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On Choice, Coverage, and Contraception

I’ve been watching this story for a few days. For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news, the Obama administration is proposing rules that would require all employers to provide coverage for contraception in their health care plans. Catholics are in an uproar over this. The White House has responded (HT: Unsettled Christianity). The first line of the response indicates that “all employers” is not correct, by the way!

I have little sympathy for the Catholic view on contraception. I don’t mean this as generally anti-catholic. There are plenty of specific doctrines for which I have little sympathy. But at the same time, it is their conscience involved. I knew this type of issue would come up when health care reform law was passed. Despite its great length, most of the detail work was left to regulators to fill in. This is one of the dirty secrets of legislation–how frequently congress passes outlines of laws and not complete laws, and then agencies have to fill in the details.

For me, conscience should prevail on this issue. I realize this involves places where Catholic agencies are hiring people of other faiths, but that should be a factor in one’s choice of employer, just as other benefits and conditions are. It’s an imperfect world, but I tend to come down on the side of freedom of conscience.

On the other hand, if you read the White House statement, and if what they are saying is correct, much of the uproar over this issue is, in my view, overdone. The government is overstepping its bounds in my view, but less so than was believed. Nonetheless, I am opposed to this regulation.

6 comments to On Choice, Coverage, and Contraception

  • Janet Lister

    The way I see it…the government is just saying they have to offer it, not make anyone take it! As one who took birth control for a number of years, I welcome it as that stuff is so expensive without insurance!!! And pregnancy even more!! If you don’t like the idea of contraception pills, don’t swallow!!!

    • My problem is that while I strongly disagree with the stand of the Catholic church, this is a very important point to them. I think contraception should be covered. If I own a business, I’ll provide it. I think businesses should provide it. My problem is with requiring a church owned business to provide it, when that church regards the action as sin. From their point of view, it’s requiring them to pay for someone to sin. As much as I disagree with them, I have a hard time thinking I should participate in forcing them to commit what they see as a sin.

  • Janet,

    But you miss the point. For Catholics even to offer it is wrong. It’s like if I as a Methodist, who owned a convenient store, didn’t sell alcohol because I opposed it, were told by the local authorities that I indeed had to offer it for sale with the justification that I personally am not being forced to drink it. Nevertheless, being forced to offer it violates my religious conscience. That’s the point.

  • Penny Saufley

    I read this several days ago, and had to think on it awhile before even trying to type out my response. Even saw it discussed on Face the Nation this morning. I agreed too much with both sides. But this is what I’ve come up with. Yeah, I’ve taken a side.

    I’m a white woman married to a black man. Not so long ago, and even at times today, some churches have opposed inter-racial marriage. How would we feel if a church discriminated based on race or whom a person was married too? I think the response we all saw and felt to the recent church in the South that attempted to ban inter-racial couples pretty much answers that question.

    I’ve also thought about your statement about picking your employer. In today’s economy, a person pretty much has to take whatever job that is offered. And teachers, many times I expect the employees we are talking about, are mainly women. So, where are these young women suppose to go teach? When so many districts are laying teachers off?

    Which lead me to another line of thought… Why are they not baning Viagra?? Baning condoms? Why is it contraception for women, and not performance enhancement for men? It seems rather sexist to me.

    AND many times birth control is used for non-birth control reasons. Does an employer have the right to interfer with that? Do they have the right to know what medical conditions a person has that would require hormone therapy?

    To Allen, I would say if you own a convenience store and don’t sell booze, you are not going to be in business very long. Perhaps you should have a different kind of store.

    Yes, the RC church has every right to state what their position is on this subject, BUT I don’t think they have the right to tell their employees how to manage their health issues. And that is what this is, a health issue.

    I was just reading on of my favorite essays today about religion, and it reminded me that the word religion comes from the Latin meaning to bind together. When a religion (or state or institution) becomes so patriarchal that it cannot lead its people but must order persons against their will, then it is not bringing us together with God, but pulling us apart.

    As in all things, this needs to between first between the person and God. Then between that person and his/her doctor. The church (imho) is here to assist all of us in our relationship with God and each other. Like a good friend or brother/sister. It does not need to be our Father, we already have one of those!

    • I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot as well. My major response is that having a public option on health insurance would have solved the problem quite nicely. We have always had to deal with our taxes going to things we consider immoral, for example, pacifists with regard to war. It’s not always easy, but it’s something we have dealt with.

      That’s why, while I don’t truly like it, I would have to accept the compromise. It’s sheer smoke and mirrors to me, but the smoke and mirrors is close enough to government provided rather than private payer provided service for me.

      I do see the need for contraceptive services to be provided.

  • Penny Saufley

    Since all of this started, I have thought of a few more things, but since it’s late and my middle aged brain isn’t exactly firing on all thrusters, let me just write this one paragraph. Mine is a smoke and mirrors thing also. A man can be an employee and buy condoms. The employer doesn’t notice. But a woman can’t get The Pill and because there isn’t as “thick” a curtain between the transactions, the employer thinks it should be able to tell the employee what it can do. Ah, the smoke and mirrors of the employer “seeing” what you may or may not be doing. I think this is wrong. Basic insurance should be available to all. It would be like if you worked for the Jehovah’s Witnesses and they said you can’t get a blood transfusion in your insurance because it violates their spiritual believes. (Now we could talk about how stupid that would be, couldn’t we? I sure hope so.) Insurance wouldn’t even THINK they could do this, and they shouldn’t think they couldn’t offer contraception/ hormone therapy either. The Church shouldn’t feel like it is offering contraception, they are offering insurance. What people do with that insurance, is the employees business, just as what they do with their earnings. The smoke is getting in their eyes, and they are seeing the worse, not what truely is. (Meaning if the insurance they offer has contraception coverage EVERYBODY is going to use it. Not nearly.)

    I’m a nurse. I’ve seen people DIE because they won’t take a blood transfusion. If the Church wants no contraception, then they need to take it to their parishoners and push their arguement. But those of us who don’t buy their arguement should have the ability to use interventions the are medically and legally available.

    It’s like what you just wrote about the young lady that legally fought to have the religious banner taken down at school. If you don’t believe in something, then you work within the system to change it. You don’t just yell and scream and call names. You don’t blow up abortion clinics or gun down abortion doctors. And a Church employer doesn’t get a “get out of jail free card” because of the simple fact that a majority of their employees are not Church members, and they should be treated as regular employees. If the Church is not capable of that, they should not be employers.

    Oops, I went over my one paragraph.

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