The More Things Change : Contraception Controversy Edition

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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484 Responses

  1. Avatar dexter says:

    In a purely religious way:  God said,  “Go forth and multiply.”  Humans have done that.  What’s next on the list?   Be good stewarts of the land.  How do we do that if there are eight people per inch?  So humans have to use contraceptives or invest heavily in space travel.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Sorry- Its sunny here. 10 degrees, but its sunny. Nice xc skiing weather.

    I’m not quite sure why you seemed to rule out racism as a reason for the “we’ll run out of white folks” argument. It was 1939, those kind of views were not uncommon.

    As on of the pro-BC people, i wouldn’t say BC isn’t a religious issues. In fact of course it is. People should consider their own beliefs about whether to use or not use BC. (Lets have a round of applause for the rhythm method.) The pro-BC side was saying employers shouldn’t be allowed to deny BC based on their own beliefs, that is quite a bit of different argument and not at all saying BC isn’t a moral issue.

    I was meeting with a client yesterday who was raised in a strict Russian Orthodox village. Her ex hubby was violent, often drunk and abusive. Her family did not support her getting a divorce and told her to stick it out. The provision of gov health care for the child and various kinds of welfare has made her more able to divorce the guy even though it means quasi-ostracism from her family.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Oh, I did not mean to rule it out for 1939.  I got the feeling from Connell that it was very much based in racism; and I would be surprised to hear that Wharton would have been overly thrilled with the prospect of our current views on race.  I had only meant to say that when people today that are arguing this debate are not doing it from a whitey-first point of view.Report

  3. Dr. Pepper works fine if you use it In time. Though maybe not now that they are removing the brown dye.Report

  4. Avatar Erik Kain says:

    No need to erase the comment. I should post what I emailed you here so that others can benefit from the Knowledge.

    1) Make sure to upload to this site for all top-of-the-post images. Files that will float left should be 300 or 350 pixels wide tops. If you want an image centered at the top it can be around 650 pixels.

    2) Don’t “insert” the photo into the post. Instead, copy the URL. It should end in .jpg or something like that signaling that it’s an image file (not an attachment.)

    3) Past that URL into the Post Image box below.

    4) Make sure to place “more” tags after just a couple paragraphs to keep the front page tidy.

    5) As always, you can email me with questions. Thanks!Report

  5. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    Yes, fascinating finds, Tod.  Connell pretty well captures the traditional Catholic argument against birth control, an argument that I, non-contraception-using Catholic,  find philosophically flawed.  Connell quotes a Dr. Alexis Carrol, who summarizes the argument:

    “The sex act has been deprived of its natural consequences by the technical progress of contraception. However, the biological law of reproduction remains imperative. And transgressors are punished in a subtle manner. It is a disastrous mistake to believe we can live according to our fancy. Being parts of nature, we are submitted to its inexorable laws.”

    This argument assumes that the biological purpose of human sexuality, which he calls the “biological law of reproduction,” establishes a moral imperative.  On its own, however, it doesn’t.  Nature isn’t normative.  And controlling nature isn’t necessarily tantamount to living according to our fancy. It could, instead, be living responsibly.

    Frankly I think the Church should drop this fallacious line of reasoning.  A better argument would be the strictly religious argument: God intends sex for X, one should do what God intends, therefore one should have sex in accordance with X.  But, of course, the strictly religious argument doesn’t have the same moral force.  It doesn’t speak to anyone who doubts or disbelieves what the religious authorities say God intends.  Nevertheless, trying to link up God’s will with “the ends of nature” is a fool’s errand.  Even Connell can only assert  the certainty of the connection: “Now it is certainly the will of the Creator who adapted these vital powers to definite ends that they should operate toward the attainment of these ends.”  Not so.  That a vital power is aimed at a definite end doesn’t mean that it ought always be aimed at that end.  For one thing, nature changes. It evolves.  For another, free will and rationality are also “natural” powers with the “natural” capacity to modify nature.Report

    • Avatar Fnord says:

      You know, it’s funny how selective people are about the “natural as normative” argument. Raw milk people (etc) make basically that same argument. But it doesn’t seem like there’s much cross-over between the Catholic hierarchy and raw milk advocates.Report

  6. “Another note of interest was this argument by Connell:

    “Birth control as it is now practised in the United States is bound to bring about a notable decline in our white population in the near future.”

    I think in may ways this comment deserves more consideration, and maybe at some point a different post. And not because I think thisargument shows that those that are either anti-birth control or pro-religious freedom today are racists – in fact quite the opposite. No, what I find fascinating about this argument is that of all Connell’s warnings about what would happen should contraception be made available, this is the one that has actually occurred.”

    I think it’s really difficult to infer causality here. I’d be interested in some sort of roundtable of posts to hash it out.Report

    • Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

      I’m unimpressed with most of the “if we allow contraception, this will occur” lines of argument, even when  they seem to have been prescient. Causality is, as you say, really difficult to demonstrate with all of the possible variables.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’m unimpressed with most of the “if we allow contraception, this will occur” lines of argument, even when  they seem to have been prescient.

        I also think what they were being prescient about deserves some scrutiny. Does a particular woman owe anything to society, or the establishment, or the status quo (or whatever) to ‘preserve itself’ against her personal interests?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I think perhaps I was saying something else. I agree that contraception was not the cause to reaching a state of non-white domination population wise. I was noting that of all the potential worse case scenerios offered, this is the one that actually came to be – albeit for completely different reasons. And having come to pass, it ended up being more of a best case.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      It’s certainly true of much of Europe, where the birthrate has cratered below replacement level.  In this way, the state actually has a compelling interest in banning contraception. Not that we think or speak like that in the 21st century, but it is socially/scientifically true.  In a strictly practical and empirical regime like China, a one-child policy or an anti-contraceptive policy would just be sides of the same coin of the state’s compelling interest in getting the population just right.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        The difficulty then, I would think, would be getting a concensus on what exactly “just right” was.Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 says:

        What compelling interest is there in maintaining population level? If the United States were to have a reduced population to say, 2/3 of what we have now, why is that a bad thing?

        Is Europe seriously in danger of going extinct? Will there be a time when only the birds and beasts occupy the region from the Caucausus to the British Isles?Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        Personally, I think the world would be better with one billion human inhabitants rather than seven billion.

        We’d pollute less, we’d have enough fish, and have less to fight about. The economic rationale for making more people frankly just creeps me out.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          I’m with you about the fish. I haven’t caught a lunker trout in ages.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho says:

          This reminds me: out on this rural road at the south west edge of town that connects with a state highway, there’s a billboard up for an anti-abortion group. The picture part shows a smiling baby sitting in a box, and next to it it says “God’s Stimulus Package”.

          Makes no fishing sense whatsoever.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          There are definitely social problems with a collapsing demography, and not improper to inquire about the health of a society that cannot reproduce itself.  History is full of disappeared societies, cultures, peoples.  Why are there no Hittites in New York City?

          As for trimming the world from 7 billion to 1 billion, it reminds us of PJ O’Rourke—Overpopulation: Just enough of me, way too much of you.Report

          • Not to mention the huge welfare-state problems when only 25% of a population is generating net income.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Those result for a multiplicity of reasons, each of which is a cautionary tale to be re-told when proposing those policies. Even then, I think, the overall good (on a cost/benefit analysis) weighs in their favor. The problem doesn’t reside on a lack of income-tax earners, but with the overall distribution of income. In my view, it goes back to more basic conceptions of what it means to be a member of society: if you benefit extravagantly from the social structures in place, then you pay taxes in proportion to the benefits received. So funding of social welfare may go down, but on a less steep curve than increased in taxes on the wealthy.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            Merely asserting social problems doesn’t prove their existence, let alone prove that they’re worse than the social problems caused by too-rapid population growth.  And the O’Rourke quote is just a snarky smear on people who disagree with you.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Why are there no Hittites in New York City, Mr. Miller?  For some of us, musing on the question is valuable.  Indeed, musing is good for the soul in its own right.

              http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ML13Dj05.html

              As for Peej, the quote was there because it’s funny.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Whether or not it’s funny, it’s an insult–the clear implication is that Snarky is some sort of eugenicist, when that’s implied nowhere in what he actually said.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Come on, no one’s calling anyone a eugeniist. It’s a great line.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Really? The implication I got was that Snarky wanted to eliminate those unlike him.  If I’m mistaken, I apologize.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Nah, I think it was just going for a laugh.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                No one ever calls anyone a eugenicist around here, Tod?  Really?  It’s just something we never see?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Why are there no Hittites in New York City, Mr. Miller? 

                I blame rent control.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Any and all PJ quotes are always welcome in these parts.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                PJ’s crazy, bro? You sure you want to go down that road?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Didn’t he have a neocon-ish turn on Iraq and the War on Terrah?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Heh.  Yuss he did.   But as is his wont, O’Rourke never seemed to have considered the consequences of his wit.   His summary in 2007, was to observe the Iraqis should “sit down, shut up and go to hell.”

                I repeat myself, O’Rourke is the Andy Warhol of the Right.   Truman Capote was talking about Warhol to George Plimpton:

                Have you ever read Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? All right. Now in that book you’ll remember that this deaf mute, Mr. Singer, this person who doesn’t communicate at all, is finally revealed in a subtle way to be a completely empty, heartless person. And yet because he’s a deaf mute, he symbolises things to desperate people. They come to him and tell him all their troubles. They cling to him as a source of strength, as a kind of semi-religious figure in their lives. Andy is kind of like Mr. Singer. Desperate, lost people find their way to him, looking for some sort of salvation, and Andy sort of sits back like a deaf mute with very little to offer.

                That’s PJ O’Rourke in a nutshell, except turned inside out.   Where Mr. Singer was a confidant of many but a friend to none, O’Rourke prattles on about all the places he’s been, understanding none of it.   He’s funny enough, in a vicious and petty way but he’s heartless, an observer who consumes what he sees and shits it out again for the amusement of his betters.   Continuous eloquence wearies, said Pascal.

                Warhol understood the world rather better than his admirers and I strongly suspect O’Rourke does, too, secretly laughing at them as they project wit and wisdom onto him.   There’s nothing in there.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                That’s interesting. I like Capote’s critique of Warhol since I’ve always thought he was an empty vessel. That it extends to PJ is something I’ll have remain agnostic on – since I don’t know enough about the man to concur – but it strikes me as entirely reasonable. I’ve never read anything by O’Rourke (granted, it’s a limited list) that didn’t turn me off, and in pretty much the same way Warhol did.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I rather admired Warhol, as one might admire a particularly well-constructed robot.   I have a Betty Crocker cookbook he illustrated.   Warhol seized on something important about America and thrashed it about like a coyote with a hapless chicken:   America, for all its self-importance, is one vast parody of itself.   Warhol loped back to his den with that chicken, pulled out the feathers and ate it slowly, savoring every morsel.

                Warhol emerged from Madison Avenue advertising and O’Rourke emerged from those hothouses of culture-mongerin’, Rolling Stone magazine and National Lampoon.   There is a practical difference:   Warhol really could draw.   I’m not sure what to say about O’Rourke, I’ve read his stuff over the years and can’t quite figure out if he was just having a fine joke at the public’s expense.

                But the higher the monkey climbs, the better you can see his ass.   When O’Rourke set forth to write a book about Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, the shallowness of his intellect was at last revealed.   When he was carrying on about getting his Wing-Wang squeezed, he was a barrel of laffs.   When he decided to opine upon economics, he revealed himself for the idiot he truly was, all along.

                Cato still keeps him on in some sinecure, though I can’t imagine they pay him anything.   He’s the Class Clown who’s still amused by fart jokes.   Maybe he will pay a visit to Cato, I’m given to understand they have a fine library and even a few economists who might put him to rights.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                PJ is a great coiner of Nifty Zingers, much admired by the Cargo Cultists who buy his books.   Beyond that, he’s the Andy Warhol of that most feckless variety of Libertarians, the wannabe Conservatives who still want to roll up a doob.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Oh, man. Did you not like Parliment of Whores? That my be my favorite book on the US government of all time.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Look ,PJ O’Rourke became a Young Fogey and hasn’t matured enough since to warrant a fresh opinion of him.   O’Rourke developed a bromantic crush on Ronald Reagan way back when and the results were sickening.   You see, he’d spent some time with the far-out lefties and decided they were worse than the Establishment.

                So one time he’s talking about why Wealth of Nations is a better book than Paul Samuelson’s economics textbook.   Wealth of Nations didn’t require any math or equations such as might determine useless measures of economies such as the M1 and M2 money supplies.   That’s the most startlingly ignorant thing I’ve ever heard anyone with a college education say out loud.

                Satire is best left to those who understand what they’re satirizing.   O’Rourke is the buzzkill at the college kegger who laughed at his own jokes and parlayed his jejeune snark into a career doing same.   A witless wonder who actually thinks the Democratic Party is a conspiracy of egalitarianism, this man couldn’t count to 21 without the aid of his fingers, toes and male appendage.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Fair enough. But what do you *think* of him?Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                Back in the day, when I shared PJ’s mancrush on Reagan, I read one of his books. In it, he travels aroound the world making hilarious smirking comments about the fools and knaves he meets all with that arms-crossed detached irony callow young men aspire to.

                Then he writes about being in the Phillipines, wherein a young woman is murdered, and he witnesses her relatives digging up her corpse for reburial, and the attendant grief and horror of seeing her half-decomposed mud caked face.

                His writing voice shifts, and he struggles to express his anger and rage over the injustice he is seeing. But it falls flat- the smirking adolescent frat boy was at a loss to deal with so vivid and real a horror as that.

                Even as a fellow smirking young man, I felt ashamed. Never been able to read him after that.

                 Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                OK, I read the article; basically Spengler is saying that the world’s population of educated affluent people is slowing,while the poor and less educated still have high rates of fertility. Shocking, that.

                The world population of humans will not shrink, anytime in the foreseeable future, under anyones estimation.

                There are many ways to deal with aging populations and shifts in demographics. Immigration of younger people from other cultures is one way.Adjustments in tax and benefit levels is another.

                Point being, like all changes, it threatens the status quo and those who are invested in it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Well, thx for reading, Lib60.

                Immigration of younger people from other cultures is one way.

                Yes, we’ll see how that goes [well, actually we won’t: we won’t be living by then]. “Not with a bang but a whimper” can operate all sorts of different ways: in this case by being swamped demographically.  Germany is particularly vulnerable here.

                Der Spielgel: Graying Germany Contemplates Demographic Time Bomb

                Germany is already facing a demographic nightmare as birth rates fall despite a slew of family-friendly policies. Now, new statistics show that more people are leaving the country than immigrating — adding to concerns about the country’s shrinking population.

                 

                The point about the Romans is apt, but with the wrong lesson: Rome did indeed disappear, the language, the culture, the religion.  Modern Italy, like Germany, has a rock-bottom birthrate of ~1.4 or so.  It’s not improper to inquire about the health of such societies on philosophical or social-scientific grounds.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Please.   Educate a girl child for 12 years and she’ll have fewer than two children, statistically.   She will have them somewhat later in life, they will survive and she will ensure they’re educated.  The best birth control is a schoolbook.

                Germany’s in no danger from its immigrant populations.    The kids on the street all speak German.   Nightmare indeed:  the ancestors of today’s Germans were terrified refugees from the predations of the Huns who ran into that forest and survived.Report

              • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

                Education may well be the best form of birth control, but how does this address Tom’s concern regarding the health of a given society? Is education an evolutionary disadvantage?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Because educated people will always rule uneducated people.   Health, schmealth, this sounds like that Master Race nonsense from the 20th century.Report

              • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

                Fitness redefined?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Perhaps in time someone will teach the Germans how to make a salad, you know, with actual lettuce and tomatoes and not pickled vegetables.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Dude, you’re in Germany.  Why are you eating a salad? Pork knuckle and chicken FTW.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Cut a German and the Soße runs out.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                The Romans suffered from a rather violent immigration problem: Goths, etc. I think that whole Roman empire based out of Byzantium did fine for quite a while. But to be fair Latin is a lost language, who knows what it sounds like or who wrote in it.

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Latin, well, I read and write the language, rather like a man walking on stilts.   Latin lasted longer in Hispania than anywhere else:  they’re still called Latinos for a good reason.   The dative case lasted in modern German.

                Latin was spoken as a trade language and changed significantly even during the Roman Empire, so it doesn’t really matter what it sounded like:  it was a second language for many peoples well into the Renaissance.   We do have a pretty good idea what it sounded like from the plays of Plautus, who gives us not only street Latin but the hilarious Latin spoken by the African provinces, influenced by the Punic language of Carthage in Poenulus.

                The Latins always had an inferiority complex about their language.   High-born Romans affected Greek and Greek mannerisms, right down to their clothing.   After a while, the Roman toga became rather like our three-piece suit, worn for formal occasions.    Roman architecture was a fine thing:   Greek architecture mostly, enlarged by a factor of four and made of concrete.   That Constantinople would take to Greek should come as no surprise, even the jokey old Plautus gave his characters Greek names.

                I did most of my work on second languages, demotic Greek and vulgar Latin are where I started, spent a lot of time on how French and English shaped Africa.   Languages are always in flux, shaped by the people forced to learn them.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                How well do you speak Hittite?  ;-PReport

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                It’s an Anatolian language.   I learned a fair bit of Kurmanji Kurdish which preserves a fair bit of it.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                The dative case lasted in modern German.

                So it did, but what does that have to do with Latin?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I’m in no mood to disgorge what took me six terms and a sheaf of papers to learn about Grimm’s Law and the evolution of demotic languages.   I’m growing increasingly disgusted with looking like a pedant.   It only encourages the ankle biters hereabouts.Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                If and when the urge to be a pedant on matters of language strikes again, just bear in mind that there’s at least one credentialed linguist who reads this blog.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                So, Ken, does that argue for or against any more philology or linguistics references hereabouts?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Here’s a little food for thought about Latin which might give some insight, without having to go into linguistics.

                The Roman gods lived atop Olympus, a mountain in Greece.   Their foundation myths include the Trojan Aeneas.   The myth of Romulus says he couldn’t get anyone to live in his new city until he let every two-bit crook and fugitive turn up and live there.   This is not a people particularly impressed with their own origins.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Well, if you’re going to suggest that the Kurdish languages are Anatolian rather than Iranian …Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, heh, and if you really think the Kurds come out of Medea instead of Anatolia, the Pashto think they’re the Bani Israel, the ten lost tribes.

                The Kurdish language contains plenty of Hurrian constructs.  So does Greek, for that matter, read your Homer, the Trojan allies are in linguistic disarray but they all manage to talk to each other, though Troy clearly has Hittite archaeology underlying it.

                 Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                Blaise, re your question above: AFAIC it doesn’t argue one way or the other — I just figured I’d mention it.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Anatolia once, Anatolia twice, what I tell you thee times is true.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                Thanks for the link- From the article:

                He says that many people leaving Germany complain of the “narrow hierarchies in German companies, the poor chances of getting ahead and the lack of fairness in recognizing performance.” On the other hand, people in other countries are put off by Germany’s reputation for not welcoming foreigners, an image “that is not exactly inviting,” Bade told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

                So one solution for Germany might be to become a more egalitarian societal structure that is welcoming of immigrants who bring youth and the ability to support the elderly population.

                A win-win don’t you think?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Can the Turk immigrants actually become Germans?  That’s the rub.  The American culture has been more flexible and accomodating, for instance, taking in millions of Irish Catholics in several waves of immigration without altering its essential character.

                Somebody will always live in Germany; the question is whether who’ll be living there in a few centuries will be “German” in the sense we recognize.  No offence to Tony Soprano, but how did mighty Rome become shitty little Italy?

                Hey, Britain was taken over by the various Angles and Saxons, the Bretons headed for France.  Stuff happens.  Spengler:

                Population decline is the elephant in the world’s living room. As a matter of arithmetic, we know that the social life of most developed countries will break down within two generations. Two out of three Italians and three of four Japanese will be elderly dependents by 2050. [1] If present fertility rates hold, the number of Germans will fall by 98% over the next two centuries. No pension and health care system can support such an inverted population pyramid.

                [The] world’s population will fall by as much as a fifth between the middle and the end of the 21st century, by far the worst decline in human history.

                The world faces a danger more terrible than the worst Green imaginings. The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world’s population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care. [2] For the first time in world history, the birth rate of the whole developed world is well below replacement, and a significant part of it has passed the demographic point of no return.

                 

                Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Of course the Turks can become Germans.    When Alaric the Goth turned up at the gates of Rome, he had been in Roman employ for many years.     Rome had been on autopilot for centuries before the last emperor fled Rome.   The Goths didn’t destroy anything worth keeping.

                Who cares if you recognize these Germans?   They’re German citizens.   They speak German.   What’s so essential about German anyway?   They weren’t even a country until the 1900s and even then they weren’t unified in any meaningful fashion.   Don’t put on airs about Deutschtum, it was always a myth.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                More likely, the “Germans” become Turkish.  And historically the “Turks” themselves started out in the Asian steppes, as you know, Blaise—not “Anatolian” or Hittite atall.  That the Hittites linger in trace amounts—in the form of remnants of their dead language and more importantly, kabobs—tells us more of loss than

                To drop our exchange of inspired nonsenses—as enjoyable as it’s been—the Germans and other peoples/cultures whose reproduction rates are cratering face very real challenges to their survival.  Contraception—per the OP—has something to do with this, although it’s certainly more a means than a cause.  Still, it’s entirely proper if not necessary to ask why a society has apparently lost its will to reproduce, as a philosophical concern or one of social science or both.

                The Bretons aren’t British anymore; they moved to France and are little more than a footnote to history.  Biologically and sociologically speaking,  they also exist only in trace amounts.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yeah yeah.   You and Herr Schickelgruber, all worried about the German nation cratering under the onslaught of beady-eyed Brown People.   Germany will do just fine without you worrying about them, Tom.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Durch Hunderttausend zuckt es schnell,
                und aller Augen blitzen hell;
                der Deutsche bieder, fromm und stark,
                beschützt die heil’ge Landesmark.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Godwin’s Law.  Peace.  Out.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                ROFL… Fest steht un treu die Wacht…. die Waaa-aaaacht am Rhein.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                It’s not ROFL atall, Blaise.  It’s grave.  Attaturk’s center cannot hold in Turkey, let alone Germany.  Nor can Germany’s center hold if it’s doomed by its infertility.

                That you choose to brazen out Godwin’s Law by doubling down on it is disappointing, the innuendo being I’m some sort of Nazi racist fuck.  That’s cheating, brother, cheating both me and the argument.  I love your philosophical boldness, it so stands out here @ LoOG.  But you & I must get our history part square.  Whenever we do, the discussion flows like Saudi sweet crude.

                There’s nothing about Germany and Germans I particularly admire, in history or now.  They were the last to form a European nation out of their tribes and principalities; they initiated two world wars, perhaps 100 million dead, all told; and in the present day they are moral and political eunuchs.

                No wonder, as a culture and as a people, they have no will to reproduce.  There is nothing good to perpetuate, except their cleverness at science and industry.  But cleverness is not a value, and it’s not even a virtue, as they are learning at this very moment.

                In barely over this past century, their cleverness has brought them up short under the Kaiser, under the Weimar Republic, under the Third Reich, and now as the European Union, where as its leaders and  “rulers,” they’re are also the only ones pulling the cart—chief cook and bottlewasher.

                 

                Now, that irony is the real ROFL, brother Blaise.  Let’s drink a toast to some righteous schadenfreude, ja?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Actually, the vast majority of Saudi crude oil is of the ‘sour’ variety

                http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/196001/sweetening.up.the.crude.htmReport

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Kemal Ataturk was a reaction to the Ottoman effetes and their Islamic hangers-on.   The Ottoman empire emerged from the wreckage of several other empires.   It would begin well enough, with an inclusive model, giving rights to its minorities.   As we all know, it ended very badly with the persecution of the Armenians.

