If we stopped talking about abortion, we might have to talk about health care, and no one wants to do that

Good for him:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) pushed back against conservative criticism of new White House rules which would require religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for birth control, calling the attacks “too much hyperventilating.”
“This is not about abortion,” said O’Malley during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “It’s about covering contraception as part of the healthcare coverage, mandatory basic coverage.”
The Health and Human Services Department said last month that insurance policies must cover contraception without charging a copay. The rule offers exemption to employers with a primarily religious mission or nature, such as churches. Critics however say that institutions like Catholic universities and hospitals are not covered by the exemption.
O’Malley, who said he was a Catholic, stressed that the decision was similar to rules already in place in much of the country. “28 states already require this and in Europe,” he added.
The governor said this was not a case of government dictating to religous organizations.
“Well there is an exemption for churches themselves,” he said. “An exemption does not necessarily extend to institutions like hospitals, to universities that employ people of all faiths.”

I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

One really, really starts to wonder if we are capable of discussing health care in this country at all. Abortion, death panels, abortion, broccoli. People will know more about this exemption than they will about the whole rest of the regulatory framework that applies to large businesses.

It’s such a joy this noted conservative intellectual stayed in the race, isn’t it? He adds so much depth and nuance:

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has also attacked the decision, saying in a speech to supporters following Saturday’s Nevada caucuses that the Obama administration had “declared war on religious freedom in this country.”
“This is a decision so totally outrageous, an illustration of such radical secular ideology,” Gingrich said.

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138 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “This is a decision so totally outrageous, an illustration of such radical secular ideology,” Gingrich said.

    The “radical secular ideology” of Jefferson and Madison.

    Yup, that’s what it is, alright.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

    Amen!

  3. 3
    slag says:

    I think your title is a little misguided, kay. Abortion is part of health care. You could accurately say, however, that if we stopped focusing solely on abortion, we might get to other health care issues as well. But then, where would the fun in that be? After all, everybody knows that over 90% of what women’s health clinics do is perform abortions.

  4. 4
    gypsy howell says:

    I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

    If women are merely vessels for breeding, I guess it makes sense.

  5. 5
    Bulworth says:

    Kay, how do you think Catholic hospitals and the like are ultimately going to respond to this? What if they don’t comply?

  6. 6
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Jefferson and Madison technically were leftie radicals… if you lived in the 18th century, that is.

  7. 7
    Greg says:

    @Bulworth:

    Then they’ll be charged the $2000 / employee that is the penalty for not providing health insurance that is good enough, and they’ll have to pay it, like any other large company. If they really care that much, they can feel free to do that. It isn’t like the government is really _forcing_ birth control on anybody.

  8. 8
    Redshift says:

    “O’Malley, who said he was a Catholic”

    Really, TheHill.com reporter? It’s pretty well-known that O’Malley is Catholic, and you treat that as a point to hedge with he-said-she-said language?

  9. 9
    HelpThe99ers says:

    Every time I hear him talk about a “secular ideology,” I ask myself how soon President Gingrich would sign the Executive Order rename the US to the Republic of Gilead.

  10. 10

    I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

    SCARY VAGINA! IT WILL FUCK YOU UP!

  11. 11
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    as a former Catholic, the real scandal to me is the old, officially celibate men who put feeding the hungry, housing the poor and comforting the afflicted behind their obsession with the sex lives scary vaginas of others.

    I think Southern Beale has that one. Do Catholic hospitals pay for their male employees’ vasectomies?

  12. 12

    @Redshift:

    I think it’s relevant to note that O’Malley is the one claiming the religious mantle. This seems the most succinct way to do it. The past tense phrasing is a little odd though.

  13. 13
    kay says:

    I don’t know, Bulworth.
    I guess they could sue, but the administration says the exemption they adopted is in place in many states and has survived.
    The larger premise is what concerns me.
    I get nervous when large businesses start demanding broad exemptions.

  14. 14
    pat says:

    Even E.J.Dionne talked about the Obama administration “throwing Catholics under the bus.”

    What is WRONG with these people.

    Just heard Talk of the Nation’s Neil Conan (sp?) interviewing some fool opinion writer from the Dallas Morning News, who says his church tells him that abortion is taking a human life, and he was shocked that Komen was giving money to PP, so he has stopped contributing to Komen. Tee hee.

    This really is a two-edged sword for Komen.

  15. 15
    Redshift says:

    I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

    Not only that, but that it’s the only issue where one group gets to say “my money shouldn’t go to pay for that.”

    Feh.

  16. 16
    Roger Moore says:

    That’s because most people don’t actually like our current health care mess and want somebody to fix it. Anyone who doesn’t want to fix the system- because it’s too profitable for them or because they think the fix will hurt them politically- has to do anything but talk about health care. They have to hide the ball by talking about abortion, death panels, the broccoli mandate, or whatever other BS they can think of.

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    I’m very happy to have Newt Gingrich acting as spokesman for the Catholic position.

    Keep talking Gnewt.

  18. 18
    kay says:

    Slag, I’m not apologizing for the administration or abortion.
    I’d just like it if we ocassionally talked about health care.
    In my practice, the women who are most frantic over access to health care are unmarried low wage workers in their fifties.
    I would think we could spend 10 minutes on them in our “national debate”.

  19. 19
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Watching Martin Bashir, I finally saw Pete Hoekstra’s ad. All the race-baiting that’s going on, birth control is now controversial. How the fuck have Republicans and the VIllage brought us back to 1964?

  20. 20
    Redshift says:

    @The Other Chuck: It’s succinct, but weird in the context of journalistic convention. Since “he said he was…” is routinely used for claims that either cannot be verified or that it’s not worth the bother in the context of the article, which is why it sounds odd here. To avoid that and still convey the point he’s making, there’s really no substitute for an actual quote of “I’m Catholic myself, and…”

  21. 21
    Roger Moore says:

    @Southern Beale:

    SCARY VAGINA! IT WILL FUCK YOU UP!

    In Soviet Russia America, vagina fuck you!

  22. 22
    beltane says:

    It is more than a little bit pathetic that our national discourse is mostly driven by the lifetime membership of the He-Man’s Woman Haters Club.

  23. 23
    Redshift says:

    @kay: Yes, exactly. For example, I recall hearing a story some years ago about how farm wives were getting jobs in town to have health insurance for their families, because they couldn’t afford individual coverage. I think “saving family farms” was (and probably still is) a missed angle to talk about the benefits of health care reform.

  24. 24
    jl says:

    How about if we just took broccoli off the table, for those who will not eat it.

    The last guy who made a big stink about broccoli was Bush I, and he lost. Because, he was weak and sick and old from no broccoli.

    The first lady eats her broccoli, and I read she did a billion pushups on a TV show. So there.

    Free the freedom loving American people from the totalitarian broccoli mandate, which will turn us into the nightmare of Sweden! Yeah, sure, those Swedish chicks might look fantastic, but they fart broccoli farts. That will not stand here in this country.

  25. 25
    Journeywoman says:

    I think the people who believe Catholic-associated organizations should be allowed this exception need to think about what other kinds of exceptions they’re willing to allow.

    What if organizations run by Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t want to cover blood transfusions?

    What if Mormon organizations didn’t want to cover alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related diseases?

    What if Muslim organizations didn’t want to cover pork-related food poisoning?

    What if Jewish organizations didn’t want to cover any medical care, even emergency care, given between sunset on Fridays and sunset on Saturdays?

    What if Christian Science organizations didn’t want to cover medical treatment at all?

    Just how far are they willing to allow their medical coverage to be dictated by somebody else’s religious beliefs?

  26. 26
    Martin says:

    I can’t be the only woman in this country who is sick to death of how every discussion of women and health care, every single one, revolves exclusively around reproductive issues.

    All your uteruses are belong to us.

  27. 27
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Greg: It is going to be diffult for people to realize that Big State University Hospital System, HCA and the Sisters of Charitable Mercy Adventist Methodist Luke’s System are businesses. Sister Jean of the Sisters of Chariable Mercy is a pretty big time CEO sitting on a multi-billion enterprise.

  28. 28
    Martin says:

    @Journeywoman:

    Just how far are they willing to allow their medical coverage to be dictated by somebody else’s religious beliefs?

    I like this idea! How about all non-religious affiliated organizations refuse to cover treatments due to acts of god? God can get his ass down here and fix his own damage. Fucking freeloader!

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    So true.

    And I suspect that many nuns, and particularly nuns who work in healthcare or with struggling populations, have quite a different take on abortion politics than do priests or (shudder) bishops.

    The bishops are the peacocks here. In scarlet.

  30. 30
    Name says:

    I posted part of this in an earlier thread, but I might as well re-post it:

    Requiring Catholic hospitals to provide birth control to their employees violates a core tenet of Catholic belief- that life begins at conception. It is almost certainly unconstitutional, and if it results in the mass closure of Catholic hospitals it will create a national healthcare crisis.

    Currently, roughly 12.5% of all community hospitals nationally are Catholic hospitals. In 20 states, those hospitals accounted for more than 20% of admissions. In some rural areas, 100% of emergency care access is provided by Catholic healthcare systems. I don’t see America spending the necessary revenue in the near future to replace that infrastructure, so it’s the only access many Americans (particularly in rural areas) have to healthcare. If the Catholic Church shut down Catholic Charities, many people would die- many more than would die from a reasonable compromise like opening more Planned Parenthood clinics and bringing the public option into the ACA (a pipe dream, I know).

