Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think religiously run institutions should be mandated to cover birth control in the health insurance they offer?

Asked by JLeslie (61652points) February 9th, 2012
94 responses
“Great Question” (6points)

Obviously this has to do with what is in the news now about Obama forcing Catholic schools and hospitals to offer birth control to it’s employees.

My first reaction is I think the government should not be able to mandate it, but I have been met by a lot of people who disagree with me. Just wondering what the jellies think, and your reasoning behind your opinion.

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zenvelo's avatar

As a Roman Catholic, I say yes. Catholic Health Services cover a large percentage of the local hospitals, to deny parts of necessary health care to people is unconscionable.

A very high percentage of Catholics use birth control of one sort or another.

GoldieAV16's avatar

First of all, the Affordable Care Act does not mandate that these institutions offer birth control to employees. They must offer an insurance plan that provides coverage for contraception. The hospitals and schools themselves are still free to not offer those services to customers.

Secondly, 28 states already have this mandate, so government already does this albeit at the state level.

I think that it is appropriate to mandate that all women have contraception made available to them, and that insurance cover this aspect of health care. I don’t think religion should be able to decide for OTHERS what health care they seek.

98% of Catholic women use contraception in their child bearing years. So who is it exactly that doesn’t want this provision? The celibate males who run the show? Figures. One of the ways that “their” religions continue to grow (membership = money = power) is through large families. This has nothing to do with Christianity, and everything to do with greed.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

I think that when a company or organization has difficulty in meeting their legal requirements such as birth control, they should merely have the option of giving employees a “benefits allowance” that the employees can use to sign up for a fully Catholicized right wing plan, or a fully left plan, at their discretion.

tedd's avatar

Yes I think they should be required to. If its the standard everywhere, they don’t get a free pass in my book. It’s healthcare, and if they are going to provide it they have to provide it to the same level as everyone else.

bkcunningham's avatar

@GoldieAV16,  28 states require insurers that cover prescription drugs to provide coverage of the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices; 17 of these states also require coverage of related outpatient services.
 2 states exclude emergency contraception from the required coverage.
 1 state excludes minor dependents from coverage.
 20 states allow certain employers and insurers to refuse to comply with the mandate. 8 states have no such provision that permits refusal by some employers or insurers.
 4 states include a “limited” refusal clause that allows only churches and church associations to refuse to provide coverage, and does not permit hospitals or other entities to do so.
 7 states include a “broader” refusal clause that allows churches, associations of churches, religiously affiliated elementary and secondary schools, and, potentially, some religious charities and universities to refuse, but not hospitals.
 8 states include an “expansive” refusal clause that allows religious organizations, including at least some hospitals, to refuse to provide coverage; 2 of these states also exempt secular organizations with moral or religious objections. (An additional state, Nevada, does not exempt any employers but allows religious insurers to refuse to provide coverage; 2 other states exempt insurers in addition to employers.)
 14 of the 20 states with exemptions require employees to be notified when their health plan does not cover contraceptives.
 4 states attempt to provide access for employees when their employer refuses to offer contraceptive coverage, generally by allowing employees to purchase the coverage on their own, but at the group rate.

TexasDude's avatar

I like @JaneraSolomon‘s solution.

wundayatta's avatar

Since when did religion privilege someone to behave immorally? Just because it’s the Catholic church doesn’t mean it’s always moral. Let’s face it. The Church is wrong and the state shouldn’t have to collude in that wrongness just because they’re the oldest institution in the world. We’re grown-ups. We should stand up to old-world bullies who act as if they can hear the voice of God in their heads.

marinelife's avatar

If they are for-profit institutions who employ anyone, then I don’t think they should have an exemption.

keobooks's avatar

Am I totally wrong on this, or wasn’t this law regarding religious organizations that took federal funds? If the company didn’t take any the funds, they didn’t have to comply with the law. If they accepted the funding, they were required to comply.

I thought this was the case, but I may have misheard or misremembered. It’s the way most of the private schools I worked with managed to get out of federal or State mandates. They just refused all funding and then they weren’t required to follow the regulations.

Can anyone back me up or refute me? I’m curious now. My opinion depends on whether or not this is the case.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think we should do away with employer-provided health care altogether. It’s a relic from the postwar period when employers were offered tax incentives based on the benefits package they offered to employees. At that time it was a win-win: employers got to make sweetened offers to employees with something that had not previously been available to them, and part of the cost was borne by others (other taxpayers). Employees had a brand new benefit. Everyone in the club liked this.

Take away the tax incentive, let the employer-provided health care die off, and let us contract individually – or in other groups of our own choosing – with private health care insurers or providers. (Imagine the nightmare you’d have if your auto insurance were tied to your employment, and you simply couldn’t afford to purchase it elsewhere?)