                What does it matter what we might Recognize?    Human civilization is not much different than weather reporting:   refugees and economic migrants moving like clouds from high pressure to low pressure systems.   Languages are constantly changing, immigrants haltingly learn to conjugate the verbs and decline the nouns of their new language.

                It’s not invoking Godwin’s Law to note Deutschtum and Volksgemeinschaft have been codewords for concepts of ethnic superiority.   You chose unwisely in picking Germany for your argument:  it’s a particularly bad example of what comes of these ridiculous notions of Ethnicity.   I have not called you a racist, I have pointed out you are making a racist argument, begging questions like “Can the Turk immigrants actually become Germans.”   The Turks have been in West Germany since long before I soldiered there.   They’re German citizens, they speak German, ergo they are German. You can put “German” within double quotes, using interestingly repulsive phrases like Essential Character.   There were other ethnic groups within the German State considered beyond assimilation.

                If Germany has preached from the racist tractates over time and been caught up short, that is precisely because they believed in the Deutschtum and pernicious doctrines of Der ewige Jude, the eternal Jew.

                Your foot is in a bear trap you set yourself.   We can substitute Turk or Pole or Albanian or Gypsy or any other such noun for Jude in Der ewige Jude .  Germany does have racists, plenty of them.    If you aren’t a racist, and I’ve never supposed you to be one, you must distinguish your argument about what’s essential about Germany’s people from what others have said about  Das Wesen des deutschen Volkes.Report

              • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

                Don’t worry, dear patient, any concerns you might have about your future are easily answered by noting that your “health” is irrelevant because 1) you’re easily replaceable, 2) we’re all dead in the long run anyway (so what’s it to you) and 3) it’s impolite (racist!) to even suggest that a declining birth rate does not reconcile with evolutionary fitness.  Awesome.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                the question is whether who’ll be living there in a few centuries will be “German” in the sense we recognize.

                Again- why is this a problem?Report

              • It’s not my problem, Lib60.  But it puts the question to the premises of German society, many of which some Americans think we should embrace as more “enlightened” than our own.

                It’s not as though “the crisis of the West” is an entirely new theme.  The questions was being asked of Germany even before it started two world wars and killed tens of millions.

                The new, pacifistic and demographically inert version of the past half-century has lost the will to live.  So why is this Germany’s problem?  As Spengler speculates:

                The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world’s population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care.

                If he’s correct, the question here isn’t very obscure.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Can the turk become a German?

                A better question would be can a Pratt become an American.

                Answer it before you vote for him, TVD!Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            There are plenty of Hittites in New York City.   They would in time become the Turks.

            What do they teach children these days?Report

            • Avatar dexter says:

              Blaise, They teach some of them to be very subtle trolls.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              “Show me one Hittite in New York City.”—Walker PercyReport

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Heh.   Now if only someone would round up a few descendants of those Ten Lost Tribes. Fetishizing the Jewish people has always a bit ridiculous.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                How could there not be a 2000-year-old man bit about the Lost Ten Tribes?

                “Lost?  They could get lost going down the street to the tallis store. I used to know a mohel from Zebulun.  He gave them haircuts!”Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                So Bill Gates advertises for a new chairman of Microsoft Europe. 50 candidates show up at the job screening. They are assembled in a large room. Among them is Maurice Cohen, a French Jew, a small, bearded, speckled man. Bill Gates thanks the candidates for coming but asks all those who are not familiar with the Java programming language to leave; 20 people rise and leave the room.

                Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I do not know this language but what have I got to lose if I stay? I’ll give it a try”. Bill Gates then asks all those who have no experience of managing teams of more than 100 people to leave. Another 20 people go.

                Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I have never managed anybody but myself but what have I got to lose if I stay? What can happen to me?” Then Bill Gates asks all candidates who do not have PhD degrees to rise and leave; 5 people remove themselves. Maurice Cohen says to himself, “I left school at 15 but what have I got to lose if I stay? So he stays in the room.

                Lastly, Bill Gates asks all of the candidates who do not speak the Serbo-Croat language to rise and leave; everyone but one other person rises and leaves the room. Maurice Cohen says himself, “I do not speak Serbo-Croat but what the hell! Have I got anything to lose?” He finds himself alone with one other candidate. Everyone else has gone. Bill Gates joins them and says: “Apparently you are the only two candidates who know Java, have managed large teams of employees, have PhD degrees, and who can speak Serbo-Croatian. I’d like to hear you converse with one another in Serbo-Croatian.”

                Calmly Maurice turns to the other candidate and says to him: “Baruch ata Adonai.”

                The other candidate answers: “Elohénu melech ha’olam”Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                A priest, a rabbi and a minister decide to see who’s best at his job. The test is to go into the woods, find a bear and try to convert it.

                After they come back, the priest says, “I read to the bear from the Catechism, sprinkled him with holy water and next week is his First Communion.”

                The minister said, “I found a bear by the stream, preached him God’s holy word and he let me baptize him in the river.”

                The rabbi was bandaged from head to foot and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have started with the bris.”Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                (this is paraphrased from memory)

                Jewish guy: “We defied the Romans, and where are they now?”

                Tony Soprano: YOU’RE LOOKIN’ AT ONE!”

                 Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            “the state actually has a compelling interest in banning contraception […] it is socially/scientifically true.”

            “not improper to inquire about the health of a society that cannot reproduce itself.”

            Just noting the way the claims do the Moonwalk.Report

            • Mr. Drew, that one’s not as logical or as clever as you might have thought.

              Heh heh, via InstaP; “Unless you actually make a Catholic bishop hand condoms out, you won’t satisfy the urge behind the mandate.”

              There’s the fact.  Sorry to drag JB into all this—he has enough problems without me adding to them.  But the desirable end of free contraception could be achieved easily without coercing the Roman church to do it.  This whole thing ain’t about that atall atall.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I wasn’t aware i was even attempting a logical progression of my own.  i was just noting how you quietly slip from a very strong claim to a very weak one, not attending to the impression you leave that you’re suggesting that by demonstrating the latter, you’ve demonstrated the former.  I wasn’t trying to be clever either, I just happened to think of the Moonwalk as an apt description of this tendency of yours to substitute a much weaker claim in place of the far too strong one you lead with initially in order to make a semblance of demonstration a doable feat.  (though not to worry abt it – you’re hardly alone.).

                Also, the question you raised was a state interest in banning contraception.  That’s got nothing to do with the mandate.Report

              • Neither has anything to do with the mandate, Mr. Drew.  It was a sociological musing about Germany.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Indeed, but then suddenly the mandate figures in your comment preceding the one I’m responding to now.  You can be a bit tough to follow at times, Van Dyke.Report

              • Avatar Jeff says:

                When Obama said that the Catholic Church didn’t have to pay for contraceptives, you still claimed the was a “religious freedom” [*] issue involved.  So were the bishops wrong to protest the accomodation?

                [*] — “Christian-speak” for trampling on the rights of others, from what I’ve seen.Report

        • Avatar CK1 says:

          Yeah, a big +1 to all of what Snark said.Report

    • Avatar mnemos says:

      Not sure where to leave this comment, but it’s worth noting that the argument actually occurred even more dramatically if you remove the effects of the gradually increasing definition of “white”.  I think in the 30’s the Irish were not completely accepted as white.   The Italians were brown people, along with other southern Europeans and Slavic peoples of eastern Europe were also not considered white.  If we were to use this sort of definition today, the “white” population would be dramatically smaller than current descriptions.Report

  7. Avatar Mary says:

    From Connell’s article, “Even now there are many thoughtful men and women in our land who are gravely disturbed over the decline of the population and are engaged in a campaign for more births, although some of them continue to advocate the use of contraception by persons whose offspring are liable to be unsound in mind or in body.”

    Contraception is not acceptable, unless of course it prevents people with disabilities from being born. Who didn’t see that coming?Report

    • Avatar Lyle says:

      Given that the article was written in 1939 we must keep in mind that Eugenics was an acceptable approach to solving human problems. (It took the exposure of the Nazi holocaust to change the worlds attitudes) Last night on CNN they reported that 60k folks in the US were sterilized between WWI and WWII  and later if Wikipedia is correct by the various states.  As suggested in the Wikipedia article the 1924 immigration law was somewhat based upon Eugenics as a way of keeping undesirable (read southern Europe) nationalities out of the US.Report

      • Avatar Mary says:

        I completely understand that eugenics was acceptable at the time. That does not prevent me from being disgusted. In fact, the idea that people could be so cruel and closed minded for such a long period of time before coming to their senses both saddens and angers me. I’m willing to bet a large majority of those 60k were people who experienced disability. Even post WWII people were being sterilized. I know a 50 year old woman with an intellectual disability who was starilized by the state while residing in one of their institutions.Report

  8. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    <i>Insurance plans that offer contraception are, over time, significantly less expensive to employers than those without.</i>

    Do you have research that confirms it? I can see how this could go either way, depending on the elasticities. I would imagine it depends on the characteristics of the employees. It takes a certain kind of woman to say “Screw it, I’ll just take my chances” in response to not being given free birth control pills.

    <i>If conservatives hold on to the contraception issue for too long, they may see that their desire to highlight a legitimate religious freedom issue begins to tarnish their well-earned reputation as the group that defends small and medium-sized business interests.  It seems to have gone a similar route 70 years ago.</i>

    This would make sense if conservatives were proposing that contraceptives be banned, or that employers be legally barred from paying for their employees’ contraception. They’re not, so it really doesn’t.

    Fun fact: Failure to acknowledge the not-at-all-subtle distinction between “The government should not mandate/subsidize this” and “The government should not allow this” is the leading cause of palm-shaped imprints on the faces of libertarians.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Damn you, WSYIWIG editor!Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      BB: Use “em” instead of “i” for italics, and you’re gold.

      And roger your main point, that the stank the evil & clever Stephanopoulos planted in the GOP midst during the debates is based on clouding, not clarifying, the entire contraception issue.  Romney did miss the game-winning field goal—and all he needs is a game-winning field goal, not 2 touchdowns:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griswold_v._Connecticut

      in 1965 settled—to no lasting controversy, unlike Roe V. Wade—that access to contraception was a constitutional right, that the state could not ban it.

      Every goddam word said or written in this current flap that doesn’t use that fact as an acknowledged starting point is ignorant or disingenuous.  Access to contraception has been settled law for almost 50 years with the consensus of both sides of the cultural divide.

      Christ, even Sen. Rick Santorum’s [R-Catholic] voting record is uncontroversial, to my knowledge.  This is a phony controversy, based on innuendo and clouding the issue, not clarifying it.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I guess I still fail to understand what all the kurfuffle is about. The Church doesn’t want to provide birth control. It’s antiquated but so are a lot of things in religion. Beyond the Church, is there really a significant % of the population that believes contraception should NOT be available? Does anyone have any polling data on the subject? I just can’t imagine this is a major issue in real time.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I’m perplexed as well.
      It looks like there’s actually three issues at stake and contraceptive care is only a small part of one of them.
      1). Employer-based health insurance (without considering the unemployed); one policy vs. supplemental policies; HSA’s & other incentives; caps on pay-outs & other insurance and delivery related issues;
      2). Churches, religious organizations; ministerial duties, and acting under the direction of a minister; faith-based and affiliated organizations; the scope of religion;
      3). Prescription coverage, accessibility issues; recurrent medications: high blood pressure, diabetics, contraception.

      One of the things that distorts the discourse is the use of magic word.
      The pronouncing of the magic word occurs many times in debate with persons of the Far Left when discussing various issues.
      If the issue is abortion, contraception, or by tenuous vicariousness the Pope (attending to the Germanic history theme up-thread), the magic words (as she is spoken in the vulgar) are:
      A woman’s right to her own body
      And that’s the answer for everything.
      You can read through each and every item enumerated as if it were an interview and the answer to every question was “Rape.”
      Like so:
      Q. Employer-based health insurance (without considering the unemployed)?
      A. Rape.
      Q. One policy vs. supplemental policies?
      A. Rape….
      Q. Churches, religious organizations?
      A. Rape.
      Q. Ministerial duties, and acting under the direction of a minister
      A. Rape….
      Q. Prescription coverage, accessibility issues?
      A. Rape.
      Q. Recurrent medications, high blood pressure?
      A. Rape….

      That’s all I get out of it.Report

      • Avatar sonmi451 says:

        Care to provide evidence where people call all those things in your list ‘rape’? Otherwise  I’m calling bullshit. I’m kinda wishing you guys don’t post about this subject anymore, reading the comments are making me lose respect for people I didn’t think was all that bad before.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          Just to clarify, this is not a call for censorship. Just a “I wish” thing. It’s like reading a liberal blogger for years and suddenly finding out that he’s one of those people who think that Roe v. Wade being overturned would be the best thing to happen to the Democratic party (all that increased turnout, you know!). Or talking to a guy you thought is pretty interesting, until the subject turns to computer and he goes into a loooong rant about how awesome Apple is and how PC users are merely pawns of evil corporation. It’s …. disappointing.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

          I kind of echo this sentiment. I’ve found it harder to stay engaged on the blog and have had trouble finishing up some posts after the sick feeling I got reading through some of the recent contraception and ultrasound related threads and discussions.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Here’s what I got out of it.

        There are issues with treating contraception as wholly separate from the larger issue of women’s health care.  A woman testified about that in front of Congress, and for her efforts was called a slut and a whore, and even more creepily told she had an obligation to perform sex acts as public entertainment.  While a pro forma apology was eventually given for the worst of this, her testimony continues to be distorted as “I have a right to fuck on the public dime.”  Her testimony about women who were denied needed treatment precisely because the medications required were stigmatized as contraception and therefore not a medical necessity, continue to be largely ignored.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          +1

          Effective birth control has changed the paradigm.   I’ll donate $20 USD to the Red Cross every time I use that word, keeps my use of it to the absolute bare minimum.    Heretofore, sexuality and the mores which surround the issue were based on restraining people’s natural impulses from creating unwanted children, confining sexuality to marriage and procreation.   Seen in the light of a world where unwanted children were a dreadful fact of life and chastity a virtue, marriage was intended to protect women from concubinage and sexual slavery.    Those mores and proscriptions did nothing of the sort:   women were the property of men, women were denied any semblance of equality and prostitution flourished openly.    The old mores never worked:  the hypocrisy seemed to stimulate even more appalling treatment of women.

          How do we cope with a world where women now have enough power over their own lives and bodies to plan their pregnancies?    Regardless of one’s position on the issue of publicly-funded contraception, if our core concepts of justice are based on the proposition of equal justice under law, maximizing for individual liberty, effective contraception has created a new liberty.    Antique tabus on the subject are now rendered moot.   The technology has advanced faster than our ethics.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            effective contraception has created a new liberty.

            Well said. Liberty lovers ought to love it!Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              For the most part, they do.

              It’s similar to the internet in that way.

              And, much like when it comes to the internet, there is an argument over whether there is a difference between having a right to access this thing and having a right to have it provided at a (heavily) socialized cost.

              The liberty people tend to be crazy in two ways at once: they argue that access should be unimpeded (make it available over the counter!, they cry. Like Sudafed!) but they also argue that people should pay for it themselves (Like Sudafed!)

              “I thought you liked Liberty?”

              “I love it. But there’s more to it than socialized costs for technological advancements.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So you’d limit public funding/insurance coverage to what’s medically necessary, and exclude it for purely contraceptive purposes?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Not at all. But neither would I require institutions that have silly misgivings about providing coverage about contraception to do so against whatever rules of conscience they have. If a supplimentary insurance program would cover this, that’s a better road to go down than one that doesn’t respect silly religious views.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Not even going there, Jaybird.   I’ve already established why these institutions’ rules of conscience are misguided by antique thinking on the subject.    Either we shall have equality under the law or we shall not have it and Supplementary ain’t Equal any more than Separate was Equal.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Is that a door we really want to open, Blaise? What could be done to Muslims under the guise of “their rules of conscience are misguided by antique thinking”?

                What could be done to you under that assumption?

                Let’s go the full Godwin and point out that the 20th Century is full of groups that felt justified to do things because other groups were misguided by antique thinking.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Now hath the Flying Spaghetti Monster delivered you into my claws.   The Reich had a plan for increasing the numbers of the Master Race by siring more of them upon single girls with the assistance of the SS.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I’m not so sure.
                I can see that everybody has a right to eat.
                And everybody has the right to keep from getting their teeth kicked in.
                But I don’t see where that translates to the idea that everybody has the right to free dental care.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m not sure I follow. You don’t oppose laws mandating public funding/insurance coverage, just as long as the mandate applies only to a supplemental plan? Like a dedicated ‘contraception for women’ plan? Or by AFLAC? Or…?

                 Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I see the health insurance industry as a leech upon the health industry (though, when it was created, it wasn’t quite so bad). The idea of having first dollar coverage for absolutely everything through government mandated insurance plans is one that doesn’t make sense to me. Single-payer makes more sense to me than universal first dollar coverage through government mandated insurance plans.

                Divorcing coverage from job benefits is something that would definitely help with this but… alas, it was not to be. So we’re stuck debating over whether issues of conscience should be sufficient to allow Catholic institutions to continue to provide health care plans that don’t cover contraception (in the way that they have for decades).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                JB, I’m with on the whole private insurance/employer/government mandate nexus. But! It is what it is. So, given what’s in place, the question is whether contraception ought to be included in the general health insurance plans required by law.

                And given that, your argument above is confusing to me: you say you don’t oppose the mandate that contraception be covered, but only if it’s a supplemental policy outside of the existing PPACA laws. Is that right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I see the contraception mandate as something vaguely inevitable (atheist god only knows what people will be screaming to have first dollar coverage for in 50 years because provision of this product will be argued to be a human right).

                So, given what’s in place, the question is whether contraception ought to be included in the general health insurance plans required by law.

                Given the number of institutions that have misgivings over being forced to provide this coverage (not because of its cost but because they have silly beliefs), I think that the contraception coverage should not be mandatory for these silly institutions. If we agree that it should still be covered, it seems to me that supplimentary insurance could resolve this problem while still allowing these silly people to act according to the dictates of their conscience.

                Win-win-win.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Look, I’m not going to rehash this stupid idea wherein women can be denied the right to have contraception on their health insurance policies.   We both know why Certain Factions oppose this right and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Public Dole.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                A) the right to access to contraception

                B) the right to have contraception covered on their insurance policies

                It seems obvious to me that these two things are not equivalent… and you can swap out such things as “internet access” for “contraception” and go back to arguments we’ve had, on this very board, about whether we should provide this as a heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone.

                It doesn’t strike me as obvious that we should.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Or C): the violation of a women’s right to equal access to medical procedures and services necessary for her biological health.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                a women’s right to equal access to medical procedures and services necessary for her biological health

                I’m going to need this unpacked. The three things of “access”, “coverage”, and “the product itself” are three very different things entirely but it seems that they’re always used co-extensively in arguments about health care.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Contracpetion coverage isn’t a right in exactly the same way that a prostate exam isn’t a right, having your teeth cleaned isn’t a right, etc. But if insurance plans offer a baseline set of medical procedures governed by law – as medically necessary services and procedures for overall health maintentance (or whatever the words are) – then excluding coverage of specific medical procedures necessary for the maintenance of a woman’s biological health requires an argument since that restriction (or exclusion) would appear to violate women’s rights to equal access to otherwise justified coverage of those services and procedures.

                I’m not saying that the argument cannot be made, but I am saying that it hasn’t been made and that it needs to be made.

                 Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I did a search a little bit earlier and saw that Target has birth control pills (generics) for $4 a month ($10 for 3 months).

                It seems to me that this price is somewhere around negligible. If this doesn’t qualify as access to a baseline of care, what would?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But doesn’t that sorta miss the point? I mean, I’m making an argument here, brother!

                In my mind, this issue can be quite legitimately understood as a case of discrimination against women. If so, then the side arguing for exclusions has the burden in justifying why the otherwise applicable criteria governing the provision of medical services and procedures by insurance companies don’t apply in this specific instance. So, the price of birth control isn’t relevant.

                On the other hand, if the price is so low, then why worry about socializing those negligible costs under a policy which mandates they be included?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In my mind, this issue can be quite legitimately understood as a case of discrimination against women. If so, then the side arguing for exclusions has the burden in justifying why the otherwise applicable criteria governing the provision of medical services and procedures by insurance companies don’t apply in this specific instance. So, the price of birth control isn’t relevant.

                So by having these women purchase the drugs with their own money or asking these women to purchase suplimentary insurance to cover these drugs, we continue to discriminate against women?

                Is it possible to say that forcing these institutions to cover these things against their conscience counts as discrimination against certain creeds? If so, does that matter less be we know that these creeds are silly?

                On the other hand, if the price is so low, then why worry about socializing those negligible costs under a policy which mandates they be included?

                The freedom of conscience thing. If you see that as a thing that is not important enough to include in the discussion (and many don’t), then I understand why my position is incomprehensible.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                JB – it is unclear what your position is.  What you have said is that a certain proposition “[d]oesn’t strike [you] as obvious.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Pardon me.

                It seems obvious to me that a Catholic institution being told that it must provide health care coverage that includes birth control is acting in violation of the conscience on the part of the institution providing coverage. This strikes me as problematic.

                It also seems obvious to me that BC is, in the overwhelming number of cases, available cheaply (if not for a negligible price). It does not seem obvious to me that asking people to take responsibility for their own BC acts in violation of anyone’s conscience.

                Given that I see “freedom to live in such a way that one not be forced by the government in opposition to one’s conscience” as a fairly important thing, I see the legislation forcing the Catholic institutions to act against their (silly!) beliefs to be wrong in a way that I don’t see asking people who want BC to be responsible for their own BC to be wrong.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                O.K., cool.

                Of course, people’s consciences (and silly beliefs) can require a whole slew of different things about how they must be allowed to live, far beyond what beliefs stemming from subscribing to Catholicism do.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Everyone has the right to full coverage auto insurance.
                A lot of people have that. But it’s not required by law.

                If I’m required by the gov’t to purchase health insurance, then I want a very low-cost option available. The bare bones stripped-down one.
                If I want more, then I’ll take care of that on my own.

                When the government puts their hands in my pocket, that’s not me exercising a right.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Nonsense and you know it.  Every time you put some straw man into evidence, usually surrounded by quote marks, or put words in people’s mouths, as you have @ #100, you weaken your case.

                Now here’s what’s obvious:   contraception has created a new liberty for women.   I have not put the word Subsidy into anything I’ve said so far on the subject.   Refrain from your profligate use of the quotation mark, it gets you in too much trouble.

                 Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As far as putting words into people’s mouths, turning “Well said. Liberty lovers ought to love it!” into “I thought you liked Liberty?”, is something that I’m comfortable doing.

                Now here’s what’s obvious:   contraception has created a new liberty for women. 

                I agree that it has.

                I have not put the word Subsidy into anything I’ve said so far on the subject. 

                Have you used the term insurance coverage? If so, then we’re discussing socializing of costs. Here’s a direct quotation of the term that *I* used: “heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone” and the other one was “socialized costs for technological advancements” and, again, “there is a difference between having a right to access this thing and having a right to have it provided at a (heavily) socialized cost.”

                I put a lot more emphasis on socialized cost than subsidized cost.

                If saying that insurance coverage is socalizing the cost of something is a misrepresentation that you find dishonest, please let me know a better way to phrase the relationship between insurance coverage and price of the product covered that will strike you as less offensive.

                Refrain from your profligate use of the quotation mark, it gets you in too much trouble.