    If the free exercise of religion means anything, it means not having to participate in activities deemed abhorrent under one’s religious views. This nation would not exist if people were required by its laws to perform activities that they considered abhorrent. One may despise religion and religious people, but under the Constitution people still have the right to possess and practice their religious beliefs- however abhorrent those beliefs themselves may seem to non-believers.

    Requiring the Catholic Church to provide birth control to the employees of its affiliated charities- and it’s worth noting on this issue, the opinions of individual Catholics on birth control are completely irrelevant, as the number of lay Catholics who personally use birth control has nothing to do with what the Church itself professes- violates the beliefs of the Catholic Church just as surely as it would violate the beliefs of an atheist if the government mandated that they pay a Church tithe.

    I am convinced that the Obama Administration is violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states that “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” I believe Supreme Court will overturn the Obama Administration’s decision on the issue if prior federal caselaw is any indication, and I believe that the fact that women can get birth control and abortions from Planned Parenthood on a need-based sliding scale proves that there are methods of achieving the government’s purpose that do not involve infringing on the religious beliefs of the Catholic Church.

    Given that less-intrusive methods of achieving the government’s goal exist, and given that the government’s purpose here cannot surpass the strict scrutiny analysis that the RFRA would require of it, I can’t see how this decision would stand.

    In the earlier thread, state-level examples of laws lacking religious exemptions to the contraception requirement were listed. Those laws were analyzed under the rational basis standard, which is less onerous for government than strict scrutiny is. States are not bound by the RFRA, but the federal government is. (Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006)

    I’d be interested in hearing someone tell me why that legal analysis is wrong and the RFRA doesn’t apply (or that somehow the Court will decide there IS no less-onerous method of providing women with contraceptive coverage, when the proliferation of sliding-scale Planned Parenthood clinics proves that there is). But I also have a political assessment, which is that this issue is a major loser for the Administration. Religious groups beyond Catholics are already up in arms about it. Even some African-American churches have begun to criticize the Administration’s decision.

    I don’t know which group of swing voters Obama was attempting to reach with this decision, but I can think of several groups of swing voters he could lose with it- or lose enough of to throw the race to Romney.

    For one thing, he’s losing my vote and the votes of other liberal Catholics he just threw under the bus. I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life. I support a woman’s right to choose, and I support universal access to contraceptive coverage. I’ve given money to Planned Parenthood in the past, and if I might do so again in the future. I voted for Obama in 2008, and in both the 2008 campaign and in 2011 I’ve given him money, and I have endured attacks both online and in person from both ultra-liberal and conservative friends and acquaintances for defending his Administration. But I can’t defend this decision, and if it stands he’s lost my vote. He’s already lost the votes of some of my liberal Catholic friends, all of whom are pro-choice and pro-contraception but none of whom want to see their religious organization forced to finance birth control through its charitable organizations. I won’t vote for the Republican, but some of them will.

    I anticipate the abusive reaction that the commenters on this blog typically provide to those who stray outside of its orthodoxy, but I’m posting this anyway because I want to make sure that it’s noted that the Obama campaign is taking a palpable political hit for this decision. It may very well end up being a one-term Administration over this decision; and, if the Administration gets a second term and Catholic Charities shut their doors and force tens of millions of Americans to go without healthcare, the chaos and mass suffering that causes will mar the legacy of this Administration’s signal achievement, healthcare reform.

    As it stands, Obama has told every liberal practicing Catholic in America- and believe it or not, there are millions of us- that their Church (through its charitable institutions, which are viewed as a fundamental aspect of the Church due to the Catholic belief in the necessity of charity) has to directly subsidize actions that it views as murder. I don’t think I can express to you how much of a betrayal that feels like, and I’m sure that to the many anti-Catholic commenters around here, it doesn’t matter.

    The fact is, however much abuse you heap on my religious beliefs or on me personally, none of you can make me stop believing, and none of you can make me vote for Obama after this, and none of you can make my liberal Catholic friends vote for him either. I won’t vote for Obama while this decision stands.

    And I know you probably won’t care about this either, but this is one of the most agonizing decisions I’ve had to make in my entire life, and I’m so angry at Obama for forcing me to do it that I can barely stand it. He’s forcing me to choose between my religion and my Party, and he can’t win that fight. And it sickens me that he’s put me in that position, and that’s that.

  31. 31
    Zifnab says:

    @Journeywoman:

    Just how far are they willing to allow their medical coverage to be dictated by somebody else’s religious beliefs?

    No. This exception is for abortions. Just for abortions. Stop bring up other reasonable stuff because its not important because you are no longer talking about abortions. Abortions. Abortions. Abortions. Are we clear? This is only about abortions. Abortions are wrong. Abortions.

    Also, abortions.

    Why do you want to murder babies?

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    @Name:

    That you, Randall Terry?

  33. 33
    kay says:

    Martin, it really is a disconnect.
    I wholly support the administration, s call here.
    BUT. I can’t help but wonder what the women who are genuinely frantic over basic health care are thinking listening to 2 weeks of debate on an exemption to an administrative rule.
    At some point, it becomes surreal, with 150 people talking amongst themselves, completely ignoring 10 million people who don’t have access to health care.
    I have yet to have someone wander into the law office and say “let’s discuss religious liberty and ‘large businesses’, because, damn, I need help with that”.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Name:

    One may despise religion and religious people, but under the Constitution people still have the right to possess and practice their religious beliefs- however abhorrent those beliefs themselves may seem to non-believers.

    So let’s go with your example: my (now ex-) sister-in-law is Jewish. She worked as an accountant for a Catholic hospital.

    Your argument is that the Catholic Church can tell my Jewish sister-in-law that she’s not allowed to use birth control because she works for them.

    You think that the Church should be allowed to tell non-Catholics that they can’t use birth control if they’re going to work for a Catholic hospital. And you think this is a winning argument for most of the country? That you feel, as a Catholic, that non-Catholics should have to follow the teachings of the Church if they happen to work for a Catholic hospital, or a Catholic university?

  35. 35
    Skalite says:

    I don’t know why there isn’t more buzz about O’Malley running for President in 2016. He’s young (he’ll be in his early 50’s in ’16), handsome, charismatic and well liked in both the party and his home state. He’s got really good cred for his initiatives on homeland security, education, and even budget cutting. There’s all this talk of Hillary, who has flat out said not just no, but hell no. Perhaps it’s just too far away, but still I think he’ll be a great candidate and should get more notice.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Name:

    The fact is, however much abuse you heap on my religious beliefs or on me personally, none of you can make me stop believing, and none of you can make me vote for Obama after this, and none of you can make my liberal Catholic friends vote for him either. I won’t vote for Obama while this decision stands.

    Again, please listen to yourself: you’re upset because the Obama administration says that the Catholic Church is not allowed to dictate the morals of non-Catholics who work for them. In your view, everyone who works for a Catholic hospital or a Catholic university should have to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church even if they are not Catholic.

    So, should Jewish employees have to attend Mass every morning to keep their jobs? Should Methodists be subject to being fired if they get divorced?

  37. 37
    Martin says:

    @Name: Fortunately, the Catholic Hospitals have a way out. They just need to fire all of their non-Catholic employees and they’ll get the exemption.

    Or is it okay for the Catholic Hospitals to impose their religious beliefs on non-Catholic employees?

    Because you can’t have it both ways. The government is effectively telling the hospital (not the church!) “You can no longer discriminate against your employees on the grounds of their religious views”. I know it’s hard to understand, but there’s a different standard when you go from being a religious institution to being a business, and the hospitals are a business, not a religious institution.

  38. 38
    Zifnab says:

    As it stands, Obama has told every liberal practicing Catholic in America- and believe it or not, there are millions of us- that their Church (through its charitable institutions, which are viewed as a fundamental aspect of the Church due to the Catholic belief in the necessity of charity) has to directly subsidize actions that it views as murder. I don’t think I can express to you how much of a betrayal that feels like, and I’m sure that to the many anti-Catholic commenters around here, it doesn’t matter.

    My mom’s a liberal Catholic and she says you are full of shit.

    98% of sexually active Catholics use some form of birth control.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/0....._practice/

    And the notion that a Church should be able to carve out a tiny little exclusion preventing an employee from accessing the medical care she requires, because the high-pumbas in the church decided to start their own little crusade against it, is horrific. Catholics – particularly women Catholics – of every strip recognize the absurdity here. Men get everything from viagra to vasectomies covered, but women are forced to pay out of pocket because some Vatican peacock was seen clutching his pearls at a single facet of modern medicine.

    No. As a Catholic raised from birth, I can tell you right now that there are those Catholics who believe the church is sovereign and immaculate and shouldn’t be required to follow any earthly laws period. And then there are the rest of us – the ones that aren’t theocratic purists. And that we make up far more of the congregation than the Papal Supremacists.

    You are absolutely full of shit.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Or, to turn it around, if you worked for Beth Israel Medical Center, would you be fine with a requirement that your son be circumcised to align with Jewish law? Could your boss monitor the lunches you bring to work and fire you if you bring in a ham sandwich?

  40. 40
    Zifnab says:

    As it stands, Obama has told every liberal practicing Catholic in America- and believe it or not, there are millions of us- that their Church (through its charitable institutions, which are viewed as a fundamental aspect of the Church due to the Catholic belief in the necessity of charity) has to directly subsidize actions that it views as murder. I don’t think I can express to you how much of a betrayal that feels like, and I’m sure that to the many anti-Catholic commenters around here, it doesn’t matter.

