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All this Birth Control Nonsense

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The media is all atwitter over employers having to pay for birth control, even if their fundamental belief systems dictate otherwise and all that. I understand why everyone’s upset. I think.

A lot of people view making religious institutions pay for birth control as forcing them to do what runs contrary to their tenets, restricting the religious freedom of, say, a Catholic hospital. Of course, employees do not always share the faith of their employer. As such, a non-Catholic researcher at a Catholic hospital who is denied birth control may feel that her or his religious employer is making decisions for her or him and is thereby restricting her or his religious freedom. If legally mandated employer-provided birth control is going to be an issue, some entity, the religious institution or the individual employee, is going to feel that their religious freedom is being assaulted. Okay, that makes sense. If that sums it all up nicely, I understand why everyone’s got their panties in the proverbial bunch

Also, if the above is the case, shouldn’t the individual win? I’m certainly no constitutional scholar, but doesn’t the great document protect the religious freedom of individuals first? And, if so, isn’t the solution clear? Or is this a case of a majority religion forcing itself onto a new generation, wherein many Catholics, for instance, don’t see anything wrong with birth control? Last I checked, the majority of Catholics don’t have an issue with birth control, but our church fathers tell us what’s okay, not our own consciences, apparently.

If you’re Catholic, working at a Catholic hospital, and you disagree with the tenet about birth control being such a big deal that it’s worth making a bigger stink about than good works, and then your employer decides you’re not a good enough Catholic and makes the birth control decision for you, is that the worst way to assault someone’s religious freedom? Or does it matter?

Just like the issues regarding other people’s sex lives religious people and anti-religious people get so upset about, I find myself by with this one. Aren’t there better ways to spend our time? There are priests all over the national news who are using that platform to make sure they don’t have to pay for the pill, rather than asking for donations and/or volunteers to help the needy and the sick. Is the main concern of a major Catholic hospital really that they shouldn’t have to pay for their employees’ birth control? See the Bible, especially all the good works performed by Jesus, who was more interested in doing good things than putting his business into other people’s bedrooms. But, dang, talking like that sounds preachy, and I think our favorite carpenter’s son was more interested in us doing what he did, not preaching about how bad other people are because they, wow, for some reason don’t behave according to our beliefs, holy smokes, don’t you know.

But I really wanted to think about the constitutionality of the issue, not how foolishly some religious people are acting about this whole thing. I’m really asking this: Does the Constitution of the United States provide for my religious freedom, or my employer’s? And if both, who wins?

If the Constitution protects institutions before citizens, well, is it worth even having around? Isn’t that how the people in power stay in power, while the persons without it wonder where their (our) rights went? Is the cynical response the correct one: that’s exactly what the Constitution is meant to do, keep the power where it is? If that’s true, and everyone found out, what would happen?

Nothing? I hope not.

 

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About JohnGamber

  • Glenn Contrarian

    John –

    I think you might find this article of interest, since GOP Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) is about to propose a measure that would permit any employer or insurance plan to exclude any health service, no matter how essential, from coverage if they morally object to it:

    Under the measure, an insurer or an employer would be able to claim a moral or religious objection to covering HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests or anything else they deem inappropriate or the result of an “unhealthy” or “immoral” lifestyle. Similarly, a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer.

    Individuals too can opt out of coverage if it is contrary to their religious or moral beliefs, radically undermining “the basic principle of insurance, which involves pooling the risks for all possible medical needs of all enrollees.” As the National Women’s Law Center explains, Blunt’s language is vague enough that “insurers may be able to sell plans that do not cover services required by the new health care law to an entire market because one individual objects, so all consumers in a market lose their right to coverage of the full range of critical health services.” As a result, a man “purchasing an insurance plan offered to women and men could object to maternity coverage, so the plan would not have to cover it, even though such coverage is required as part of the essential health benefits.”

    But hey, this is Freedom, right?

  • Theophile

    Hi John,
    Perhaps insurance is just a form of gambling, but worse than gambling, as You are placing You’re bet on the evil event taking place. With normal gambling(which is frowned upon in some religious circles), there is a payoff, or jackpot, which “could” be obtained, and with insurance of worldly goods actual compensation takes place, in the event of loss. But to mandate that everyone buy “health insurance” is nothing but fraud by Chicago style extortion, unless of coarse “they” can actually guarantee replacement, restoration, or acceptable repair of health, then it would just be extortion. Umm.. has anybody other than God been able to guarantee such things?

  • jamminsue

    John, Lovely article. Thanks for making the points you did. I agree, Jesus was fairly tolerant according to some of the Gospels; it was the crazies like Augustine and Damien that screwed things up.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    That’s downright chilling, Glenn. Imagine an employer deciding that births outside of wedlock are morally objectionable and then refusing to pay for prenatal care and delivery.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    Thanks, jamminsue.

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    The thing that maddens old atheist me is that religion still trumps women’s health. When are we ever going to move away from idiotic superstition and take control and responsibility for our lives. Right wingers, libertarians and the like are always grousing about how people should carry their own weight. Yet, they virtually always defer to some god or other as the ultimate care taker. Screw that!

    I would be more than happy to wage war against religion. It is the scourge of our existence.

  • Arch Conservative

    “The thing that maddens old atheist me is that religion still trumps women’s health”

    Will you please cut the f-ing semantic bullshit Btone. Why is it that to every lefty women’s health equals abortion. For most women abortion is never even a health issue that they will have to deal with.