Part of the problem of employer-provided health care, aside from the obvious lack of portability, is that my employer is the customer or client; I’m just a nuisance to them, an expense. My auto, homeowner’s and (when I had it) life insurance carriers are much more competitive, because they each know that I’m not locked into them. I can change my other insurance in a heartbeat, with a couple of mouse clicks or a phone call. Not so my health insurance.

tedd's avatar

Imagine how much easier this would be if we just had a public option.

tinyfaery's avatar

If they receive federal tax money they should, definitely.

YoBob's avatar

Absolutely not!!!

Do I think birth control is a good thing? Of course.

Do I think it is cheaper to make birth control available than to take care of unwanted children? Of course.

Do I think it is entirely beyond the scope of government to tell a private institution what services they must offer, especially when the service in question is in direct opposition to the fundamental core values of that institution? Of course.

I believe that @keobooks brought up public funding, which does throw a bit of grey area into the mix. OTOH, that smells a bit like blackmail to me. Put through the old galactic translator it comes out to something like “Even though we have been partners for decades, this administration has decided that if you choose not to violate your basic religious beliefs we are going to yank the rug out from under you…. thanks and have a nice day.”

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for all the answers so far. Here are some of my thoughts:

If the instutution receives public funds I think they no longer get to claim religious beliefs as a way to get out of what might be mandated by government. But, if they are fully run by the church, then I don’t think the government should be able to dictate whether the health package provided covers birth control. However, there sort of is a grey area I guess for hospitals for instance, that even if they don’t get government funds, they still get funds for services to the public, and non-Catholics utilize the service and work for the hospital. But, still, I kind of come down on the side of the government not being able to mandate what is not in agreement with the church, a fundamental moral issue for them.

I agree socialized medicine would take care of this problem.

I also agree that I hate that health insurance is a perk/benefit offered by our employers, if not socialized medicine, at least we should have health care and insurance chosen by individiuals, not our employers.

Mandating birth control be offered is a move away from ever getting socialized medicine or in the other extreme better individual coverage, choice, and competition, in my opinion.

I don’t think it matters that most Catholics use birth control, that is a separate issue from the standing of the church. Most Jews will take the elevator on the Sabbath, but if a Jewish institution wants to have their elevator stop on every floor for the sabbath, they get to. I think it is ridiculous, but they can do whatever they want to comply with the religion, as long as they are not causing great harm obviously. I realize comparing an elevator to birth control is not a fair analogy, but I am pretty dug in about the separation of church and state, and I don’t like the idea of the government telling the church what to do, or vice versa. I also don’t like giving public moneys to the church, to me it is also blurring church and state.

Women can still get birth control, just not on their insurance in those health plans. Seems to me in the end that would increase the cost of insurance in the long run. Babies are way more expensive than birth control.

Another thing that kind of sucks is women wind up paying for the birth control more than men.

If we are not going to have socialized medicine for the country, then a government option seems like the best solution to me at this time. Or, a mandate that companies offer the medical benefit as a cash amount for employees which can be used to purchsae health insurance, so employees are not basically forced to choose a plan at their place of work. Then the company or church is not choosing anything, the individual is.

nikipedia's avatar

Providing religious exemptions for health care establishes a very dangerous precedent. Should organizations run by Christian Scientists be able to offer insurance plans that only pay for faith healing?

And really, the church does not have a problem with people paying for birth control—they have a problem with people using it. So if they actually wanted to have a consistent position, they would refuse to hire anyone who used birth control.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think religously run businesses should obey the laws of the land and in this land good healthcare and rational economics demand we offer this medical benefit. It also demands a separation from church and state. That includes freedom of church interference in matters deemed pertinent to the greater good.

If the Judeo-Christian God was benificent enough to bestow free will to all people of the earth, why shant the government of people who claim to believe in the infallability of this God do the same?

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia You made some interesting points. My first thought to your first point is, yes, I think Christian Scientists can just offer faith healing insurance, which basically in my opinion is zero insurance. I don’t think companies should be mandated to provide insurance. Again, I want to move away from what I think is a terrible model for health insurance. People without jobs, and self employed are at a huge disadvantage regarding health care coverage. In my opinion it discourages entrepreneurship and small business, the very thing the right says they want to promote ironically.

But, your second point; well, I guess generally birth control is a don’t ask don’t tell type issue among Catholics. You’re right that it is being inconsistent in a way. Hmmm?...

@Espiritus_Corvus I agree the law of the land trumps religious law. But, the argument is whether the law is a fair law that respects our expectations of church and state.

YoBob's avatar

@nikipedia – Should Christian Scientists be able to offer insurance plans that only pay for faith healing? Of course!