    My mom’s a liberal Catholic and she says you are full of shit.

    98% of sexually active Catholics use some form of birth control.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/0....._practice/

    And the notion that a Church should be able to carve out a tiny little exclusion preventing an employee from accessing the medical care she requires, because the high-pumbas in the church decided to start their own little crusade against it, is horrific. Catholics – particularly women Catholics – of every strip recognize the absurdity here. Men get everything from via-gra to vasectomies covered, but women are forced to pay out of pocket because some Vatican peacock was seen clutching his pearls at a single facet of modern medicine.

    No. As a Catholic raised from birth, I can tell you right now that there are those Catholics who believe the church is sovereign and immaculate and shouldn’t be required to follow any earthly laws period. And then there are the rest of us – the ones that aren’t theocratic purists. And that we make up far more of the congregation than the Papal Supremacists.

    You are absolutely full of shit.

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Name:

    If those services are offered, no one is holding a gun to the head of anyone to accept those services.

    Therefore, apparently the Catholic Church cannot control their flock on this particular issue.

    Just as they cannot control their various minions from ass fucking altar boys.

  42. 42
    Steve in Iowa says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No. The Catholic Church or its representatives running the hospital where your Jewish ex-sister-in-law works as an accountant are not telling your ex-sister-in-law that she can’t use contraception. What they are saying is that she has to do so out of her own pocket, not out of the insurance they provide as her employer. She is just as free to use contraception as the 90% of Catholic women who do so in defiance of Church teaching.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:

    @Name:

    Yeah, and right that the Catholic Church will disband Catholic Charities (which is already subject to secular law and receives 2/3 of its funding from the government).* Or its Catholic-affiliated hospitals. (Which, again, is subject to secular law and …)

    Be scared. Be very scared.

    Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Tulsa has chosen to rely strictly upon the donations of private individuals and institutions.
    __
    That stands in stark contrast to most of the benevolent institution’s other affiliates. Catholic Charities around the country received $1 billion from the government, approximately two-thirds of their funding.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ne.....s-liberty/

  44. 44
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Name:

    As it stands, Obama has told every liberal practicing Catholic in America- and believe it or not, there are millions of us- that their Church (through its charitable institutions, which are viewed as a fundamental aspect of the Church due to the Catholic belief in the necessity of charity) has to directly subsidize actions that it views as murder.

    You’re obviously as much a “liberal practicing Catholic” as Bullshit Bill Donohue. And your concern is noted.

    If the Catholic medical-industrial complex doesn’t want to face the oh-so-terrible burden of offering insurance policies to its employees written on standard terms as opposed to negotiating an opt-out, then it can advocate for single payer healthcare financed out of general taxation, as in Canada. Until then, it can fuck off.

  45. 45
    slag says:

    @Name:

    He’s forcing me to choose between my religion and my Party, and he can’t win that fight. And it sickens me that he’s put me in that position, and that’s that.

    I’m wondering what’s the best nail size to use for attaching myself to the cross, and you seem like a good person to ask. Do you have a newsletter to which I can subscribe, by chance?

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Steve in Iowa:

    If “Church teaching” also banned, say, setting broken bones, would employees then be obliged to pay out of pocket, not relying on their health insurance, to obtain treatment for a broken bone?

  47. 47
    graves007 says:

    Oh Noes! Teh contraception! Everybody knows good christian women NEVER EVER take birth control because that’s almost like killing innocent babies! Only American whores and sluts take birth control, so why should catholic organizations cover contraception as part of health care coverage? If they do that they will surely feel the wrath of the Almighty Skyfairy, and perhaps a few key donors.

  48. 48
    Journeywoman says:

    @Name:

    Requiring Catholic hospitals to provide birth control to their employees violates a core tenet of Catholic belief- that life begins at conception.

    Could you clarify something, please? Some forms of birth control (such as IUDs) result in preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, and in those cases your argument might hold. However, there are other methods of birth control that have no effect on fertilized eggs (condoms, diaphragms, other barrier methods), yet the Church is still against them because the Church is against birth control as such, in any form. Presumably it’s also against permanent forms of birth control such as sterilization surgeries which themselves cannot be construed as interfering with a pregnancy.

    How would you feel about a rule that did not require coverage of IUDs and the like, but mandated coverage of barrier methods and sterilization surgeries which the Church still forbids?

  49. 49
    kay says:

    Name, if you want to exempt this one large business from regulation under the health care law, the exemption will apply to any hospital or university that has any religious affiliation at all.

    The question about mental health counseling is a good one.

    Can large businesses with a religious affiliation be mandated to provide mental health care related to divorce?

  50. 50
    Yutsano says:

    @Steve in Iowa:

    What they are saying is that she has to do so out of her own pocket, not out of the insurance they provide as her employer.

    And the Administration just made that a no-no. So now what?

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steve in Iowa:

    The Catholic Church or its representatives running the hospital where your Jewish ex-sister-in-law works as an accountant are not telling your ex-sister-in-law that she can’t use contraception. What they are saying is that she has to do so out of her own pocket, not out of the insurance they provide as her employer.

    So if she worked for a Jehovah’s Witness hospital and they provided insurance with no coverage for blood transfusions, that would be perfectly okay in your book, because if she needs surgery, she can just pay for those blood transfusions out of her own pocket?

  52. 52
    kay says:

    The fact that Catholic Charities is 2/3 government funded really needs to be taken into account.
    I’m not saying good or bad, but people do need to know that “Charity” borders on deceptive.
    They’re social service contractors here. They bill the county just like any other contract service.
    Truth is probably important in these debates.

  53. 53
    Lurker says:

    @Name:

    As it stands, Obama has told every liberal practicing Catholic in America- and believe it or not, there are millions of us- that their Church (through its charitable institutions, which are viewed as a fundamental aspect of the Church due to the Catholic belief in the necessity of charity) has to directly subsidize actions that it views as murder. I don’t think I can express to you how much of a betrayal that feels like, and I’m sure that to the many anti-Catholic commenters around here, it doesn’t matter.

    Hi, Name. I’m not a Catholic, but I’d like to share my personal story of your Catholic religion intersecting with my health care. Perhaps it will help you understand why non-believers need this law regarding birth control access.

    For years I had a Pap smear and exam from an OB-GYN who accepted my coverage. Every year she would fill out my annual Nuvaring prescription.

    One year she gave me the exam, but refused to fill out the prescription. She had become a born-again Catholic and — because of her beliefs — could not give me a prescription for birth control, even though I myself was not Catholic. Because of her faith, I would have to obtain the prescription elsewhere.

    Luckily, I was able to obtain the prescription elsewhere. But what if that Catholic health care provider had been my only option for a birth control prescription? Even though I am not Catholic, I would have been forced to conform to Catholic beliefs.

    The law that forces Catholic hospitals to *provide* birth control does not force Catholics to *take* birth control. Catholics can still abstain from using birth control. Without this law, however, non-Catholics like me would have limited health care options if their only available health care providers are Catholic-run.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:

    @Name:

    “Name’s” conundrum, in a nutshell:

    I’m so angry at Obama for forcing me to do it

    Line forms to the right, buddy. Far, far right.

  55. 55
    Elizabelle says:

    @Lurker:

    Yes, and that’s a huge issue with pharmacists too.

  56. 56
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for keeping on this topic, kay. your piece from the other day about the rules was superb.

  57. 57
    Emma says:

    @Name: No offense, but since I inhabit a fairly conservative Catholic enclave, about 80% of all the catholic women I know are on birth control (the other 20% are either trying to get pregnant or post-menopausal) you’ll understand if I don’t take your claims of “liberal Catholics” turning on Obama too seriously.

  58. 58
    kay says:

    There’s another issue here.
    The PPACA has a provision where large employers who refuse to provide the standard package may opt out.
    Of course, they then have to reimburse the feds, because their employees are going on the exchange.
    By demanding an exemption rather than opting out, Catholic large businesses are actually denying their employees the option of buying an exchange policy.
    Which is pretty damn controlling, for an employer.

  59. 59
    jenn says:

    @Martin: But we don’t need to go that far. The Church DOESN’T have to provide insurance covering birth control – but if it doesn’t meet the minimum acceptable standards, it can just pay the $2K/employee.

    I honestly cannot understand what the big deal is. If you (general “you” of course!) don’t want to take birth control, don’t take it. I thought that was the whole point of the Free Will doctrine. If you think birth control is bad because of your faith, but it’s never possible for you to get it, how will you ever be able to demonstrate your faith by refusing to give into temptation? And I’ve got to be honest – THIS is the hill the Catholic Church wants to die on? Of all of the missions of the Church, of all of Christ’s teachings, access to birth control is top priority?! Honestly, I don’t pretend to know what Jesus would think about the morality of birth control, but I find it hard to believe that it would rank higher than the missions the Church would be forgoing if it just “took its ball and went home”. And that’s not coming close to taking into comparison the Church’s long-term response to child molestation. Honestly, I’d like the Church hierarchy to come up with a sense of proportion.

  60. 60
    slag says:

    @kay:

    Of course, they then have to reimburse the feds, because their employees are going on the exchange.