    The left likes to claim those whose who are pro life are extremist, vitirolic and use false rhetoric. However if I am a man who loves his wife and daughter, does his is best to provide a good life for them and who treats every woman that I interact with with the same level of courtesy I’d like to be treated with myself but happen to disagree with the pro-choice zealots on one single issue, abortion then I am a misogynist who is engaging in a “war on women” because I hate all women and seek to control their lives. Talk about ridiculous overblown rhetoric and extremism.

    Oh and for the record I am very much pro-life but not religious even in the slightest. I was raised Catholic but turned in my holster and crucifix the day my parents stopped making me participate in the religion and the only time I have stepped foot inside any sort of church since then has been to attend funerals out of respect for the loss of family and friends. I imagine that there are many atheists across this once great nation whose consciences tell them that abortion is wrong. I know that there are millions of women that are pro-life despite the usual suspects, NOW, NARAL, PP etc etc assertion that they speak for all American women.

    Even I as a conservative on all issues fiscal and most issues social do not appreciate the manner in which some of our more fundamentally religious (that’s all religions and not just Christinaity) fellow citizens approach the rest of us. However it is not religion that is the scourge of our existence but rather the culture of political correctness and the entitlement mentality that has been foisted upon us by the left and both of our major political parties that is the true scourge of our existence. We’re becoming a nation of whiny crybabies demanding more and more handouts from big brother, each generation growing exponentially more dependent than the last.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Anybody who is depicting the pro life view as “extremist, vitriolic and use[ing] false rhetoric” is probably overstating the situation.

    Surely the important issue here is to recognise that the decision as to whether to end a pregnancy or not is a very personal one that in most normal situations should be decided by the pregnant person.

    Religious dogma and political correctness are both problems, as is the current state of party politics, but we should all be looking to have a greater degree of personal freedom and choice for everybody, even when we disagree with some of those choices, rather than trying to force others to agree with our personal views.

  • Arch Conservative

    “Anybody who is depicting the pro life view as “extremist, vitriolic and use[ing] false rhetoric” is probably overstating the situation.”

    You’re British and currently residing in England if memory serves me Christopher?

    Well here in America the “phrase “war on women” is used on a daily basis. The litmus test is a single issue. If you oppose abortion you are waging a “war on women.” There is no context, no discussion of other issues concerning women, just that single issue and the application of the phrase “war on women.”

    For my part as someone who is pro-life I at least make the attempt that many on the pro-choice side do not. I get it that I’m not the one carrying the baby and it’s unreasonable and unfair for me to expect a woman who I have absolutely no connection to in any way to bring that baby to term. That makes complete sense to me. However I believe life begins at conception and I do not wish to live in a society where abortion is thought to be as mundane as getting the oil changed in your car. My beef is not so much with the women who decide to have abortions but the industry that promotes abortion through lies and propaganda.

    As I said I am not religious in the least. So I believe the solution to the abortion problem lies not in demonizing the women that have them or trying to overturn Roe but rather in drastically eliminating the number of choices as to whether to abort or not and fostering a culture that sees it as baby and not a “choice” because in reality it is a baby. I am a very staunch supporter of birth control. I believe birth control should be a covered benefit under health insurance plans. I’d have absolutely no objections whatsoever to my tax dollars going to the funding of the dissemination
    of birth control and birth control education if it could be linked to lowering abortions and not associated with those organizations providing abortions.

    I also think there should be more picture of aborted babies readily available for adults to see. Some may say it is in poor taste but it is the ultimate reality of what abortion actually is. When you’re looking at a picture of an aborted baby or viewing a video of an abortion being performed all the pretense and rhetoric from either side falls away and you’re left with nothing but your conscience and the truth. That is the way it should be for anyone on either side of the issue who wishes make an empassioned argument. I have personally viewed both but I often wonder how many on the left who are so sure that it’s a “choice” and not a baby have done likewise.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I do not wish to live in a society where abortion is thought to be as mundane as getting the oil changed in your car.

    What an overstatement, especially considering the ease with which you toss around violent rhetoric.

    Nobody with any rationality treats abortion as “mundane,” not even the Evil Planned Parenthood. There’s no shortage of “aborted fetuses” for people to see, either, so wanting more of that gross imagery to appeal to emotions only coarsens your position. You want some woman who was raped by her brother to choose not to abort because she saw an ugly picture on a placard?

  • Arch Conservative

    What violent rhetoric have I thrown around Jordan?

    And no it was not an overstatement. I have viewed and personally spoken to countless prochoicers who think abortion is “no big deal.” “If a woman gets pregnant she can just have an abortion” Of course they view it as commonplace and mundane Jordan. It’s the reason Planned Parenthood does not offer counseling or refer for counseling before or after abortion.

    You know people that are antiwar often use as part of their argument pictures of war casualities and that is all fine and dandy but if someone suggest viewing a picture of an aborted baby as part of the process of determine how one feels about abortion that is unnecessary? The fact is that a picture of an aborted baby has absolutely nothing to do with my views as someone who is prolife. The picture is the ultimate reality of what abortion truly is. It’s not rhetoric, it’s not political. It is what it is regardless of your view on the issue. It’s what happens when a woman has an abortion an I can only assume jordan that your objection is based on the fact you are uncomfortable with confronting the reality of abortion and you’re uncomfortable with others doing so too because it may serve to undermine the position which you’ve already committed to.

    Lastly rape and incest combined account for less than 1% of all abortions. While it is a valid point to raise because it happens, it’s the smaller picture and not the larger.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Arch, if you oppose abortion to the point where you are trying to prevent others doing so rather then you are by definition waging a “war on women”.