As for me, I believe in the power of the open market. Nobody is forcing anybody to purchase health insurance from a plan that only pays for faith healing. I suspect that such a plan would have a hard time competing in a free market.

This actually brings up another relevant point that is making me re-consider my opinion. I’m not so sure that this is, in fact, a free market. If you are employed by the Christian Scientists and the group plans available to their employees only cover faith healing then what alternative do you have but to purchase much more expensive private insurance?

The question is not really one of whether the government can force a private institution to offer services that run counter to their core values, but rather to what extent the government can mandate minimum acceptable features in group plans available to it’s employees. A bit more of a conundrum and I’m not so sure where I stand here.

JLeslie's avatar

@YoBob This actually brings up another relevant point that is making me re-consider my opinion. I’m not so sure that this is, in fact, a free market. If you are employed by the Christian Scientists and the group plans available to their employees only cover faith healing then what alternative do you have but to purchase much more expensive private insurance?

This is my biggest problem with the current system. It is peddled as free market, but in actuality isn’t. It is controlled by big business. The individual is lost in the equation, basically at the mercy of those with more power, money, and control.

tedd's avatar

@YoBob The problem is that this isn’t the free market. You have to use the insurance your employer offers in most cases, simply because you can’t afford anything else. By making birth control, something even you in an earlier post claimed to be a good and positive thing, the standard, those people who have jobs working for religious based organizations won’t be stuck without an option for birth control.

It’s all just Republican fear mongering anyways. “Oh no, look at the president trying to suppress your religious beliefs!!!!” when the fact of the matter is most Catholics don’t even believe in banning contraceptives anymore. It’s ironic that the president and Dems are trying to give people more options, and the Republicans are attacking it as suppression.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie Amen… Big Business is turning into an oligarchy, and they’ve fooled conservatives into thinking that they’re protecting the “free market”... when all they’re really doing is consolidating their own power.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I don’t see how this plan, as bad as this nonsingle-payer, corporate-dispensed national healthcare plan is, holds a gun to anyone’s head to take advantage of the contraceptive option. Nikipedia is right; it’s the opposition’s fear mongering and nothing more than a sideshow. If they didn’t have this to distract and divide their weak-minded, TV-obsessed, and willfully ignorant constituencies from the fact that there is really only one political party in the US (comprising of the moderate and conservative wings of the corporate party), they would jusdt drag up flag burning again. Works every time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I think for the church it is akin to providing abortion services at a Catholic hospital. The church is very extreme on how it views “life” to the point of preventing pregnancy is practically conspiring to commit murder. It is illogical in the extreme in my opinion, because they are ok with natural methods seemingly, but still this is how they see the issue from a religious perspective.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes. If their religion forbid vaccinations, should we just respect their wishes?

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry Pretty sure we do in a lot of cases. I think a lot of states have exemptions for vaccinations for religious reasons. I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t, just saying we have those sorts of exemptions.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Of course they should. If their religion doesn’t allow them to treat their employees at least as well as everyone else does, perhaps they should get out of the employee-having business.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It doesn’t what the Church wants. Their followers can forego contraception if they wish. They are not forced to take the pill or get abortions under this plan, they are, however, trying to dictate to the larger masses in this case by lobbying to stymie the only healthcare plan many, at least 40 million of our most indigent people can afford—as bad as it is.

American Catholics decided years ago to ignore admonitions against contraceptives. Today they should ignore the church’s attack on the Affordable Care Act. Where, I wonder, is the moral outrage at the death and suffering caused by lack of insurance? Where is the concern for families bankrupted by medical bills? What is the morality of denying coverage because of a prior diagnosis?

These moral dilemmas occur every day.

As for the benifits of contraception, I look toward Brazil. Their insistence, against church doctrine, to legalize and provide contraception vastly improved the lives of all Brazilians, especially women. No institution has the right to prevent such gains from reaching the greater population.

Qingu's avatar

If they employ the general public and provide services for the general public, yes, absolutely.

The religious affiliation of my employer should not dictate what kind of medical coverage I’m entitled to as an employee. If you think it should, then ask yourself what would happen if a scientologist or a Christian scientist becomes your boss and says you can’t have coverage for psychiatry or any medicine whatsoever.

wundayatta's avatar

I want to know where this free market in health insurance is. Or even where people think it could be.

Hospitals are forced to care for everyone, whether or not they have insurance. So what would happen if there’s only private insurance? Who pays for the care of those without insurance?

Should the government have any role in insuring people, or should we get rid of Medicare and Medicaid and the Veterans health programs, too?

The only way to have a free private health insurance market would be to get rid of all those programs, it seems to me. We’d also have to remove the mandate forcing hospitals to care regardless of ability to pay.

Ok. Real world time. Raise your hands if you think any of that has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening.