                It seems to me that you might wish to use it a bit more, lest others find your unquoted paraphrases of their arguments be misrepresentations.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Bang your little soup spoon on the bottom of your saucepan, an it please thee.   Socialized costs, my ass.   Let an unwanted child enter the world and let’s see you tell me what we should do with that child.   Health insurance policies offer contraception as a great value for money, saving them the expensive proposition of paying for prenatal care and hospital delivery.

                I will not be called a liar and a misrepresenter by you, Jaybird.   Your rhetoric is too flabby.   I shall toughen you up most considerably and very likely hurt your widdle feewings in the process if you don’t sit up straight and argue effectively.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Socialized costs, my ass.   Let an unwanted child enter the world and let’s see you tell me what we should do with that child.

                Obviously, we should socialize that cost. We need universal child care to help the child while the mother is out working, universal education when the child hits 5, keep the child in school until s/he is 17, then pay for universal college education… at which point the child is entitled to a job.

                I will not be called a liar and a misrepresenter by you, Jaybird.

                There you go. Putting words in my mouth again. I understand why you’d want to argue against the positions you’re arguing against rather than mine, for what it’s worth.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I have said the opposition to the inclusion of contraception in health insurance policies arises from an ethical structure opposed to contraception in principle.   I have laid out the case for that opposition and explicitly said those who oppose public funding of contraception (which insurance is not) are entitled to their opinions.

                Now stop your disingenuous wriggling on this subject.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m not talking about public funding. I specifically quoted what I said and provided definitions for the terms that I’m using.

                You use the term “wriggling” the way that I use the term “disagreeing”.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yes you are talking about public funding.

                It seems obvious to me that these two things are not equivalent… and you can swap out such things as “internet access” for “contraception” and go back to arguments we’ve had, on this very board, about whether we should provide this as a heavily subsidized/socialized cost to everyone.

                 

                That, Jaybird, is dragging public funding into the picture.   Do not say otherwise.   I am specifically NOT going back to the same tiresome arguments we’ve had on this board.   You’re the only one dragging them up.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, I’m talking about socializing the cost through insurance coverage (and how it’s wrong to force institutions to provide coverage that they find morally wrong).

                Now it’s your turn to tell me what I’m talking about.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Wrong?   By whose lights?   Yours?   I’ve already established the premise of how effective contraception is changing much of society’s thinking on this subject.   All you can manage is to once again tell us how we ought to cling to the old thinking on this subject, as if you haven’t hectored us enough on this subject with your whining and aspersions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “Wrong?   By whose lights?   Yours?”

                If we’ve reached the point where we don’t give a crap about matters of conscience when it comes to setting policy, let me know.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                We?   Speak for yourself, Kemosabe.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                When I tried that you told me that I was talking about something else and to stop wiggling.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Who is this “we” of which you speak?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Listen.  This isn’t a damned bit of good.  You’ll never understand me, but I’ll try once more and then we’ll give it up.  Listen.  When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something …

                I’ll start over.

                Listen. The line between contraception and medical necessity is not clear and bright. It’s fuzzy. Pretending it’s clear and bright hurts women’s health.  The Isaa committee, in restricting witnesses to members of the clergy, was the equivalent of a commission on industrial safety that only calls factory owners. This is worth discussing..Report

              • Freedom of religious conscience is a pre-political right; free contraception is being proposed as a political right. [If honestly put, anyway.  One can propose gov’t financed contraception as an unalienable right, but even a supporter might have trouble keeping a straight face.]

                If we’ve reached the point where we don’t give a crap about matters of conscience when it comes to setting policy, let me know.

                Oh, I think we have, JB.  That’s precisely the point, and why this issue is more than just a matter of policy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The line between contraception and medical necessity is not clear and bright. It’s fuzzy. Pretending it’s clear and bright hurts women’s health.  The Isaa committee, in restricting witnesses to members of the clergy, was the equivalent of a commission on industrial safety that only calls factory owners. This is worth discussing..

                Sure, absolutely. The fact that the line is fuzzy allows us to discuss such things as freedom of conscience and whether institutions run by people with silly beliefs ought to be compelled to act against those silly beliefs. It seems that that line is much brighter than the fuzzy one.

                The fact that options such as suplimental insurance are not seen as sufficient to solve the problem also makes me wonder exactly what is going on here.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Women aren’t asking the government to pay for contraception.  The Church is by refusing to include it in there insurance plans.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “The fact that options such as suplimental insurance are not seen as sufficient to solve the problem also makes me wonder exactly what is going on here.”

                This doesn’t really address any of the underlying issues, but you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for birth control, in the same you you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for having your teeth cleaned on your dental policy.  Each is a regular occurring and known expense that are usually included in the policy to make more severe costing claims less frequent.

                If your health insurance provider does not provide birth control then you just buy it.  There is no insurable risk to have a policy for, and no reason to hire a company to process the “claims” you intend to have every month.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                 The fact that the line is fuzzy allows us to discuss such things as freedom of conscience and whether institutions run by people with silly beliefs ought to be compelled to act against those silly beliefs. 

                If anyone’s saying “Of course some women won’t be covered for treatments they’ll need, but my freedom of conscience is OK with that”, it’s escaped me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                This doesn’t really address any of the underlying issues, but you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for birth control, in the same you you can’t have a supplemental insurance policy for having your teeth cleaned on your dental policy. Each is a regular occurring and known expense that are usually included in the policy to make more severe costing claims less frequent.

                Yes. Thanks for saying that more clearly than I could. The concept of supplemental limited to a specific provision makes no sense in this case. That’s what I was wondering about earlier.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Ironically enough, I read that the PPACA was written in such a way that organizations could pay a fine instead of offering coverage for their employees.

                Is this true?

                If it is true, is that an elegant solution for everyone involved? Just have Georgetown not cover anybody and let Obamacare provide first dollar coverage for pretty much everything?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                That would be elegant.  I admit I would be confused, though, as to how “employer pays plan for all but BC, and aggregate insurer monies fund BC” is morally objectionable to Georgetown, but “employer pays plan for all but BC, but then pays fines to government, monies of which are used to aggregately fund BC” let’s you escape from that same moral conundrum.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m not one of those papist idolators. I don’t understand how they think about these things. I think it’s one of those things where they aren’t the ones doing it and so, therefore, the blood is not on their hands. Or whatever it is isn’t on their hands.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Would be interested in reading along as Tom & JB hash out whether the thing that needs to be respected/protected is freedom of conscience or freedom of religious conscience.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m afraid I don’t know the difference between those two things.

                I suspect that “freedom of religious conscience” (superstition!) is inferior to “freedom of conscience” (reason!) but that might be the old Superatheist Jaybird projecting what he would have meant had he made such a distinction.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Ok, let’s scatter the conscience and the religious aspect of the church aside.
                We’re talking about a public organization (no IPO’s yet, but we’re waiting) with an organizing charter.
                Look at it as a legal entity similar to a 501 (c)(3).
                The rules are a bit different, but they are structured similarly.

                You’re asking a public institution which provides a public service to violate the terms of its charter.

                That’s what’s at issue.

                Their beliefs are entirely beside the point.

                Does this organization have a right to its founding charter, yes or no?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                … and I just want to say that I truly enjoyed this exchange.
                It reminds me a bit of the Sean Connery / Alex Trebek skits from SNL.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Out of curiosity, what do you speak of regarding this supplemental insurance?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Dangit, homonyms get me again.

                Well, in Canada, they have a system where everybody gets X. If you want more than X, you can either pay for it yourself or you can purchase supplemental insurance. If, say, you want a semi-private room instead of a bed in a ward, you can get insurance to cover that.

                In the same way, people who work for Georgetown and accept the health plan(s) that they make available get X. If they want more than X, they can either pay for it themselves or they can purchase supplemental insurance.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                And the left responded in kind, with all kinds of “War on Women” rhetoric.  All over an issue that I believe 99% of everyone feels pretty much the same way about.

                What is the issue that 99% feels the same way about? Contraception?

                When you see a certain pattern, it’s not merely a rhetorical device to say War on Women. But I guess the left is just overreacting, as per usual.

                 Report

              • Not “overreacting,” demagoguing, as if more than 1% of them were sincerely offended when Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c*nt.  As if.  Mr. Jaybird nailed this one about 100 comments ago.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                They actually have that in the US, too.  But those are things that may or may not happen, and if they do may cost X or may cost Y, and are therefore insurable risks.  BC is a regular and known expense.  You can’t insure against it solely.  You can only offer to cover it to reduce the frequency of more severe claims.  (e.g., childbirth or any bad but infrequent conditions associated with birth or pregnancy)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So the moral thing to do when it comes to regular and known expenses is to socialize them? Or is this a particularly different regular and known expense?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                No, I’m not saying that there is a moral way to tackle anything.  I’m just saying I cannot figure out why the plan on the table is immoral, and the one you note is moral, from anyone’s point of view.  (Even the Catholics.)

                As to the question of BC in general, I have never thought that having it mandated by the government was important back when it was a private enterprise affair.  But I get that it’s different now with Obamacare.  Now we are head butting against a situation where either the Church might have to pitch in dollars for something it thinks is immoral, or the government will have to make an exception in a national, government controlled HC system that penalizes (albeit in a relatively small way) an employee of an employer that has different religious beliefs.  What’s the correct answer?  I’m not entirely sure I know, frankly.  Were it up to me, I would be OK with a system where churches were allowed to pass, but employers who weren’t churches didn’t have the option.  But I recognize that has to do more with me and my belief systems than a pretense of moral authority I hold.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It seems to me that the moral intuition that says “we must force the Catholics to provide this piece of health care coverage” has about as much (or as little, whatevs) grounding in Truth as the silly Catholic inclination to say “we don’t want to cover this”.

                If we’re cool with saying that our moral intuitions trump theirs, we ought not be surprised if, say, a group of people says something that we find morally incomprehensible (like “gays shouldn’t get married!” or something equally silly) starts being written into Constitutions or whatnot.

                The wall of separation between church and state should not have a bunch of one-way doors in it. It might quickly find that it’s not much of a wall anymore, after a while.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “It seems to me that the moral intuition that says “we must force the Catholics to provide this piece of health care coverage” has about as much (or as little, whatevs) grounding in Truth as the silly Catholic inclination to say “we don’t want to cover this”

                I agree with this, which is why I have no problem with giving the Church a pass, and why I think the White House had overstepped its bound with its original mandate.

                For me it gets a little quirkier with the next step, where any employer that thinks that birth control is immoral can keep it out of government mandated health plans for their female employees.  The idea of employers beginning to have a say in what their employees do in off hours (based on their own reading of a religious text) is one that I am not very comfortable with, and just feels like a door I don’t want opened very far.

                And yeah, I get that you don’t want your tax/fee/etc dollars going to something you think is wrong or even immoral, but that seems like a train we we got on a long, long, long time ago. And may in fact be a train you can’t avoid getting on at all regardless of what kind of government you live with.

                And on top of all of this, I’m still not convinced this whole issue has as much to do with either contraception or religious freedom as we like to pretend.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Tod, just want to chime in to say I agree with all this. I think the requirement is prima facie justified, and defeating it as a fully generally provision has the burden here. And I also agree that exemptions from the requirement ought to be restricted to a very narrow reading of what constitutes a religious institution.

                And on top of all of this, I’m still not convinced this whole issue has as much to do with either contraception or religious freedom as we like to pretend.

                I also think this is the case. So I’m curious as to what you mean here. Care to elaborate?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                What I mean is that I think that of all the issues for everyone to be bitterly divided, this just isn’t it.  What happened, from where I sit, is that the GOP ratcheted up opposition to a poorly thought out mandate – as they should have.  But then when the White House backed off, they kept pushing.  And I think it had less to do with policy or “natural rights” than it did pushing for the sake of pushing.  They came off looking as anti-contraception, but clearly they aren’t – any more than they are anti-“stay in school and grow up to be good citizens.”  It was just pushing.

                Worse, it came on the back of the ultrasound thing, and then to make matters worse the one guy they are afraid to tell to shit up put his foot in in big time, and gave them a huge political ball of pooh.  And the left responded in kind, with all kinds of “War on Women” rhetoric.  All over an issue that I believe 99% of everyone feels pretty much the same way about.  If the compromise the WH proposed after they overstepped had come out of some bipartisan committee no one would ever have heard about it, and if they had they would have said “Oh…. Ok…. Next?”

                That’s what I meant.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                The Church is not being asked to pay for anyone’s birth control; they are being forced to offer coverage for their secular employees, which is paid for by the employee in lieu of pay.

                And these are not churches- these are businesses that are owned by churches.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 says:

                Wow, Tod, you make it sound like all this stuff was some weird crazy coincidence- “Huh, whouda thunk that at the very moment when The Conservative Church was upset at the BC mandate, a Conservative campaign financier would talk about holding an aspirin between their knees,then a Conservative Congressman would hold a hearing on women’s health with all me, n then  the Conservative Republicans would propose crazy ultrasound abortion restrictions- and then, Conservative kingmaker Rush went on a crazy slut-shaming smear.”

                Man, what are the odds? There isn’t even  like any common thread that ties all these together!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Heh. It’s not as if this stuff emerges in a vacuum. Or because Obama/the Dems overstepped their bounds. In this case, I think a legitimate argument could be made that they didn’t overstep their bounds. But more importantly, I think it’s a matter of definitional truth to the conservative base that anything Obama and the Democrats do constitutes over-reach.

                Tod (if you’re reading this), this,

                They came off looking as anti-contraception, but clearly they aren’t

                is pretty hard to justify given what the GOP has been saying and proposing for quite a while now. So yeah, there’s something else going on here, but I don’t think it’s accounted for by diffused, unfocused political inertia.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Lib, I would actually say that the common thread that tied most of that together was really poor leadership (if not absolutely no leadership).  If there’s one thing I feel pretty confident about regarding the GOP, it’s that they want to be in power.  Almost everything they have done in the past 2 months has lessened their chance of taking the Senate (their minor goal) and pretty much sunk their chances of unseating Obama (their major goal).

                So yeah, until I see some indication that the GOP and conservatives have decided that they have no interest in winning national elections I’m going to have to assume this is not the script they had wanted to be reading.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Still, I would tend to agree with you if it hadn’t been for everything else I’ve seen from the GOP over the past four years.  As I said above, these are the same people who cried fascism when the president said “stay in school.”  They’re the same people that cried treason because the president wouldn’t intervene in Libya, and then cried treason because he did.  They’re the same people that swore an oath to not allow new taxes and cut the ones that existed, and then when the president cut one this winter threatened to shut the government down to get that tax back in place.

                Do I know any republican that has not used BC, or had sex for non-procreational sex?  Nope.  Have I ever known one that didn’t brag, giggle, or beam with happiness because of said getting’ downness?  Nope.

                So when I compare those to bits of observational data, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that the GOP is against contraception – except in the cases where Obama is for it, because Obama is for it.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                So yeah, until I see some indication that the GOP and conservatives have decided that they have no interest in winning national elections I’m going to have to assume this is not the script they had wanted to be reading.

                Yeah, but you’re assuming they believe that being anti-contraception will cost them in the national election. Maybe they don’t; maybe they think it is a winning strategy. Maybe they don’t think people will see them as being anti-contraceptive or anti-woman, just anti “Obamacare”, or anti that Kenyan Muslim who’s trying to snuffle religious freedom. Who would have thought “the left” would be so sleazy to use the opportunity to claim War on Women, right?

                 Report

              • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

                [T]hese are the same people who cried fascism when the president said “stay in school.”  They’re the same people that cried treason because the president wouldn’t intervene in Libya, and then cried treason because he did.  They’re the same people that swore an oath to not allow new taxes and cut the ones that existed, and then when the president cut one this winter threatened to shut the government down to get that tax back in place.

                Awesome passage, Tod.   I’ve never seen anyone put it quite as well.

                 Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                What happened, from where I sit, is that the GOP ratcheted up opposition to a poorly thought out mandate – as they should have.  But then when the White House backed off, they kept pushing.  And I think it had less to do with policy or “natural rights” than it did pushing for the sake of pushing. 

                I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- it seems to me that this whole thing is about dueling demagoguery at this point. Does anyone seriously believe that the Republican position is simply that they’re opposed to anyone using birth control or they’re trying to wage a war on women? Does anyone seriously believe that the Democratic position is that they want the state to subsidize recreational sex or that they’re trying to wage a war on Catholicism? Sure, there probably are some dupes who believe that stuff; I think the rest are trying to score as many points as they can out of this mess before it’s resolved.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Rufus: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- it seems to me that this whole thing is about dueling demagoguery at this point.

                Tod: So when I compare those to bits of observational data, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that the GOP is against contraception – except in the cases where Obama is for it, because Obama is for it.

                Rufus and Tod, I think it’s more nuanced than what you’ve both suggested. But I just want to point out one thing: if the GOP opposes whatever Obama and the Dems support Roe V Wade, and they support abortion services, and funding for contraception, and funding for PP, and no transvaginal ultrasounds, and OTC plan B, and a bunch of other stuff, and the GOP opposes all that stuff (for whatever reason!), then I think we’re talking about something a lot more significant than demogaguery, and that saying it’s all politics is a distinction without a difference.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                The comparison is good up to a point.
                But it breaks down at the cost level.
                The internet is a public good in the classic sense that the cost of adding one more user is negligible or nil.
                Not so with BC.
                So, the gov’t interest in regulating the internet has to be something different than in regulating BC.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            $20 USD That’s a pair of sawbucks, not a pair of dimes.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          That whole incident was fabricated for the outrage machine.
          I wasn’t referring to that at all. (I would prefer not to, really.)
          I will now though:

          Contraception is only a small part of what is at issue there.
          The issue is one of an employer-based delivery system, and what manner of exemptions certain types of organizations should have.
          With all the excesses in the intelligence community, surely Congress has received a briefing concerning where babies come from. Maybe the GAO has a chart printed up.
          First of all the faux outrage over not having a woman testify about religious exemptions.
          Then finally they get one.
          They knew that she was coming in as a target to begin with.
          They set her up for that.
          Now somebody said something stupid. When you have someone like Michael Savage on the radio every day, why waste your time getting all concerned over something Rush said that was comparably tame?

          For the record, my own position is that yes, churches and faith organizations– and their subsidiaries– should receive exemptions.
          And yes, we should find a way to provide contraception coverage for those persons who need it.
          And yes, I believe we should reduce the growth of entitlement spending by doing things like, oh say, capping prescription payouts to $2000/yr.
          Which means Ms. Fluke would still have to come up with $1000/yr for her contraception coverage if I had my druthers.
          Lots of people would go without their medication, and I would feel good about it– much better than if I had to go pay for it for them.
          Think of how many boxes of comdoms that $3000 could pay for, all of which could be passed out to high school students.

          Now, there’s two BIG problems going on here that don’t get much air time:
          1) Employer-based coverage isn’t the best of delivery systems. But we seem to be stuck with that. Rather than twisting things around to make them fit, why can’t we look toward a meaningful progression?
          If the State can dispense methadone, why can’t they give out contraception?
          Generally, when I hear someone whining about this or that, and we need this or that, etc., I try to look to see what other affected parties there might be.
          But nobody seems to be that concerned about the rights of unemployed women to their own bodies. So I’m thinking that one is really a smokescreen.

          2) We’re tackling the issue at a national level. Both the Canadian and Australian systems evolved from State & Provincial systems already in place. I believe Ontario bought into Alberta’s program, and the Canadian plan went national shortly thereafter. I forget which State started Australia’s program.
          To date, the only State program I know of is Mass.’ RomneyCare, which, to my understanding, is something of an extension of the mandatory liability for motorists.
          And I can’t get past the incongruity of the arguments.

          Ok, so I have a legal obligation to purchase health insurance, whether I want to or not, simply because my corporeal form is presently located within the geographical boundaries of X. (I’m not sure how hovering in the airspace of the geographical boundaries of X might affect things, if at all)
          I am required to make this purchase because of an inherent right to my own body.

          There’s no way for me to reconcile that.Report

          • Avatar sonmi451 says:

            Because of the comment system, I’m not sure what you are referring to with “that whole incident”. Are you referring to Rush calling a woman sluta nd prostitute? Who fabricated it? “The far left”? Did we create a fake Rush Limbaugh to say all those things?Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              The whole thing was a staged side-show from the hearings on down.
              You knew it was staged at the time it was taking place.
              And you fell for it anyway.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                Limbaugh was the one who fell for it, no? If the whole thing is staged, why not ignore it? Why go into a slut-whore-prostitute spree and makes the story about him? I mean, if he didn’t go into the slut-whore spree, no one on the left can act so evil as to take the opportunity to “demagogue” and whatnot. Maybe instead of yelling at “the left” all the time, you guys should spend some time yelling at Limbaugh the useful idiot.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Not just Limbaugh, but Romney and Santorum, who were too afraid of the big bully to say more than “I wouldn’t have used those words” or “entertainers are allowed to be absurd”.

                When it comes to having a shred of human decency, I think Republicans are being oppressed by the tyranny of low expectations.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Do you really think their expectations are all that low?   The Republicritters of my acquaintance hang their heads in their hands and bemoan the collective lunacy on the hoof down at the GOP Corral.   Nobody I know likes these candidates and this is a pretty hard-core GOP area.   Had this discussion with the guy who works on my truck, salt-of-the-earth guy, he wishes these guys could be put into an extractor to get the best parts off each one and make some Frankenstein’s Monster candidate who might appeal to more than ten people.

                If there’s a Tyranny of Low Expectations, it seems to me the GOP leadership is treating the electorate like Rush treats his audience, whipping them up with cheap and meaningless rhetoric about what they’re Against.   What they’re actually For, nobody seems to know.   This is one place where the Conservatives could shine but their policy guys are all asleep or drunk or something.   Conservatives usually hold lots of trump cards in terms of the Way Things Ought to Be but they’re missing every trick this outing.Report

              • Conservatism is an opposition to radicalism.  Obama will be shown as a radical, and the fiction he’s some sort of moderate will be peeled away.

                The Republicans—particularly Romney, the nominee—haven’t even begun to expend their ammo on BHO’s record.  It’s too soon, people would get tired of it, Obama’s defenders will pooh-pooh it as “old news.”

                Right now, Obama’s sinking in the polls without much in direct attacks.  Once the election is put on its proper footing—his record—we’ll see what’s what.

                The new Post-ABC poll shows that “46 percent approve of the way Obama is handling his job; 50 percent disapprove. That’s a mirror image of his 50 to 46 positive split in early February. The downshift is particularly notable among independents — 57 percent of whom now disapprove — and among white people without college degrees, with disapproval among this group now topping approval by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, at 66 versus 28 percent.”

                While some of this is certainly attributable to gas prices, his handling of the economy is also a sore point with voters. Thirty-eight percent approve of his handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove. Moreover, President Obama’s “strongly disapprove” number (39 percent) leads the “strongly approve” number (28 percent), highlighting that anti-Obama voters are more intense and plentiful than pro-Obama voter.

                Voters are split 49-49 percent on whether they think the economy is recovering. Of those who see improvement, a whopping 74 percent think it as a weak recovery. That is an electorate ripe for the argument that we can do better than the Obama economy.

                Obama also has a substantial problem with independents. The Post’s pollster tells me that Obama trails Mitt Romney 42-50 among independents; against Rick Santorum he trails by a smaller margin, 45 to 48 percent. Overall, Romney leads Obama by a statistically insignificant point (47 to 46 percent), while Santorum trails 46-49 percent.

                Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Tom, nobody’s political record means Jacques Schuitte.    The more the GOP yammers on about what a Nasty Ol’ Radical Obama is, the worse they look.

                There are only two vectors which you may sum at your leisure to predict the odds of Obama’s re-election:   the price of gasoline at the pump and the unemployment rate.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                TVD,

                yeah sure. call me when Bush will bow down. or hell, how about Christie’s backers?