    I don’t understand why this is such a hard compromise. People want to be ignorant bigots about women’s health? Fine. It’ll just cost ’em. What’s so wrong with that? It’s a market-based solution, after all.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    @Name:

    More from “Name”:

    and it’s worth noting on this issue, the opinions of individual Catholics on birth control are completely irrelevant, as the number of lay Catholics who personally use birth control has nothing to do with what the Church itself professes

    Spoken like every liberal or moderate I know. What the authority thinks trumps everything.

    Even if, as Name kindly admits, those not in authority don’t follow authority’s teachings.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lurker:

    Even though I am not Catholic, I would have been forced to conform to Catholic beliefs.

    And this really is the problem in a nutshell. It’s one thing to decide how things should be within the walls of your church when you have a group of people who have all voluntarily agreed to be there and obey the rules.

    It’s another thing when your group broadens its reach to non-related businesses like healthcare and then tries to insist that everyone you come in contact with has to agree to conform to your beliefs before you will help them.

    (Fixed pronoun trouble.)

  63. 63
    Lurker says:

    @Steve in Iowa:

    No. The Catholic Church or its representatives running the hospital where your Jewish ex-sister-in-law works as an accountant are not telling your ex-sister-in-law that she can’t use contraception. What they are saying is that she has to do so out of her own pocket, not out of the insurance they provide as her employer. She is just as free to use contraception as the 90% of Catholic women who do so in defiance of Church teaching.

    For some, $$$ == access. If they can’t afford birth control, they cannot use it.

    My insurance does not cover prescription drugs. I paid almost $1000 last year out-of-pocket for my Nuvaring birth control medication. I can afford this. Most of the women I know (especially younger women) cannot.

  64. 64
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    And just to reiterate: why aren’t the Catholic hospitals in Canada or Australia or anywhere else there’s universal healthcare and private providers making a fuss about the provision of reproductive health services to its employees? Put simply, it’s because they’d rather be in the system than outside it.

    The idea that the choice of health insurance plan comes under the free exercise protection seems to me patently absurd.

  65. 65
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    And just to reiterate: why aren’t the Catholic hospitals in Canada or Australia or anywhere else there’s universal healthcare and private providers making a fuss about the provision of reproductive health services to its employees? Put simply, it’s because they’d rather be in the system than outside it.

    The idea that the choice of health insurance plan comes under the free exercise protection seems to me patently absurd.

  66. 66
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Emma: @Elizabelle: This is the part I don’t get. “Name” disagrees, and votes against, and presumably lives out of step with official Church doctrine in all kinds of ways, but will now vote against Obama because the Church operates hospitals that employ people, and provides insurance as part of that employment, and Obama says the Church can’t decide to limit medical coverage to those employees, only of course to them icky wimmen, based on the superstition of an officially celibate group of old men with whom, as Name stated repeatedly, s/he actively disagrees. IT makes no fucking sense.

  67. 67
    kay says:

    I’m fine with religious organizations acting as social service contractors, but I do think we have to be honest about what’s going on here.
    If you’re Catholic Charities, or Lutheran Family home or Shalom (Mennonites) I don’t know that you’re a charity if you’re billing the county.
    You’re a contractor. No charity about it.

  68. 68
    Elizabelle says:

    Maybe Name is suggesting that Catholic institutions should become smaller and purer.

    You know, less catholic, small C.

    Name’s link, to article by Steve and Cokie Roberts, makes it obvious these institutions cannot staff themselves with Catholics alone. Nor are many of them legally allowed to provide services solely to Catholics.

    Name’s got a problem. As does Name’s Church.

  69. 69
    Lojasmo says:

    @Name:

    1- most American catholic women (and men) use birth control.

    2- catholic organizations that fail to comply will simply pay a per-cap fee for not doing so. Perhaps it is a bedrock tenet of the catholic faith to not pay money? Probably.

    Shut up, also, too.

  70. 70
    Tom65 says:

    Pretty simple, really. If the Catholic church wants to play in the public arena, they have to play by the rules. Unless they’re willing to forego the 2/3rds of the operating budget of Catholic Charities provided by taxpayers, and replace all non-Catholic and/or non-clergy working for them, they can sit down and shut up. Or start paying taxes.

  71. 71
    Rafer Janders says:

    Requiring Catholic hospitals to provide birth control to their employees violates a core tenet of Catholic belief- that life begins at conception.

    Nonsense. Something like 95% of Catholics use birth control. If it’s a core tenet, it’s apparently not a core tenet that 95% of Catholics believe in.

  72. 72
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I am thinking that Name would lose Name’s lunch money if s/he ever got into a discussion with Jesuits.

    No logic to Name’s post, just “be scared, watch out, the sky will fall …”

    Maybe it made more sense in the original Latin.

    Whole thing’s a bluff, and probably electioneering by conservatives.

  73. 73
    Elizabelle says:

    @Tom65:

    they can sit down and shut up

    Hey. Wait a minute. That’s the laity’s role in Catholicism.

    And they have to sit down even faster if they don’t have the sacred p*nis.

  74. 74
    gelfling545 says:

    @Cacti: Yes, I picture old Benedict hearing him and saying “Oh, Jesus Christ and not in a, you know, prayerful way.

  75. 75
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Name:

    Requiring the Catholic Church to provide birth control to the employees of its affiliated charities- and it’s worth noting on this issue, the opinions of individual Catholics on birth control are completely irrelevant, as the number of lay Catholics who personally use birth control has nothing to do with what the Church itself professes-

    Well that’s mighty convenient, isn’t it? Sure, no actual living breathing Catholics believe it, but nevertheless, it’s a CORE TENET!

    Similarly, I eat meat every day, but nevertheless, vegetarianism is the core tenet of my belief system, and requiring me to eat meat (as I do every day) would violate my strongly held, though not at all practiced, vegetarian beliefs.

  76. 76
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Zifnab:

    98% of sexually active Catholics use some form of birth control.

    In my experience, even the Catholic girls who just kind of lie there also use birth control.

  77. 77
    Tom65 says:

    Oh, and Cokie Roberts (professional concern troll emeritus) can kiss this Catholic’s pasty white ass. “Obama’s Catholic Problem”? Bitch, please. Most Catholics have no problem distinguishing between reality and the canonical ramblings of the church.

  78. 78
    kay says:

    Name is saying that he/she is upset because Obama is making religious leaders violate core beliefs, not making lay Catholics violate core beliefs.

    The argument is a defense of religious leaders.

    I don’t know if it’s valid, but “lay Catholics” is red herring, to be fair to Name.

  79. 79
    butler says:

    Similarly, I eat meat every day, but nevertheless, vegetirianism is the core tenet of my beleif system, and requiring me to eat meat (as I do every day) would violate my strongly held, though not at all practiced, vegetarian beliefs.

    Its not even that bad. It wouldn’t even be requiring you to eat meat: it would be giving you the option to buy meat if you chose just like anyone else. Which (according to Name) would apparently violate your sacred beliefs… or something.

  80. 80
    Rafer Janders says:

    @jenn:

    And that’s not coming close to taking into comparison the Church’s long-term response to child molestation.

    Hey, if altar boys could get pregnant, believe you me the Church fathers would have been OK with abortion a long time ago.

  81. 81
    gelfling545 says:

    @Skalite: We were just discussing at dinner yesterday “After Obama, who?” None of us could think of a name (except Cuomo which – meh) We were kind of hoping that Obama would have some protege to be brought forth at the convention as he was by the Clintons (which they probably regretted later but I digress). I must learn more of this gentleman.

  82. 82
    kay says:

    Butler, I’m not defending Name, but the argument is this:

    “Obama is making my religious leaders violate their core beliefs”

    Name does or does not share those core beliefs. That part is irrelevant to her argument.

    She’s defending religious leaders.

  83. 83
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I’d be curious as to how many of the wingers bleating “trampling our religious freedom!” now are also A-OK with preventing Muslims from building mosques or, even worse, the dreaded community center.

  84. 84
    Rafer Janders says:

    @butler:

    True, it would just be requiring me to set aside some money to buy meat, not even to actually buy it or if bought, eat it.

  85. 85
    FlipYrWhig says:

    If a church wants to run a secular business, they can abide by secular laws, and if they don’t feel like doing it, they can blow it out their collective puckered sphincters. Like I said before, no one seems to be too sympathetic to the idea that reporters working for the Christian Science Monitor should not get medical benefits, so Catholic-affiliated organizations can suck it up and like it. I’m sure Notre Dame’s faculty have been getting contraceptive and fertility treatments covered on the employee health plan for decades with nary a peep from the hierarchy. Get used to it, padre.

  86. 86
    askew says:

    @Skalite:

    I don’t know why there isn’t more buzz about O’Malley running for President in 2016. He’s young (he’ll be in his early 50’s in ‘16), handsome, charismatic and well liked in both the party and his home state. He’s got really good cred for his initiatives on homeland security, education, and even budget cutting. There’s all this talk of Hillary, who has flat out said not just no, but hell no. Perhaps it’s just too far away, but still I think he’ll be a great candidate and should get more notice.

    He’s my choice for a candidate in 2016. He’s trying to push through legalizing gay marriage in Maryland now. And he’s been great on a ton of other issues.

  87. 87
    Elizabelle says:

    @kay:

    Yes. Same religious leaders who looked so hard the other way as Catholic priests under their control abused children. Sodomized young boys. Impregnated women and teenage girls.

    Who endured sleepless nights over the potential damage. To Mother Church.