There is no free market in health insurance and there can be no such market. The solution lies elsewhere. People who espouse the free market approach are not be useful in this debate.

Qingu's avatar

@YoBob, your belief in the power of the open market to provide adequate health care for a broad public strikes me as similar to a fundamentalist Catholic’s belief that any form of birth control is a sin.

Both are essentially religious cult beliefs that have no evidence to support them. Evidence everywhere shows that public health care and birth control decrease human suffering dramatically.

It’s not surprising that such beliefs tend to be held jointly by right-wingers.

Qingu's avatar

And maybe we should talk about the elephant in the room.

The Catholic church’s position against birth control is wrong, stupid, and dangerous.

This is readily apparent to pretty much any thinking person, including the vast majority of Catholics that use birth control.

Why people think the US government should give credence in its public policy to the insane theology of the criminal cult that brought us the Inquisition, the Crusades, and most recently an international conspiracy to protect child-rapists among its ranks, is completely beyond me.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu Ok, but to be fair, if we’re going back as far as the Inquisition, we really should be bringing up all the crap the Protestants did around the same time.

YoBob's avatar

@Qingu -

“The Catholic church’s position against birth control is wrong, stupid, and dangerous..”

That may very well be so, but your opinion in that regard is rather irrelevant. The Catholics have every bit as much right to be misguided as you do.

As to the open market, I suppose you would prefer some back room bean counter in DC to decide what health care options that are right for you rather than being able to exercise your fundamental right to make those decisions for yourself?

JLeslie's avatar

So, should Catholic hospitals be forced to allow tubal blocks and vasectomies? They don’t perform them typically. A woman who wants to get her tubes “tied” has to enter the request into their ethical board for approval, and she better have a reason along the lines of pregnancies will risk her life, if she wants to get approval. My Catholic girlfiend had to go to a different hospital than where she usually gets her care to get it done.

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I’m happy to do that if there are Protestant public-facing organizations that are invoking Protestant theology to avoid following the law.

My general point was that this isn’t supposed to work. Rastafarians cannot carve out an exemption to the “weed is illegal” rule by invoking their religion of Rastafarianism. Menonites and Muslims cannot carve out an exemption towards paying taxes that go towards killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan by invoking their religious beliefs.

Hell, if I had my way, churches would have to pay property taxes. I’m uncomfortable enough with the current kowtowing to the random branches of ideology that we deem “religion” as it is. This is a bridge too far.

@YoBob, glad to see you’re trotting out the old “that’s just, like, your opinion, man” argument. It’s also my opinion that the earth revolves around the sun, which the Catholic Church also happened to disagree with up until the mid-1800’s. The thing about opinions is that some of them are worth having and others aren’t.

As for your “bean counter” example, it boggles my mind that you are still trotting out this kind of bullshit after how many years engaging on this issue on Fluther? Have you simply not been paying attention the whole time or do you not care? Because I’m sure you’ve heard the counterargument to this: the status quo gives bean counters for my employer’s insurance company deciding what health care options are right, and these bean counters are less efficient and provide worse care for greater cost than government bean counters in other countries. If I had to choose between bean counters, I would prefer bean counters who are not operating under a profit motive to screw me out of coverage when I get sick.

JLeslie's avatar

@YoBob I have to agree the government would be imperfect if they provided all health care, but I believe in my soul the main intention would be to care for the health of the public, even if they screw it up some, and have to constantly tweak the system. The main intent of the health insurance companies is to make money. If the health business got to the point profits could not be made, the insurers would close up shop and dissapear, they would not stick around because people need healthcare. Not to mention big business is just as imperfect at doling out the policies and care, I think worse. If I could go back to being cared for in the military system, I would go.

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie, if a Catholic hospital has a monopoly or near monopoly for health care in a given area, then yes, they should be forced to provide adequate health care for the public they serve.

If a Catholic hospital exists alongside nearby hospitals that are not run by an insane religious cult then it would not be so much of an issue if they want to deny certain kinds of care on the basis of that cult. I don’t know how often this happens.

My understanding is that most Catholic hospitals are sufficiently public-facing and employ sufficient numbers of non-Catholics that there is a real danger of the institution discriminating against the people it employs and serves. I mean, we’re not talking about a church, we’re talking about an essential public service. Frankly, I’m wary of even having “Catholic” or “Jewish” hospitals in the first place. They should just be hospitals.

Qingu's avatar

@GoldieAV16, I just saw that too. So if a Catholic wants to run a local Taco Bell, that good Catholic should get to deny his employees health insurance coverage that runs counter to his good Catholic morals against birth control.

The problem here, that I don’t think people on the right really understand, is that America is not really a “free country” in some absolutist sense. I am not actually “free” to choose to work for another company. I can try, but even trying entails substantial costs. Sometimes there are simply no other jobs, sometimes I simply cannot move to find another job. And this is a problem because Americans mostly get their health care through their employers.

