Contraception is pretty damn important to a woman’s health

 

So our healthcare system is all screwed up for innumerable reasons like the fact that we have to get insurance from our employers. We have the whole thing rigged with middle-men and price controls and protectionism. On top of that it’s an unfair system that leaves too many people out in the cold. Maybe part of the problem here is the government getting involved in utterly ridiculous ways over the years – an ad hoc approach that has left a terrible tangle in its wake.

The other problem is that too many people think that we can get healthcare to people without government assistance, which I just don’t think is true. I’m fine with using markets to get the pricing mechanism working again, but I want the state to help people get basic access to care and to make sure nobody is without life-saving coverage and that nobody goes bankrupt.

It seems painfully obvious to me that a fundamental piece of a woman’s basic healthcare needs is her ability to have some modicum of control over her own body. Contraception is extremely important to many women (and their families) and having the ability to have access to contraception is a basic individual right in today’s world.

What about before there even was contraception? Well, women were much worse off in general back then, and the lack of an ability to have control over their own bodies was a big part of it (not long ago it was perfectly legal to rape your wife, for instance.) Women were also worse off before they had a right to vote – even when nobody had a right to vote. Rights are not always eternal. Sometimes they emerge with new systems of government, new notions about our humanity, new technologies. Sometimes people want to take them away.

In this day and age, we’ve basically put together a piecemeal social contract and a part of that contract is to protect individual rights. We’ve also agreed to protect religious freedom. Fortunately for religious freedom, nobody is forcing anybody to actually take contraception.

What’s happening in the current debate is that people are simply saying that the individual right of women is just as important as religious freedom. And as with something like the Civil Rights Act, these freedoms need to be weighed against one another to some degree. With the Civil Rights Act we decided that the right of all races to be treated equally in the public and private sector outweighed the right of white people to discriminate against black people. A similar debate is going on with regards to contraception.

The administration’s compromise in all of this was to tell insurance companies that they had to act in their own best interest and provide money-saving contraception to women. It’s a win for everybody even if the end result means that workers have one less thing that bosses can hold over their heads, and that the individual rights of women come before the rights of religious employers. Not everything can be a clean win. Not everyone is going to be happy. That’s just life.

I feel the same way about the ACA in general. It didn’t fix our problems with healthcare and it may make some of those problems more entrenched, but it does move us toward something a little bit more fair and it may eventually mean that workers won’t have to depend as much on their employers for health benefits. That’s a win in my book. When we can align worker rights and worker autonomy with individual rights I think we’re moving in the right direction.

Ditto that for sexual equality.

(cross-posted)

 

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188 thoughts on “Contraception is pretty damn important to a woman’s health

            • my winger friends love nalin palin and the entire palin porn genre.  my attempts to find out why this is or whether it undercuts her position as a goper intellectual heavyweight are met with claims that i must be a homosexual.

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              • haha!

                I know the guy who talked the studio into doing that film. He said that they initially refused because they figured Palin-looka-likes would be doing it all over the web. He pointed out that most wingers don’t have that type of internet access (or sophistication).

                … after that, a friend of his came looking for a “Palin Wig”… guess what wig she got? uhhuh (they washed it before putting it on camera again).

                 

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                • yikes!

                  i did notice that once palin dropped out of the race, the pailn porn genre dropped off of the email convos i have with those guys.  i fully expect it to pick back up the closer we get to the inevitability of the palin/perry v. jeb/rubio cage match brokered convention.

                  maybe someday lil’ grifter bristol (aka Tit Shimmy h/t TBogg) will get a movie made about her DWTS brush with fame.

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        • TVD,

          yes, it is a right. And in at least one Industrialized Country, it is a right that people approach the way Americans approached alcohol during Prohibition.

          Most people around here stand against the Drug War. Do you really want to start the same thing over Birth Control Pills???

          My mind shudders at the consequences. There are plenty of folks who want to ban contraception right alongside abortion — and its a really stupid idea.

           

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          • Kim, Griswold v Connecticut [1965] makes Mr. Kain’s assertion true on its face.  Whether “access” means I or the state or the Catholic Church must buy it for you is a whole ‘nother mountain to climb—indeed the difference between negative [the state can’t stop you] and positive [the state must ensure you get it] rights.