                Pratt’s gonna go down — and that’s without talking about the oppo research on him.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                Are you hiding this radical Barack Obama in your basement, Tom? Because I know plenty of liberals who would love to meet this so-called radical Obama. Where has he been hiding all these time? Oh you mean he hangs out with “radical” black people like Derrick Bell, hugging them and all that? I thought you meant policy.Report

              • You’ll see: I’m not going to engage the shoutdown at this time.  And yes, killing the oil is radical.  The mandate is radical.  Muscling the churches is radical.  His green energy policy is radical, and a failure.  Refusing to cut spending isn’t radical, but it is irresponsible.  Even the Eurostate paradises have got hip that the social democrat paradise is going broke years ago, but every time this guy opens his mouth, it costs another couple billion.

                Hey, BHO still might survive, but he’s getting a free ride on criticism of his record at this time and his poll numbers are still pretty crappy.

                Hey, I’m just calling the horse race.  Let’s stay chill.

                http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/03/romney-readies-%E2%80%98prosecution-obama%E2%80%99/351591

                And the original point is that conservatism is best seen as an opposition to radicalism.  Since the conservatives are keeping their powder dry on Obama’s record, it’s axiomatic that they seem to be quiet.  And Romney in particular is a fixer, not a visionary.  Thank God.

                 

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Obama will be shown as a radical, and the fiction he’s some sort of moderate will be peeled away.

                Tom, I’m going to directly challenge you on this one–straight up counter-claim that you are factually wrong. No arguments about what X means, etc.  Just the facts.

                I predict that–whether Obama wins or loses the election–he will not be shown as a radical in any sense that moderates find persuasive.  I’m not sure how we’d demonstrate that, but I’m willing to take a stand on it right now.

                The Republicans—particularly Romney, the nominee—haven’t even begun to expend their ammo on BHO’s record.  It’s too soon, people would get tired of it, Obama’s defenders will pooh-pooh it as “old news.”

                I predict that the Republicans will not successfully bring any new ammo about Obama’s alleged radicalism.  The predominant issue in this campaign will be the economy (and gas prices, if they remain high) and the war on terror.

                Right now, Obama’s sinking in the polls without much in direct attacks.  Once the election is put on its proper footing—his record—we’ll see what’s what.

                The source you link to show he’s sinking in the polls because of economic issues, not his alleged radicalism. I ask you, what are these radical issues that the public is apparently unaware of, and that will grab their attention and concern when Romney gets around to making them public?  What do you believe are the issues that prove Obama’s radicalism?  To be upfront, I am not going to be very persuaded on the contraception issue–I know that you think it’s an assault on the Church (and keep in mind I’m very sympathetic to the religious freedom argument), but to count as radical for electoral purposes, the issue has to be something that the middle will find intolerably left-wing, and I don’t see the evidence that they find that issue intolerably leftist (I’m open to considering such evidence, of course).

                This is a put your money where your mouth is challenge.  I’m willing to make some wagers on the election.  Small ones, as I’m not wealthy enough to take big risks, but real ones nonetheless.

                My first specific, provable, prediction on which I challenge you is that unless the economy drops to below a 1.5% annualized growth rate prior to September, Obama wins re-election.Report

              • Avatar Jeff says:

                Nobody I know likes these candidates and this is a pretty hard-core GOP area.

                Does that mean that they’re going to vote for Obama, or for the candidates they don’t like?

                If there was a Democratic candidate as loathesome as the current crop of GOP, I would vote them out. (And I have — I voted against Grey Davis in the recall.)Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                The lightning rod gets struck by lightning.
                That’s what the lightning rod does.

                It’s not about the persons involved.
                It’s about the function of the persons involved.

                I’m not Rush’s personal handler.
                I’m not Fluke’s either.
                All that’s beside the point.

                Yeah, I agree that Rush has way too much influence and way too negative of influence over the Republican Party.
                Doesn’t change the fact that he’s fairly predictable.
                Limbaugh’s not in the game for the long-term health of the Republican Party.
                He has his own angle.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            Uh. Again, not to bash on a stupid falsehood because it should long have been a dead horse…

            But the testimony said over the course of law school, which (unless you go to Conservaverse University school of law) is a 3 year program. That means $1000/year over 3 years = $3000.Report

            • The falsehood was the original figure of $1000/yr for contraception.  Amazing.Report

              • I’ve yet to see that figure disproven in the context in which it was given.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                That’s less than $100 a month. Doesn’t seem so amazing to me. Of course it sounds amazing when every Tom, Dick and Harry keeps repeating $3000, three thousand dollar!!! as the magic word without mentioning the time duration. (Not on purpose, I’m sure, just couldn’t be bothered to check, is all).Report

              • Do you really not see that her original figure of $3K over 3 years was a falsehood?  That’s what’s amazing.  Limbaugh got it but you don’t?

                I’ll tellya what—it may seem the Obamans have won this one, but after the facts have a chance to penetrate distortions like this, the worm might turn, or at least break even.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                From the Fluke testimony

                “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. ”

                That sounds like approximately $1000 per year or less then $100 per month. Various websites have estimates of the cost of birht control which can be up to $90 per month.Report

              • One other thing that may or may not be worth keeping in mind – everyone keeps assuming law school = 3 years.  Not all law students are full-time, though, and the DC law schools, including Georgetown, usually have fairly well-attended part-time programs, which are 4 year programs.

                FWIW, while it’s easy to switch from the full-time program to the part-time program, the same is not true of the reverse.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Also the operative word “can”… Not “does” or “always” or “will”. I’d be shocked if there weren’t several women who could have spent over $3000 during their law school career on contraception. With that in mind, since some folks want to play things obscenely tight to her exact words (or, really, the words and numbers they prefer to the exclusion of all others), I find it interesting they are hanging their entire rebuttal to Fluke on the $3000 figure.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              The figures I’ve seen–and that our very own Dr. Saunders also found–were $20-$50 per month.  If we allow the high end figure just to set the outer limit, we’re looking at $600/year, or $1800 over 3 years.

              Did Ms. Fluke give too high a figure? Yes.

              Was it astoundingly ridiculously high?  Depends on your interpretation, but I’ll admit that a 40% over-estimate seems a bit of a stretch to me.

              Did Ms. Fluke lie, mis-speak, or just not know what she was talking about? I doubt any of us are in a position to know.

              Is her “over-estimate” the real issue? I can’t for the life of me imagine why that should take center stage in this debate.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                They are harping on it because it is the only flaw they can really find in her testimony. And given that we don’t know the specifics of her math, it is entirely possible the number is accurate or only slightly overestimated.Report

              • Of course she gets a pass for her gross exaggeration.  That’s the whole point.  This whole phony issue is about one Starbucks a week.  Or you can go down the street from Georgetown to Planned Parenthood.  

                There are three federally funded Planned Parenthood clinics in Washington, D.C.–none being more than 3.2 miles from the Georgetown Law School.

                There’s not a shred of reality to any of this, that people are not having sex because they can’t afford the contraception.  It’s complete nonsense.  The “facts” of her testimony have been left unchallenged because of the Limbaugh flap.  So it goes.  The only thing I wonder is whether her advocates are walking past the facts by intention or ignorance.  On the other hand, I just don’t care anymore.

                 Report

              • Who is saying that the issue is that people aren’t having sex because they can’t afford the contraception? No one. Seriously, no one.Report

              • MarkT, Ms. Fluke:  “Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”

                http://www.buzzfeed.com/boxofficebuz/transcript-of-testimony-by-sandra-fluke-48z2

                The only other interpretation is that they’re having sex sans contraception.  Unlikely for women smart enough to be at Georgetown law, but possible.  If so, it makes the question whether somebody else should pay for it even more poignant, your distinction not being a substantive difference.Report

              • No, Tom, the other possibility, indeed the entire fishing point, is that birth control very frequently has uses entirely unrelated to sex or preventing pregnancy.  Birth control helps women immensely with menstrual pain, as well as with the treatment of various medical conditions, amongst other things.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                MT: Who is saying that the issue is that people aren’t having sex because they can’t afford the contraception?

                TVD: ”Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”
                The only other interpretation is that they’re having sex sans contraception.

                That is not the only other interpretation.  Another interpretation is that they are not having sex as a matter of choice, but are going without contraception that they need–despite their chastity–for medical purposes.

                Why, at this late stage of discussion, is anyone still trying to suggest that the only purpose of contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy? It’s not as though they haven’t heard about the other uses, so one might be forgiven for suspecting that they are ignoring those other uses just for argumentative convenience.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For the record, I fully support the keeping it to 2nd base between people who aren’t in lifetime partnerships.Report

              • A separate issue, MarkT: The exception, not the rule.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Provide evidence, Tom.  I know many women who use contraception for reasons completely unrelated to sex and pregnancy.  Most of the ones I know who use it, in fact, use it for reason unrelated to sex and pregnancy.  This is far from the most comprehensive data on the subject but it… well, at least it’s data.  What have you got?Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Here ya go, Tom:

                http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

                “Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]”

                A full THIRD of women using contraception have no ned for it related to pregnancy or sex.  A THIRD!  Is that the exception, Tom?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Apparently her entire testimony hinges on the number $3000. If it is even a dollar less than that, everything else she said is right out the window!Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                So challenge the facts, Tom.

                And, while we are talking about facts, let’s remember a few more:
                – Fluke was talking about medical implications that can result from a lack of contraception unrelated to sex
                – As I said above, we don’t know all the costs she was factoring in. She might have included doctor’s visits, transportation, and other medications necessary to treat side effects related to contraceptive use. In this case, I’d agree that is less than the most accurate accounting, but considering the totality of costs isn’t lying, nor does it discount her broader message.
                – There are over 100 types of oral contraception. PP carries but a few. Many women require a specific formula which very likely would ot be available at PP. It is ot a choice for everyone.
                – For someone who claims not to care, you sure do chime into the conversation quite a bit.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are over 100 types of oral contraception. PP carries but a few. Many women require a specific formula which very likely would ot be available at PP. It is ot a choice for everyone.’

                Are all of these types of oral contraception covered by any given insurance plan today?

                Is forcing the Catholic institutions to provide coverage for every single one of these 100 types a moral obligation on the part of society or could they get away with only providing coverage for, say, 60 of them?Report

              • I object to the distortions and elisions, BSK.

                – Fluke was talking about medical implications that can result from a lack of contraception unrelated to sex

                I know what you mean here, contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.  But of course, her argument goes unchallenged because Rush Limbaugh said “slut.”

                But at some point, this is going to court on the real issue, whether the gov’t can force the churches to do its will.  The literal First Amendment argument is tough; a better case here under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993:

                http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577223003824714664.html

                You know, BSK, for those—maybe even you!—who are interested in the real world part of this, not talk radio and “slut,” which amounts to no more than a political football for Obama to try to save his ass.

                http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/213955-obama-asks-to-give-commencement-address-at-ny-womens-college

                 Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                JB-

                I don’t know the in’s and out’s of insurance to say what should or should not be covered.  Is it more expensive to cover 100 versus 10 formulations?  No clue.  Do the different formulations work in different enough ways that the moral calculus of each one varies?  Again, I don’t know.

                I’m on the record as being uncomfortable with the mandate in general and its applicability to religious institutions specifically.  If forced to decide, I’d probably say that non-church institutions ought to adhere to all laws that any other employer must and that exemptions should be limited to the Church itself.  Honestly, much of this is neither here nor there.  My contribution to this conversation here has to do with the way in which facts are being manipulated in support of predetermined conclusions.

                A certain segment of the population was going to have an issue with Fluke’s testifying no matter what she said.  Some of those have latched on to the potential that a number she offered during the course of her testimony was exaggerated, without offering much evidence for their claim.  In doing so, they have demonstrated an almost willful ignorance of some very basic facts in this situation, both relating to what Fluke actually said and on how contraception actually works.  And by putting their eggs into this basket, they seem to make the case that the economics of the situation are important when most of them would likely argue that economics be damned, this is a moral/religious freedom/whatever issue.

                It just feels like there is a lot of dishonesty in the air and that some people are deliberately putting it there or playing it up because they are more interested in drawing sides.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “I know what you mean here, contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.”

                What is the main issue?  And why do you get to decide what Fluke’s main issue was?  Certain* religious institutions ban on contraception coverage mean that some woman will be unable to afford medicines they need to live a healthy life.  This is an oft-ignored fact in this conversation that Fluke brought to light for many people.

                 

                * I say “certain” because it is my understanding that some institutions do allow for contraception coverage in these cases, but most do not make any distinction.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, do you have data on whether taking contraception for medical reasons is the exception rather than the rule? The data I’ve seen says otherwise, but perhaps you’ve got some I haven’t seen.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “But of course, her argument goes unchallenged because Rush Limbaugh said “slut.””

                Then challenge it.  This is like listening to right-leaning members of the media, some of whom have the highest ratings in the biz, complain about how the media is ignoring issues they won’t shut up about.  If you want something done right, do it yourself.  Last I checked, you had front page privileges here, Tom.  If you are unhappy with the way Fluke has been challenged, step up to the plate yourself.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                contraceptive drugs used for medical purposes other than contraception.  From the first I’ve said this is a separate issue.  In fact, Ms. Flake’s emphasis on this separate issue—the exception, not the rule—is an improper conflation with the main issue.

                It’s not a separate issue.  For thousands upon thousands of women it is the core issue.  Now I disagree with those who say this isn’t a religious liberty issue–I think they’re wrong. But I also disagree with those who say that the health care, medical uses of contraceptives, aren’t at issue–that’s just as dead wrong.

                But what I really object to here is that you are focusing really heavily on the use of contraceptives for birth control, so when you say “medical purposes” is not the issue, you leave a very strong implication that the real issue is wanting birth control just to have lots of sex without getting pregnant. I can’t say whether that’s what you really mean–I don’t know that it is, and I’m not going to imply that it is–but that’s the implication created by the structure of your argument.  And whether it’s intentional or not, that’s really really ridiculous.Report

              • You’re covering the contraception angle better with JB, BSK.  I need to get out of here anyway.  Peace.  If the Church is denying contraceptive drugs needed for non-contraceptive uses, it’s a much weaker position than what you’re discussing with JB, and I’m not particularly interested in defending it.

                 

                 Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]”

                31% is a whole heck of a lot!  That is about 20 million women.  TWENTY MILLION WOMEN!Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                But, Tom, the issues can’t be separated quite so neatly.  Suppose a woman needs contraception for issues unrelated to pregnancy and sex.  The Catholic hospital she works for decides to cover it.  If they find out that, while on that contraception, she had unprotected sex, eschewing the condom because she knew the birth control would prevent pregnancy, will they suddenly stop covering it?  If there was an easy way to cover contraception for non-sex reasons and not cover contraception for sex reasons, this would make a compromise a hell of a lot easier.  As far as I know (and I’m not a doctor), there isn’t really a way to do this.  WIth this in mind, the Church falls on the side of banning it entirely.  Which says a whole hell of a lot about their own moral calculus right there… “Women are suffering?  Tough.  Someone might enjoy getting their rocks off in a way we don’t approve of.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                BSK, also from Guttmacher:

                The study documenting this finding, “Beyond Birth Control: The Overlooked Benefits of Oral Contraceptive Pills,” by Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, also found that more than half (58%) of all pill users rely on the method, at least in part, for purposes other than pregnancy prevention—meaning that only 42% use the pill exclusively for contraceptive reasons.

                I don’t know what it means to say that something most of the people using the pill do is an exception rather than the rule. This use of the phrase “exception rather than the rule” is, to me, an exception rather than the rule.Report

              • “Almost one-third (31%) of these 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]”

                That needs to be unpacked more, BSK.  Women who are trying to get pregnant are using contraceptives?

                Basically, this is grenade toss and not a search for truth.  if you have a case than make it, flinging a factoid in my direction is not a discussion.

                BTW, from your same source:

                WHO PAYS FOR CONTRACEPTION?

                • One-quarter of the more than 20 million American women who obtain contraceptive services from a medical provider receive care from a publicly funded family planning clinic.[5]

                • In 2008, 7.2 million women, including 1.8 million teenagers, received contraceptive services from publicly funded family planning clinics in the United States.[5]

                Clearly, there are other ways—publicly funded, at that—to get contraception to these women without steamrolling the Church into doing something it considers immoral.  This is bad governance in the least, majoritarianism at its worst.

                If not unconstitutional or a violation of the Religious Freedom Resoration Act of 1993, see elsewhere in this thread.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Tom-

                The only unpacking needed is with your initial insistence that women seeking contraceptives for medical reasons unrelated to sex or pregnancy is an exception. Clearly, there is a great many number of women using and/or seeking contraceptives for reasons completely unrelated to sex or pregnancy.  It would behoove you to acknowledge the flaws in your initial position on this issue.

                Contraceptives are medicine.  This is an important point.  The Church, through its various institutions, seeks to deny women coverage for medicine that A) the government requires them to cover and B) the usage of which does not violate a single tenet of their faith.  If the Church has a mechanism to deny coverage for contraceptives to women using it exclusively for the prevent of pregnancy while allowing it for women using it for other, medically necessary reasons, I am fully on board with that.

                WIth this in mind, Fluke’s testimony absolutely matters.  Fluke gave a face and a voice to women whose health suffered because they were unable to access medically necessary contraceptives.  It was a face and a voice that was largely absent from the conversation to that point.  You can choose to continue to ignore it because of all the circusy stuff you bemoan, or you can acknowledge that this issue is about more than sex, more than religious freedom, more than one shock jock’s choice of language… it is about the health needs of a great number of women, which can be met without impinging on the Church one iota.Report

              • Goalposts moved, BSK.  If you look @ the polling, not one contemplates the non-contraceptive exceptions we’re now speaking of [and which Fluke tried to lump in with the larger story].  [Even 1/3 is the exceptions, not the rule, and you did not sort all that out.]  The whole issue is muddied; how much of that is intentional and how much is people honestly muddying it I do not know, but you haven’t stated either my or JB’s arguments accurately, so this is useless.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Why does polling sudden,y matter? Either something is right or its not, regardless of popular opnion. My contention is that the church is wrong to insist on a legal waiver to continue denying women medically necessary contraception used in a way that dows not violate their faith.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                So, the solution is we should open more Planned Parenthood clinics? I thought you guys are in favor of defunding PP.

                Plus, if your side thinks her testimony is wrong, it’s YOUR JOB to challenge it – hey, call her  a liar if you want, I don’t care. But nope, slut-shaming is a lot more fun, and defending people doing the slut-shaming is more important.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I thought you guys are in favor of defunding PP.

                I don’t know that it’s exactly fair to group everyone together.

                That said, I’ve found that “you people” is one of the most fun things to say in an argument. I certainly can’t complain when someone else uses a variant of their own.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                I don’t mean “you guys” as in all guys, obviously. Conservatives (men and women). I think it’s fair to say Tom is a mainstream conservative, yes? If I was talking to you, on the other hand, I probably wouldn’t use the phrase, since you’re more …. unclassifiable.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You can call me “nutzo”. It’s cool.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                Maybe this is just me, but “you guys” sounds less harsh than “you people”. Whenever someone says “you people”, I’m expecting the next phrase is going to be “… disgust me”.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “You people” is one step away from “THOSE people”.  Whether intended to or not, it does ringer harsher than “you guys”.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Once again, the GOP has set up its Circular Firing Squad to demolish these pesky fact-deprived protesters.

                Get real, Tom.   The GOP’s strategy here has been disastrously stupid.   Had they simply allowed her to testify, this whole thing would have blown over.   If they’d played their cards right, and your facts are correct, they could have blown her out of the water.   But Nooooo, in typical GOP fashion, dumbassery wins the day and now the GOP looks like a bunch of Taliban mullahs.   Too stupid to walk upright and carry a plate of biscuits in front of them, the whole lot of them.Report

              • No disagreement there, Blaise.  Even Republicans themselves call it the Stupid Party.Report

            • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

              Q:  If Ms. Fluke had to choose between going to Georgetown w/o coverage or GWU w/ coverage – which does she choose?Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Here`s the thing I like to do: instead of actually debating issues with people who might well say something more reasonable and compelling than I had expected, I like to imagine the most outrageous and absurd arguments that they might hypothetically make and then disagree with those before anyone actually makes them. Saves time.Report

      • Will H.: Dude. This is way beyond the pale. It’s one thing to throw out an outrageous straw man argument. But to use that analogy in support of the straw man is calculated to offend in the extreme. It’s not technically a violation of the commenting policy, but it is seriously making me think that we need to make the commenting policy tougher.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          Am I the only one who found that comment less offensive than inscrutable?Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              I didn’t find it offensive or inscrutable. I didn’t really find it particularly convincing since it doesn’t describe anyone I’ve been in contact with; but I wasn’t confused or offended.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            I found it amusing, which I assume requires that I find it scrutable. Sometimes partisans are walking parodies. This is one of those times.

            I wonder, though, if this is really the way he hears the conversation. It might be interesting to talk about the ways in which partisanship affects the ears as much as it affects the mouth.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Indeedy. For example, it seems to me that when liberals heard/read Rush’s comments about Democrat and hormonal contraception advocate Fluke, their Partisan Hearing Aids (on sale now!) reworded it into a long string of misogynistic insults (53 of em!) and other personal attacks (liberals say they heard the words ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute) that conservatives didn’t.

              Weird.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                We basically have dog’s ears, you see. So we keep hearing dog-whistles and stuff, which makes us the real racists and misogynists. Stillwater, did you fall asleep during class again? They explained this to us already 🙂Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Thanks for reminding me about that. It was a lecture with two presenters, wasn’t it? First was a  conservative edumacating us liberals about how we’re the real racists and misogynists, which was followed by a non-partisan telling us that both sides do it!Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                The concept of a “dog whistle” is brilliant, because it allows you to accuse someone of being a racist, and his ideas therefore taboo, with no evidence whatsoever.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                So are you denying that the phrase describes something that exists in reality? Or are you simply pointing out that the accusation is subject to considerable risks of abuse?Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          I think you’re reading more into it than was there.
          I was making a general comment about shutting out debate.
          I certainly didn’t do that toward the end of shutting out debate.

          It’s not a strawman.
          I don’t know how that tendency could have escaped your notice.

          But I wasn’t referring to recent events even slightly; just a general tendency.
          And I wasn’t referring to the commenters here, but persons generally.

          But as far as that goes, the comment itself seems to have spawned a whole new sub-thread. Not my intent.
          But it’s interesting to see persons I know who fall on the other side of the issue raising some of the same concerns.Report

  10. Avatar Matty says:

    ‘ll admit I haven’t read all 197 comments above but I do have a tangential question based on my understanding of a couple of points.

    • Insurance is based on risk assessment, to work it assumes that the likelihood any one policy holder will claim is low enough that payouts can be made from the pool of everyone’s premiums including those who haven’t claimed.
    • Birth control pills have to be taken regularly to work, so if you want to be taking them you will be. This means that in the population of women who seek insurance for birth control pretty much 100% will claim on that policy.

    Given the above, and please tell me if either is wrong, how does a scheme for paying for birth control pills come under the category of insurance?Report

  11. Avatar LaurNo says:

    Matty, women generally take birth control pills for just some amount of time, not from puberty until menopause. Although when the7y take it for homonal reasons, that might be different.. I have heard it stated that insurance plans that cover the pill are more affordable than the ones that don’t, for whatever that’s worth.Report

  12. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Last thoughts on this post (which I am surprised has still been going) and ignoring the interesting history and focusing on current events with everyone else: I think that there are only two real issues that are worth much discussion here, with everything else being noise:

    The Big Picture Issue: Now that we are moving into a time where the government will actively be taking part in the healthcare system, where do we draw the lines when healthcare issues cross paths with religious beliefs?  Do we draw the line at a Church, or at an employer who has certain religious convictions, or do we force everyone to offer identical healthcare even if it is against their faith (or universally refuse to cover it even if t’s not against the faith of the patient)?  Or, looking at how this might muddy up the whole system, does this lead to questions that might make us reevaluate HRC altogether, and either move toward a single payer system, or step back to what healthcare was in 2008 and before?  My understanding of the whole HRC was that it was intended to be set of first steps.  Since we are getting close to implementing it, taking a look at what those first steps should be (including potentially backward in nature) through the prism of this issue seems both necessary and a good idea, no matter who wins in November.