The right-wing is fine with employers basically acting like feudal lords. They are fine with an America organized into corporate fiefdoms with those businesses ruling over their employees. Because, in the conservative imagination, those employees are “free” to choose another line of work on a whim if they don’t like their employer. Since this is demonstrably bullshit, liberals tend to worry about employers treating employees poorly and denying them basic rights. Liberals also think health care is a basic right.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu Yes, I know. It bothers me a great deal, believe me. There have been cases of raped women who are not offered the day after treatment to prevent a pregnancy. One case the girl, who was young, did not realize it is standard practice in most places, and did not even understand she had the option. She wound up pregnant. She was suing the hospital, because she philosophically has no problem with that type of pregnancy prevention, but is against abortion. She is suing for not being informed of the option, even if she would have had to go elsewhere for the medication. It sickens me, that especially in communities where only one hospital is available the plethora of medical care might not be available. You have probably seen me write that if I were pregnant, being high risk, I would be very nervous to do the pregnancy where I live. My hospitals are Catholic, Methodist, and Baptist here. I’d rather be in a community where I feel securely my life is put first if I am pregnant.

But, I am conflicted, because of the issue of church and state. Maybe the religious businesses will stop thriving if they don’t offer the services and they don’t get the public money? Would that be so bad?

Qingu's avatar

I think the issue of “church and state” is hopeless and we should just drop it.

There is a state. The state has laws. There are ideological organizations. Some of these organizations are religions. Some of them aren’t. People in these organizations have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and all of the other freedoms given to citizens. None of them, however, are free to break the law.

And if the people in such ideological organizations believe a law is unfair, they can work through the democratic process and try to change the law. Ideally with facts and rational arguments.

tedd's avatar

@YoBob I would be thrilled to have some “back room bean counter in DC” decide a good health insurance plan for me. Frankly I find it sickening that the main goal of the companies we have left in control of ensuring we get proper medical care is not to make sure we get proper medical care, but to make sure they turn as large a profit as possible. And you’re a damned fool if you think you have any choice right now. The options are so incredibly expensive, that 90% of Americans can’t afford health insurance unless it’s through their employer.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu I agree the state has laws, and the law of the land trumps church, as I stated above, but I am not sure I can go as far as dump the church and state issue. I’m conflicted I guess.

Qingu's avatar

I just think the issue is framed in an antiquated way. In the 1700’s the major ideological driving forces of the world were religions. It was common for European states to establish official religious sects. It was common for members of non-official religious sects to be persecuted for their beliefs.

Non-religious ideologies that could deeply influence politics, like Marxism, didn’t exist at the time. So the founding fathers framed it as an issue of “church and state,” not “ideology and state.”

It was a valid issue. But there’s nothing in the logic of the issue that is particular to the idea of a religion. Any ideological belief—religious, Marxist, anti-copyright, anti-war, whatever—should be protected under freedom of speech and assembly. The US government should not have an “official” ideology such that people who don’t belong to that ideology (like Marxists) are persecuted for their beliefs.

In other words, I’m not opposed to the separation of church and state; I simply think this issue is too narrowly defined because there’s nothing special about “churches” that doesn’t apply equally to other ideological organizations.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu Interesting. I’ve never heard that explanation before. Has me thinking. Thanks.

SpatzieLover's avatar


I agree with @zenvelo on all points and with @Goldie.

One more reason I feel strongly about this issue: Women often need birth control for serious health issues. Just because it’s called birth control doesn’t mean that’s neccessarily what it’s being prescribed for.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No. It’s a bit discriminatory but if you want to abide by those religious principles then I guess you also abide by their restrictions.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’m thinking in many cases the Catholic church would not agree the reasons are good enough, and since the side effect is it prevents pregnancy, they would not go for it. I’m just guessing by what I know and have heard. When my MIL went to her fairly old, Catholic doctor about her very heavy bleeding ever time she picked up a grocery bag, he said, “we can’t remove your uteris, you could still have more children.” She had lost two in about the 5th month of pregnancy, and then my husband was born in the seventh month. she was just a vessel to that doctor. Worth risking her life and health on the possibility of more babies. She already had three children, but that was not enough for that doctor. And, what about that story of the nun who was excommunicated fairly recently because she helped a woman terminate her pregnancy because her health was in danger. She already had children and wanted her baby, but her life was at risk.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No. The insurance they offer is a benefit.

mattbrowne's avatar

In Germany Catholic schools and hospitals have to offer birth control to its employees. It part of the public health insurance system. Catholic schools also have offer sex education. The state controls the curriculum to protect the children. All pharmacies have to sell contraceptives.

bkcunningham's avatar

Matt, what about abortion in Germany. Does your public health insurance cover abortions for all women?