    If you are ever in a situation where abortion is one of a range of options in your life, you have the right to make your views known but you don’t have the right, nobody should ever have the right, to force that view onto others against their will.

    I do agree that there needs to be a time limit on abortions but it is really none of our business how people feel about it; you seem to be appalled by those who consider it a mundane choice but I don’t really see how we can go around regulating how people should feel and I rather suspect that there is a difference between seeing it as a mundane choice in theory and how a person is going to feel when actually in that situation.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    In terms of the USA, I am far more bothered by the view that killing is wrong, but state execution isn’t; that seems like a far more profound corruption of ethical behaviour and reason to me.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    “we should all be looking to have a greater degree of personal freedom and choice for everybody, even when we disagree with some of those choices, rather than trying to force others to agree with our personal views”

    Amen. This gets right to the heart of all of this.

  • William Weber

    Should the individual get to decide what to do with their body or the government? Abortion involves the unborn. When to abort the unborn [is] a medical issue and the decision lies between the person and their doctor. There are those who want to legislate-medical issues who have no training in medicine medical procedures. Those who do have the training cannot agree. Why does it have to be decided by anyone but the individuals involved? That is the bigger issue. Should the individual right to decide be protected or should the institution (religious or government) right to decide for someone take precedence?

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    Arch, you are splitting hairs. Many believe that ANY kind of contraception is tantamount to an abortion.

    Yeah, most abortions are a messy affair. So is sausage making. Ever see a monkfish? Ugly as sin, yet we EAT those.

    Also, the notion that there is ever anything “mundane” about the decision to abort a pregnancy is bogus. Most abortions are uncomfortable at best and can be quite painful for the woman. It is rarely an easy decision, but birthing and raising unwanted children is hardly a preferable choice.

    And, as you complain about slapping the moniker “war on women” on anything regarding abortion, how about the Right claiming everything pro-choice people say and do is a “war on religion?”

    And I still beg to differ. Religion IS the scourge of human existence. Always has been, always will be. Your mantra about “entitlement mentality” is a strawman argument fostered mainly by the very rich who simply can’t stand those who are not.

  • Clavos

    So is sausage making

    QFT

    In high school, I worked for three years as an apprentice in a sausage factory.

    Haven’t eaten any sausage since then…

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Perhaps I didn’t get a memo, but how does the refusal of a church or other religious organization to subsidize contraception or abortion medications deprive a woman of her right to either?

    Aside from refusing to pay for her lifestyle choices, are such organizations preventing her from using funds of her own or available from other sources to facilitate her own choices? Or is she depriving herself of such choices because she would prefer not to use such funds to accommodate her choices? If so, why should a church or other religious organization be required to pay for something she would prefer not to pay for?

  • Zingzing

    Archie: “Why is it that to every lefty women’s health equals abortion.”

    the real question is why you equate birth control w abortion. The article is about birth control. Before you showed up, no one was talking about abortion. First gabby giffords and now this… What’s with blowing into a room and blathering about random shit w you these days?

  • Zingzing

    Dan, It’s a health issue and should be covered by health insurance. bc is expensive. Telling your employee to pay for it themselves is basically the same as cutting off the option in many cases. And it disproportionately affects the poor, who can least afford a child… What consequences do you see there?

  • Zingzing

    To archie’s #11: “And no it was not an overstatement. I have viewed and personally spoken to countless prochoicers who think abortion is “no big deal.” “If a woman gets pregnant she can just have an abortion” Of course they view it as commonplace and mundane Jordan. It’s the reason Planned Parenthood does not offer counseling or refer for counseling before or after abortion.”

    I’ve never heard anyone pro-choice say that. That’s incredibly dumb, so if they said that to you, you may have been being mocked. Or you’re making it up. I think it might be the last one, because you’re either lying or ignorant of the fact that planned parenthood most certainly does offer counseling before and after any abortion procedure. Spreading lies and propaganda is terrible, Archie, as you yourself say. So why do you do it? Just ignorant? Or do you just do what you have to do?

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Zingzing, you say,

    Telling your employee to pay for it themselves is basically the same as cutting off the option in many cases.

    What is your basis for that statement?

    I assume, probably correctly, those those covered by insurance by virtue of their employment at churches and other religious organizations are paid. In addition, I understand that there are voluntary organizations such as Planned Parenthood, ready willing and able to provide such services at little or no charge. How, then, are their options cut off?

    Am I mistaken as to these things?

  • Zingzing

    Are there no work houses?

    Yes, they are paid, but not enough in some cases, which you must have figured was my point, right? And planned parenthood works through your insurance, unless you don’t have any. So, if it’s not covered, I don’t know that planned parenthood will cover it. And because you have health insurance, I don’t know that you’d qualify for programs designed for those without health insurance. Plus, the right wants to immediately defund pp, so they could be gone well before this law takes affect. So don’t count on planned parenthood to solve your problems, Dan.

  • Zingzing

    “What is your basis for that statement?”

    Wait, did I miss a joke?

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Zingzing, re #24 — no you did not miss a joke and I was not joking.

    I asked the basis for your statement and you provided none in your #23 beyond that it may be accurate in “some cases” and that you don’t know whether employees of churches and other religious organizations declining to provide contraception and abortion insurance would receive help from Planned Parenthood and other similar voluntary organizations.

    There are many things that I “don’t know,” but supporting an earlier assertion in that fashion would not likely be deemed a suitable response to a question.