    The Horse Race Issue: Especially as this is an election year (and we are smack dab in the middle of the primaries), it seems valuable (and to me, interesting) to ask how this issue is being tackled by both sides, and how it might help or hurt each side.  I’ve obviously already weighed in here, but would most interested in an argument that this will actually hurt the Dems and buoy the GOP.

    I must admit, though, I’m not sure that I understand the point of the rest of it.  Is the most one might pay for BC without insurance $50 a year, or $600 a year, or $1,000 a year?  Is Fluke 23, or is she 30?  Is it possible that someone might take hormones for purposes other than BC?  All of these questions seem like they would have very clear answers; they all also seem somewhat irrelevant.  The concern for the Catholic church isn’t cost, it’s one of morality.  Fluke’s being 30 is utterly irrelevant.  If someone is taking hormones for health reason that are apart for BC, I am going to assume no one will really have a problem with that.  All of which is to say, I would have preferred to have a conversation on the big picture stuff, or the horse race.  And that’s probably on me, as the OP writer and the moderator.Report

    • Avatar BSK says:

      Tod-

      I think it is pretty clear that the entwinement of insurance, employment, government, religion/morality, and all the other involved parties is coming to a head.  I think the ultimate result will be steps to disentangle all of this, which might mean single payer or something radically different.  The contraception mandate is just one small “battle”.  What happens when therapies derived from stem cell research are available but opposed by religious institutions?  What happens when religions less popular or mainstream than Catholicism become caught in the crosshairs?

      I won’t venture to guess what the “plan” was.  When a public option fell off the table (was it ever really on the table?), was the current setup designed to fail, to draw attention to the current problems with the status quo?  Did Obama flub this issue or set up his opponents?  So many questions to muse about but, ultimately, we are increasingly seeing that the way we do health care and health insurance in this country is seriously fished up.  Hopefully the next series of steps we take get us to an objectively better place.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I tend to agree with you. One of the things that has not come up nationally but I have been thinking about because it’s a hot case here locally, is how will we deal with an employer that believes any medical intervention is against God’s will? Oregon has been wrestling with this question right now with the concept of negligence and abuse – it seems likely to be an issue eventually with mandated healthcare.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          Which is why I struggle with the notion of mandated health care.  I believe that access should be guaranteed but participation should be voluntary.  Without thinking through all the details that I’m sure others will point out in spades, for a while I have felt that our health care system should mirror our school system.  Feel, public hospitals and care facilities available to everyone.  Private, paid facilities for people who opt for and can afford them.  If you opt to go off the grid and never visit either, or want to visit your local religious leader or a sacred stone or whatever, go for it.  The issue with children, which I assume is what you are getting at w/r/t Oregon… I would generally leave the benefit of the doubt up to the parent, not because of a high degree of faith in the parents, but because of a preference for autonomy and self-determination.  Perhaps invoking a “do no harm” provision… if you think that the best cure for the flu is chicken soup and prayer, great.  But if you think that spoonfuls of bleach does the job, you’ve crossed a line.  You’d also have to revisit at what point children have a voice in their care and when they can opt to abandon their parents’ preferences.  Eighteen seems entirely too old.

          As I said, lots of kinks to work out.  But the general parameters make sense to me.  And a preemptive defense to people who claim our education system is seriously fished and is not a model to emulate… for all of its warts (and there are plenty), our education system does a pretty solid job on a lot of levels, considering the various challenges it faces, some of which we actively choose to engage while many of the countries we are compared unfavorably to do not (i.e., special education).Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Two words BSK: free riders.Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              Elaborate please…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Shoot, now I have to re-read the comment ….

                On further review, I think what you’re suggesting is exactly what the PPACA is (minus the private insurance part): a mandate the everyone have insurance, tho someone who wants better vs. worse insurance can still get it. Initially, I was thinking that you were advocating a public sponsored health care program which people could access health care from while permitting people to either not have insurance at all or have ‘better’ insurance than the gov’t programs could provide.

                If you meant the latter, then the problem is free riders: unless government can impose a method of payment on the relevant pool, there will be free riders taking advantage of the otherwise free service offered. If you meant something more like the former, but without the private insurance part, then I’d agree. That’s a system with lots of merits. But the point, even then, is that everyone has to have insurance or pay the penalty. No free riders. Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                SW-

                I meant the latter.  Under your logic, wouldn’t we consider all public school students to be free riders?Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                (Please note my responses here aren’t necessarily meant as an ardent defense of my proposal, but rather trying to better understand the very legitimate criticisms inherent to it.  I appreciate the feedback.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Children aren’t free riders in this case because the public good being provided is specifically for children. A free rider would be parent from another district sending their child to a different public school. (They’d be free riding on the in-district taxpayers.)

                But the point I was trying to make, tho, was that if government were to provide a free-of-charge medical service, then everyone would free ride on it (rationally speaking). Of course, government can’t do that since it theoretically has to pay its bills, so taxes or fees have to be collected to cover costs. But even then, insofar as people who haven’t paid those taxes or fees can still avail themselves of that service, there’s an incentive to do so. So, to go back to what I think you were talking abotu upthread  … government can’t offer open-ended medical care to everyone with an opt out for those who don’t want it until everyone (or close to everyone) is a feepayer. Which pretty much precludes the opt-out option.

                 Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                But how is that different from other public services like roads, police, fire protection, etc? Take roads… Everyone can drive on pretty much every road, whether or not they are a member of the tax base that pays for the given road. SOME folks have the option to take advantage of faster, more direct toll roads, but are charged additional fees for this.

                The public health system would be run on tax dollars. It would be necessarily limited such that people seeking higher care would be incentivized to use the private system. Just like schools and just like roads.

                Again, its not a perfect idea. But your objection seems predicated on the notion that we’ve accepted the government running/offering SOME services, with health care not being one of them. People might have made the same argument you made now when public schools, roads, parks, and libraries were first introduced. All of these risk the free rider problem, yet all exist and still have competitive private industries. What am I missing?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think the difference here is that going galt from healthcare isn’t the same as going galt from public roads or libraries or even schools. Not paying taxes on roads/libraries/schools and them using those services is a free rider problem, but it’s limited in scope since those goods/services are for the most part already paid for. Free riding with health care is different since doing so incurs massive additional costs to the system.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                A very valid point.  Can you explain what “going galt” means?

                Perhaps there are mechanisms to address the free rider issue.  Or maybe my idea is bunk.  🙂Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                There’s another issue as well. I’m still not quite clear on what specifically we’re discussing here, but this

                But your objection seems predicated on the notion that we’ve accepted the government running/offering SOME services, with health care not being one of them.

                isn’t what I’m arguing at all. My argument is that insofar as peoply can avail themselves of very expensive medical care without paying premiums, taxes, the fee levied, etc., and the costs of those activities are rolled back into the premiums, taxes, fees, etc. paid, then there’s a problem. Btw, this problem exists even in the private insurance/private healthcare system. It’s one reason congress passed that insane law preventing people from declaring bankruptcy to clear medical debt.

                So my point isnt’ that government can’t or shouldn’t provide medical health services to people, it’s that if government doesn’t restrict access to those services to a stable and predictable pool of participants, then free riders will take advantage of the system. So in order to have a stable pool of participants distributing costs in the form of premiums (private insurance), everyone needs to be a participant.

                Think of it this way: someone who goes galt from the PPACA with a public option and guarantee issue can not pay taxes or premiums until they get diagnosed with a life threatening disease, at which  time they can enter the program at reduced, cost (relative to those who’ve been paying in). They’re free riding on cost bearers to pay for their medical services.

                 Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Well, in my plan, the “free” care would be very basic in nature.  You wouldn’t get access to experimental treatments, you might be required to get a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy if the former is cheaper, and elective procedures would not be offered.

                But doesn’t our current system already suffer from a free-rider problem?  And doesn’t mandated care only exacerbate this?  I pay the same insurance rates as a 60-year-old smoker.  I visit the doctor once a year.  He goes once a month.  His premiums do NOT cover his care.  So they take the surplus from mine.  In reality, he should pay significantly higher rates than I do, but I’m pretty sure the law prevents this.

                The reasons for the insurance mandate was because, without it, people who pay more in than they take out of the system could leave the system, leaving only people who take out more than they pay in, which obviously defaults the system.

                I’m still not entirely sure why we can’t analogize this to the public school system.  No one tells the mother of eight that she has to stop having kids because she is taking more schooling than she paid for.  And, unlike roads, those costs are not fixed and already paid for.

                in my system, you’d have providers that offered free coverage to a certain segment of the population (just like a school).  If you needed care, you can only go to your local providers without incurring a charge (just like a school).  If you are unhappy with your local provider and want more or different or better or closer to work, you can pay (just like a private school).  The taxes you pay go to pay for the local provider (just like a school).  If costs outpace taxes, either taxes go up, costs need to be controlled for, or services are cut (just like a school).Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                BSK,

                roads are not fixed costs. just ask the trucking industry. or look at the pa turnpike, which tries to fairly price in trucks and cars.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But doesn’t our current system already suffer from a free-rider problem?

                Yes, it does. This is in part because there’s a culturally imposed obligation on medical providers to treat patients independently of their ability to pay. So the system includes intentional free-rides (those who deliberately take advantage of the system) and accidental ones as well (those who simply can’t afford the services provided).

                 And doesn’t mandated care only exacerbate this?  

                As I understand it, one of the reasons for the mandate was to eliminate free-riders by compelling everyone to bear their statistically determined burden of funding the entire system if everyone were a participant.

                I pay the same insurance rates as a 60-year-old smoker.  I visit the doctor once a year.  He goes once a month.  His premiums do NOT cover his care.  So they take the surplus from mine.  In reality, he should pay significantly higher rates than I do, but I’m pretty sure the law prevents this.

                I’m don’t I agree that he should pay more because of his age; I agree that he should pay more because he’s a smoker. Medicare was introduced precisely because insuring the elderly isn’t profitable.

                The reasons for the insurance mandate was because, without it, people who pay more in than they take out of the system could leave the system, leaving only people who take out more than they pay in, which obviously defaults the system.

                Yeah, that was part of it. The other part was that insurance companies required a mandate in order to agree to guarantee issue, end of rescission, no lifetime caps, etc. They need young healthy people to proactively pay for there own end of life/catastophic care, effectively subsidizing the elderely in the present.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                The problem with the dispersion of costs and fees as it is currently practiced is that people’s coverage changes so often, largely because of the entanglement of employment and insurance.  I pay into one provider from 22-40, when I’m young, fit, and rarely visit the doctor.  At 41, I change jobs, start going much more regularly, and suddenly  my new insurance company is left holding the bag, while my first one made bank on me; this situation is further problematic if my actions from 22-40 led to needing more care from age 41 on.

                Life insurance companies tailor rates to individuals and propose these measured against the totality of their coverages.  If Company X has a disproportionate amount of young men they are covering, they raise rates for incoming young men and lower them for other groups, with an eye towards balancing their risk; this way, if a plague that only impacts young me strikes, they are not overexposed.  They also have contracts that are not predicated on employment, so they can sign 10, 20, or 30 year terms with a reasonable assumption that they will be fulfilled.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Kimmi-

                Few things have truly fixed costs.  For the sake of this conversation, Stillwater’s point that roads are not analogous to health care is a sound one.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                BSK,

                life insurance companies sell life insurance? funny, their adcopy seems to be more about whole life insurance and other bullshit. I don’t think the big life insurance companies are terribly solvent.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                For the sake of this conversation, Stillwater’s point that roads are not analogous to health care is a sound one.

                The distinction I was trying to present is that freeriding on other public goods doesn’t incur a tangible cost at the point of entry, whereas it does for healthcare. Every procedure administered is performed by a person/institution who charges for it. So the distinction is that the individual free rider on a bus doesn’t tangibly increase the cost of running a public bus service, whereas the individual free rider on the healthcare system does.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                SW-

                But isn’t that only true if we stick to the current health care model?

                Treat a doctor like a teacher.  He gets paid the same salary whether he sees 5 patients in a day or 25.  A visit alone does not incur a cost.  Certain treatments certainly do.  Five patients needing a shot costs more than one patient needing a shot.  But not ALL costs function this way.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yeah, I agree. I think there are lots of better models than what we have currently, and better than what we’ll get when the ACA fully kicks is. But I also think that the ACA is better than what we had. (That’s all for now, tho. Gotta run!)Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Stillwater,

                pay for procedure is one of the things Obamacare means to fix/end. And seeing as we’re laying in plans, setting things up now — I think it’s one of the good insurance company ideas, personally.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Good talk!  Generally speaking, I’m far from an expert on many of the things discussed here.  So most of my ideas are of the “Here is what sort of makes sense to me based on what I know, which ain’t much.”  Sometimes this means grave limitations on what I can contribute.  But sometimes I think there is great value in the perspective of someone who is not mired in the status quo.  Hopefully I was more of the latter here.  I appreciate your feedback.Report

  13. Avatar greginak says:

    If these young women are being responsible and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with,” Davis said. This from the chairman of a county commission that just put the kibosh on taking money for family planning clinics in NC. Oh and NC R’s tried to kill funding for Planned Parenthood last year.

    So is it safe to say for a subset of conservatives this is all about the women folk using their lady parts irresponsibly and wanting to limit access to contraceptives.

     

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/03/nc-county-doesnt-want-taxpayers-to-pay-for-loose-women-rejects-family-planning-funds.php?ref=fpnewsfeedReport

  14. Avatar Anne says:

    “Frankly I think the Church should drop this fallacious line of reasoning.  A better argument would be the strictly religious argument: God intends sex for X, one should do what God intends, therefore one should have sex in accordance with X.  But, of course, the strictly religious argument doesn’t have the same moral force.  It doesn’t speak to anyone who doubts or disbelieves what the religious authorities say God intends.  Nevertheless, trying to link up God’s will with “the ends of nature” is a fool’s errand…”

    But as I always understood it, the Church’s teaching on contraception is based on its understanding of natural law. That’s why it believed everybody should “get” it, not just Catholics.   If we throw out that theory entirely, what basis is there for the “religious argument”?Report

  15. Avatar Anne says:

    According to the Guttmacher Inst. (which keeps track of such things, like it or not), 58% of women use contraceptive medications for some reason other than contraception.   As a woman and the mother of two others and friend of many, I can tell you that statistic is totally in line with my own experience.Report

    • Avatar BSK says:

      58%, eh? That would seem to make such circumstances the rule and not the exception.  I’m curious to see how our friend Tom will demonstrate that A) his original comment needs no amending and B) this doesn’t even matter anyway.Report

    • 58% of women use contraceptive medications for some reason other than contraception

      Sort of, but that’s a misleading phrasing.  14% is the proper figure for exclusively non-contraceptive purposes.

       

       

      more than half (58%) of all pill users rely on the method, at least in part, for purposes other than pregnancy prevention—meaning that only 42% use the pill exclusively for contraceptive reasons.

      And only 14% used it exclusively for non-contraceptive reasons.  Same article:

      The study—based on U.S government data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG)—revealed that after pregnancy prevention (86%), the most common reasons women use the pill include reducing cramps or menstrual pain (31%); menstrual regulation, which for some women may help prevent migraines and other painful “side effects” of menstruation (28%); treatment of acne (14%); and treatment of endometriosis (4%). Additionally, it found that some 762,000 women who have never had sex use the pill, and they do so almost exclusively (99%) for noncontraceptive reasons.

      “Pregnancy prevention (86%).”  14% for exclusively non-contraceptive purposes is the proper figure, then.

       

       Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Would not pills that are used as contraception and medicine still count as medicine?  (Yeah, I know medicine is probably not the right word.)Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Not for Tom! For him, the set of women who use oral contraception for medically necessary purposes does not include some women who use oral contraception for medically necessary purposes.Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        So this does or does not matter, Tom?

        More to the point, what we’d really need to know, and unfortunately probably can’t, is how many women would use contraceptives even if they did not offer pregnancy protection.  My anecdotal experiences tell me that most of the women I know who take them would continue to do so even if they had no bearing whatsoever on the likelihood of pregnancy.

        The fact still remains: contraceptives are a medicine that many women require to live a normal, healthy life and the Catholic church seeks to deny insurance coverage for it regardless of whether its intended usage actually violates the tenets of the faith.Report

        • I’m making your argument more honest, BSK.  Nobody incl. Ms Fluke actually argued it honestly, starting with her grossly exaggerated $1000.yr figure, and ending with “Anne” here.  Meanwhile, all I’ve taken is abuse from you & yours, although I’m the only one that did any honest digging on this.

          So like next time you call me out and I don’t answer, keep this in mind.  Show up with an honest argument in the first place.

          So now we return to the religious liberty issue, where I started even though you ignored it. For those 14%, I think the Church’s objection may not hold legally.  For the other 86%, it probably will.  That a drug has beneficial side-effects is probably insufficient.

          Had you walked in with all this as an informed and honest argument—instead of jerking me around—I’d have said.  The Same. Exact.  Fishing. Thing hundreds of comments ago.  [In fact, I believe I rather did.]

           Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            Where have I been dishonest?  Where have I abused you?  Please provide direct quotes from me taken in context.

            My argument has been honest from the get go.  The health needs of women cannot be ignored, even in the face of legitimate questions/concerns about religious liberty.Report

            • And now you have honest figures for the non-contraceptive “health needs” of women, rather than a blanket immunity for The Pill.  I said from the very first it’s a separate issue and to my mind a far more defensible argument.  The original arguments conflated contraception and “health needs,” and were a complete muddle.  My position on the issue is above: not a hill I want to die on.  So please, I’ve had my say and thank me for my reply.  Peace.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I find it amazing how much internet breath you are willing to expunge on the religious freedom issue and how little you are willing to spare for the women’s health issue.  Very telling.Report

              • I made my argument, then I went and cleaned yours up.  Are you this lazy in bed?  ;-P

                You need to make the rest of yr case and get it past the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

                I find it amazing how much internet breath you are willing to expunge on the religious freedom issue and how little you are willing to spare for the women’s health issue.  Very telling.

                Uh huh.  I make no apologies for recognizing a primary and explicit constitutional right over a more theoretical one, and this remark is the type of crap that is making this blog a misery rather than an exchange of principled discussion.

                Neither is religious freedom the only argument.  The Obama admin doesn’t need to strongarm the church like this; it can achieve this goal another way.  Even if it is legal [which is questionable],  it’s bad governance.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                My argument needs no cleaning. Just because you are confused by it, does not mean it was sloppy.

                The act you refer to states: “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

                Show me one PERSON substanially burdened from exercising his/her religion by the mandate. Again, Catholic teachings, which I’ve read, say that individuals ought not take steps to make married sex nonprocreational. A substanial burden would be a requirement to take contraception. Furnishing access does not require any practicing Catholic to do anything against the teachings of the Church. Every member can still do everything required by Catholic doctrine.

                “In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI stated, “[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (HV 14).”

                How does offering contraception coverage prevent any indicidual from exercising his religion? Catholics can still have as much procreative sex as they desire. There is no burden.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For the record? This was an exchange that made the thread *BETTER*.

                I don’t understand the position that it shouldn’t have had to happen in the first place.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I’m not saying it shouldn’t have happened.  For the most part, I attempted to heed the advice you gave me recently and stick to the issues at hand.  I was chiming in elsewhere because it seemed you were saying that people (not necessarily myself) crossed a line in calling Tom out on some of what he did and said here.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Why I think it makes the thread, and the discussion as a whole, worse is that this is exactly what Limbaugh and his ilk wanted us to be doing: talking about sex instead of the actual issues involved. Mission accomplished, Rush, mission accomplished.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I’m still of a mind that Lib60s argument here is the right one. No one thinks that the Church of Rome ought to provide contraceptive coverage for it’s nuns. Or the anyone directly under the employ of the Church itself. I think the argument gets fuzzy when the Church owns a corporate, for profit entity which employs lay people as employees. In that case, where the Church is functioning just like any other business, I think the argument for the restriction is without merit.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              I dunno.  I think having a Church mandated by the government to purchase something against it’s doctrine is something we can live without.  That it has a net value of X doesn’t seem to enter into the equation for me.

              But the more the financial transaction is removed from the church, the fuzzier that gets, I think.  I’m not convinced it is a black or white answer.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m curious how this argument would go. How does the Religious Liberty issue extend to commercial activities? Is there actually an argument for this, or is it just a piggyback thing where churches who are also owners of corporate entities  ought to be offered the same protections even tho they’re entirely different institutions?Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Furthermore, the Church believes that USING contraception is wrong.  But no one is requiring the Church or its members to use it.  It does require them to BUY it.  Unless the Church specifically has a prohibition against buying contraception, the moral hazard is eliminated, no?  Would the Church condemn someone who bought all the contraception in the world and flushed it down the toilet to prevent its use?  While we are in the Lenten season, is it wrong for Catholics to BUY meat on Fridays?  Or only eat it?

                I don’t know why I never thought of this angle, but it actually seems remarkably relevant.  Unless there is something I am missing, the prohibition is on the use of contraception, not the purchase of them.  (Of course, nothing stops the Church from adapting the tenets of its faith… which brings up a major issue with religious exemptions in general.)Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Well,  I think there are two arguments.  There’s the argument that anyone who has an employee should not be mandated to do things against their religious beliefs.  I think this is a stickier door, and one I don’t like particularly.  I don’t have a desire to go very far down this road at all.  (You own a car dealership and find out that a mechanic is gay, or married to someone of the opposite skin color, or is Jewish, or is an Evangelical Christian… can you fire them for that?)

                The other argument has to do with organizations that are set up for public benefit that are owned by a church.  This for me is in a bit of a grey area. That they don’t give communion does not mean that their core mission is any less important to who and what they are.  For the most part, the issue historically has been that churches are by and large exempt from income taxes and therefore (mostly) don’t have to worry about their dollars go to wars, executions, etc.  But other 501-3c corps have not been allowed that privilege – at least to the same extent.  (Non-church 501s do pay some federal income tax.)  But by and large, the requiring of a non-profit being mandated to directly pay government activities (which is kinda sorta what HC is about to become) that run counter to their mission is pretty rare.  The White House’s first mandate was actually pretty far out there compared to previous models.

                As I say, I think that it’s a bit of a grey area that we have to deal with because of government takeover (to what ever degree it takes over) of the healthcare system.  As I’ve said over and over, I think this is an issue where not everyone can get their constitutionally preferred way, and I think it deserves some big picture thinking.

                (Personally speaking, I think the White House’s “compromise” should work just fine for all involved – but I’m not Catholic so I’m not sure I’m the right litmus test for that question.  I feel less than comfortable saying what is and isn’t offensive to those that believe, in the way I similarly feel uncomfortable telling women what they need to do or not do with their healthcare.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, that seems to be an argument from convention. I mean, I remember a church opening up a 501-c3 restaurant. Is that part of its mission? (I dunno, it would seem not.) And that’s not to say it isn’t at least an argument.

                I’ll have to think about it some more, but I’ve never been overly persuaded by arguments which inherently appeal to the tax exempt status of religious organizations as a justification that those new ventures are part of the core mission.

                But I’ll get back to you on this. Gotta take the dogs out!Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I think having a Church mandated by the government to purchase something against it’s doctrine is something we can live without.