    The Catholic Church has some excellent beliefs and practices (charity, a belief in economic justice that’s constantly trumped by abortion politics for about two generations now).

    But it needs to at least come into the 18th century on many, many issues.

    I say that as a lapsed Catholic, who expected better from the institutional Church I was expected to revere.

    This focus on abortion politics — to say nothing of prohibition of contraception, which would go a long way toward reducing said abortions — is a terrible sideshow for the Church. And detrimental to its mission.

  88. 88
    Cermet says:

    @Name: What a total dumb### you are – no one is requiring the child molesting dicks called priest to provide birth control to anyone – they only must pay for health plains that provide this feature if someone needs it – very different or are you so stupid that you forgot that Christ himself separated money from faith or does ‘Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, render to God that which is God’s’ not the bible you believe in?

  89. 89
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    Islam is not an actual religion in this country, as you well know.

    Don’t be silly. Jews only got “actual” status after 6 million of them were murdered in Europe during WWII. That new status was grudging, at best, even then.

  90. 90
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Name:

    If the Catholic hospitals stop taking federal and state money, the problem is solved.

    Funny how that’s not on your list of solutions.

    If you’re really a Democrat, which I find as likely as me being a Martian, then GTFO and change your registration. We’ll live just fine without you. YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN THE PARTY.

  91. 91
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @kay: The influence of “religious leaders” over people who are not parishioners ought in my view to be infinitesimal. And they shouldn’t expect to have that influence in the first place. It’s entirely inappropriate. If I work for a “religious leader,” he pays me, he doesn’t pastor to me. That anyone would come up with the argument Name presented is mind-boggling to me.

  92. 92
    Elizabelle says:

    1) Name’s been a hit and run. Posted a long screed and disappeared. No sticking around to defend it.

    2) Name’s kind of proved the point of Kay’s blogpost.

  93. 93
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @The Moar You Know: Actually AFAIK the institution’s receipt of federal funding is immaterial. All employers have to abide by the policy; there’s no opting out except for explicitly religious organizations. Kay posted a list of criteria on a prior thread.

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Catholic institutions, such as hospitals and schools, receiving federal funds is not the issue.

    The fact that they are “large employers” who have non-Catholic employees is the issue. Those employees are entitled to contraceptive health care services as part of their health insurance, and if the Catholic institutions don’t want to do this, they’ll have to pay the government to pick up the slack for their failure to provide full service health care.

    It’s that simple. No more free rides on the feds.

  95. 95
    gelfling545 says:

    @Rafer Janders: Let me tell you a little story that we reminisced over at my high school reunion. It was back around spring of 1968 in the Catholic girls’ high school I attended and one afternoon, Sister closed the door, pulled the shades and went to the front of the class. She said she wanted to speak to us on a very serious subject and hoped we were mature enough to understand. She spoke for a few minutes about reverence for life and the importance of procreation in marriage and then proceeded to tell us all about condoms.(This was a little bit before the pill became so common.) We can’t, she said, let you go out into the world unprepared. My brother, a year younger at a boys’ school got a bit more detailed info plus the caution that you really shouldn’t but, if you do, be careful out there. I doubt very much that we just happened to be in really unusual situations.

  96. 96
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @kay:

    Name is saying that he/she is upset because Obama is making religious leaders violate core beliefs, not making lay Catholics violate core beliefs.

    “Name” may want to assess how it is that those religious leaders of medical organisations cope with violating their core beliefs on a daily basis in countries where they don’t get to stipulate the healthcare coverage their employees receive. My guess is that they’re crying all the way to the bank.

  97. 97
    butler says:

    “Obama is making my religious leaders violate their core beliefs”

    Except that he’s not. If they really can’t stand to obey the law like everyone else, they have an option to opt out.

    She’s defending religious leaders.

    Yes, defending their “right” to discriminate with public money. Sorry, that argument loses.

  98. 98
    Bokonon says:

    In other words, what the Catholic Church is saying is that when they enter the commercial sphere – and provide health care – their own institutional religious views nullify any government regulations or standards to which the church objects. And the government can’t say anything about that or require the church to pay a conscience-based penalty, because … hey, it is religion! That’s why.

    Talk about a double edged sword. The church (and church related businesses) take the government’s money, and then they get to do what they want with it, in accordance with their conscience, and nobody can regulate them.

    That sort of selective nullification of secular law works as long as people don’t start making a religious practice out of bank robbery.

    Let’s reduce this philosophy down to a single phrase: “My religion trumps your laws.”

  99. 99
    kay says:

    I just want to say these threads are always so vicious :)

    There’s a reason I don’t delve into religious discussion, outside this particular law.

    It’s so mean! Just brutal.

  100. 100
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Oops! I totally forgot about that. Silly me.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’m sure Notre Dame’s faculty have been getting contraceptive and fertility treatments covered on the employee health plan for decades with nary a peep from the hierarchy.

    Having gone to a Catholic university myself (Loyola Marymount, TYVM), I doubt the Notre Dame faculty are getting reproductive care coverage. I know that LMU refused to cover it for students and faculty. So Notre Dame is probably the same.

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    It would be kind of nice if we could just discuss healthcare without anyone insisting that providing X, Y, or Z healthcare violates their religious beliefs, wouldn’t it?

  103. 103
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mnemosyne: You’re right

    he University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., excludes all benefits that do not conform to Church teaching, said Mary Warner,

    skimming this article, it looks like most Catholic universities do not cover birth control, but a fair number do

  104. 104
    kay says:

    It would, meek, and I didn’t mean non-religious were being mean to religious.

    It goes both ways.

    I live in a conservative area and I’ve perfected this impassive, wholly nuetral approach over the years.

    It’s just much different on the internet:)

  105. 105
    kay says:

    Mnem, my husband does jury trials, and he used to ask prospective jurors if they thought they were “lucky”.
    He believes that jurors who are not somehow resentful will be easier on his clients, so that’s what he’s trying to find out. To him, “lucky” means “grateful” or “happy”.
    He used that question for years, until he ran into a religious objection to that question.
    He was just amazed at how offended the guy was, just at the question. Admittedly, he’s not the most tactful person, but still. He isn’t out to anger jurors.
    It sometimes feels like a minefield.

  106. 106
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @kay: On Luck… On one of the few occasions I watched an entire episode of Oprah Winfery, it was a very good study on the working poor. Robert Reich, I think it was, was on to talk about the stats and how gov’t cuts had shrunk the safety net, and he said people could be financially ruined by a little bit of bad luck. HerSelf was visibly offended, interrupted to state that HerSelf did not believe in Luck. “Luck,” she stated imperiously, “is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!” One of the people on the show was a formerly upper-middle class woman whose husband died. Her insurance had been through his job, she was diagnosed with cancer after she lost the insurance. Got wiped out by medical treatment, wound up living in her car with a fifteen year old daughter. But HerSelf does not believe in Luck.

  107. 107
    Nellcote says:

    @gelfling545:

    some protege to be brought forth at the convention as he was by the Clintons

    Kerry was the one that promoted Sen. Obama. The Clintons had nothing to do with it.

  108. 108
    quannlace says:

    insurance. Got wiped out by medical treatment, wound up living in her car with a fifteen year old daughter. But HerSelf does not believe in Luck.

    Not surprised. Doesn’t she believe and promote every nonsense book that comes down the pike, promising you that if you just BELIEVE, it’ll come to you. Like magic! But luck? No, that’s just silly talk.

  109. 109
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: @Mnemosyne: I stand corrected. And, whoa, that’s way suckier than I realized.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I say that as a lapsed Catholic, who expected better from the institutional Church I was expected to revere.

    If I had any doubts about the credibility of my old church when it came to politics, the 2009 health care debate would’ve put them to rest. The Church claims health care is a right, claims that it supports universal health care, and hell, it even bothered to write up a political pamphlet in the run-up to the 2008 election in which it clarified that.

    Then when push came to shove, you got complete silence. For the entire time the debate was raging, not one peep out of God’s Own Church, and when the issue finally came to a vote, they ducked out on it using the “ohhh, but ZOMG we might be funding ABORTION!” concern-trolling. To their credit, various Catholic organizations did support health care reform, but out of the USCCB and the Vatican themselves, nothing.

    On the American political scene, as far as I’m concerned they gave up any pretense of moral authority when they failed to stick up for UHC.

  111. 111
    OzoneR says:

    One really, really starts to wonder if we are capable of discussing health care in this country at all.

    STARTS to wonder?

  112. 112
    Name says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Gosh, sorry I have a life outside of this blog and didn’t wait eagerly by my computer to do line-by-line, point-by-point rebuttals of everyone who thought I was a liar or disagreed with me the instant they posted their insults or disagreement or both. What defense is there to write? I can break down the responses I’ve gotten into a few basic categories:

    1) I’m a liar. Rebuttal: No, I’m not, anonymous blog commenters. I don’t know you, but I know me. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

    2) I’m wrong about my religion. Rebuttal: No, I’m not. My religion believes these things. And even if it were a church of 10 people, it would still be entitled to Free Exercise Clause protections in its secular activities.

    3) My religion is wrong. Rebuttal: One of the nice things about America is that we can disagree about these things. If America weren’t run on this principle, Catholics and atheists alike would probably both be oppressed by the state-supported Protestant faiths in prevalence in most of the colonies at the time of the nation’s founding. (Except in Maryland, which would probably be a Catholic theocracy where anyone disagreeing with my views would face jail-time.)