  • Zingzing

    fair enough on some level, I suppose, Dan. But I think you know as well as I do that being able to afford birth control is a deciding factor in whether or not a person decides to get it. PP and other organizations aren’t just handing it out, but I think you know that as well.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Moreover, to call it a “health issue” is quite a stretch. If would be accurate prior to the advent of contraceptives and when abortions were still performed in the back alleys, but today …

    The more I think about it, life-style is an apter metaphor. It’s not exactly as if today’s women were ignorant of the consequences of coitus, even if they’re poor.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Anyway, what’s the cost of the pill today? Does anyone know?

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    For such interest if any as it may hold, I have been working on an article for my blog on the constitutional and legal implications of this stuff, including where rights arise, where they intersect and what the intersection means. I hope to publish it today or tomorrow. I have yet to see an explanation with which I can agree. Assuming no vehement objection, I will post a link here.

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    Lifestyle choices. So I suppose all you good and godly Right wingers always keep it in your pants except and only when you choose to procreate, right? It’s virtually always men who cast apersions against “loose” women, even when they are the beneficiaries of that “looseness.”

    It amounts to self-righteous bullshit. Look at virtually all of religious history. Eve is to this day considered by many to be temptress and a cunt who got us all banashed from Eden. It is always the woman who is considered at fault. It is always the woman who is considered “fallen” and cast out of society. More often than not the man suffers nothing more than a light rap on the knuckles if that and more commonly, a wink and a nod.

    It is largely men in religious organizations and legislative bodies who make these decisions and accusations against women. If some society started cutting off male “members” as punishment for non-reproductive sex, the rules would change in the bat of a flirtatious eye.

    I am often embarrassed by male behaviour and hypocrasy including some of my own. We tend to be clueless assholes.

  • Baronius

    “Does the Constitution of the United States provide for my religious freedom, or my employer’s? And if both, who wins?”

    The authors of the Constitution would be scratching their heads at that formulation, I think. It’s been traditionally held that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of association. For those who practice organized religion, freedom of religion implies freedom of organization. So your framework of individual versus organization doesn’t even seem to be compatible.

    If a person seeks employment by a religious organization, presumably they should be agreeing to the terms – not necessarily the beliefs, but the terms – of that organization. I wouldn’t get a job at a Baptist hospital then complain that they didn’t serve alcohol at the Christmas party.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #30

    Baritone, you make it look as though women in general were victims of sexual encounters rather than active and willing participants.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, The Constitution provides in the First Amendment as follows:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Emphasis added)

    Obviously, there are some limitations. Those who for religious religions wish to engage in honor killings or the like can properly be prohibited from doing so. On the other hand, they probably cannot be compelled to eat pork.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org John

    The “framework” of individual vs. the organization is still the question when the First Amendment does not state to whom these rights are given first. The wording seems more like taking power from the Govt (ha!) than it does giving anyone anything to boot.

    In other news, I think that some groups who object to paying for their employees’ birth control might do well to analyze the cost to the organization/institution/company for maternity leave, childcare and the like. I could object to myself that NONE of these groups care about productivity and MONEY, but, well, I can’t convince myself of that. I’m sure there are some organizations who put their missions ahead of money and getting shit done. But then they wouldn’t get as much done and would have effectively shot themselves in their bureaucratic feet by then.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @34

    “The right of the people” doesn’t imply “institutional rights.” The framers didn’t think of institutions as entities.

  • Doug Indeap

    Arguments for a “religious employer” exemption have gone from wrong to ridiculous.

    Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have occasionally confronted such issues and have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, fraud, negligence, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g., http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/case.html http://www.aafcp.org/cplm/files/12.pdf.) Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.

    When moral binds for individuals can be anticipated, the legislature may, as a matter of grace, add provisions to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

    The real question here then is whether there is any need for such an exemption in order to avoid forcing some employers to act contrary to their consciences. Those demanding such an exemption initially worked themselves into a lather with the false claim that the law forced employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers considered immoral. The fact is that employers have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved–except perhaps for an employer who really desires not just to avoid a moral bind, but rather wants to retain control of his employees’ health plans, limit their choices to conform to the employer’s religious beliefs, and avoid paying the assessments that otherwise would be owed. For that, an employer would need an exemption from the law.

    Indeed, some continued clamoring for just such an exemption, complaining that by paying assessments they would be paying for the very things they opposed. They seemingly missed that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to most taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of their tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for a war, health care, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral?

    In any event, they put up enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required. Problem solved–again, even more.

    Nonetheless, some continue to complain. They fret that somehow religious employers ultimately will pay for the services they oppose. They argue that if insurers (or, by the same logic, anyone, e.g., employees) pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They counter what they call the government’s “accounting gimmick” with one of their own: the “Catholic dollar.” These dollars remain true to an employer’s religious beliefs, it seems, even after paid by the employer to others, e.g., insurers or employees, in that they can be used only for things the religious employer would approve. The religious employers’ aim, we are assured, is not to thereby control the actions of others, oh no, but rather is merely to assure that the employers themselves do not somehow act contrary to their own beliefs by loosing “their” dollars into hands that would use them for things no self-respecting religious employer would himself buy. Their religious liberty, they say, requires not only that they be exempted from the law, but further that anyone to whom they pay money also be exempted and thus “free” to act according to their desires.

    I wonder what they would think of their follow-the-dollar theory if they realized they had some of my “atheist dollars” in their wallets that can be used only for ungodly purposes, lest I suffer the indignity of paying for things I disbelieve.

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    Roger – Whether “willing” or not, it is all too often the woman who suffers the outrage and enmity of society. Wham bam thank you maam and the man goes off drinking with his buddies refering to the woman as a slut while she bears the burden of an unforgiving society AND the baby.