                With a few caveats, I agree. Fortunately, the government is doing no such thing. No one is “having the Church mandated by the government to purchase something against its doctrine.”Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            For those 14%, I think the Church’s objection may not hold legally.  For the other 86%, it probably will.  That a drug has beneficial side-effects is probably insufficient.

            That’s 100% bullshit.  If those who are taking the pill for dual purposes suddenly all stopped having sex, for whatever reason, they would still need the pill for their medical purposes.  If this argument came before a court that need would take center-stage; it can’t be swept under the rug as a mere “side effect.”Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          One of Fluke’s points was that, because oral contraceptives are stigmatized as only for pregnancy prevention, some women who need them for other purposes have a difficult time getting insurers to pay for them. It’s an important point: a shame it was lost in all the noise.Report

      • Avatar sonmi451 says:

        So if a woman use the pill for both pregnancy prevention AND for another medical reason unrelated to pregnancy prevention, she only counts as using it for pregnancy prevention? Because SEXXXXXXXXXXXXX erases everything else.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Tom, you obviously don’t understand statistics, and you didn’t read my link above about false dichotomies (false dilemmas). Either that, or you are being deliberately honest. Fifty-eight percent of women, according to that same study, use the pill for reasons other than pregnancy prevention. That’s a fact, and you can’t escape it by pointing out that 14% of women who use the pill use it for other reasons exclusively. That most of those women also use it for pregnancy prevention is irrelevant to your exception-rule distinction. The rule, whether you like it or not, is that most women who use it for pregnancy prevention also use it for other medical reasons. That’s what the statistics in the same source you just quoted say. Seriously, just stop. You’ve lost the “this is about sex” battle, and since you’ve said all along that it’s not about sex, it’s about religious freedom, you should be making that argument anyway. I admit, making an argument for religious freedom when it turns out that most of the women who use the pill use it for medical reasons unrelated to pregancy prevention is more difficult than simply arguing that the Catholic church shouldn’t be required to indirectly fund things it considers a sin, but unfortunately it’s the argument that’s required.

        Jaybird, there, I addressed Tom’s nonsense. Let’s see how that plays out. So far, he’s continued to obfuscate, despite several people, including myself, pointing out his factual errors. I’m not sure how a quick 99 and moving on to actual issues wouldn’t have been better.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Really? I thought that we did a good job of hammering stuff out despite people arguing against him as if he were arguing a different position than the one he seems to be arguing.

          His opponents seem to put as much effort into interpreting him uncharitably as they put into explaining that they just can’t talk to him.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            What position do you think he’s arguing?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I think he’s arguing a position that isn’t yours and isn’t mine.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                So he is allowed to “clean up” and make my argument “more honest” but no one can attempt to decipher the deliberately convoluted and contradictory positions he asserts?

                I’m trying to stick to the issues and argue WITH Tom and not ABOUT Tom.  But you are making that hard…

                See here:

                “I’m making your argument more honest, BSK.  Nobody incl. Ms Fluke actually argued it honestly, starting with her grossly exaggerated $1000.yr figure, and ending with “Anne” here.  Meanwhile, all I’ve taken is abuse from you & yours, although I’m the only one that did any honest digging on this.”

                He is insisting that no one but himself has been honest, that there is abuse taking place, and that only he has substantiated his claims.  None of these are true.  None.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So he is allowed to “clean up” and make my argument “more honest” but no one can attempt to decipher the deliberately convoluted and contradictory positions he asserts?

                Where did I say that you shouldn’t attempt to “clean up” his arguments and make them “more honest”? Hell, I think that’s something that would make the argument more fun for everybody!

                Would you prefer to just say “I don’t *HAVE* to argue against your position!”

                He is insisting that no one but himself has been honest, that there is abuse taking place, and that only he has substantiated his claims.  None of these are true.  None.

                And if that is obvious to you, then you should trust that it is obvious to more than just you. If it strikes you that it might not be obvious to more than just you, surely it wouldn’t take more than a sentence or three to point it out… rather than pointing out that you shouldn’t have to argue against such positions.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Which I believe I did.  Any objection I raised was elsewhere, in a more “meta” conversation.  When engaging with Tom, I engaged with Tom and his arguments, even when I found them to be frustrating, insulting, or dishonest.  I even went out of my way to clarify that he was not the “some people” I was referring to (Rush was).  It still gets us no where.

                “And if that is obvious to you, then you should trust that it is obvious to more than just you. If it strikes you that it might not be obvious to more than just you, surely it wouldn’t take more than a sentence or three to point it out… rather than pointing out that you shouldn’t have to argue against such positions.”
                Was it obvious to you?  If not, did saying, “Where have I been dishonest?  Where have I abused you?  Please provide direct quotes from me taken in context.  My argument has been honest from the get go.  The health needs of women cannot be ignored, even in the face of legitimate questions/concerns about religious liberty,” [Entire response to above quoted comment] make it obvious to you?  If it either was or became obvious to you, can you understand the frustration caused by someone who engages in such approaches being given front page status here?  If it is still not obvious to you, or if it is obvious or apparent than I am wrong, please fill me in.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                BSK, as I said a few days ago, I think you’re doing great. Keep it up.

                It’s the people who put more effort into arguing that they shouldn’t have to argue for their positions than arguing for their positions that I find frustrating.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                It’s the people who put more effort into arguing that they shouldn’t have to argue for their positions than arguing for their positions that I find frustrating.

                99.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                JB-

                I just feel like we’re approaching a situation where you are telling the student who is ignoring the spit balls being flung at the back of his head what a good boy he is, admonishing those who fire spit balls back, and ignoring the bully who started the whole thing in the first place.

                It’s good to know that I’ve been able to take your (and other’s) advice and make a deliberate change in my approach.  It is a bit frustrating if the most I can expect out to his is my own satisfaction and a pat on the nose every once in a while.  I was hoping for a greater change in discourse of which I was a small part.  Maybe that is just my “idealist” side coming out again…Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jaybird, after a couple of weeks of this I must confess I still can’t make heads or tails of your position.  Unless I miss my guess, BSK and Chris also are as confused as I am about just what lines you are drawing.

                Part of me begins to wonder if you’re trolling.  I don’t want to think that, but if you’re not, you need to take cognizance of the reality that you’re not conveying your positions with enough coherence for us to understand you.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                In Jaybird’s defense, I brought him into it this time, pointing out how engaging Tom was getting nowhere, and it would have been better to just point out the facts, and 99 him after that. At least then we could have kept to the issues at hand, instead of wandering through the miasma of Tom’s sophistry.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I don’t think JB is trolling.  Perhaps self-servingly, I think that he is attempting to appeal to those he considers more reasonable in the exchange.  I think he knows that attempting to make Tom change his ways doesn’t get anyone very far, which is part of why he advocates we do not waste our internet breath in doing so.

                The problem with this is that it does nothing about the problem.  Yes, we could all just ignore Tom and let his nonsense speak for itself and hope people can see the glaring errors of his ways without us pointing them out.  But as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, this A) risks offering a tacit endorsement of what he does, B) allows Tom’s grenade throwing to muddy the waters as people try to dance around their explosions, and C) never calls Tom, an author with FP privileges, to task for his actions.  As he has done elsewhere, when he didn’t get the attention or reaction he wanted in a comment sections, he made a taunting post.  He is daring us to engage with his nonsense.  Which too many of us give him the delight of far too often.  It would be much easier to avoid doing so if he didn’t hold the privileges that he did here, wherein he can jump up with a megaphone to shout “LOOK AT ME!” when all of the adults of relegated to using their indoor voices.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                 I think he knows that attempting to make Tom change his ways doesn’t get anyone very far, which is part of why he advocates we do not waste our internet breath in doing so.

                Except he keeps saying he does want us to. He even says his “heart swells” when we do. But he seems to have in mind some vision of how we should do it that he can’t clearly explain to us.

                And he’s yet to grasp that “99” is addressing the issue of bad argument; just in a way that wastes a heck of a lot less internet breath.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Let me rephrase.

                I have family members who work in the education system. Some of these family members are in tenured positions, some of these family members are, instead, “staff”.

                The family members who are “staff” regularly complain about how the people with tenure treat them. The argument that “I don’t have to deal with your arguments” is an example of how the tenured folk treat the staff.

                I get very, very frustrated when I see people say “I don’t have to address your arguments” in so many words. I get infuriated when this statement is assigned a number.

                Address the arguments. Fine. Don’t address the arguments. Fine.

                Don’t make a friggin’ production about how you don’t have to address the arguments. That’s how the tenured folk treat the staff. I have to watch enough of that in the parts of my life that aren’t entertainment.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                The argument that “I don’t have to deal with your arguments” is an example of how the tenured folk treat the staff.

                I get very, very frustrated when I see people say “I don’t have to address your arguments” in so many words. I get infuriated when this statement is assigned a number.

                That’s not what’s going on, Jaybird.  Your whole rant here is based on your misunderstanding of the situation.  It’s what I said above: someone makes an empirically false claim or commits a blatant logical fallacy.  The error is pointed out, which means the critic is abso-fishing-lutely not saying, “I don’t have to deal with your argument.” Then said someone repeats the false claim that has been rebutted, wholly ignoring the rebuttal, or repeats the logical fallacy, wholly ignoring the fact that the fallacy was pointed out to them.  That is when someone says, “I should not have to repeatedly point out that you are making a false claim/repeating a logical fallacy.”

                I’m seriously struggling to understand how you think that is the same thing as “I don’t have to deal with your argument.”  The two things are fundamentally different, and that’s why all your argumentation has been off-target on this topic, never actually addressing our criticisms.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because I, and others, have pointed out, repeatedly, that we have been able to interact with the person in question. Hell, there have been comments that have been ’99’ed that, below the 99, had fruitful exchanges.

                Perhaps you are unable to have such an exchange. Fair enough.

                There are a number of folks who have and do.

                If you are unable to have these exchanges, I wish you’d put half as much effort into not drawing attention to it as you do into drawing attention to it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jaybird,

                Once again you’re saying “don’t criticize his bad arguments” and in the same thread where you claim your heart swells when someone does criticize his bad arguments.

                Maybe we should start running our responses by you first so you can approve them or disapprove them. Or maybe I’m done trying to understand you on this issue.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Once again you’re saying “don’t criticize his bad arguments”

                Let me guess. If I asked you to quote this, you’d be unable to.

                If you want to beat up a strawman, go ahead. I’ll be over there. I’d appreciate it if you gave it a name other than mine. I find it creepy.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You’re right, Jaybird, because you’d just say that anywhere you told us not to do it we were doing something other than criticizing his bad arguments.

                There’s a whole lot of “Jaybird knows it when he sees it” going on here. That’s why I’m planning to ignore any further complaining you do about how any of us respond to Tom.  You don’t like our responses. Duly noted and given all due consideration.
                Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Dude, don’t be an ass. You said we were interpreting him uncharitably, and arguing against something he’s not arguing. If you think that, say where you think we’re doing that, don’t cop out with “he’s arguing a position that isn’t yours and isn’t mine.” Otherwise, you might as well just 99 us. It’d be more polite.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                JB, I hate to jump into this from this angle, but what you wrote here is really sorta hilarious:

                I think he’s arguing a position that isn’t yours and isn’t mine.

                I mean, you’re inability to even articulate what his position is precisely the point being made, isn’t it? The views are so irrational that even someone as charitable towards them as you can’t identify what they are.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                He seems to be arguing that some considerations (Constitutional Protections) are prior to other considerations (Birth Control Coverage) and getting frustrated that his position is being reframed as some part of war against women and/or sex-negativity.

                I believe he’s even explicitly said as much.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            Jaybird,

            I call nonsense on your part.  Tom is clearly arguing that it doesn’t matter that women who use the pill to prevent pregnancy also use it for other medical purposes; all that matters is that they use it to avoid pregnancy.

            Re-read this: For those 14%, I think the Church’s objection may not hold legally.  For the other 86%, it probably will.  That a drug has beneficial side-effects is probably insufficient.

            It’s really funny, for a guy who says he doesn’t want people to stop critiquing bad arguments, you seem to pop up every time someone critiques one of Tom’s bad arguments to complain about the critique. But you never take the effort to show just how the critique is wrong.  Your “uncharitable interpretation” provides less information than “99” does.  Either you can demonstrate where we are wrong to say Tom is claiming what we say he’s claiming or you cannot.  You demanded fuller explanations from us and we’ve started giving it–now I demand a fuller explanation from you. Fair’s fair.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Jaybird, also this, from above.

              Ms. Fluke:  ”Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”

              The only other interpretation is that they’re having sex sans contraception

              That’s Tom’s argument, that “the only other interpretation” is about sex.  So, where has anyone interpreted him inaccurately?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So instead of saying “no, here’s another interpretation”, you’re upset that you have to say “no, here’s another interpretation”?

                I’m reminded of the abortion argument where the pro-lifers (for some lives) point out that a majority of Americans are pro-life because a majority oppose third-trimester abortions… while the pro-choicers (for some choices) point out that a majority of Americans are pro-choice because a majority of Americans support first-trimester abortions.

                There is an interesting dynamic here and squelching part of the arguments made would do more to muddy an accurate picture than allowing it to be stated and then addressed or refuted.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I’m annoyed that we have to keep pointing out not only that there’s another interpretation, but that the facts aren’t what he says they are, over and over again. It has created an entire thread on bullshit, instead of actually focusing on Fluke’s point: that sometimes, often in fact, women use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. A 99 would have nipped Tom in the bud, and we could have actually discussed the topic on a factual basis. You disagree: you see arguments that are made regularly. I actually agree with you, they are seen regularly, but once addressed, as they were above, why bother to continue to address them when the person making them refuses to acknowledge even basic facts or observe even the simplest standards of reasoning (with his repeated use of a false dichotomy)? I see no reason to do so.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It has created an entire thread on bullshit, instead of actually focusing on Fluke’s point: that sometimes, often in fact, women use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy.

                And Tom has focused on the “reasons that do not include preventing pregnancy” (where he got his 14%) and other people are hammering on “reasons other than preventing pregnancy”… and given that the argument is, eventually, going to be hammered out over whether and why Georgetown will need to pay for coverage for some people out there using numbers that Tom is using, I’m interested in seeing the arguments that will address the point that he, in fact, has.

                Now, I *PERSONALLY* think that birth control coverage ought not be mandated by the government for Catholic institutions but I also waver when I consider the non-birth control related reasons when it comes to taking the pill… because, at that point, it’s no longer BC but hormone therapies to address particular illnesses and thus should fall outside of the Catholic Church’s silly beliefs about birth control.

                Not because I give a crap about whether women take birth control or not, but because I really don’t like the whole “forcing institutions to pay for coverage for something their silly beliefs consider sinful” thing that, apparently, you have no problem with.

                As such, I see the arguments Tom’s making as arguments worth addressing.

                Not even that they’re *RIGHT*… but that they’re worth addressing.

                And you, for some reason, seem to think that you shouldn’t have to address them.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I’ve addressed them, quoting the Catholic doctrine that the objection to BC is based upon, and hope he returns to weigh in (his commenting patterns indicate this is not a typical time he is active so I don’t consider his lack of response thus far anything beyond attending to other matters).

                The problem, though, is that I had to research the Catholic dogma myself.  If you are going to make the claim that requiring the providing of coverage for a drug that can be used in a sinful matter is a violation of the free exercise of religion, you have to actually substantiate the claim.  You have to show what tenets of the faith are being prevented from being practiced freely.  It shouldn’t have taken as many posts as it did for someone to actually quote the dogma and is a bit illuminating to the paths our participants have taken that it came from someone arguing against the Church’s objections.  That doesn’t seem a bit, well, silly to you?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jaybird, except that’s not what Tom did. What Tom did was say that it had to be either or, and when it was pointed out that it didn’t have to be either/or, he then tried to get cute with the numbers to say that it’s usually either/or most or part of the time, therefore it has to be either/or and the other stuff is, as he suggested of BSK’s comment, dishonest. Honestly, I can’t imagine how this conversation wouldn’t have gone better if we’d just dismissed Tom as the hack that he is and moved on to a discussion of the actual issues (including the issue that Tom says, but doesn’t act like, is the only important one: religious liberty).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Honestly, I can’t imagine how this conversation wouldn’t have gone better if we’d just dismissed Tom as the hack that he is and moved on to a discussion of the actual issues (including the issue that Tom says, but doesn’t act like, is the only important one: religious liberty).

                Why not just move to a discussion of the actual issues without dismissing anybody? Why not just argue what you want to argue? Why *MUST* you discuss Tom at all?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              James, I am not offended by bad or poor arguments the way you seem to be… and certainly not offended by them when they’re similar to bad or poor arguments that I encounter in my day to day life.

              Given that I’ve seen arguments similar to his in the marketplace and given that they’re well-formed with a patina of civility, I see them as “good enough for a comment thread”.

              The fact that people can, and do, argue against them is something that makes my heart swell. I don’t really get the attitude that says “I shouldn’t have to encounter them, let alone address them!!!”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jaybird,

                I’m not offended by an initial bad argument–everyone makes errors. What offends me is when someone continually pursues an argument that is quite clearly reliant on logical fallacies and false statements of fact after those errors have been pointed out to him. That’s not error; that’s purposeful dishonesty. For my part, I don’t see purposeful dishonesty–the repeating of claims whose falseness has been pointed out, or repetition of arguments who reliance on logical fallacies has been shown–to be “good enough for a comment thread” at the League.  It seems to me you’ve got awfully low standards in that case.

                As best I can tell you aren’t bothered by people who engage in purposefully dishonest arguments, but you are offended by people who point out the falsity of the argument.

                The fact that people can, and do, argue against them is something that makes my heart swell. I don’t really get the attitude that says “I shouldn’t have to encounter them, let alone address them!!!”

                So you say, but in fact Chris and BSK were arguing against them, and instead of your heart swelling you started complaining again.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As best I can tell you aren’t bothered by people who engage in purposefully dishonest arguments, but you are offended by people who point out the falsity of the argument.

                Nope. Point it out. Again and again and again. Provide citations and challenge someone else to come up with their own citations.

                This is very different from “I shouldn’t have to argue against this and I sha’n’t argue against this!”

                So you say, but in fact Chris and BSK were arguing against them, and instead of your heart swelling you started complaining again.

                Only when Chris started explaining that he shouldn’t have to argue against this. You can look up and see when I started complaining and totally see the timing yourself.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Like I said, I referred to you specifically, because of previous discussions.

                And I didn’t say I shouldn’t have to argue against this. I said I shouldn’t have to argue against this over and over when the person I’m arguing against isn’t open to facts or reason, and is in fact openly defying them. What I should have done, and what I will do, is point out the facts and basic reason (in this case, the logical fallacy Tom keeps using), and then 99 the rest of the way.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                This is very different from “I shouldn’t have to argue against this and I sha’n’t argue against this!”

                I think you’re just flat out wrong.  Take the following example.

                Say I argue against the Catholic Church’s position that this is a religious freedom issue by saying, “the First Amendment doesn’t provide any guarantees of religious freedom.”

                Commenter, “X” responds by “[p]rovid[ing] citations and challeng[ing] [me]  to come up with [my] own citations.”

                In response I ignore them and reiterate my claim that the First Amendment has no guarantees of religious freedom.

                X replies by reiterating, with documentation, how wrong I am.

                In response, I say, “The First Amendment doesn’t have the phrase ‘religious freedom,’ so therefore it doesn’t guarantee it.

                In response X demonstrates that the religion clauses of the First Amendment do in fact protect religious freedom.

                In response, I once again assert that it does not protect religious freedom.

                X says, “I shouldn’t have to argue against this and I sha’n’t argue against this!”

                X isn’t wrong.  X is right. And you’ve boxed yourself into a corner–you can no longer say you want X to just walk away because you’ve said you think these errors should be addressed, your heart even “swells” when they’re addressed, so you’re encouraging X to continue debating me.

                But if you think you’ve found some meaningful line at the point where X says, “We shouldn’t even be debating this because Hanley’s obviously being a dishonest git, and I just want to make sure that readers who are unfamiliar with the First Amendment know he’s being a dishonest git”… if you think that’s a bright line that should not be crossed, then I have to stand here and say you’re being absolutely ridiculous, because at that point it’s entirely appropriate to point out my dishonest and gitness.  There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

                And if I do this in thread after thread after thread, so that I become known to a set of League regulars as the guy who always makes a dishonest argument about the Constitution, then it would be entirely appropriate for them to quit bothering to try to rebut me, and just start doing a shorthand notation, something like, “Hanley’s lying about the Constitution again.” But that’s a bit of a chore to type over and over, so they might shorten it to an acronym, “HLACA,” and when some person asks “what does HLACA mean?” they tell them, “Oh, we use that to point out every time Hanley lies about the Constitution, because we don’t want it to go unnoticed, but it’s not worth arguing with him because he’s a lying git.”

                All of that would be a perfectly appropriate response to me.  If you say it isn’t, I challenge you to come up with a coherent and persuasive argument about why it would be an inappropriate response.   So far I haven’t seen that from you.  Saying, “point it out again and again and again” doesn’t satisfactorily rebut the “it’s a pointless Sisyphean task” response.

                If you want to point it out again and again, be my guest.  But  don’t tell us how we have to do it, particularly if your argument is going to rest on the continued false belief that “99” isn’t a substantive and meaningful response.

                 

                 

                 Report

  16. Avatar BSK says:

    A question for the Catholics out there who know the faith better than I…

    As I understand it, the Church views contraceptives as evil because they allow married couples to have non-procreative sex, which undermines the natural purpose of sex.  With this in mind, if a devoutly Catholic single woman, who has no intention of having extramarital sex, requires contraception for the treatment of a medical condition, what grounds would the Church have to oppose her taking it?Report

  17. Avatar Jaybird says:

    While doing more research, I kept noticing little things that indicated… well, I don’t want to use the word “pathologies” because that’s a lot more judgmental than I intend… taboos? when it comes to birth control.

    Here’s one you may remember from 10 years ago:

    It’s an Ortho Tri-Cyclen ad that spends precious seconds explicitly stating that these three women are, in fact, married. No unmarried women in *OUR* birth control commercials!

    And this little sketch, that I’d not seen (but I had seen the commercials it talks about) talks about how Birth Control ads are not about Birth Control but about period control.

    “Irritability” is mentioned more often than “Babies”.

    In thinking about this, I came to the tentative conclusion that this could be explained by the fact that men will be watching the commercials too and a commercial that says “HAVE FEWER BABIES!” might offend many more than a commercial that says “SHE WILL BE LESS IRRITABLE!” (which has a much greater chance of having the guy say “sign me up!”).Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I can see that.
      Billing it as the “Incredible De-Bitching Caplet” could be used to effect the market.
      Even Catholics would love that.

      But then, of course, the Democrats will want to bring someone in to testify before Congress that really is a bitch to talk about her happy pills.
      I wonder what Rush is going to say about her….
      Probably something really nice, I suspect.
      Because he’s really learned his lesson after this one; yes he has.
      He’ll know better than to do something like that again.
      I’ll just bet.Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 says:

      I wonder though. The women taking birth control pills for pregnancy prevention are not having sex by themselves, or with other women. Don’t the men have some stake in preventing unplanned pregnancy as well? Surely not all men are like Ross Douthat who considered it a turn-off that a woman he was considering sleeping with told him she was “on the pill”.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Sonmi, I talked to Maribou about this last night and she explained that I was overthinking it.