            So let’s not go all turnip truck on this—contraception is not going to be banned, not even by President Santorum.

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            • Health insurance provided by your employers is not a favor granted by the employers because they are wonderful, generous people. It’s part of the compensation package, along with your salary. So in a way, that’s YOUR money (i.e. the employees’ money) that is being used to pay for the evil, sinful contraception, not the employers’ money.

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              • Health insurance provided by your employers is not a favor granted by the employers because they are wonderful, generous people. It’s part of the compensation package, along with your salary. So in a way, that’s YOUR money (i.e. the employees’ money) that is being used to pay for the evil, sinful contraception, not the employers’ money.

                Employers are also relatively constrained here, because if they start offering very strange or unreliable coverage, they will have difficulty attracting new workers.  Everything has to be more or less the same.

                This is also why we should just pay people in money, not in kind.  If everyone’s take-home pay consisted of sandwiches, you can bet the sandwich market would be craptastic too.

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                  • It’s entirely possible for European healthcare systems to do better by lots of different standards than our own.  I think some of them do, in fact, including France’s, but not the UK’s.

                    This isn’t the interesting question to me, however.  What I’d like to know is how much more innovation there might be, how much more competition on price, and how much more access to treatment there might be with a greater role for consumers to choose health plans based on these factors.

                    As things stand, most people don’t really get a choice in their health care coverage.  In this it’s unlike almost any other good I can think of, unlike any other form of insurance, and not to any particular socially necessary end either.  (Progressives:  Corporations pick people’s health care, not the all-wise government!)

                     

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                    • This isn’t the interesting question to me, however.  What I’d like to know is how much more innovation there might be, how much more competition on price, and how much more access to treatment there might be with a greater role for consumers to choose health plans based on these factors.

                      From whence comes this over-arching reliance on consumers’ judgement? Does the company that sells the most cheeseburgers make the best cheeseburgers? (Substitute “cars” or “novels” or whatever in that question.)

                      Given our (the consumers’) evident susceptibility for 30-second ads that successfully sell us everything from crappy sandwiches to crappy politicians, what makes you think that our choices, en masse, for something as complicated and esoteric as health plans will work out well?

                      (Best cheeseburger I ever had: Nick’s – a little diner that used to be in the shadow of the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood.)

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                    • From whence comes this over-arching reliance on consumers’ judgement? Does the company that sells the most cheeseburgers make the best cheeseburgers?

                      That’s neither required nor implicit in what I’m saying.

                      All I am saying — and I don’t really think we’re so far apart — is that you could never have gotten that fantastic cheesburger at Nick’s if your employer had done all your meal planning for you.  Things would be even worse if he had to plan in conjunction with some remote megacorporation (McAetna’s?) that ultimately cares not the least bit about your health… err… palate.

                      Right now you have almost no choice. Your employer almost certainly makes all the big decisions for you, choosing off of a menu that caters to his needs, not to yours.

                      I’m saying that introducing some choice on your part would probably be a good idea.  That’s all.  If a Nick’s is going to emerge, that’s how it will happen.

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                    • I think it IS an overreliance on “consumer choice”.

                      Consumer choice is fine for consumer goods. Healthcare isn’t a consumer good and can’t possibly be.

                      All the factors that make up informed choice when picking a car or toaster are absent when faced with a biopsy; you don’t really understand the field no matter how frantically you Google “Cancer, WTF-do-I-do-now??” and you can’t really comparison shop or make informed choices and you MOST DEFINITELY cannot “leave the marketplace”.

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                • Here’s one case where the Libertarians ought to pick up the cudgels and whale away on the perversity of employer-based insurance of any sort.   I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the concept of employer-based insurance arose in response to the WW2 restrictions on wages rises at Kaiser Steel.

                  Why do we tolerate it as a nation?   The Law of Large Numbers reveals the idiocy of employer-offered insurance.   A firm with ten employees pays about twice what a firm with a hundred;  the rates are governed by the Pool of Lives.   The one-off health care insurance policy is a colossal rip-off.

                  If all the employers banded together, they could break the backs of these highly-profitable Health Insurance Scams.   That’s right, scams.   Big Healthco plays games with the numbers, acting as if the millions they already insure are no sure guide to rates.   Conversely, Obromneycare is another good way out of this mess:  if everyone’s obliged to participate, rates also go down for everyone.