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, but only after mandatory pregnancy counseling and compliance with the formal approval procedure.

This led to a huge scandal, because in 1998 the Pope prohibited pregnancy counseling linked to the formal approval procedure for all Catholic institutions in Germany. Most of our Catholic politicians were outraged about this.

I was looking for statistics but if I recall correctly a significant portion of pregnant women decide not to have an abortion as a result of professional pregnancy counseling. One reason is that many women are not aware of all the support available for young mothers for example for finishing their education.

I was looking for an English article but this Wikipedia entry was not translated. Maybe it’s still useful

keobooks's avatar

What gets me really honked off about this debate is that when I listen to the right wing talk shows in my area, they have screwed up the facts until they sound ridiculous. One local show is claiming that liberals are demanding that their bosses supply free birth control pills and condoms to all their employees.

I know that isn’t at the heart of debate, but to many people in my area, those talk shows are their main source of current event information. It sickens me that some people would twist a debate so out of proportion so that nobody in their right mind would support it.

tedd's avatar

@keobooks Welcome to the sad current philosophy of right wing politics. Lie, and throw as much sh*t at the wall as possible. Something is bound to stick.

bkcunningham's avatar

@keobooks, what started this debate if it wasn’t a government mandate for employers to supply contraceptives to their employees?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@bkcunningham A government mandate for employers to supply insurance that fully covers contraceptives to their employees. But the actual employers are doing no handing out of contraceptives, any more than when they provide insurance that covers heart surgery, they’re performing heart surgery on their employees in the lunchroom.

bkcunningham's avatar

Who do you think is paying for these thing, @Aethelflaed? Of course no one, well maybe a handful of uninformed, confused people, but the majority of people don’t believe their employers are handing out prescription drugs to them. EDIT: They understand the employer is purchasing, or was suppose to purchase that type of insurance policy for them.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, do you think a Muslim boss should have to pay for his employees to see doctors of the opposite sex?

Do you think a scientologist boss should have to pay for insurance that covers mental health and psychiatric drugs?

I’m confused as to what your moral principle is here. Every employer gets to pick and choose which insurance they cover for their employees based on religious beliefs? Or just Christians?

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t think a boss should “have” to pay for anything for her employees, @Qingu, except a wage. I personally don’t think I like the fact that elected representatives get to set that wage at a minimum.

Qingu's avatar

Do you think employees should be able to fire people for getting pregnant, not hire people because they are black, and try to convert their employees to their religion during office hours?

How far does your laissez-faire attitude towards worker-employer relations extend?

bkcunningham's avatar

OMG @Qingu. Seriously? You want to do the, let’s imagine game? Use a little commonsense and stick to the issue at hand. Do you think that the POTUS has the Constitutional right to tell employers to provide contraceptives to their employees?

JLeslie's avatar

I kind of don’t want the government telling employers what to include in insurance either. I want a government option that has great coverage instead, and a mandate that jobs must pay or reimburse employees the money now used for health benefits, and let people stop being enslaved to their jobs and employers because they need health insurance.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Although I am agreeing with you to some extent, I don’t think @Qingu is so far off base. The point is the government does dictate to some extent business practices. And, his point about would we go along with Muslim beliefs in health coverage seems like a valid question.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, POTUS has the constitutional right to enforce law. Congress passed the “Obamacare” law several years ago now.

Likewise, Congress has passed many laws over the years regulating the relationship between workers and employers. If you object to all of these laws, that’s one thing, which is why I asked.

More broadly: we all have to pay money towards things we don’t believe in in America. I had to pay money towards fighting the Iraq War. This is why we have elections.

bkcunningham's avatar

So your answer is yes, @Qingu?

Qingu's avatar

Yes, he does; reproductive health care was part of HCR we signed into law.

If you’re actually asking if I think this law is unconstitutional because it contradicts freedom of religion, no, I don’t. I don’t believe organizations or companies have freedom of religion. I believe individuals have freedom of religion. You as an individual are not required to buy birth control pills.

Furthermore: I think it’s completely warped that people think “freedom of religion” means “my boss’s freedom to deny me access health care based on his or her religion.” (Though I guess it’s not surprising that the organization that came up with the Inquisition would understand “freedom of religion” this way.)