    I know morals and mores have changed over the years and that at least in modern society we don’t literally stone or shun women who “stray.” Yet there remain attitudes about women who “sleep around.”

    Just look at the political scene. The Kennedys, Clintons (that being Bill,) and Gingriches of the world spread their seed around with relative impunity. Some may wag their fingers at them for being “bad boys,” but their political and/or public lives generally continue. I’ve yet to see a woman in the political sphere who was or is known to have offered her favors around town who went on to electoral success. The double standard remains.

  • Zingzing

    Fwiw, Roger, when I said “health issue,” I was referring to birth control, not abortion. So, if you referring to what I said… although abortion is also a health issue, it’s a different matter entirely.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    B-tone, I’m for choice; and I’m well aware the double standard still exists.

    Even in case of birth control, zing, it’s a health issue only in an extended sense. Preventing a venereal disease would be a health issue strictly speaking.

  • Zingzing

    Sorry, Roger, but if you could define it as any sort of other issue, I might agree. Birth control is a health issue. It isn’t to you, but ask a woman. Even as a man, if you have issues dealing with procreation or the lack thereof, you’re going to ask a medical doctor. Which would fall under health insurance. If you wanted to get your tubes tied, where would you go? It’s a health issue. If you can’t get it up, where would you go? It’s a health issue. Stop dismissing women’s issues–I know you think you’re not, but you are.

  • Cannonshop

    There does need to be more of a social stigma applied to men that don’t do the right thing-whether it’s using a rubber, or paying for their “mistake” in not doing so.

    But, birth control is more than a financial issue-when the case isn’t rape, it’s definitely a two-party event, bipartisan even, and definitely consent driven (rape being another set of cases entirely, as a violent crime worse than most).

    But..making third parties pay for the douchebaggery of some men, just encourages those men to be douchebags. I’m not sure how you can break that pattern without hurting women, but it strikes me that just maybe making everyone pay for it isn’t going to address the PROBLEM, it’s going to make things WORSE.

    When you reward bad behaviour, you don’t curtail it, you just make it rewarding and easy.

  • http://indyboomer46.blogspot.com baritone

    Cannon – What we’re discussing here is contraception. While some believe that contraception IS abortion, the two things from a medical and emotional standpoint are very different things.

    On balance, most all forms of contraception are, from a $$$ perspective very cheap. In the long run, it would pay insurance companies to provide free contraception rather than paying for abortions, and even more so than providing pre- and post-natal and subsequent child care.

    The Reps, the catholic church and much of the religious Right have made such a massive deal out of this dubbing it as Obama’s “war on religion.” The decision to go ahead with this policy was made in favor of providing proper health care to women, something that should be taken for granted in the 21st century. Rather, we have people still supporting a 2000 year old myth demanding to be given special consideration in the formulation and enforcement of the laws of the land. It’s ludicrous.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    But..making third parties pay for the douchebaggery of some men, just encourages those men to be douchebags. I’m not sure how you can break that pattern without hurting women, but it strikes me that just maybe making everyone pay for it isn’t going to address the PROBLEM, it’s going to make things WORSE.

    If that were true, then those nations where The Pill and abortion are illegal – like here in the Philippines – would not have so much of a problem with out-of-wedlock children…but all it takes is spending a year or two with the people here to see how the lack of availability of reproductive health (which is what The Pill and abortion rights are called here) result in a very high ratio of children born to unwed mothers.

    And it’s not only in third-world nations, Cannonshop. In America, what states generally have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy? Yes, it’s the family-values-uber-alles red states.

    So with that in mind, are you still going to continue to claim that keeping a bottle-of-Coke’s-worth of insurance premium dollars in your pocket is more important than preventing the burden on society that comes with an increase of young unwed women having children that they can’t afford to feed, clothe, and shelter?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @40

    Sorry, zing, it doesn’t fly. All the examples you cites are examples of dysfunction. Contraception’s design is to prevent normal functioning. Not quite the same thing, and you saying so doesn’t make it either.

    I suppose you’re better at identifying with women and their issues than I … because you’re more girlish?

  • Baronius

    “See the Bible, especially all the good works performed by Jesus, who was more interested in doing good things than putting his business into other people’s bedrooms.”

    Jesus made several references to sexual morality. Again, I think you’ve greated a false dichotomy – to the Christian, encouraging good actions *is* a good work.

    The path to Jesus goes through John the Baptist: repent and prepare the way of the Lord. When the rich man asks what he needs to do to attain the kingdom, the first question is about obedience to the commandments. There’s an assumption about following the law. The law is not the be-all and end-all, but it is the starting point. The fear of the Lord (obedience to His laws) is the beginning of knowledge, the starting point for love of the Lord, but not the final goal.

    Do you see my point? Saying that we’re supposed to do good without worrying about sin is saying that Jesus told us to love God but not obey Him. Now, there’s the matter of the ritual law versus the moral law, and that gets complicated sometimes, but the notion that Christ’s forgiveness allows a Christian to behave wrongly just misses the point.

  • Zingzing

    Roger, getting your tubes tied prevents normal functioning. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. And neither do you apparently. I’ll let your last little bit of childishness slide. But I think you should think about it.

  • Zingzing

    And as you should know, but obviously don’t, birth control does more than prevent normal functioning, it also regulates hormone levels, which can do a lot of good if the right balance is found.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What, the girlish thing, you mean? I thought I was paying you a compliment.

    In any case, you do seem to know about it more than I, so perhaps I wasn’t that far off.

    I truly don’t know about “hormonal levels.” Is that one of the beneficial side effects or a bona fide prescription? If the latter, then I withdraw; if not, the point still stands.