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                    • Big Healthco is nothing but a collection of unregulated banks.   What other industry do you know which gets to collect money on a regular basis (accounting calls this an annuity), invest it all in other schemes, making enormous profits thereby — but Heaven forbid you should actually attempt to make a claim.   First, they won’t actually pay anything until this Deductible is first paid, as nasty a bit of Newspeak as was ever composed.    Thereupon, they’ll routinely deny your claim on the first pass, (EDI 837) which requires some interesting go-arounds, ask any medical facility claims administrator about this hideous process.

                      And they won’t pay anything a day sooner than whatever the law requires.

                      But should they pay, they’ll jack up the rates on everyone else in your life pool.     They’re not insurance companies.   They’re unregulated banking and investment institutions.   We put up with their crap because we’re too stupid to realize there’s any other way of doing it as a society and so goddamn credulous we make fun of other countries for managing this stunt effectively.    And should anyone attempt to reform this process, Big Healthco will spend billions to provoke these ignorant jackasses rise to their hind legs to bray  “Soshalizum!”

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                    • BlaiseP,

                      Speaking as someone who works in Big Healthco — what other industry do you have a company voluntarily following Sarbanes Oxley?

                      They ain’t all rotgut bastards. not all of them deny all claims.

                      Some are bad apples, others aren’t.

                      And all non-profits are required to be banks/investment companies, I think — they’ve gotta show that they’ve bankrolled in case of a drop in market usage.

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                    • Kim:  yes they are all bastards.   I’ve done five BC/BS franchises and the Association.   The rulesets which govern claims denial, there are more of them than the mitzvot, are all mine.  I’ve done Celtic Life which offered COBRA coverage for a few pennies a life per month, only to give a go-away policy to those who attempted to pick it up:  only the terminally ill ever took it, a pure profit proposition.  I’ve never seen such a huge pile of inefficiency and waste and pernicious nonsense in all my life as Big Healthco.

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                    • Blaise,

                      Believe it or not, I know people who’ve done worse… Speaking as someone who has one of the best insurances in the country, they aren’t all bad (I think we’re in the top 10-15 hospital insurances in the country — that is to say, insurances that hospitals offer their staff).

                      Of course, we’ve kinda taken out the “insurance sucks hospital dry” concept around here. The insurance company is the hospital, you see — so a doublebilling by the hospital is seen as an inefficiency for the entire company — as is a claim denial (to the extent that it costs the hospital money, certainly not to the extent that it costs the customer pain/time!).

                      You know Highmark? They’re buying hospitals too around here.

                      I agree we ought to regulate these non-profits like they were banks…

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        • Agreed. Actually, it seems more relevant that ED’s initial arguments, which appeared to be “birth control is important to women” and “access to birth control is an individual right,” neither of which implies that “birth control is health care.” Lots of things that are important and lots of things that are rights are not health care. Considering that, for most women, control over fertility is about autonomy and not wellness, the fact that birth control pills can be used to treat/prevent illnesses and ailments (a pregnancy is neither of these) is very relevant to this debate. Having some legitimate therapeutic purpose, it’s hard to see how you would go about seeing to that Church-funded health insurance paid for one usage of the drug, and not the other.

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          • I’m curious as to how you make such a firm distinction between autonomy and wellness.  Plenty of things aren’t ailments per se but are covered by health insurance (for instance, prosthetic limbs).  If you don’t want to be pregnant, then becoming so is an avoidable medical problem.

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            • Also, plenty of medical procedures that involve what people want or don’t want to be true about their own bodies (say, cosmetic surgery or lasik) are not covered. I would say that health care should being with some baseline status of health, and it should treat those deviations from that status that constitute illnesses of ailments. Defining illness or ailment is, of course, subjective. I’d say a good test is the “gut” one — are we comfortable calling the condition to be remedied an illness or an ailment? If so, then the remedy constitutes health care. If not, then it doesn’t.

              The plasticity of these boundaries is an issue, though, as demonstrated by the recent dust-up over Komen and Planned Parenthood. I would wager that part of the reason PP offers things are more clearly “health care” (like referrals for breast cancer screenings) is to gain the rhetorical advantage of being able to group its more controversial services under an intentionally ambiguous heading of “women’s health services.” In other words, it associates things that we all agree are health care (being free from breast cancer) with things that we don’t agree are health care (being free from pregnancy,) for the purpose of implying that they’re all the same.

