Changing a Trumwill’s Mind: HHS Edition
When the discussion over the HHS mandate started, I was more-or-less on the fence. If I leaned in either direction, it was against applying the mandate to the church. Over the course of the discussion, I changed my view and now tentatively support the administration (court rulings pending). Here is a general rundown of the various arguments and how they did, or did not, affect my thinking:
Arguments in favor of the mandate non-waiver that I found unpersuasive:
1) The Catholic Church defended child molesters. I haven’t seen this argument as much here, thankfully, but it is counterproductive as it lends credence to the argument that this is at least partially a punitive measure against people the proponents of the law simply don’t like. It doesn’t always work out this way, but I prefer issues be approached on the merits and not on who we like and do not like.
2) This isn’t about anything but contraception, which isn’t about anything but a misogynistic need to control women’s sexuality. If there is one thing I have learned over the course of this discussion, it’s exactly how many supporters of this law believe various views I have to being misogynistic. They are, of course, within their rights to think anything of my positions that they like. But in the game of shirts-and-skins, they have drawn the line in the sand and put me on the other side of it (despite the fact that I am supportive of contraception and do not believe in criminalizing abortion). Fortunately, per #1, I try not to make decisions on this sort of basis. And in this case, I didn’t.
3) Eight/Twelve/Twenty-eight states already do this, so it’s only a big deal because people are making a phony show of it. There is actually some merit to this (see below), but one major problem with it: If you want me to disregard potential slippery slopes, do not use what has been done to justify what is being done now. It sets off red flags.
4) It is an unreasonable burden for people to have to make career decisions based on the ideology of the employer. I am actually a little bit sympathetic to this… if they weren’t saying at the same time that it is reasonable for institutions to have to do backflips to avoid having to pay for something they see as immoral.
5) The contraception mandate pays for itself because contraception is cheaper than pregnancy. This assumes facts not in evidence. They may be facts, and I can be convinced on this, but I need to see harder data that I can examine. Right now I am mostly seeing assertions. Some of the skepticism may be rooted in a natural resistance to the notion that the cake is actually free. I actually want to believe this is true, but I have nothing to take to someone who doesn’t already agree with the proposition.
6) Why do Church’s even feel it necessary to enter what could be secular enterprise? It’s irritating. This was an early argument by Kevin Drum echoed by others. I don’t know why they feel it necessary, other than the reasons they give, but I consider it a good thing that they do. They often provide very good services and if they picked up their stakes it is far from clear that anyone else would take on the load.
Arguments in favor of the mandate non-waiver that I found persuasive, and changed my mind:
1) Nobody is requiring anything. Hospitals don’t have to close down to avoid to avoid chipping in for something they don’t approve of. They can put employees on the exchanges. This may seem like an undue burden, but the entire notion of employee benefits is a product of government incentivizing and disincentivizing employer behavior. This, as much as anything, strikes me as an extension of that. Arguably, this is less punitive than a number of statewide measures because there actually is an exchange to put them on.
2) In a pluralist society, numbers matter. The fact that the Catholic Church cannot muster up even a minimal amount of compliance with their own church, moves objections to contraception from the category of beliefs we have to account for over to beliefs that are sufficiently marginalized as to be disregarded. A couple caveats on this: (1) This assumes courts determine compliance with the Constitution. Without such compliance, the popularity or marginalization of any belief doesn’t matter, (2) This doesn’t mean that we should target these beliefs, but when considering reasonable accommodations of a belief held by 3% of the population and one held by 33% of the population, numbers matter from a practical standpoint. It’s harder to justify putting the laws of the land on hold for 3% than it is for 33%.
3) There is little indication that the Constitution has a problem with it. While the 8/12/28 states don’t make a great argument about alleged disingenuousness, they do make a fair argument that, Constitutionally-speaking, this isn’t particularly new ground. I haven’t heard a good counter on this, other than that it’s closer to 8 states than 28. Just because it has been done in 8 or 12 states does not mean that there aren’t good objections to taking it national, or that doing so is a good idea, but it does suggest that it’s not an unconscionable idea. And won’t lead Catholic organizations to shutter their doors.
4) Contraception isn’t just about birth control. Well, it’s in the name and all, but estrogen/progestin combinations serve other medical applications as well. This isn’t some fiction.
5) The rules are the rules. I was not a big fan of PPACA, but it is the law of the land and contraception access was a part of it. While I might question giving McDonald’s a hardship exemption and not the Catholic organizations, the latter is not being singled out here. It’s not like suddenly passing laws against snake-handling just as Pentacostals are arriving in large numbers.
In summary, the arguments I found most persuasive were nuts-and-bolts arguments. Nob did some of the heavy lifting here by pointing out what the alternatives here were, and that they were not put up or shut down. The arguments I found lease convincing were People Who Disagree With Me Are Bad (or are operating on bad faith). In good part because a lot of the people saying this are people I disagree with on tangential-but-related matters.