bkcunningham's avatar

See, that is the part that bothers me, “my boss’s freedom to deny me.” Your boss shouldn’t be obligated by the US Congress, the POTUS or the Supreme Court to supply you with insurance.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu Is not offering coverage the same as denying access in this case? I’m fuzzy on this, because if the insurance did not cover necessary surgery of chemo for a cancer patient, I would say not offering coverage is akin to denying access, because it is so cost prohibitive, but I am not sure I feel the same about birth control. This is fundamentally against the church, I hate twisting their arm to provide it. And, if the company in question is self insured, as my husband’s company is, then it is their insurance. For instance, my husband’s company decides the policy, what they will cover, and then they hire BCBS or Cigna, or name a company to administer the policy. They are not buying the policy from the health insurance company, they only pay the “insurance” company to do the paper pushing and receive the calls.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie Birth control can be more expensive than you think, especially for those with lower incomes. And the lower the income, the more likely it is that they’ll need government assistance when the baby comes. Paying for birth control is always cheaper (for the patient, for the government, for the insurance company) than paying for a pregnancy and then another person.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, but that’s a separate and arguably more basic issue. Here is the reality of modern America:

1. Employee-employer relations are highly regulated
2. Most people get health insurance through their jobs.

@JLeslie, Again, I don’t care what “the church” is against. I care what an individual is against. An individual does not have to get birth control.

Let’s say you’re on psychiatric medication, and like most Americans you get insurance through your job. Then let’s say you get a new boss who is a Scientologist. Scientologists believe deeply that psychiatry is evil. So he cuts your benefits and suddenly you have to pay hundreds of dollars more per month for medicine or find another job?

Or let’s say your boss doesn’t actually have any strong religious beliefs, but he just wants to save the company money by not paying for benefits. So he cites a religious objection to those benefits, and suddenly the employees have to pay out of pocket or individual plans?

If you want to change the structure of health care in America so it doesn’t go through employers, I’m all for it. Let’s have single payer. BUt that’s not the reality we’re faced with.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu All very good points. This is the very reason I hate how our healthcare system is set up. I have a fantasy of it getting a big overhaul, but I guess maybe the only reasonable thing is to work within the shitty system with little tweaks, which is what Obama has compromised to do. But, I am extremely upset and dissatisfied, so I kick and scream a little about how things are done. I guess you are better at accepting the realty than I am. I have this problem with a lot of things. I still feel uneasy about the church and state thing, but you gave me a lot to think about, and your points are very sound and logical to me.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I agree. I’d rather have a single-payer government plan than force employers to cover certain medical benefits. But, there are next to zero people who are against forcing religious institutions or even all employers to cover birth control, but are for a single-payer system. So, somehow, this does end up being the compromise.

wundayatta's avatar

Even under a single-payer system, we would be facing these issues. The decision of what to cover is a political decision. Should birth control be a covered benefit? Assisted fertility treatments? Plastic surgery? Those will all be issues we face and would have to decide about as a polity.

Blackberry's avatar

@wundayatta Which is why this will never happen here, lol.

Qingu's avatar

I dunno. Considering 99% of women use birth control, including 98% of Catholic women, I think the politics are in favor of covering it.

I mean, the main constituency opposed to covering birth control appears to be a small cult of ostensibly celibate male priests.

Blackberry's avatar

Makes sense, as it seem their survival is dependent on steady flow of children into their organization.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, I hope you were being facetious about 99 percent of women using birth control. According to Guttmacher, 62 percent of childbearing age, 15–44, use “a method” of birth control.

Qingu's avatar

“Virtually all women (more than 99%) aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.”

“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.”

“Among the 43 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception.”

We can quibble on how the statistics are put. My point stands.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, I won’t quibble with you. Your point that “99% of women use birth control” isn’t true. The quote says, “Virtually all women (more than 99%) aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.”

”...have used at least one contraceptive method…” That is totally different than saying that 99 percent of women use birth control.

Of the 62 percent who use “a method, I wonder how many use the pull-out method, abstinence, outercourse, the morning-morning after pill, abortion, charting and other calendar methods…

I’m also curious, and can’t find the stats, on how many women in America get their contraceptives from state operated health departments.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, no, what I said is true in one sense. 99% of American women have used birth control.

Obviously, 99% of American women are not currently using birth control (because some people are infertile, some people are trying to get pregnant, etc). Which is how you understood my statement for god knows what reason.

As for your question on what kinds of contraceptive methods are included in the study, you make a good point, actually. The answer is found in your own source. It does not include abortion or the morning after pill. “Withdrawal” (I’m assuming this means pullout) accounts for 5.2%. Periodic abstinence (the rhythm method) counts for about 1%. I was surprised to see they included these methods in the study. They’re mitigated (probably only slightly) by the fact that 13.5% of women report dual use.

Though, my overall point still stands; the rhythm method and pull-out count for very small percentages of “contraceptive method” use. (And what is the Catholic Church’s position on the pullout method?)

Qingu's avatar

Oh. And to answer your other question: “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.”

Edit: I guess I should reiterate what my “general point” is. The Catholic Church is opposed to buying birth control because it believes artificial birth control is evil. When I said “99% of women use birth control,” my point was that the vast majority of women clearly do not believe this. Based on your source, I should have worded that better, especially since the study in question is counting pullout and the rhythm method as “contraception” (though only about 6%).