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              • I don’t think unanimity should be the standard for what counts as health care.  HHS made the right call in requiring contraceptive coverage (setting aside the issue of religious freedom for now, as you seem to be broadening the argument to whether it should be covered for anyone).  Contraceptive use is extremely widespread, has a significant cost, and helps avoid a medical condition that people frequently don’t want.  To exclude it from coverage altogether because of the moral disagreement of a small group of people (people who actually morally disapprove of contraception) is giving way too much deference to the concerns of a few over the needs of the many.

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                • I’m not suggesting unanimity be the standard, either. I’m just saying that we’re going to make a distinction, and one intuitive criterion to make that distinction would be around issues of illness, which are subject to greater consensus about definitions.

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                  • I don’t think that works, though.  I consider both A and B to be health conditions that are worthy of being covered under insurance; you consider only A to be such a condition.  Given that, it’s not intuitive at all, to me, to “compromise” on only covering A.

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        • I’m going to do something I probably shouldn’t and take this seriously, because I think you honestly misunderstand my post, and for reasons that I give a damn about correcting.

          “The debate is about whether birth control should be covered under health insurance.  This seems very relevant.”

          The debate is about birth control.  Not “alternate pharmaceutical uses for the hormones delivered by birth-control pills”.  Unless you think that we should use the Medical Marijuana excuse to get around the restriction (I’m not trying to avoid pregnancy, I just have a hormone-related illness!)

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          • As I understand it, using the pills for either reason is identical–that is, it would be impossible to ban their use for pregnancy-prevention but allow their use for cyst-prevention.  So yes, non-birth-control uses of the same product are absolutely relevant as to whether that product should be covered by health insurance.

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            • “it would be impossible to ban their use for pregnancy-prevention but allow their use for cyst-prevention.”

              This is almost certainly false.

              My wife had a terrible eye twitch that did not respond to any treatments. Eventually, the docotr told her the only way to get rid of it was with botox. It wasn’t easy. We needed the correct diagnosis, and we had to appeal to the insurance company. Eventually, it got covered. It would NOT have been covered for cosmetic purposes.

              This is fairly standard. The doctor cannot prescribe Lipitor because you think it’s delicious with roast beef. It would not get covered. But he can cover it for coronary issues, in which case it will be covered.

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      • It’s not irrelevant. The Catholic Church isn’t opposed to all uses of birth control pills, so it’s worth thinking about 1) the extent to which a mandate to purchase these pills requires, from the Church’s standpoint, proximate material cooperation with evil and 2) whether these other uses give an opening for Catholics to follow the mandate in good conscience.  Now maybe these “morally licit” uses don’t provide such an opening–that, I assume, would be the conclusion of the bishops–but the uses are nonetheless relevant to a moral analysis.

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  1. I’ve been following all the debate over this only generally (awfully busy in rl) but I would note that if this is a hill the GOP/Bishops/Conservatives decide to fight on I suspect they’re going to die on it. Contraception is enormously supported by the public in general and women specifically and while one can try and make it a religious freedom arguement it requires more words, explanation and logical leaps than your average voter is going to be willing to indulge in. Politically putting this to bed is a no-brainer.

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  2. i find it instructive that a large percentage of Catholic women find their health and ability to choose how to protect their health to be more important than church dogma.

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    • Instructive about what, and to whom? The “dogma” in question constitutes the professed belief of the Church, and many of those beliefs are protected by the First Amendment. Maybe their belief shouldn’t be respected in this case, but if not, it wouldn’t go be because some portion of the adherents of a Church do not follow that directive, even if that portion is “large.” As a matter of fact, observant Catholics break the Church’s dictates all the time — moreover, the Church knows about it and expects it to happen. That’s why masses often include penitential rites, and why most parishes offer Reconciliation services every week, while excommunications remain rare in most locales.

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      • instructive as to whether the church’s dogma is the tail or the dog.  its the tail.  instructive as to the wisdom of imposing a dogma that is not respected (to use your term) by the practicioners of the religion.

        your observation regarding adherence to dogma is central to my point (how goldbergian of me!)  they know it, expect it to happen, but argue that the dogma is sacrosanct.  only when they need it to be.