    The tying of tubes is an extreme case, which doesn’t prove the rule. I thought I was a wordsmith, but compared to you I’m a novice.

  • Costello

    I bet the ladies appreciate all the men weighing in on the subject around here

  • Zingzing

    Vasectomies used to be more common as far as I can tell, but they are not an extreme example in any way. It prevents normal functioning and is a health issue. I’d like to know what else it could be if not a health issue. I certainly wouldn’t go to a car mechanic for one.

    And yes, birth control (which is based on regulating hormone levels) has been known to balance hormones and can have the side effect of combatting depression or manic mood swings. Of course, it can also cause those things if it is improperly balanced for the individual. It can make periods shorter and less harsh. It can cause yeast infections and weight gain.

    The reason I know about these things is because I’ve dated women on birth control.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I know it’s a common and not a complicated procedure, but it’s still drastic as a preventative measure.

    You still didn’t deal with the question of whether we’re talking about the potentially beneficial side effects of “the pill” or a bone fide remedy.

  • Zingzing

    Vasectomies are reversible, Roger. But this is kind of pointless. It’s a health issue and it prevents normal functioning… What else do you want?

    And yes, birth control is sometimes prescribed for its side benefits. Or at least certain types are prescribed to an individual because that certain type will have beneficial side benefits for the individual. As in, the manic depressive with a week long period will take the bc that addresses those problems for her.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    “Saying that we’re supposed to do good without worrying about sin is saying that Jesus told us to love God but not obey Him.”

    I see your point, Baronius, and I appreciate your civility (and that of a lot of the other commenters on this thread, which, in faith-involved debates, is rare from both ends and productive to find here).

    I think that the dichotomy between good works and encouraging good action in this instance is a matter of putting people before principles. By “people,” I mean people in need whom some people of faith who are upset about this and spending all of their energy fighting it could be helping. My point is that people are spending their limited time on earth fighting sex struggles instead of helping the people whom Jesus commanded us all to help. Jesus made an exception for Mary Magdalen exactly because her sex-based sins were not as important as helping a woman from self-righteous people who were sinners themselves. (In light of some of the loudest mouths we see on TV in this “debate,” this example is particularly fitting.)

    Also, from a Roman Catholic standpoint, good works are what get one into Heaven, not faith alone. Excellent Catholic scholars have suggested that people like Socrates and the Buddha are likely in whatever Heaven all good folks get into, by virtue of their good actions, even with their lack of Christian faith.

    I’d venture to say that, no matter what he said about faith in The Bible, Jesus would be more interested in helping the poor and sick than he would be concerned with trying to stop people from using birth control when they don’t believe what he believes and won’t ever stop for the reason of another person’s faith anyway. If the Catholic Church is right, we only get one short amount of time on earth. I think Jesus and the world at large would be happier if we used it to do better work than telling other people how to be good and just went about being good ourselves.

    Putting undue emphasis on Jesus’ words over his actions and example is problematic and runs contrary to what a lot of people believe his value to be. Even non-Christians who do not believe that he was the Son of God or the Messiah can still find great value in his example, and I think that’s a way to reach out to non-Christians, not pushing Old Testament teachings and some things Jesus said onto people solely, as if he was a preacher only and not a great human being.

    It’s phenomena like this “scandal” that cause a lot of the hatred toward Catholicism specifically, Christianity in particular and organized religion as a whole. Certainly, church groups (perhaps Catholics among the most) do immeasurable good for the world in numerous ways. If it’s not outweighed by judgmentalism, us-vs-themism and time-wasting, then these things certainly overshadow the good works that make such traditions worth having.

    I didn’t say that Jesus’ forgiveness allows anyone to act how they want to. I didn’t mention forgiveness at all. But I think that we’d all be forgiven for not butting into other people’s sex lives if we were using our time helping people in need instead. If not, goodness amount only to making other people behave according to our own faiths.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I know that too, zing. But you still haven’t made a case that “taking the pill” day in or day or, or using a diaphragm or condoms, as the case may be, is an honest-to-goodness “health issue.” All you’re doing is subsuming all contraceptive practices under one rubric, that of “health,” just because some of the examples might fit. That’s an awfully wide concept of health you’re working with.

    I think you should be able to come up with a better argument on behalf of prevention. The fact you can’t seem to or don’t want to suggests (to me at least) the weakness of your position. Why not call it a spade a spade? Anything wrong with that?

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    “And yes, birth control is sometimes prescribed for its side benefits”

    This is most certainly true of at least two women to whom I am related. In those cases, I wouldn’t even call the hormonal effects “side” effects; I’d call contraception a side-effect.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    zingzing didn’t say side effects, John, he said side benefits.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    I’m aware of that. I even pasted it that way, as you can see. In this instance, he was responding to Roger, who asked if regulated hormone levels were beneficial side EFFECTS. I said that, in at least two instances I know of, they (hormonal regulatory effects) are the intended effects.

    I took it that Zing was using the phrase “side benefits” to mean “beneficial side effects.”

    Did you think he meant something different, reading the whole thread? (DID you mean something different, Zing? If so, I apologize for conflating what you said.)

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    As promised yesterday, this article on the U.S. Constitution and reproductive rights just went up at my blog.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I see what your point is now, John. I think I misread the construction of that sentence somehow.

    You’re right that contraception could be considered a side-effect if the woman is taking contraceptive medication for the express purpose of, for example, regularizing her menstrual cycle or alleviating painful periods.