But the fact is that most women, the vast majority, clearly disagree with the Church. Which probably isn’t surprising since the Church is a patriarchal cult.

bkcunningham's avatar

Thank you for delving inton the site and answering the question for me, @Qingu.

keobooks's avatar

I saw the other day that Obama has said that if the religious institution refuses to pay for the birth control, the insurance company still has to provide it on their own dime. Yet religious people are STILL mad about this. I don’t get it. If the insurance company is paying for it and the religious institution is not, what is there left to moan about? It’s not religious freedom to refuse your employees convenient access to birth control. People who at almost all of these institutions mentioned are not required to be of the same faith as the employer, by the way.

tedd's avatar

@keobooks Their argument is that now the insurance company will just pass the cost on to the religious groups via higher premiums. There is some truth in that, in that despite the fact that contraceptives save insurance companies money in the long run (as they’re way cheaper than babies and birth).. many will use any excuse they can to make an extra buck on you.

JLeslie's avatar

I heard someone on TV say that if it was men being refused vasectomies it would be different. She felt because it is a woman’s issue there was more of an uproar. I can’t imagine health insurance provided by the church provides coverage for vasectomies. Does it? I think it is more likely this angry liberal was saying anything she thought sounded good, that whole line also about women need BC for some illnesses, not only pregnancy prevention, but then she added that on the end about the vasectomies and I thought: come on. But, it would be interesting if that was somehow overlooked by the church on some of these insurance policies and they actually do cover the procedure for men.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve not heard about vasectomies… But the churches’ argument against female birth control is that it wastes the egg. It’s their same argument for why you shouldn’t masturbate as a guy, you’re just wasting your semen.. and that’s unholy, blah blah blah.

With a vasectomy, they just cut the cords so nothing is coming out semen wise.. Not sure what their stance is on that, but it wouldn’t shock me if they were ok with it.. ironically enough.

Qingu's avatar

Speaking as a man, at least, I don’t think that men’s reproductive health is symmetrical with women’s.

There’s a lot of shit that us dudes just don’t have to deal with. Most notably the whole pregnancy thing.

keobooks's avatar

One interesting thing I’ve heard. Most of these institutions already cover birth control because of State mandates or the members of the parish voted for it. This is actually a non-issue for most members of the Catholic church except for some tea-party types who oppose it not because it’s birth control, but because it’s being mandated on the Federal level instead of the State level or allowing church boards to vote on their own.

I heard one guy theorize on Diane Rheme a week or so back that this would be almost completely uncontroversial except that it’s an election year and its good stump speech material for the Republican candidates.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@keobooks Well, I think a certain amount of it is just that the Church tends to not listen to most members of the Church, instead opting to listen to the few White Celibate Dudes in Robes.

keobooks's avatar

@Aethelflaed What I am saying is that most of these institutions are already offering the service right now as we speak. Many of them are doing it because of State mandates. Some are doing it because parishioners on their church board voted to do it. Right now more than a vast majority of these institutions are currently offering these services as we speak.

And UNTIL now, nobody cared or said anything about it. Now suddenly people are all up in arms and talking about dying for their freedom not to offer birth control pills—even though they are already doing it right this very minute.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks It seems to me that if states were doing it anyway, probably what makes the whole thing a bad idea on a federal level is politics. Meaning, Obama put himself out there to be criticized on the matter.

keobooks's avatar

@JLeslie – I agree with you on that. I think the sentiment is good. I think he wanted to make sure that there were no cracks that companies could slip through. I think that he thought because almost all companies do it anyway, nobody would mind. But because it deals with religion, birth control AND States rights vs Federal law.. what did he THINK would happen.

BTW, offering birth control to everyone is new. I remember in the late 90s having to get a special doctor’s note so my insurance company would cover it. It’s always been available if your doctor claims it’s not for birth control. You can get it to control menstrual cramps and some folk actually take it to increase their fertility. If a woman doesn’t have regular periods and she wants to get pregnant, she can take the pill for a year to kick start her cycles. You can also take it for premenstrual depression and to regulate your estrogen levels.

And it’s really easy for a doctor to make the claim. So either way.. I think you’ll get your birth control if you really need it. Things like the IUD will get some trouble. But I do wonder if you could get birth control like that if you can make the claim that getting pregnant would be physically dangerous for you.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks I had heard that before, meaning back in the 80’s and 90’s that BC was not covered under some insurance plans. I have always had BC covered under every plan I have ever had, so I really wonder how true it is that it was not covered, and how widespread. The big complaint we had back in the 90’s among the women I knew was some plans not allowing GYN to be a primary doctor under the HMO plans.

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