    4) My religion is bad because people who believed it hurt you. Rebuttal: I’m sorry that happened. Not all Catholics are bad. Not all Catholic priests et al are bad. Most aren’t, in fact. I was pretty badly hurt by an atheist in my immediate family, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to judge atheism by that individual. So why would it be fair to judge all Catholicism by a bad personal experience?

    5) I’m excommunicated from the Democratic Party. Rebuttal: No I’m not, I’m just not voting for Obama. I have every confidence that sensible people in the party will do the math and realize that 85% of Americans have a professed religion of some kind, and that winning elections above the county level will require not becoming known as the party that wants to repeal the Free Exercise Clause.

    6) I’m wrong about the RFRA. Rebuttal: … Hmm, no one’s actually tried to say that I’m wrong about that yet, have they? It’s all been about how I’m an asshole or a liar or a Republican plant or about how your Mom’s opinion or someone’s experience talking to a Catholic one time proves I’m a horrible person and a liar.

    I’ve been coming on this blog under a variety of handles since 2005. I expected the abuse and invective. What disappoints me is that no one can tell me why I’m wrong about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the Free Exercise Clause. If the assorted lawyers on this blog can’t tell me why I’m wrong, I doubt the Supreme Court will side with the Obama Administration either- assuming Obama’s foolish enough to stand by this decision until it gets that far up the totem pole or he loses an election.

    As to the issue of “explicitly religious organizations”: again, the Supreme Court held in 1997’s City of Boerne v. Flores decision that the RFRA doesn’t apply to states. In 2006, it held that the RFRA DOES apply to the federal government. If you read some of the state-level decisions like Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. Superior Court, you’ll see that they apply a rational basis standard. But the RFRA requires strict scrutiny be applied to these questions, and that’s a much harder burden for the government. States can burden religious organizations more than the federal government can. The RFRA applies to the federal government, and under the RFRA I don’t think the Administration’s decision here can stand.

    “Public money” has nothing to do with this. Neither do the opinions and actions of lay Catholics (which Kay alone seems to understand, here). The amount of misunderstanding on this thread of both the underlying legal issues and the reasons why a pro-choice Catholic could still take issue with this Free Exercise Clause-violating decision are downright depressing.

    My positions are not mystifying: they’re actually very simple. I value the Constitution, and I feel that the Administration is shredding it. If it will shred it for Catholics whom you despise, it will shred it for some group you DON’T despise when that group’s First Amendment rights become inconvenient. I no longer trust this Administration to effectively interpret and respect the First Amendment. I cannot support that, and you couldn’t either if you knew what the Free Exercise Clause stood for or understood how it was being undermined here.

    The Catholic Church believes that charitable works are a necessary part of their religion. Requiring the Catholic Church to directly finance activities it views as murder if it wants to continue to participate in the charitable works it views as necessary is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause. It’s a violation that, under the RFRA, is reviewed with strict scrutiny. It’s a violation that is unnecessary, as the Administration has cost-effective alternatives available to it besides requiring the Catholic Church to finance birth control. (Paying a fee in lieu of direct financing is still direct financing- that is not a valid alternative.)

    If the Administration cannot figure out a way to enforce this provision of the ACA without violating the Free Exercise Clause, and if this provision of the ACA violates the third prong of the Lemon v. Kurtzman test by requiring excessive government entanglement in religious affairs AND the RFRA, then this portion of the ACA is unconstitutional and should be struck down by the Supreme Court. The Constitution is of greater importance than healthcare reform. If portions of the ACA are unconstitutional or if this Administration is unwilling to interpret them in ways that are not unconstitutional, then changes must be made. It boggles my mind that when I express that sentiment people here are incapable of understanding it, and say that my views are mind-boggling.

    I’d support single payer myself, if I thought we could get it. Failing that, I’d support a public option. At the very least, a larger exemption for religious organizations in the ACA is called for, instead of statutory language conflating the activities of a Catholic hospital with a for-profit hospital or a Walmart. This doesn’t meet the RFRA requirement that the means by which the federal government has chosen to achieve its objectives “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” This doesn’t even come close, in a nation where Planned Parenthood provides sliding-fee services and in which the access to birth control of an individual who has voluntarily chosen to work at a Catholic charity has to be weighed against a fundamental Catholic belief.

    Or, I suppose we could weaken the First Amendment and tell anyone who mentions religious objections to requiring religious groups to directly finance activities they view as abhorrent that they’re a liar because Obama is infallible and there’s no other way to interpret the Constitution and caselaw.

    In any event, generally speaking (with Kay as a notable exception) the reaction here was as ad hominem-focused and as legally muddled as anticipated. The only truly surprising disappointment is that no one has seriously tried to argue with me about the RFRA. I’d be eager to read some interpretation of the RFRA, Lemon v. Kurtzman, and the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence that explained why I was wrong about this being unconstitutional. I’d be eager to read that, but I guess I won’t be reading it here. I’m not sure I’ll be reading it anywhere, because I don’t think I’m wrong about this and if I were wrong then after this many comments on a lawyer-heavy blog someone should’ve come along who could show me why I was wrong, and why the RFRA didn’t apply.

  113. 113
    AMD says:

    Oh for fucks sake. Abortion and contraception are both legal and paid for by tax dollars in Italy. Somehow, the Catholic Church has survived. Even in Ireland, where abortion is severely restricted, contraception is taxpayer-funded. It’s pathetic that the Catholic Church tries to dictate reproductive law and policy in a nation with express freedom of religion when they can’t make it happen in countries where it’s the dominant religion.

  114. 114
    Kane says:

    Do you think if healthcare was available to all Americans that it might decrease abortions?

    Do you think that ensuring women receive equal pay as men might lower the abortion rate?

    Do you think that making education a priority and making college affordable to all Americans might have a positive impact in decreasing the abortion rate?

    Do you think investing in after-school programs and childcare services might have a positive impact in reducing the number of abortions?

    We could go on and on. But the point is, if people are truly serious about saving the lives of the unborn rather than playing political football with women’s health, then there are viable solutions available that will in fact help dramatically reduce the abortion rate as we know it.

    Contrast and compare the ideas and proposals being offered by Democrats with those being offered by Republicans. Then ask yourself, which party truly is pro-life?

  115. 115
    AMD says:

    “Name”, you’ve already been given the explanation why your legal analysis is wrong. Free exercise means you can’t force a person to violate their religious tenets, but that does not in turn permit them to force them on you. You can’t force a Jehovah’s Witness to accept a blood transfusion, but your JW employer can’t refuse you health coverage for yours. You can’t force an Orthodox Jew to have an elective surgery on Saturday, but your OJ boss can’t refuse you health coverage for what occurs on the Sabbath. And so on. Individuals determine their religious practices, not their employers. Hell, even their churches don’t.

    And considering that Catholics overwhelmingly use contraception and many priests sanction it, it’s laughable the Church is claiming its prohibition a core value. Especially since elsewhere in the world majority-Catholic populations have not only legalized it, but pay for it with their taxes. You might be offended but I guarantee way more Catholics in the US are offended at the suggestion that they are lacking in their adherence to the faith for taking the pill or using a condom. If Obama has any Catholic problem, its not because of this.

    But hey, let’s imagine how stupid we can get. Catholic employers don’t have to cover counseling for people going through a divorce! Catholic employers don’t have to cover treatment for war-related PTSD! Catholic employers don’t have to cover seafood poisoning on Good Friday! Would never happen, not because refusing contraception coverage is any less ridiculous, but because the heart of this is really just centuries-old anti-woman bullshit. And no, sorry, the RFPA does not cover THAT.

  116. 116
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Chris:

    The Church claims health care is a right, claims that it supports universal health care, and hell, it even bothered to write up a political pamphlet in the run-up to the 2008 election in which it clarified that. Then when push came to shove, you got complete silence.

    Meanwhile, out in crazyland, the bishops of the Catholic Church should burn in hell for “promoting a godless, unattainable soshulist utopia on earth via the “social justice” movement.” “They would get in bed with anyone to make it happen, including the most pro-abortion President in the history of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama,” wails the wingnut. “They were more than willing to walk over the corpses of dead babies if it were to achieve their godless, earthly dream.”

    That is one seriously weird–and seriously hilarious–meltdown.

  117. 117
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Chris:

    The Church claims health care is a right, claims that it supports universal health care, and hell, it even bothered to write up a political pamphlet in the run-up to the 2008 election in which it clarified that. Then when push came to shove, you got complete silence.

    Meanwhile, out in crazyland, the bishops of the Catholic Church should burn in hell for “promoting a godless, unattainable [soshulist] utopia on earth via the “social justice” movement.” “They would get in bed with anyone to make it happen, including the most pro-abortion President in the history of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama,” wails the wingnut. “They were more than willing to walk over the corpses of dead babies if it were to achieve their godless, earthly dream.”

    That is one seriously weird–and seriously hilarious–meltdown.