    But these are far from being the only drugs used for purposes other than that for which they were originally developed. Aspirin is probably the best-known example. It was designed as a pain medication, but one of its side-effects is the inhibition of platelet formation, which makes it extremely useful in managing heart and circulatory conditions.

    So if a person is taking aspirin to prevent blood clots and lessen his risk of a stroke or heart attack, is the accompanying pain relief a side effect?

  • zingzing

    roger: “But you still haven’t made a case that “taking the pill” day in or day or, or using a diaphragm or condoms, as the case may be, is an honest-to-goodness “health issue.””

    for god’s sake, what else could it be? does “health matter” make any more sense to you? it’s an issue dealing with health. “issue” isn’t negative like “you’ve got issues,” it’s just something that falls under the term health.

    “I think you should be able to come up with a better argument on behalf of prevention. The fact you can’t seem to or don’t want to suggests (to me at least) the weakness of your position.”

    i have no idea how (or why) i’m supposed to address this. you must be talking about something different than i am. i’m not trying to argue for using birth control in any way.

  • Baronius

    “My point is that people are spending their limited time on earth fighting sex struggles instead of helping the people whom Jesus commanded us all to help.”

    That might be true if the Church picked this fight, or if they stopped helping people. We’re in the middle of our annual pledge drive for the homeless, and they didn’t cancel it in favor of an anti-contraception rally. And when the bishops do turn their attention to fund-raising, they get criticized for not paying more attention to sexual sins.

    As a further note, I don’t believe that Mary Magdalen continued working as a hooker.

    “I’d venture to say that, no matter what he said about faith in The Bible, Jesus would be more interested in helping the poor and sick than he would be concerned with trying to stop people from using birth control when they don’t believe what he believes and won’t ever stop for the reason of another person’s faith anyway.”

    I have two problems with that. First, you’re making a conjecture that you fail to support. Everyone tells himself that if Jesus, Jefferson, and/or Einstein were around today, they’d recognize me as their equal. But that’s largely projection. Secondly, I don’t think that the second part of that sentence was a fair characterization of the issue. I could understand being upset if a church were firing non-Catholics for using birth control; this is a matter of the Catholic Church being forced to fund birth control.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Zing, I’m all for a woman’s freedom of choice, no less than you are. I just don’t need to window-dress it and try to justify it in other terms, bogus claims as they may not or may not be. Consequently, I don’t see why you should feel compelled to defend it in any other way than by stating your case in clear and unequivocal terms. Anything else comes across like trying to take refuge or do the overkill. It’s completely unnecessary.

  • Zingzing

    No idea what you’re talking about, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @59

    If memory serves, the same was the case with Viagra, originally designed with some other purpose in mind. It’s effect on “invigoration” had proven to be primary.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    That might be true if the Church picked this fight

    They did.

    Many states have had similar rules in place for years without a peep of complaint from the bishops’ conference. Then Obamacare comes along and suddenly they see the Four Horsemen galloping over the horizon.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #63

    Of course you don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be resorting to half-ass defenses.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    @ 64:

    I didn’t know that, Roger, but you’re right. I did a bit of research, and apparently Viagra was originally developed as a blood pressure and angina medication. It was then realized that it only works properly on a particular type of tissue found in the lungs and the penis. Nowadays, therefore, it’s used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (which can lead to heart failure) as well as erectile dysfunction.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    Baronius, you’re right about bishops catching flak for fund-raising. In my own experience, it was because perish members resented being asked for money (which was, partly, just them being contentious). I didn’t know bitshops got flak for shifting their attention toward raising money for good programs. It seems reasonable to me that whatever work bishops do for the needy is “indirect” and that such work would go on without them when they shift to fund-raising. Might be a case of people bitching [at bishops] just to bitch?

    “As a further note, I don’t believe that Mary Magdalen continued working as a hooker.”
    Very true! But I think she was a willing participant in her own “conversion” (for lack of a better word), unlike folks who are having their bedrooms judged by other people.

    I’m certainly not claiming myself as Jesus’ equal; I don’t know what I said that would make anyone say that. I didn’t support my claim that Jesus would probably concern himself more with helping the needy and less with judging other people’s sexual behavior because the New Testament is full of Jesus working to help people and teaching his followers to do the same. I thought the support was implicit; sorry for not being clearer.

    I know this is not a case of anyone being fired by religious institutions for using birth control. The Church views it as a matter of being forced to pay for birth control. Individuals view it as someone making decisions for her or him based on a set of beliefs into which they don’t buy. But that’s the whole point. If the issue is that:

    Institution A feels that their religious freedom is being restricted by governmental mandate.
    and
    Individual B feels that their religious freedom is being restricted by their employer.

    Who wins?

    Or, as the Obama administration seems to be going after, just change the circumstances in an attempt (!) to appease both sides.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The Bishops must in that case be in cahoots with the conservatives, regardless of the potential benefits that might accrue from Obamacare.

    That’s not exactly news, the content of the first-stated proposition, that is. The timing, though, is. Why against Obama, and why all of a sudden?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @69

    Excuse the tone of it. It wasn’t meant to be personal, only polemical.

  • zingzing

    “Of course you don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be resorting to half-ass defenses.”

    i think you’re asking me to defend something i’m not setting out to defend. i have no idea what that might be. so what the hell are you talking about? have you “enlarged” the subject without letting me know again? i’m lost.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t know how I can be plainer, zing. Choice is choice. There’s no need to defend freedom of choice (barring extreme circumstances). To try to buttress it by invoking other considerations is superfluous and, IMHO, weakens the argument.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  • zingzing

    no idea… you’re down some different path than i am in this conversation. baffled.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I have nothing to add except that your apparent inability to respond is telling.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    The timing, though, is. Why against Obama, and why all of a sudden?