        They’re all 99% effective, she said. As such, you can’t ride on the whole “99% effective” thing. You have to say 99% effective *AND* it gives you clearer skin. It’s 99% effective *AND* it provides relief for monthly distress. It’s 99% effective *AND* something. There are 100 oral contraceptives out there. They’re all 99% effective.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          I’m not a woman, but it’s been my experience that women choose their birth control based on a few considerations: health issues (some need particularly birth control methods to help with certain medical conditions, and some need them to avoid causing or exacerbating certain medical conditions), and ease of use. The 99% only applies when they’re used perfectly, and some women, who meet certain health conditions, find using a pill less than daily, or putting a ring in, or getting something under their skin, easier than taking a pill every day.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            What I found interesting what not the reasons that women choose birth control (which, granted, are legion) but the reasons the commercials and marketeers chose to highlight in their commercials and whether there were any elephants in the room.

            Interestingly, “not getting knocked up” usually had one sentence devoted to it… with paragraphs devoted to other concerns.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        given that being on the pill actually does decrease libido…

        somehow I doubt that was what Russ was thinking about though. Just more slutshaming.Report

  18. Avatar BSK says:

    A question I’ll ask to the wider audience:

    How are Catholics’ free exercise impeded by the mandate?

    Cathilic teaching says that it is a sin to engage in sex deliberately made nonprocreational. A law requiring contraceptive use certainly would violate that. But how does offering contraceptive coverage put any individual Catholic in a position where their free exercise is limited? Every single Catholic can go right on doing the things they always did.

    “In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI stated, “[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (HV 14). ”

    I see nothing in the mandate that prevents a Catholic from freely exercising his/her religion or forces a Catholic to violate the teachings of his/her Church.Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 says:

      It’s the money, no? The Church pays for employer-provided health insurance, if the health insurance pays for contraception, therefore the Church is paying for contraception. Therefore, they are being forced to pay for something they consider a sin. How is this any different from the Church paying salaries to women who then use the money paid by the Church to buy contraception has never been explained to my satisfaction. Or paying salaries to men and women who might use the Church’s money for all kinds of things the Church considers sins – accessing porno on the Internet, paying for hotel rooms to cheat on their spouses, etc etc. I keep being told that I’m an idiot for not recognizing that health insurance and salary are completely different; but I don’t really see how they are that much different. They are both a form of employee’s compensation, health insurance is not a favor given by your employers because they are generous souls.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        The difference is that whereas money is legal tender and is therefore used for anything, an insurance doesnt just cover anything, but covers some number of specific items regarded as worthy of coverage. Therefore,by paying for insurance that covers contraception, I’m implicitly saying that I think contraception is worthy of coverage. That might just stick in my craw if I had some religious objection to contraception.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          But the religious objection is to the USE of contraception, or any other mechanism, that renders married sex non procreative.  No Catholic is being required to use contraception.  No Catholic is being required to engage in deliberately non procreative married sex.  Every Catholic can continue practicing their religion as intended.  There is no Catholic teaching that I can find that deals with insurance coverage for contraception.  There are so many degrees of separation between the Church’s teachings and what is actually being asked of them that it is very hard to believe there is a “substantial burden” being placed on the “free exercise” of any Catholic.

          Of course, the Church could adapt its teachings/stance… which I feel points out the issue with offering religious-based exemptions to generally applicable laws.  But, as it stands, there is no tenet of the Catholic faith that cannot be freely exercised by individual Catholics while adhering to the mandate.Report

          • Avatar sonmi451 says:

            You might find this article interesting: http://www.law.com/regionals/ca/opinions/jul/c037025.shtml

            I have to run, but basically the Catholic charity argued that paying for something sinful is facilitating the sin, which is a also a sin. They lost. But this is in sinful, sinful California, so, might not meant that much to conservatives, heh. Not sure if this case ever went to the Supreme Court.

            During the legislative process, various Catholic groups asked the Legislature for a “conscience clause” which would enable them to obtain employee health insurance coverage that does not include prescription contraceptive benefits. The groups pointed out that, according to their religious beliefs, using contraception is a sin, and providing prescription contraceptive benefits is the equivalent of facilitating sin, which their religion prohibits. Therefore, they argued, without a “conscience clause” exception, the statutes would impermissibly burden their religious freedom.

            Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              Thanks, Sonmi.  As this case seems to indicate, there are too many levels of abstraction to reasonably make a case that their is substantial burden being placed on individual Catholic’s free exercise.  Especially given that they can simply opt not to offer insurance coverage at all*.

              * Or can they not?  I don’t know what else is required with all the new laws.  If employers MUST offer insurance AND that insurance MUST have contraception, why not allow Catholic institutions a waiver from the initial requirement instead of the secondary requirement?  No insurance at all.  Good luck competing.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          We pay taxes, part of it goes to fund various wars. Does that mean even the most hardcore pacifists think wars are worthy of the money spent to fund it? Funny how “I don’t want my money to pay for this!” thing only seems to apply to certain issues.Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            Yeah, but taxes are money which can be used for anything. Also, I’m required to pay my taxes to support even a state which does some immoral shit because even such a state ends the war of all against all that would be found in a state of nature/civil war/anarchy. Therefore, I can consistently pay taxes while knowing that some of the taxes will be used immorally without endorsing the immoral actions I know my taxes will be paid for. I cannot say the same thing about insurance. That is because with insurance, there is an itemised list of things that I am specifically paying for.

            There is a larger point which you are missing however. Let me even concede, for the moment, that the catholic church is being inconsistent and irrational about what it thinks is or is not against its tenets. Freedom of religion/conscience does not only apply to religions or philosophies which stand up to rational scrutiny, it applies to any religion that does not require its adherents to violate other people’s fundamental rights. Otherwise, few if any religions would be protected. It is not clear that healthcare, let alone contraception is such a fundamental right.Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              “That is because with insurance, there is an itemised list of things that I am specifically paying for.”

              First off, it is an itemized list of services that can be utilized; not all of them necessarily will be.  My insurance covers contraception.  I’m a man.  I will not be exercising my access to contraception.

              Second, this really distorts the way in which insurance functions.  Insurance is not a direct quid-pro-quo.  My employer does not buy a room full of doctors and medications that I can visit.  They did not buy the contact lenses I just used my insurance to get.

              Think of car insurance.  I pay for car insurance.  I pay for a service. The service is such that, if my car is damaged in an accident, the insurer pays for the repairs, not me.  It would be wrong if, after making a claim and having the repairs paid for, I insisted that *I* paid for the repairs.  I didn’t.  I paid  for the coverage.

              The institutions are paying for the coverage.  They are buying a service on behalf of their employees.  If contraception is acquired through that service, it is because the insurance company purchased it.  The money used to pay for it does not come directly from the church but from the insurance company’s vast coffers, which are in part filled by the church but also by everyone else who is a member of their plans.  The money is thrown together all into one big pot.  It is possible that not a dime from the church goes towards the contraception and, indeed, the “compromise” insured that no church dime ever would.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                If I pay $x for a set of services which includes A, B, C and D only, and I could alternatively pay $(x-k) for a set of services that consisted of A, B and C only, then from the consumer end it really looks like I am paying $k for D right?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                you can NOT pay for a plan without gyn exams. This is merely an extension of the same principle. Women’s health will be coveredReport

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Women’s health will be covered

                Are you telling me that every single aspect will be covered? Or some collection of things that are deemed “important enough”?Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Just to add on, if its the latter, then this is the kind of stuff about which people’s mileage can vary a lot, which is why it is important to not mandate stuff like this.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Just because people’s mileage may vary a lot, doesn’t change our obligations, Murali.

                Unless you think that wheelchair bound folks should be unable to do most civil things that people without wheelchairs can do… Rand’s against the Ada. There may be as much as a third of our country who is also against the ADA (or, as Bell would put it, manipulatable to be against it)Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Kimmi, the problem is that it is already unclear whether we should be legally obligated to provide insurance, let alone one that covers contraception as well.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Murali,

                no, it’s not kinda unclear. The standard religious exception for insurance is “you no pay in, you no take out.” But that’s for people with “insurance is bad” as part of their religion.

                The catholics are quibbling about some itty bitty tiny part of a large bill. And expecting to get away with it, by waving “freedome of religion” around.

                It’s fairly obvious that you can’t cover everything… but by the same token, birth control pills are relatively Big News in terms of reproductive health.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                but by the same token, birth control pills are relatively Big News in terms of reproductive health.

                There are some fairly serious value judgements going on in this statement. Look, if birthcontrol pills have other uses other than as contraception (which is the real issue here) then, there are better ways to cover the gap in coverage (if it needs covering) than mandating that contraception be covered as well.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Value Judgements? Murali, not in the least. Big News in the sense that even if they are socially disapproved of, to the point where doctors won’t prescribe them, women will obtain them on the black market.

                Big news — something that people consider useful/necessary/important.

                Being willing to break the law gotta count for something, I figure.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Big news — something that people consider useful/necessary/important

                useful, necessary or important to what end?

                1.  If it is to prevent certain kinds of diseases or serious medical conditions, fine.
                2. If it is to prevent acne, then it depends on whether you think preventing acne in the larger scheme of things is a very important goal.
                3. If it is to prevent pregnancy, well, not only does the church not view that as any kind of good, the church views that as a kind of moral bad.

                Saying that something is big news or very important often hides hides what ends said thing is productive towards.

                If, there were other medicines that could do 1 without doing 3, and most people used birth control pills because it did both 1 and 3, then for  those who dont care about 2 or 3, then birth control pills will not be a big thing.

                I suspect that your claims about the big thing-ness of birth control pills is predicated on the observation that most women do care about 3 and the ability of a pill to do 1, 2 and 3 is just awesome. Correct me if I’m wrong.

                So, if 3 is in fact actively pernicious, then birthcontrol pills are not so much of a big thing, but a pill which may do some useful stuff but which has a nasty side effect. Given that the church views the birth control pill that way, it is not surprising that they would object to covering it.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Your employer is paying the insurance company $K to offer you the option to take advantage of offering D.

                An important question, though:  If, as some have argued, insurance plans that offer contraception coverage actually cost LESS than those that do not, how can Church institutions argue that they are paying for contraception when they are actually paying out less money?  And, if they take that tact, couldn’t the insurance company simply charge them the previous rate and STILL offer the contraception?  And isn’t this last scenario basically what the compromise amounts to?  And how do ANY of these scenarios result in a Catholic be substantially burdened while freely practicing his faith?

                Okay, that was more than ONE important question…

                We are lost in so many abstractions that it is hard to accept the Church’s objections on their face.  Their objections seem to amount to, “We shouldn’t have to do anything we don’t want to.”Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                If, as some have argued, insurance plans that offer contraception coverage actually cost LESS than those that do not, how can Church institutions argue that they are paying for contraception when they are actually paying out less money?  And, if they take that tact, couldn’t the insurance company simply charge them the previous rate and STILL offer the contraception?  And isn’t this last scenario basically what the compromise amounts to?  And how do ANY of these scenarios result in a Catholic be substantially burdened while freely practicing his faith?

                I don’t know, but standard marketing tactics would seem to be to charge more for the one with more services included no matter what it actually cost the insurer. I could be wrong on this. Of course, if things are as you say they are, then I will reduce my own credences appropriately (at least on the issue of whether we can say the church is really paying for anything)

                Their objections seem to amount to, “We shouldn’t have to do anything we don’t want to.”

                Under the principle of freedom of religion/conscience, the above is a serious enough objection to the individual mandate to warrant carving out an exception.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “Under the principle of freedom of religion/conscience, the above is a serious enough objection to the individual mandate to warrant carving out an exception.”

                So where do we draw the line?  The Church of BSK feels taxes are a violation of conscience.  I’m out on those, then.  They also believe that speed limits are immoral as a prime tenet of our faith is to get places as fast as possible.  We’ll happily pay damages if our speeding results in the need to but we certainly won’t adhere to any limits.

                From a real meta perspective, it is hard to have true freedom of religion/conscience in a country like ours.  Ideally, we would have NO insurance mandates.  The fewer rules/laws/mandates/whatever, the less likely one will infringe on religious liberty.  But as long as we do have the systems we have, which are equally applicable to everyone, I think it fair to require all institutions, religious or otherwise, to adhere to them.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “I don’t know, but standard marketing tactics would seem to be to charge more for the one with more services included no matter what it actually cost the insurer. I could be wrong on this.”

                The compromise said that the coverage would be provided and the Church would not be charged a penny more.  Which A) the Church objected to and B) conservatives (and not just Rush) equated to free condoms for recreational sex.  Which is why we are where we are right now…Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Murali,

                with less birth control included, you have more pregnancies, one assumes. And the same number of doctor visits, more or less. Pregnancies are expensive.Report

              • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

                Ideally, we would have NO insurance mandates.  The fewer rules/laws/mandates/whatever, the less likely one will infringe on religious liberty.  But as long as we do have the systems we have, which are equally applicable to everyone, I think it fair to require all institutions, religious or otherwise, to adhere to them.

                Now you’ve lost me.  If you don’t believe in mandates, and no one is losing anything they didn’t already have, and the net effect to the individual here is essentially a matter of compensation – you would prefer an infringement on religious liberty on grounds of fairness?

                Fairness to whom?  Other institutions?  I’m told their costs have now gone down (makes you wonder why the need for the mandate – market’s not smart enough?).  Employees?  Their compensation hasn’t changed, and now they have “better” alternatives.  Exceptions to rules are annoying – but then again, maybe the rules are too.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                So where do we draw the line?  The Church of BSK feels taxes are a violation of conscience.  I’m out on those, then.  They also believe that speed limits are immoral as a prime tenet of our faith is to get places as fast as possible.

                There is a fairly bright line. Freedom of conscience is to be extended as far as possible until it interferes with the fulfillment of more fundamental civil duties like respecting other’s more fundamental rights (rights to property, person, not being recklessly endangered) as well as the duty to pay one’s taxes.

                Seriously, this is why I dont like having a tax exemption for religion: because it constitutes an establishment of religion for the government to say which are real religions and which aren’t.

                 Ideally, we would have NO insurance mandates.  The fewer rules/laws/mandates/whatever, the less likely one will infringe on religious liberty

                I like this option. This is what I have been saying all along. But more, seriously, a single-payer system or mandatory HSAs would not raise the same problems that the individual insurance mandate is. It is the current unholy union of governmental quasi-regulation of private insurance that is causing you so many problems.

                But as long as we do have the systems we have, which are equally applicable to everyone, I think it fair to require all institutions, religious or otherwise, to adhere to them

                As long as you do recognise some religions as “real” and that the forced violation of religious requirements can be especially burdensome, there is still a strong case for carving out a religious exception. What will have to be shown is that there is a right to the specific coverage of contraception and that this right trumps the right to free exercise of religion.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Seriously, this is why I dont like having a tax exemption for religion: because it constitutes an establishment of religion for the government to say which are real religions and which aren’t.

                Not necessarily.  Just treat them as non-profit corporations. Then you don’t have to worry about whether they’re religious or not.  The IRS, in fact, is quite reluctant to start asking which organizations are legitimate churches and which aren’t.  If they say they are, they tended to be treated as such despite evidence to the contrary (yes, we’re looking at you, Church of Scientology).Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Murali-

                I don’t like the idea of the government deciding what religions are real or not for the reasons you’ve cited and many more.  It is problematic from the get go.

                “Freedom of conscience is to be extended as far as possible until it interferes with the fulfillment of more fundamental civil duties like respecting other’s more fundamental rights (rights to property, person, not being recklessly endangered) as well as the duty to pay one’s taxes.”

                The problem is that “fundamental rights” keep changing.  Don’t you find it interesting that instead of arguing about a general insurance mandate we are arguing about a contraception mandate?  Somehow the more general insurance mandate has received enough acceptance and we have moved on to the next battle.  In 20 years, it is entirely possible that access to contraception will be seen as a fundamental right.  This battle will seem quaint.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                The problem is that “fundamental rights” keep changing

                Not on my watch it ain’t

                Don’t you find it interesting that instead of arguing about a general insurance mandate we are arguing about a contraception mandate?  Somehow the more general insurance mandate has received enough acceptance and we have moved on to the next battle.  In 20 years, it is entirely possible that access to contraception will be seen as a fundamental right.  This battle will seem quaint.

                I’m sure that there are a lot of people who say that things like healthcare shouldnt be fundamental rights. To say that we should provide a social safety net which provides coverage of certain items doesnt mean that said items are fundamental rights.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I wonder if we’ve gone too far with freedom of religion. I know that might seem crazy, but the original notion of it was to avoid having people thrown in jail or killed because they held a different belief than the king. Now we haggle over how we define “payment” all the while ignoring the fact that no Catholic is being prevented from freely practicing his/her religion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I wonder if we’ve gone too far with freedom of religion. I know that might seem crazy, but the original notion of it was to avoid having people thrown in jail or killed because they held a different belief than the king. Now we haggle over how we define “payment” all the while ignoring the fact that no Catholic is being prevented from freely practicing his/her religion.

                Now dig this. Let’s pass a law forbidding, say, Sharia courts.

                I can totally see this rationale being used to discriminate against *SOME* religions (the ones that aren’t “real” religions) but not being used against others.

                Freedom of religion protects the minority. It’s a good thing.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                JB-

                I’m not saying that we should throw out the baby, bath water, and tub altogether.  I just doubt that, when the founders drafted the 1st Amendment, they were anticipating a battle over what constitutes “payment”, which is in many ways at the crux of the issue right here.  Regardless of how this battle turns out, I’m confident Catholicism and Catholics will see little impact on the practice of their faith.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              “My insurance covers contraception.  I’m a man.  I will not be exercising my access to contraception.”

              FWIW, several years ago when when I decided to go the “male birth control route,” it was covered by our insurance.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Some questions…

                1.)  Is that still considered to be “contraception”?

                2.)  Do Catholic institutions offer coverage for that?

                3.)  Does the mandate currently being discussed require coverage for that?

                4.)  If so, what is the Church’s response?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I have no idea, but I assume it would. It be coveredReport

              • Avatar BSK says:

                If the Church accepts coverage of sterilization, which is explicitly mentioned in the quoted doctrine, then the double-standard to which they hold women is crystal clear.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I agree that it would be a double standard.  But I still very much doubt it exists.  I don’t see Catholics as being against women in their contraception stance, I see them being anti-wasted seed.  So I have to think that the snipping of me kibbles and bits falls into the verboten category.

                It might be a question for Kyle or CC.  (And maybe Tim? I can’t remember if he’s Catholic or not.)Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

                Sterilization, as a deliberate and positive frustration of the procreative purpose of sexual intercourse, is a no-no in Catholic moral theology.   The bishops have included the coverage of sterilizations among their moral objections to the HHS mandate.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Thanks Kyle!  I had thought that had to be the answer.Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 says:

      I wonder also if part of the problem is, with the mandate,  the Church can’t maintain plausible deniability. With salaries, they can always pretend that NO ONE on their payroll (even on the payroll of secular institutions the Church is involved with) would be slutty enough to even consider buying and using birth control! But with the insurance mandate, plausible deniability is out the door.

      It’s like the Church pretending that the majority of Catholics actually still follow its birth control doctrine. I’m sure priests all over the country on Sunday mornings notice that most families don’t have ten children anymore. But hey, maybe people just stop having so much sex. Or they practice immaculate contraception. Plausible deniability remains intact.Report

    • Avatar Matt Huisman says:

      How are Catholics’ free exercise impeded by the mandate?

      Why don’t we flip this around?  Why can’t employees decide whether or not they would like to stay with an employer who does not provide this coverage?  If insurance is a form of compensation, and everyone else in the country just got a “raise” – and a couple of institution choose not to match – who cares?Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        Matt-

        A sound point but not really germane to the issue at hand.  By your logic, certain institutions should be allowed to violate wage laws because, hey, people can choose not to work for them?

        It has long been argued that there is a free exercise violation as a result of the mandate.  Based on the Catholic  dogma I’ve read and quoted here, I don’t see any substantial burden being placed on the free exercise of any individual Catholic.

        “The Church” is not protected.  “The Church” does not have rights.  Individuals do.  Individuals have a right to practice their religion freely.  Nothing in the mandate prevents a Catholic from freely practicing his religion.  If a Catholic office manager signing off on an insurance policy where monies collected from customers and other sources are diverted through insurance agents to cover a myriad of health needs INCLUDING contraception is akin to that Catholic office manager himself being required to engage in deliberately non-procreative sex… well, we’ve just about lost all sense of logic and reason.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          “The Church” is not protected.  ”The Church” does not have rights.

          Eh, I’m pretty sure that’s false as a matter of law.  See Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (emphasis added). It wasn’t an individual claiming a violation of rights in that case.

          And there’s on-going legal uncertainty about the extent to which churches can be compelled to follow zoning regulation.Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            Interesting.  I was speaking more abstractly and am admittedly ignorant on case law.  Still, it seems that whatever rights a Church has are predicated on the rights of its members.  Or, that ought to be the case, at least in my opinion.  Still, the Catholic dogma speaks of individuals.  I have not found any teachings explicitly discussing the Church’s role in sex.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              And I can’t speak to Catholic doctrine.  Nor do I have quite enough expertise in First Amendment jurisprudence to answer the question as to how closely the Court would be willing to delve into interpretations of doctrine.  That’s an interesting question.  Perhaps someone else here can discuss that with more authority than can I.Report

              • I haven’t had the chance to review the Hosana-Tabor decision Tom cites below since it came out, but I’m reasonably familiar with the “ministerial exception” doctrine it adopted, which I recall had previously been adopted by the overwhelming majority (if not all) of circuits who had considered it.  The premise behind the doctrine, as I recall, is largely that courts should not put themselves in the position of making any kind of inquiry as to the legitimacy or proper interpretation of religious doctrine.  The fear (proper, IMHO) is essentially that such an inquiry would put the courts in the position of violating the first amendment by deciding what is and is not an acceptable religious belief.  As I recall (it’s really been quite awhile since I looked at these cases), the court’s inquiry is limited to whether the employee is a lay person or serves in a ministerial capacity.

                The applicability of this doctrine to the birth control debate is somewhat limited on the whole, but to the extent that one wishes to oppose the Church’s position on the grounds that this isn’t really what Catholicism says, the rule (or at least an analogue to it) would apply to prevent such an inquiry.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “The applicability of this doctrine to the birth control debate is somewhat limited on the whole, but to the extent that one wishes to oppose the Church’s position on the grounds that this isn’t really what Catholicism says, the rule (or at least an analogue to it) would apply to prevent such an inquiry.”

                Sooooo, faiths can insist that a law infringes upon the free exercise of their religion even if common practice AND stated doctrine show otherwise?Report

              • Sure, though that doesn’t mean they automatically win. The question just becomes one of whether the alleged infringement is constitutionally justifiable.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Suppose, then, that it is found unconstitutional. Tomorrow, any and every faith can claim infringement, no questions asked?Report

  19. “The Church” is not protected.  ”The Church” does not have rights.  Individuals do.

    Interesting.  I was speaking more abstractly and am admittedly ignorant on case law.  Still, it seems that whatever rights a Church has are predicated on the rights of its members.  Or, that ought to be the case, at least in my opinion.

    BSK, if there’s one application of the recent [unanimous!] Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, it’s that a church gets to pick who speaks for it.  Churches certainly do have rights; always have.  If you look at the event leading to the last disestablishment of a state church [Massachusetts in 1833], the courts didn’t look at whether the Trinitarians or the unitarians were the authentic theology of Congregationalism.  You can find this back in James Madison’s arguments, that any understanding of separation of church and state is certainly that government does not define doctrine.  This door of separation must swing both ways.

    So, the courts will not make any attempt to define “normative” understanding of doctrine [such as 98% of Catholics using birth control]; there is only “official” doctrine, as in who owns the churches or affiliated organizations.

    Writing for the court in its decision on the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, Chief Justice John Roberts said the First Amendment bars such authoritarian dictates through a “ministerial exception” to federal employment laws.

    “The members of a religious group put their faith in the hands of their ministers,” Roberts said. “Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision.