  118. 118
    bemused senior says:

    @Name: You have one fundamental problem in your argument. You keep saying “The Catholic Church believes that charitable works are a necessary part of their religion. Requiring the Catholic Church to directly finance activities it views as murder if it wants to continue to participate in the charitable works it views as necessary is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause.” That is where you are going wrong. When a Catholic health care corporation runs a hospital it is not engaged in charity. It is engaged in running a business. It charges fees for services, it hires employees irrespective of their individual religions, it engages in commerce to buy goods and services to carry out its business. As such, it must comply with laws regulating businesses. One of these laws is the ACA, which requires that employers of a certain size must either offer health insurance meeting certain criteria or pay $2000 per employee in lieu of offering such insurance. This requirement is not placed on the entity that is a church, where the mission is purely religious, the members all belong to the church and the pastor, CCD teachers, choir director, etc. are all members of the church.

    This is much worse for communities with Catholic owned hospitals because in many places the Catholic hospital systems have actively and aggressively taken over hospitals operated by municipalities or as non-religious non-profits. Now the non-Catholics in the community have no choice. The 1st amendment doesn’t let you impose your religion on me.

  119. 119
    kay says:

    @Name:

    I’m wrong about the RFRA. Rebuttal: … Hmm, no one’s actually tried to say that I’m wrong about that yet, have they?

    I don’t know if you’re wrong about the RFRA. I’m a lawyer, but I work in county courts, and I don’t ever make determinative statements on constitutionality or legality, because I haven’t read all the arguments or all the case law.
    I (personally) am wary of people who who announce something is unconstitutional or unlawful, because it’s usually advocacy, not law. Advocacy is fine, but I don’t dress it up in law. Further, my position on threat of lawsuits related to reproductive issues (and this is new for me, maybe unwise, but it’s where I am) is “sue me”. I think women have made too many concessions based on the threat of lawsuits in this area. I’m ready to go to court over it, any of it, pick your issue.
    At some point the constant threat of lawsuits becomes more burdensome and coercive than the risk involved in the lawsuit, and I’ve reached that point. We’ll know it’s unlawful when we get the decision.
    While you’re quite confident in your assertion that this is unlawful, I’m quite confident that Obama has plenty of good lawyers, so let them duke it out. If we lose in court we’ll take it to the political arena, right? There’s a process, and I’m ready to play it out.

    On the charitable angle, I live in a lower income rural area, and I’m very familiar with social services contractors who are affiliated with religious orgs. We have the whole gamut here: Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Home, and a newer entrant, Shalom, who are, I believe, Mennonites. I think they are county contractors in the same way I’m a county contractor when I take a county appointment. Further, while you are characterizing them as the last resort, that’s not strictly true. I could fairly argue that they crowd out non-religious contractors here. There’s a market. I ended a contract with the Mennonite outfit (they hired me on a contract basis as a mediator for never-married parents who are fighting over their children) because they were coercing very young parents to marry. I don’t think my role as a mediator is to push people to get married. So there’s the other side of that charitable mission: religious orgs can and do over-reach. Further, I think your argument that Catholic providers are the ONLY providers goes against you, not in your favor. If the Catholic provider is the only provider, there’s more chance of coercion as to non-Catholics, not less. There’s two sides, and you’re looking only at the religious side. Religious freedom gets protection, but people who are not religious get protection too.
    Finally, on the “fungible” argument, I have a cognitive problem with it. I don’t buy the basic premise. I don’t think employer-provided health insurance is a gift. I think it’s part of compensation. It’s an insurance policy in leu of a portion of wages.
    I don’t buy it as a practical matter, either. The Church objects to no co-pay on contraception. Okay. Does the church also object if the insurance carrier shifts some portion of the co-pay to the policy? Say, one dollar less out of pocket? Why not? Under your frame, they’re now “paying” for contraception.
    Finally, on fungible, what about retirement funds? if I work for a Catholic hospital and they pay some portion of my compensation into a 401k, and I pull money out of that 401k for an abortion, has the Catholic church just financed my abortion? If not, why not?
    I don’t think an employer retains funds once they’re distributed. I don’t think the Catholic Church continues to OWN my health insurance policy once I take it in compensation. Do you? Do they also own a portion of your 401k? How about your salary? At one point does compensation transfer wholly to the employee? Never?
    I would argue that the Catholic Church no longer owns any part of my compensation once it’s paid to me, because including health insurance and excluding, for example, employer contributions to retirement doesn’t make any sense to me.

  120. 120
    kay says:

    @Name:

    Because I think people have swallowed this fungibility argument whole, I’d ask you this: medical savings accounts. If a Catholic org uses those, as part of a compensation package, and I take a portion of that account and purchase birth control, did the Catholic Church just pay for my birth control? When did the money in my MSA change hands? They’re quite popular. I don’t think you should assume Catholic orgs don’t use them.
    How far does fungibility extend? I know this fungibility thing has been totally accepted, but it doesn’t make sense to me, real world. It starts with the premise that 1. an employer is GIVING me something, and 2. my compensation is somehow retained, forever, by my employer. It occurs to me that that framing is VERY favorable to employers.

  121. 121
    Elizabelle says:

    Good morning, Kay.

    You bring up some excellent points, in looking at the underpinnings and framing of Name’s argument.

  122. 122
    Elizabelle says:

    @ Name: when one is left arguing “but no one is disproving my take on the RFRA” — because this is not the place for that, we’re not (most of us) lawyers or Constitutional scholars (despite the presence of the wicked smart Kay, and many others) — one is serving weak, weak tea.

    But I do thank you for giving us a chance to hear your arguments, and to respond. (I didn’t hear what you did in Balloon Juice’s responses.)

    Now, for you, on to a blog about animal husbandry or organic baking. I am sure they will be fitting arenas for a full and fair discussion of your views on the RFRA.

  123. 123
    kay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Good morning! This whole “employer-owned” compensation thing makes me nervous, because it was used in the public employee demonization.

    Conservatives were arguing that teachers and others were being “given” pensions, and that “taxpayers” somehow still owned that money.

    First, pensions are compensation, 2nd, teachers contribute to their pensions, and 3rd, the taxpayer contribution transfers to the employee (in my mind, anyway) once the teacher earns the compensation.

    I think it’s Right wing framing.

  124. 124
    Elizabelle says:

    @kay:

    Didn’t know anything about the “employer owned compensation” stuff, so that’s one more thing to watch. Never ends, does it?

  125. 125
    Name says:

    @AMD:

    A private individual running their own business should not be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. However, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of a Church is a bit different than getting a manager at McDonald’s who happens to be a Christian Scientist. In this case, Catholic Charities has an overt institutional connection with the Catholic Church. It takes it out of the realm of your example. For government to say that the Catholic Church itself is entitled to exemption- but not its directly-affiliated non-profits- is an excessive government entanglement in the inner workings of a religious institution.

    What if the Catholic Church declared tomorrow that Catholic Charities no longer exists, and that the works and organization of Catholic Charities are henceforth a direct adjunct of the Catholic Church? I’m not saying they would do that, I’m not even saying that it would be a good idea; I mention it to show how arbitrary and silly the Administration’s interpretive cut-off line is. The Catholic Church has run its charitable operations out of an affiliated non-profit because that was organizationally convenient. The situation in which the Administration has inserted itself is one in which the Administration is attempting to tell the Catholic Church which parts of its inner workings are entitled to exemption from insurance provider requirements and which are not. That is an excessive government entanglement in religion.

    @bemused senior: See above. But your contention about a Catholic church employing only Catholics is inaccurate, because if a parish church hired a janitor who happened to be non-Catholic that individual would not be entitled to a healthcare plan that provided contraception. The government’s standards are much murkier than you’re portraying them to be, and that corroborates my assertion that there is an excessive government entanglement in religious affairs.

    One finds these situations a lot in First Amendment jurisprudence- create a blanket regulation, and it’s vague and overbroad, but create a narrower set of rules and they become viewpoint-based speech restrictions. The First Amendment is one of the more fascinating areas of law, because it’s constantly changing. And generally speaking, its protections are expanding, which is another reason why I’m confident that the Obama Administration will lose on this one.

    @kay:

    This deserves a point-by-point discussion, but I don’t have time to do that right now. You don’t say I’m wrong, which at least shows that you’re willing to concede something most people around here aren’t- that reasonable liberal minds can disagree with the Obama Administration on this issue. Thank you. I’ll get back to your post later, it makes excellent points.

    I will note that yesterday I was on GOS and I found a lot of the commenters there agreeing with me on the political aspect of this:

    “The Catholic Church is going to win this fight. (3+ / 0-)
    I’m Anglican and my Rector was talking about it yesterday from the pulpit. All heads were nodding in agreement and amens were shouted. This is at a liberal, all-black Episcopalian parish.

    The Administration is going to have to back off this one and let it rock. The Mother Church is reaching out to all denominations of the faith and is getting a receptive ear.

    They’re going to lose this so they may as well get it over with.”

    “Repubs are ginning it up, too. (0+ / 0-)
    With the economy improving, they’re going to have to take a right turn back into the culture wars, and this looks like a winner.”

    “I agree (1+ / 0-)
    I work in a Catholic hospital and I must tell you that at my hospital they have always done the right thing when it comes to waving payment for folks not able to afford care. . About 10% of our annual budget goes to uncompensated care.”

    “Plus (1+ / 0-)
    on a purely political note: Why give the Rethugs an issue when we have them on the ropes? Very poor timing.”

    “It’s going to put the socially liberal catholics.. (0+ / 0-)
    …on the side of the socially conservative ones.”

    “The problem is (2+ / 0-)
    for many Catholic hospitals and clinics, this is going to force them to decide to either close their doors or change their dogma. Not really a choice they should have to make, in my view.