    It’s actually not all that sudden. The bishops’ conference raised its concerns to the Obama administration about the PPACA’s requirement for employers to provide contraceptive services some time ago. The controversy has flared up now because it was not until January 20th that the White House issued its decision on the matter.

    Sensing that it might have some mileage as a talking point, conservative strategists, propagandists and talk radio hosts then picked it up and ran with it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, and I remember the controversial speech at Notre Dame.

    Are you suggesting the RCC is being used, that it’s just a pawn on the political chessboard?

  • zingzing

    roger, i can’t respond because i have no fucking clue what you’re on about. none of it makes any sense in the context of this conversation.

    does anyone know what roger wants me to respond to? a little help here… anybody?

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    I think Roger is responding to Dr. D with #76.

  • Zingzing

    I know. Was referring to roger’s last comment to me. I’m sure he’ll use your response against me, John.

  • Baronius

    “I’m certainly not claiming myself as Jesus’ equal; I don’t know what I said that would make anyone say that. I didn’t support my claim that Jesus would probably concern himself more with helping the needy and less with judging other people’s sexual behavior because the New Testament is full of Jesus working to help people and teaching his followers to do the same. I thought the support was implicit; sorry for not being clearer.”

    Sorry, I must have worded my response badly. I was saying that, generally, when anyone invokes (for example) Socrates, they depict Socrates as reaching the same conclusion that they themselves would. That kind of exercise rarely demonstrates anything about the thinking of Socrates, only about the speaker’s thinking. In like manner, I’m suspicious of someone saying that Jesus would respond X or Y way to the current debate without backing it up.

    Was Jesus’ priority physical or spiritual comfort? We read in Matthew 9:

    Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

    To me, that indicates the primacy of the spiritual over the physical. Likewise we have the example of Martha and Mary. Martha worried about the physical accomodations, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. Jesus says that Mary chose better. Jesus did not ignore the physical, but he recognized that spiritual things are more important. So I think it’s wrong to emphasize the Church’s charitable duty over its spiritual duty.

    Lastly, and this comment’s getting a bit wordy, you say that:

    Institution A feels that their religious freedom is being restricted by governmental mandate.
    and
    Individual B feels that their religious freedom is being restricted by their employer.

    Does any individual really feel like the extra $50 per year (or whatever) that would go to paying for contraception is an infringement on their religious freedom? They may consider it an infringement on their right to employer-funded health care, but not on their religious freedom. The Church can make the case that buying contraception violates their religious principles, but a church employee can’t make the counterargument that not having their contraception paid for violates their religious principles.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    Fair enough, Re: Spiritual vs. Physical comfort. I don’t think hat butting into people’s sex lives is the best way to give anyone spiritual comfort, though I suspect some folks might see it that way.

    I would feel that an employer deciding whether or not to cover my birth control on the grounds of THEIR religious beliefs to be an infringement on my own religious freedom. Any religion that I practice or don’t does not prohibit me from using birth control (this is probably getting out of hand, since I’m male and can’t get the pill anyway). If my employer made the choice for me, based on their own religion, I would feel like my religious freedom were under attack.

    The cost of the pill may certainly prevent a lot of people from taking it and could likewise result in more unwanted pregnancies. Certainly, everyone knows that sex makes babies and that there are ways to prevent pregnancy without the pill. But the pill is GENERALLY more effective than condoms and/or timing. Definitely not more than abstinence, but that’s a whole other issue.

  • Zingzing

    baronius, the price of birth control Is at least about $50-100 per month, and that’s only after you get the right prescription, which may take a few doctor’s visits, at a cost of around $150-250, per visit. At best, you’re looking at about $800 per year, not $50. (at worst, say if you have problems with initial prescriptions or have to buy an expensive pill, you’re looking at thousands of dollars.)

    You may be rich, or you may have no need for birth control in your life, but other people can’t afford your religious freedom. Not that shoving a church’s religious beliefs down their employees’ throats has EVER been considered a religious freedom.

  • Baronius

    Zing and John, you seem to be saying that religious liberty guarantees a person the right to have an employer pay for his/her preferred method of contraception. Does that really fall under religious freedom?

  • gnizgniz

    no, it’s not religious freedom to have your employer pay for your contraception. but it also goes the other way. it’s not religious freedom to decide what your employees do with their private parts. i’m sorry the catholic church wants to play around down there, but it can’t. or it shouldn’t. it doesn’t have the best record in that area.

    besides, no individual catholic’s religious freedom being denied. so when it comes down to the individual vs the institution, you always have to side with the individual. would you think differently for any other organization?

  • zingzing

    sorry.

  • http://www.pragmatik.org/blog John

    (Sorry for the late response — BC was having issues yesterday.)

    I’m not saying that religious freedom requires an employer to pay for birth control. But when an employer refuses to pay because of the institution’s religion, that falls under religious freedom because the individual is (or could be, depending how much cash he/she has) having her/his sex life decided for them by another entity, according to that entity’s faith.

    There are other reasons to deny birth control coverage, but they certainly don’t involve religious freedom if they don’t involve anyone’s religion.

    I — only half-jokingly — wonder if this whole thing wasn’t an invention of the health care industry just to figure out another “reason” to deny paying for things.

  • Boogers

    Exactly, John. Vaginas and penises are not catholic territory anymore. Welcome to the 21st century. Hope you can deal with it.

  • Zingzing

    DamnnDFfz h$ b;! F. It

    Df

    That was me.