the government “may” grant an exemption." OK. So some states have it, but the language is narrower on the mandate and broader on the exemption. Oh, that's what I said earlier.
So, yes the new mandate is broader and the exemption narrower. Even if your "since 2000" statement were true, it would still make my case, since my thesis is still true. Additionally, your statement also proves how new these requirements are. I guess we are just now reaching the tipping point of the push against religious freedom where people feel they must speak out.
You say it is not a freedom of religion issue but then you say the freedom of religion can only go so far. So which is it? The current administration and every state that has a mandate somewhat similar also recognizes the freedom of religion argument. That is why they all provide for an exemption for religion. So, what we are really talking about is the proper line, the proper balance between the right to freely live your religion and the right to free contraceptives.
Hold on...the right to free contraceptives...that doesn't sound like a basic human right that I know of. Now there is the real discussion point: why is the federal government mandating what private employers should provide and also making them pay for it?
I assume you are ok with State Governments mandating coverage? In Texas, for instance, we have to cover Chiropractic care due to the strength of their lobby. Yet my employer, for some odd reason, has excluded all foot surgeries.
We have a long history of crazy patch quilt state and federal mandates (sometimes contradictory) imposed on businesses already, why the complaints now?
Why can't we have a simpler system structured on evidence based treatment modalities that save money and prevent chronic medical conditions? Covering BC makes great economic sense and prevents abortions. Why is that so bad?
Sorry for the slow response. There's a lot of stuff there, and I'm not sure how productive this argument will be.
I'll say that I'm no expert in employment law or insurance, so your article by the law student about what the law has been since 2000 could be right. Even if it is, I don't think it much matters.
You say it is not a freedom of religion issue but then you say the freedom of religion can only go so far. So which is it?
It's both. Freedom of religion doesn't come into play here, because freedom of religion doesn't extend to freedom to disobey laws because selected teachings of your religion disagree with them. That's anarchy. What freedom of religion says is that the government can't prevent you from worshiping who and how you want, or choosing not to. It says that government shall make no law establishing a state religion. It hasn't been violated. The law applies equally to all, whether religious or not. It could be argued that granting them an exemption would be akin to establishment; it's a stretch - but what I'm saying is that this law has nothing to do with religion.
The current administration and every state that has a mandate somewhat similar also recognizes the freedom of religion argument. That is why they all provide for an exemption for religion. So, what we are really talking about is the proper line, the proper balance between the right to freely live your religion and the right to free contraceptives.
There is a balance alright, but it's a balance between doing what's right and fair (providing for women's health care) and tolerating backwards misogynistic religious zealotry long after society has rejected it, and even 39 years after most Catholic women in the U.S. rejected it. (1973 study, table 17: 66.4% of married Catholic women of childbearing age were using contraceptives)
From our own experience, (I married a Catholic) we pretty much threw that part of the doctrine right out the window from the start.
Lastly, it's not so much about free contraceptives here. Remember that these are employee benefits in exchange for part of what would otherwise be salary. If any organization is going to hire women, and provide health benefits, it would just be unfair to withhold part of the benefit for them.
I don't expect you'll agree with me on this, but I strongly believe this whole thing is a nontroversy, being used solely for political gain by radical right-wingers who want to appeal to religious identity. Ginning up fear and hyperbolic paranoia about "Obama is taking away our rights", is their game.
Yes, it is a drummed up controversey. The argument and the issue are simple. Insurance companies practiced discrimination against women by not covering the most widely used drugs in the country. That's why 27 states decided to issue mandates to correct it. It isn't free. It is a mandate that it be covered sans copay in plans for which people are already paying (total compensation). I should reasonably expect that my insurance plan covers birth control. If one is opposed to paying for other people's specific medical coverage, then one has to admit a principle issue with the entire concept of an insurance plan. We are all paying into a pool for others' coverage that we will not use. I don't have high blood pressure and it's highly unlikely I'll ever have a skiing injury, but I'm subsidizing care for others who do in my insurance plan. That's how it works.
The religious nonsense is just that. More huff and puff from the ideologues who know they're losing power and will scratch and claw at anything they can find to get it back. It's pitiful and sad, really, but kind of amusing to watch.
Posted: 2012/2/18 15:22 Updated: 2012/2/18 15:46
Re: Links and Open Thread for Tuesday Night
And a point that I have yet to hear brought up in regards to this issue is that not all employees at a Catholic non-profit are Catholic. My son has received care at a Catholic hospital several times. The days of nuns in habits being your nurse are gone. The nurses and technicians that work at the hospital do not have to be Catholic to work there. Therefore, they should be able to get insurance that covers family planning even if their Catholic co-workers don't want it and would choose not to use it. My only concern if I were a non-Catholic working in a Catholic hospital or other entity would be that it would be used against me if I used the option for birth control pills, etc. and my employer could find that information out. No one is asking a Catholic hospital to provide abortions, birth control, vasectomies, tubal ligations, etc. I would have more of a problem with that than asking Catholic organizations to provide options for people regarding family planning coverage in their insurance.