    In this case, the “unwanted minister” fulfilling a ministerial role but in conflict with the Lutheran Church, by extension, anyone purporting to speak for the Catholic Church except its authorized ministers.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Another good example.Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        FWIW, without context or clarification, it seems as if you are endorsing Tom here.  Unless you are (which I don’t think you are), then you remain painted in the corner.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          BSK,

          I don’t quite follow you, but it makes me realize my comment might have been too cryptic.  I do in fact mean that Hosanna-Tabor is a good example of religious organizations having enforceable constitutional rights.  I do endorse Tom’s comment here.

          And let it be forgotten in all the hoopla, I am rather more sympathetic to his religious freedom argument than most others here. While I’m not persuaded a Catholic hospital has the full protection of the church, I am fairly persuaded that it’s something other than just a business enterprise.  Without knowing just where to draw the lines, I would give the hospital less claim to religious freedom than the Church itself, but quite a lot more than I would give a for-profit hospital.

          I disagree with Tom’s apparent claim that religious freedom is the sole issue, but I do agree with him so far as to say it’s a very significant issue.Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            Got it.  I read this comment immediately after the hypothetical situation you proposed above to JB using yourself as the person in question.  I thought you might have been using another shorthand.  My initial reading was that you did indeed endorse Tom’s believe, but since you didn’t elaborate, I got confused.

            As I’ve said elsewhere and will repeat, I am also sympathetic to religious freedom issues.  I’m not not sure, based on my amateur understanding of both Catholic doctrine and the jurisprudence, that there truly is an infringement.  Regardless of how this shakes out, I’m not sure it will mean anything, either in practice or between them and their man upstairs, to Catholics or the church.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Part of the problem with defining “infringement” is that the aggrieved party’s opinion might differ radically from yours.

              For example, I don’t see Mormon baptism of dead people to be an infringement of anything. They’re in the basement! They’re saying a name! They’re not doing anything!

              Meanwhile there are entire groups of folks who are screaming about how offensive this is. Is this an infringement of the baptized dead folks’ religious beliefs? There are a lot of folks who have come to the conclusion that it is.

              Even though this conclusion seems awfully silly to me.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                And what of the offense to the deceased?
                An act on estate?

                Do the dead hold any standing for religion-based claims?

                The entity asserting damage must be an identifiable holding.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Well, that is a conflict between two faiths, not between a government and a faith.

                However, if I understand you correctly, it seems that you are saying that if a faith or individual feels their religious freedoms are being infringed (infringed upon?), then it is necessarily so?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think it’s more that the burden of proof lies on the so-called grievous party to demonstrate that the aggrieved party is being silly.

                A recent open set of examples of things that I think are silly and secondary to other principles include the Mohammed Cartoons as well as Serrano’s Tinkle Jesus or Kazantzakis’s Last Temptation. For that matter, The Satanic Verses.

                I’d say that violations of religious freedom might include the outlawing of Sharia courts or forcing pacifists to be soldiers in a draft (rather than medical aides or some other logistical support role).Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                But your second paragraph has a bunch of examples that don’t demonstrate any violations of religious liberty.

                The examples in your third paragraph do.

                As far as I understand it, the current issue is more akin to the first set than the second.  But I am happy to be corrected.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As far as I understand it, the current issue is more akin to the first set than the second.  But I am happy to be corrected.

                It seems to me that we’re closer to the second than the first.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Can you elaborate?  Catholic doctrine says that engaging in deliberately non-procreative sex is a sin.  The mandate (and more importantly, the compromise) neither requires Catholics to engage in deliberately non-procreative sex nor does it prevent them from engaging in procreative sex within marriage (the only type acceptable within the Church).  There is no substantial burden on the free exercise of Catholicism.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                By forcing the institutions in question to pay for coverage for these things, we’re asking them to act against their conscience.

                Here’s a comparison that may make sense:

                People argue that public education vouchers ought not go to religious schools. Why? Separation of Church and State, the 14th Amendment, tax dollars, and so on. Saying “but the vouchers only pay for reading, writing, and arithmetic, private tuition pays for the Jesusy stuff” once again gets the response of “Separation of Church and State, tax dollars shouldn’t be used to recognize an establishment of religion”. I’m sure you’re familiar with the argument.

                Forcing the church to pay for this coverage is forcing them to positively act against their stated belief system (even if all Catholic men in America have vasectomies and all Catholic women in America are on the pill).

                It’s the requirement of positive action that veers into the wall of separation.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                For the record, I do not object to vouchers being used for parochial schools, but that is another question for another day.

                To the issue at hand, what about the compromise then?  The Church is not paying for anything.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As an aside, I see parents using vouchers at a school as something other than the state respecting an establishment of religion (it’s the parents exercising the free exercise thereof).

                A very large number of separation of church/state folks disagree with me, though.

                They object to being forced to provide the coverage in the first place. I believe that they are paying for it, insofar as they pick up a chunk of the insurance plan’s cost.

                Now, if they offered a plan where they picked up none of the cost of the plan where contraception was covered, I’d not see that as an infringement on their part. Sure. Then, I suppose, we could argue over whether the 50 bucks a week plan vs. the 200 bucks a week plan was really a choice at all.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Oh, there is certainly a lot of disagreement on the voucher issue.  I was just offering my two-cents.

                I guess my issue is that there are several abstractions that must be gone through to arrive at “the Church is being forced to offer contraception”.

                You have a non-Church institution of the faith being required to include in their optional* insurance plan the opportunity to have access to a medicine through a company that pools resources before paying out claims, etc, etc, etc.  Self-insured institutions, obviously, are a different matter entirely.

                * It is my understanding that offering insurance is no longer an option for larger employers, which is somewhat of a mitigating factor here.  Am I correct in that regard?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It is my understanding that offering insurance is no longer an option for larger employers, which is somewhat of a mitigating factor here.  Am I correct in that regard?

                I had not heard this.

                One thing that I will say (again) is that I find it hilarious that single-payer would have avoided this problem. Well, maybe. If single-payer would have covered contraception.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                To clarify, I meant “no longer an option” as in they HAVE to offer it. I thought there was a provision wherein employers over a certain size had to offer insurance or risk a fine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, yes. I believe the fine is $2k per person.

                (Personally, I find that to be a fairly elegant solution here.)Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “I think it’s more that the burden of proof lies on the so-called grievous party to demonstrate that the aggrieved party is being silly.”

                I think I know you well enough that I must be misreading this, JB – but are saying that the burden lies on Rushdie or Kazantzakis to prove that others are not or should not be offended, and if they can’t should not be published?

                Because that’s what I’m getting from the text, but that doesn’t sound like you at all.  Or am I wrong?Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                TK-

                Without having thunk it through entirely, I could understand setting the burden of proof in the latter set of examples.  But, I agree, that the former set do not even require a burden of proof… individuals are free to act as they like, regardless of how offensive it might be to the religious (or anyone else).Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Which is why I think offense should not be relevant in policy (or perhaps only in extreme cases), but that material harm should be.

                If I am an orthodox Jew, it might offend me that they city council is allowing Muslims to build a mosque in my neighborhood.  But there is no material harm – the only offense is within myself.  On the other hand, telling the city’s Muslims they cannot build a mosque because some townspeople don’t like their religion does have a form of material office – the muslims have no place to worship, and in fact have been denied their fundamental rights.

                I’m sure that looking to avoid unnecessary offense is a wise course of action; but I’m not so sure that it should be a deal killer.  (I’m thinking out loud… am I actually making sense?)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think that the burden of proof can be met quite easily in the case of Kazantzakis and Rushdie. Something as easily done as saying “Freedom of Speech and/or the Press trumps whatever right you have to not have your Gods mocked.”

                I don’t think that the burden of proof should start on the offended party to prove that they’re legitimately offended. They can be legitimately offended by whatever they want.

                It’s a free country.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Got it.  That makes sense.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sure, anyone can claim offense. And maybe they’re being entirely honest about it. But in situations where offense is the criterion by which government policy is rolled back or limited, or where other people’s actions are circumscribed or prohibited, the burden instantly shifts by asking a simple question: what do you find so offensive? If it’s groundless, then the offense has no political relevance. So in situation where the offense impugns government’s ability to administer policy, or when rights conflict, then the burden really is on the party claiming offense.

                (Tod, you’re just too nice a guy to see this thru, aren’t you?)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Remember when Terry Jones threatened to burn a Koran and people told him that the deaths that ensued would be on his head?

                Did these people have a point? At all?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So, with that comment, are you conceding the argument?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Not exactly, given that I wrote a post about it and folks argued with me in the comments about how Terry Jones *DID* have responsibility for those deaths… as in, the fact that there would be Muslims *THAT* offended by his actions was his fault. (Read it here! Enjoy the comment section. It’s one of the posts I’m proudest of.)

                There is, seriously, a belief out there that argues, seriously, that the emotional response of people to such things as blasphemy should be subjected to prior restraint EVEN ACROSS OCEANS.

                It seems to me that there is ground to take this argument seriously, even if one doesn’t agree with it. In the same vein, it seems to me that forcing people to engage in an act (or pay for coverage for an act) is a step further along than something as silly as burning a book… it’s requiring a positive act on the part of someone else that goes against their stated beliefs.

                Now we can cheerfully agree that I’m allowed to do whatever I want and, absent evidence of harm, you don’t get any say in it and you can do whatever you want and, absent evidence of harm, I don’t get any say in it. Awesome.

                The problem comes when I make you act. Or you make me act. That’s something where we want to tread very, very lightly. Even more lightly than when it comes to silly things like burning books.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                OK, that was too quick. You’re argument is that people don’t have meet a burden of justification for being offended. Fair enough. But if that offense is used as a lever to alter policy in their favor, then they do have to meet a burden, one grounded in something exactly like Tod said upthread: a distinct and identifiable harm.

                What you’re now suggesting is that offensiveness needs to be catered to for purely pragmatic reasons, in particular, the threat of violence of the offense is ignored. But doesn’t that confirm my earlier point, that the offense has no political relevance and is used merely as leverage backed by a threat of violence or social disruption?

                I mean, the focus of all this discussion is a rational reason to support a religious exclusion to the contraception requirement, no?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                They can be legitimately offended by whatever they want.

                It’s a free country.

                It’s a free country and they can be offended by anything at all.  Legitimacy is a claim whose burden of demonstration surely  falls on the claimant, however, no?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What you’re now suggesting is that offensiveness needs to be catered to for purely pragmatic reasons, in particular, the threat of violence of the offense is ignored. But doesn’t that confirm my earlier point, that the offense has no political relevance and is used merely as leverage backed by a threat of violence or social disruption?

                No, not at all. I believe that the argument that “if you burn that Koran, PEOPLE WILL DIE!” should have approximately as much impact upon public policy as “if you legalize abortion, PEOPLE WILL DIE!”

                There are, however, people who argued, seriously, that Terry Jones would have blood on his hands for burning a Koran. The viewpoint out there that “people are responsible for the reactions of others” is one that probably should be addressed (and, as far as I can tell, has not yet been resolved) as well as the argument over whether forcing someone to make a positive action is significantly more morally/ethically troublesome than acting in a manner that evokes an emotional response on the part of another (which, it seems to me, it is… and if we haven’t solved the latter, we haven’t even come *CLOSE* to resolution of the former).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                How would legitimacy be measured?

                Public outcry? Demonstration that one was offended the last time something like this happened?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Someone’s obviously gotten aholta Jaybird’s password!Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Perhaps by “legitimately” here you really just meant “truly,” or “in fact.”Report

    • Avatar BSK says:

      But hasn’t the prior Pope defined what is normative here:

      ““In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI stated, “[W]e must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” (HV 14).””

      If this is indeed doctrine and there are not other supporting and clarifying documents that extend upon this (there might be, but I haven’t found them), then what about the mandate, or more importantly, the compromise violates the 1993 decision you referenced earlier, which said that substantial burdens placed by generally applicable laws on the free exercise of religious were violations of the 1st?  If an institution that chooses to offer insurance must include in their plan coverage for contraceptives, what Catholic individual or institution is substantially burdened from freely exercising?  And, if there does exist someone or something that is, how so?

      No one is requiring Catholics to use contraception.  No one is requiring Catholics to pay for contraception.  No one is requiring Catholics to endorse contraception.  Catholic institutions have been given the option of not offering insurance (and assuming whatever consequences that entails), offering an insurance plan that includes contraception coverage, or offering the same plan that they always have while the insurance company will furnish contraception coverage at no charge to the institution.  Where is the substantial burden?Report

      • BSK, I used “normative” in quotes, to try to accommodate your argument about individuals and not churches.  To communicate, achieve a common language.  To get at the truth of the matter.   Yes, Humanae Vitae is normative [no quotes] Roman Catholicism, despite the practices and attitudes of American Catholics.

        The point here is—Governments cannot define doctrine.  Outside Catholicism, you’ll find the doctrines even more diverse and contentious, even within the same sect.  There are 3 kinds of Lutherans

        • Liberal or Progressive, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America(ELCA) – 
        • Moderate, such as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS)
        • Confessional, such as the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC)
        …and lord knows how many different kinds of Baptists.  In fact, Madison’s appeal for the famous Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was swung not by Enlightenment secularism, but by the Baptists, who realized the Episcopalians and Presbyterians could gang up on them and define them out of Christianity.
        It’s amazing how little we know about the original concept of church and state.

        Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          There’s only one kind of Baptist Church, actually. The Southern Baptist Convention Baptist Church.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          Tom-

          I do not see a clear, definitive response to my questions.  I’ll try to restate them as clearly as possible:

          What substantive burden to the free exercise of religion does either the Church or individual Catholics face if a non-church institution is required to offer contraceptive coverage in their employee insurance plan?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            BSK, I like this line of argument, one which you hit on upthread in a very interesting and compelling comment. I don’t really know enough about it, but I read some stuff on the 1993 legislation Tom seems so enamored of, and it didn’t strike me as being relevant in this current debate for the very reasons you written about. I think the key concept there is a substantial and identifiable burden on the exercise of a person’s religious beliefs. And I think you’re right that paying into a general fund which offers contraception as part of the coverage plan doesn’t rise to that level.

            But IANAL so WTHDIK.Report

          • Asked and answered, BSK, and I’m crestfallen that after all the effort I put in to courteously reply and substantiate to your every jog and tittle, you should suggest in the slightest the calumny I’m unresponsive.  This is how you return my good faith?

            In the least it is you have left my every substantive answer and rebutal unacknowledged, and moved on yet another bone of contention.  Why should I ever reply to you again?  I give you an unrequited olive branch and all the courtesy of reply, and you hand me back the brown end of the stick.

            But at this point, at least the issue is clarified, after many days and dozens of posts, although every inch of ground, important and not, was fought over with the same ferocity.  As for your feeling your points have not been solidly addressed, they have and they have and they have.  ‘Tis you who have not addressed any of mine, and have simply not held up your end of a good faith co-operative discussion.

            To business, then, that we are spared any more calumnies: A turnip truck reading of the “free enterprise” clause, as if nothing else exists, is sophomore bull session stuff at best, amateur understandings of the applicable theology, law, and caselaw.  So next time I tell someone to buzz off—or more likely, don’t reply—please consider it’s simply because the other fellow is uncooperative and refuses to do his own homework and I just don’t feel like wasting my time on unpleasantness and willful ignorance and laziness.

            Whether Mr. Stillwater or you are convinced or not—and I do thank him for at least reading the Rivkin/Whelan piece—the legal case is most easily made via the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

            By both the letter and spirit of the law, by both legality and common sense, the government can make these contraceptive drugs easily available [as if they’re not now] without forcing its will on the church.  This whole drama is unseemly and it is unnecessary.

            RivKin/Whelan [here, I’ll even edit it down for you]:

             

            By DAVID B. RIVKIN JR.
            AND EDWARD WHELAN

            Last Friday, the White House announced that it would revise the controversial ObamaCare birth-control mandate to address religious-liberty concerns. Its proposed modifications are a farce.

            The Department of Health and Human Services would still require employers with religious objections to select an insurance company to provide contraceptives and drugs that induce abortions to its employees. The employers would pay for the drugs through higher premiums. For those employers that self-insure, like the Archdiocese of Washington, the farce is even more blatant.

            The birth-control coverage mandate violates the First Amendment’s bar against the “free exercise” of religion. But it also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That statute, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It was enacted in response to a 1990 Supreme Court opinion, Employment Division v. Smith.

            That case limited the protections available under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion to those government actions that explicitly targeted religious practices, by subjecting them to difficult-to-satisfy strict judicial scrutiny. Other governmental actions, even if burdening religious activities, were held subject to a more deferential test.

            The 1993 law restored the same protections of religious freedom that had been understood to exist pre-Smith. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act states that the federal government may “substantially burden” a person’s “exercise of religion” only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering” that interest.

            The law also provides that any later statutory override of its protections must be explicit. But there is nothing in the ObamaCare legislation that explicitly or even implicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The birth-control mandate proposed by Health and Human Services is thus illegal.

             

            The refusal, for religious reasons, to provide birth-control coverage is clearly an exercise of religious freedom under the Constitution. The “exercise of religion” extends to performing, or refusing to perform, actions on religious grounds—and it is definitely not confined to religious institutions or acts of worship. Leading Supreme Court cases in this area, for example, involve a worker who refused to work on the Sabbath (Sherbert v. Verner, 1963) and parents who refused to send their teenage children to a public high school (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972).

            In the high-school case, the Supreme Court found that even a $5 fine on the parents substantially burdened the free exercise of their religion. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers who fail to comply with the birth-control mandate will incur an annual penalty of roughly $2,000 per employee. So it is clearly a substantial burden.

            Objecting employers could, of course, avoid the fine by choosing to go out of business. But as the Supreme Court noted in Sherbert v. Verner, “governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against” noncompliant parties.

            The birth-control mandate also fails the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s “compelling governmental interest” and “least restrictive means” tests.

            Does the mandate further the governmental interest in increasing cost-free access to contraceptives by means that are least restrictive of the employer’s religious freedom? Plainly, the answer is no. There are plenty of other ways to increase access to contraceptives that intrude far less on the free exercise of religion.

             Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              I asked a direct question.  You refused to provide a direct answer.  Conversation over.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

               This is how you return my good faith?

              In the least it is you have left my every substantive answer and rebutal unacknowledged, and moved on yet another bone of contention.  Why should I ever reply to you again?  I give you an unrequited olive branch and all the courtesy of reply, and you hand me back the brown end of the stick.

              Tom, please quit playing the “oh, poor me, I’m the only honest person here, and I’m beset by horrid beasties” role.  It’s unbecoming, at best.Report

              • You guys take it up with each other then, JB.  All I’ve wanted for some time now is people to do their own homework and let me go.  I was speaking to BSK, hoping he let me go, not to anyone else.

                This discussion finally got up to where I was from the first, some days and 100 comments ago, that non-contraceptive uses of The Pill is a separate issue that got conflated with its contraceptive use, and that the religious freedom issue is the one that can get steamrolled here as a matter of constitutional law, whereas the practical matter of getting The Pill to those who medically require it is a matter of policy technique, not principle.

                Which is where this has ended up, blogwide.  And without jerking me around, we could have got here a lot sooner.  What I’m saying is I’m not inclined to do this much anymore.  You want an echo chamber full of +1 and +1000, that won’t be hard.  6 against one, as is often the case?  Well, truth is not democratized, settled in a blind alley where 6 corner 1.

                Even at best, in a fair fight: Adversarial inquiry is a misery except for the miserable, and seldom gets anywhere near the truth.  Cooperative inquiry is a joy, and there’s no limit to where it can go.  That, on the whole, is what the LoOG was and can be again.

                There are really a lot of people around here who want to speak but won’t put up with the crap I do.  So forget me; the adversarial process is depriving us of them, of very many people who have something to say but need a safe place to do it, not the killing floor.

                That’s what I’m really saying here. This could be easier, more nourishing and more beautiful.  BSK had a cognitive dissonance when one of my frequent attackers actually had a sincere moment of agreement instead of his usual nasty.  It ain’t me, gentlemen.

                If any of this seems reasonable, I’d be happy to start over again next time we all see each other.  As it turned out, this discussion was productive on substance. I just don’t find the misery it takes to get there worth it.  And if you need to bag on me, just take the time to be funny about it.  Funny than Maher or Limbaugh, if you follow me here, and you do.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                “All I’ve wanted for some time now is people to do their own homework and let me go.”

                I cited the Guttmacher Institute, Catholic.com, and the Wiki page for the 1993 RFRA you discussed but never cited.  Homework complete!

                “BSK had a cognitive dissonance when one of my frequent attackers actually had a sincere moment of agreement instead of his usual nasty.”

                As mentioned in my follow up, I read Hanley’s response on the heels of another comment by him wherein he described using such a response to point out repeated examples of disagreeable behavior.  I asked for clarification.  No cognitive dissonance required!

                Double-fail… Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s a lot easier to argue that we shouldn’t be talking about you personally when you don’t start talking about you personally.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I was speaking to BSK, hoping he let me go, not to anyone else.

                Yes, because on blogs in general and the League in particular, nobody is supposed to join in a conversation between two people.  That’s really unacceptable behavior in the blogosphere.

                This discussion finally got up to where I was from the first, some days and 100 comments ago, that non-contraceptive uses of The Pill is a separate issue that got conflated with its contraceptive use

                That’s a damned lie, and I use that word advisedly. From the beginning others here have been pointing out that the issue is not just about non-procreative uses but about the medical purposes as well, while Tom has been trying to obscure those medical purposes by putting the issue of sex out front.

                 Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              The birth-control mandate also fails the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s “compelling governmental interest” and “least restrictive means” tests.

              This assumes that there is a substantive burden restricting the free exercise of religious beliefs n the case of contraception coverage. I’m not sure that there is. (Burt, you out there?) But independently of that, I think there is a compelling governmental interest in mandating that women aren’t discriminated against in the provision of medically necessary services. Exemptions from that mandate shouldn’t be excluded, but they would have to, it seems to me, meet a very heavy burden. I’m not sure that you’ve met the burden since paying into a general fund which offers medical coverage doesn’t ‘restrict the free exercise of religious beliefs’. If anything, it’s imposing those beliefs on others.

              Does the mandate further the governmental interest in increasing cost-free access to contraceptives by means that are least restrictive of the employer’s religious freedom?

              I think this is a different issue addressed by the Blunt amendment. On the face of it, an employer ought to have no say in the types of insurance packages his employees choose to pay for as compensation in lieu of wages.

              Plainly, the answer is no. There are plenty of other ways to increase access to contraceptives that intrude far less on the free exercise of religion.

              What would those be?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            a non-church institution

            BSK, I think you’re poisoning the well with that phrasing. I get that you think a Catholic hospital or university is a non-church institution, but that basic assumption isn’t shared by Tom, so you’re asking him to answer a question within a framework he doesn’t accept.Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              What I meant by “non-church institution” is a religiously-affiliated institution that itself is not an actual church, temple, or place of worship (e.g., a Catholic hospital).  I was not making an attempt to re-frame the situation, as it has been my understanding all along that such institutions are the crux of the matter, as I think we all agree that places of worship are a different ball game altogether.  If that phrase implied otherwise, I apologize for the confusion.

              Now, if Tom feels that there is no difference between churches and religious institutions that are not churches for the sake of this conversation, I would be willing to here him defend such a position assuming he could do so honestly and in the spirit of genuine, constructive discourse.  At this point, I have no faith in his ability to do so.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                OK, I understand you.  There’s just been enough “hospitals aren’t religious institutions” phrasing going around that I got over-sensitive and interpreted you too broadly.

                We really do need a good clear term, even if just internally, for these in-between cases. “Non-church religiously affiliated organizations” would be descriptive, but it’s somewhat less than elegant.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Yea, I got tangled and thought that was the proper term.Report

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