    Sister Carol Keehan, who is a fierce Obama supporter and social justice advocate, was similarly positioned:

    Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, who was a fierce defender of the president and broke with U.S. Catholic Bishops in supporting the health care law, said she was “disappointed” that the administration did not affirm an “appropriate conscience protection” for religiously affiliated employers.
    “It was important to have clarified by the president and the secretary of HHS that this decision will not undermine the current conscience protections in law and so very necessary for our ministries,” Keehan wrote in a statement.
    Churches and other houses of worship – “religious employers” – have been and remain exempt from the new rules, administration officials said. But Keehan and other Catholic leaders have warned that Catholic colleges, universities, hospitals and charitable organizations do not qualify.
    “The challenge that these regulations posed for many groups remains unresolved. This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country, which has always respected the role of religions.”

    ” As for me (1+ / 0-)
    an atheist working in a Catholic Hospital, I find the commitment to our mission of helping the poor to get decent healthcare inspiring. This despite years of shrinking medicare and medicaid compensation. At my place, we provide over 35 million dollars of uncompensated medical care to our rather poor community.

    If my costs for contraception are not subsidized by my insurance, thats ok by me.”

    Etc. But maybe all those people are liars and Republican plants too, since their views don’t comport with those of the Balloon Juice ideological purity brigade.

    @Elizabelle:

    I know that a number of lawyers read this blog. I’ve been coming here since 2005. I was writing it for them, to see if any of them could show me why I was wrong in my interpretation of relevant caselaw and the RFRA. If you feel that discussing the Constitution and the law goes over your head, then maybe you should stop offering opinions about the Constitution and the law. At the very least, you could stop insulting me because I took the time to read them and think about them, and came up with a conclusion that annoyed you.

  126. 126
    Journeywoman says:

    @Name: You still haven’t addressed the issue of why contraception should be given special standing over any other Church teaching. You claim that “life begins at conception” is a “core tenet” that the rule forces them to violate, but that’s an argument against funding abortion, not services that prevent conception in the first place. Abortion is sufficiently controversial in this country that fairly wide latitude is given for exceptions of conscience, but you have yet to justify why contraception should rise to the same level of deference.

  127. 127
    Elizabelle says:

    @Name:

    Tiny point, but you keep using the word “liar.”

    And you are the only one who has used it on this thread.

    [@ Journeywoman: great point.]

    Mostly, I feel sad that an institution capable of doing so much good (Catholic Charities, healthcare, schools, social services) is picking a fight with an administration that is doing so much to level the playing field for their parishioners and clients.

    It’s ridiculous to be having a fight over contraception (for God’s sake) 200 years after Charles Dickens was born.

  128. 128
    Comrade Mary says:

    Catholic hospitals who simply cannot face providing medical insurance that includes contraception would be required to pay an extra $2000 fine per employee. These employees would be free to purchase medical insurance elsewhere.

    Some of these employees would be Catholics who would never use birth control. Some would be Catholics who did. Some would be non-Catholics who never use birth control. Some would be non-Catholics who did.

    Why the hell would the hospital have any say about what these employees choose to purchase in the way of their own personal health insurance? Are you claiming that once you work for a Catholic hospital, you have no right to spend your salary as you see fit?

  129. 129
    Comrade Mary says:

    Can’t edit: I want to add that the fine is $2000 per YEAR. I think this is well under the usual annual amounts any employer has to pay per employee for health insurance. Catholic institutions would actually save money if they pay the fine for all their employees and don’t offer health insurance at all. If they choose to offer a non-contraceptive policy that many or most of their employees embrace, and pay the fine for the subset who want to buy full coverage elsewhere, they may still come out ahead, even though the total number enrolled in their plans may be smaller.

    They would not have to dispense birth control. No conscientious Catholic employee would be forced to pay their share of a plan that covers contraceptives. They would just allow a subset of employees who WANTED contraceptives to purchase plans that included them. Their choice, their money. Why the need to control every last employee, Catholics and non-Catholics?

  130. 130
    kay says:

    @Name:

    but not its directly-affiliated non-profits- is an excessive government entanglement in the inner workings of a religious institution.

    But Name, that’s not presented in a good-faith way. That’s not law. It’s advocacy. There’s two sides to excessive entanglement. There’s religious interference in non-religious. You’ve only read one. I don’t accept conclusive statements on law. They’re a HUGE red flag to me.

    I have to tell you something else I’ve noticed, and I’ve noticed this as an employer. No where do you give even a thought to the employee. It’s all about what you’re “giving” them. I object to “giving”. That isn’t how I understand the employee/employer relationship. They’re not a supplicant begging for a handout.

    You’ve phrased this in lofty language of religious liberty, but the other side gets a turn at the mike, and I don’t agree on your framing.

    I want to talk facts. I want to talk about how “fungible” can be extended and extended and extended. I want to talk about how this “charitable mission” is subsidized by taxpayers of all faiths, to the point where in my experience religious orgs provide social services under contract to government.

    I want to talk about the list of required services. Do Catholics object to no out of pocket costs for STD testing? If not, why not? You’re funding sexual relations outside of marriage.

    I’m not going to argue on theological grounds, and I’m not going to argue on constitutional grounds. That leaves facts.

    I think you’re dodging a huge issue, too. The truth is, Catholic orgs won’t take the 2,000 opt out, because by doing that, they’d be funding contraception! Isn’t that the truth?

    In reality, it’s not the Administration that left Catholic leaders with “no choice”. Catholic leaders told the Administration “take it or leave it”. Because NO work-around will fix this problem, under the magical rules of “fungibility”.

    You want an exemption you can drive a truck though in terms of large employer health insurance, and you won’t accept anything else.

  131. 131
    kay says:

    @Name:

    This is what the framing you’re using does to employees:

    will “have to provide for their employees, free of charge, contraceptives, morning-after pills — in other words abortive pills and the like — at no cost.”

    That’s Mitt Romney, compulsive liar.

    See how he’s characterizing compensation that employees earn? As a hand out by employers.

    As someone who is concerned about the working poor and the marginalized, that framing should scare the shit out of you.

    Nothing, and I mean nothing, that any employee anywhere gets from their employer in terms of compensation is “free” to that employee. That’s a lie. But it’s very beneficial to people like Mitt Romney if we characterize it that way, isn’t it?

  132. 132
    Elizabelle says:

    @kay:

    makes you glad Romney used the word “employees” rather than “serfs.”

  133. 133
    Gretchen says:

    One fact that gets completely left out of this discussion is that there are many problems that are treated with birth control pills that have nothing to do with sexual behavior. Two of my daughters went on the pill years before they were sexually active for other reason. Somone who has excessive menstrual bleeding, disabling cramps, polycystic ovary disease, uterine fibroids, or other problems that can be treated with estrogen, should not have to do without or find a less desirable treatment, because someone fears they may be having unapproved sex. I should not have to explain my daughters’ medical condition to any pharmacist or any employer, and get their approval for the treatment our doctor has ordered. There are no conditions that men suffer from that are subject to this veto power, but because women suffer disabling conditions that are linked to their sexuality, everyone feels free to weigh in on the treatment.

  134. 134
    kay says:

    @Name:

    It looks like you’re winning, Name. Looks like they’ll back down and grant an exemption to large businesses that are in any way affiliated with religious organizations.
    I guess we’ll find out now what other parts of the law they object to, or don’t have to comply with.

  135. 135
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Name:

    Once again, how come the Catholic hospitals in Canada aren’t up in arms over the fact that their employees participate in a healthcare system that covers their ABORTIONS?

    Is it the fact that it’s done through private insurance plans rather than single-payer? Because that sounds to me like a distinction without a fucking difference.

  136. 136
    Name says:

    @kay:

    It looks like you’re winning, Name. Looks like they’ll back down and grant an exemption to large businesses that are in any way affiliated with religious organizations.

    Yep, the political pressure got to them. I guess that renders this debate fairly moot.

    On the plus side from your perspective, it means that I can vote for Obama again, and try to convince my liberal Catholic friends to do likewise. It also means that Romney can’t rile up Catholic voters against Obama. Come November, no one’s going to remember this controversy at all.

    I guess we’ll find out now what other parts of the law they object to, or don’t have to comply with.

    The parts that violate the Free Exercise Clause, that would be my guess. Assuming there are any other parts that do that, which I’m not sure about. I don’t think the individual mandate qualifies, that’s broad-based and roughly analogous with general taxation. Quaker pacifists have been shot down when they tried to use the RFRA to avoid paying taxes that mostly finance defense spending, so I don’t see why a Christian Scientist arguing against an individual mandate would be able to succeed with the law. We’ll see, though.

  137. 137
    Name says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    I have no idea how the law works in other countries. I know that America has a First Amendment; I have no idea how the law works in Canada, but I don’t see why it would be American Catholics’ fault if the laws in other countries weren’t as friendly to religious liberty. I just don’t see the relevance.

  138. 138
    Name says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Is it the fact that it’s done through private insurance plans rather than single-payer? Because that sounds to me like a distinction without a fucking difference.

    No, it’s a pretty big distinction. It’s like the distinction between me paying taxes in a state that has a death penalty, knowing in the back of my mind that some portion of those taxes will go to finance capital punishment- and asking me to directly pay a special tax fund that will be used to execute people. I’m somewhat okay with the former; I’m not at all okay with the latter. (Not an exact analogy, but an explanation of the difference.)

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