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        • As to your first point, the Church has the right to declare what its dogma shall be, regardless of whether or not any particular definition would be unwise, given what 51% of its adherents believe, The Church is not a democracy, and its undemocratic declarations still have Constitutional protection — the popularity of those declarations, even among their own members, not withstanding. That’s the difference having a right to practice a religion and being granted a privilege to do so (the former can’t be revoked, no matter if someone else doesn’t like what you do with it.)

          From a moral perspective, If the Church is to have a purpose at all, apart from merely being a barometer for the sentiments of its adherents, it should stake out  clear moral principles and stick to them. Any organization that claims to represent eternal truths can do no less.

          On your second point, I don’t understand what you mean by “sacrosanct.” Accepting that people sin, and offering them forgiveness for it, does not imply that you actually think that sinful behavior is acceptable — just the opposite, in fact. And we don’t usually force the Church to positively promote/subsidize anything else that they consider sinful, and with good reason.

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          • from a practical perspective, staking out clear moral principles which do not reflect the views and practices of its constituency is a losing proposition.  further, using the existence of the clear moral pricinciples that few follow or care about as a lever to undo policy which affects more than just the church or its consituents is an even stupider proposition.  i hope their ideological purity is enough because eventually it will be all they have.

            i’m about to get kicked out for discussing the practical perspective, aren’t i?  oh well.

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  3. Also worth noting – the Catholic Health Association – the arm of the Church that actually runs hospitals, clinics, etc. is just fine with the compromise.

    As long as we have a system where employers provide health care, what medical care a woman receives is between her and her doctor, not her and her boss. Period. End of story.

     

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      • Sister Keehan’s taken a different interpretation of healthcare policy than the bishops, and also taken positions contrary to theirs, but I wouldn’t call her an Obamite tool.  After all, she opposed the HHS mandate before the accommodation.

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          • We should definitely side with the men who endorsed and encouraged the molestation of children here and not the icky nun and her icky apparent disloyalty and her icky lady parts that at least have something to do with the medicine that we’re discussing.

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                • No, Sam, I said Sr. Keehan cannot speak for the church in disagreement with Mr. Knapp

                  the Catholic Health Association – the arm of the Church that actually runs hospitals, clinics, etc. is just fine with the compromise.

                  The CHA is not exactly an “arm” of the church.  The bishops are, but hey even they’re not the Pope and do not speak ex cathedra.

                  She can say what she wants, of course.  Perhaps God agrees with her, not the bishops.  But Sr. Keehan has overstepped in the past in similar fashion, inserting herself in the Stupak controversy.

                  Now that’s the part I’m not good with.  I saw Rep. Stupak on CSPAN and he seemed a really decent guy.  I think he got fooled by Obama and I think Sr. Keehan is a useful idiot with all that entails.  I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for her and her opinions, and she really has no place in this controversy or the Stupak one.

                  I’m not quite siding with the bishops on the contraception issue, either, only that they have a 1st Amendment right to resist the state’s coercion.  I hope that clarifies things, Sam, and why dragging in the pedophilia scandal just clouds the waters.

                  First the Obama administration managed to alienate both its liberal supporters and its religious critics by pushing and then pulling back its HHS contraception mandate. Now the White House has succeeded in hitting the political sour spot yet again by producing a compromise designed to placate the Catholic bishops…without consulting the Catholic bishops.

                  Sr. Keehan needs to butt out.  She has no standing here.

                  http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/02/14/white-house-flubs-contraception-compromise/

                   

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                  • I apologize for “clouding the waters” with details that bring into question the Catholic Bishops alleged moral standing although I would argue that you are attempting to do exactly the same thing by referencing Sr. Keehan’s previous positions. You’re painting her as a disloyal soldier in the Catholic army and dismissing her opinion as a result; I’m arguing that we can dismiss the opinion of elderly virgins who actively encouraged the molestation of children. What we’re doing is, in other words, no different.

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                  • It seems to me she has all the standing in the world to speak for herself, whatever clout that entails.  Who says she need to butt out?  I suppose the bishops can say that, if they believe it.  You think you have standing to determine that, Tom?  I’d love to see where she claims to speak for the Church.

                    As the expert quoted in the Register report suggests, it’s the Church needs to get its house in order (as I’ve been suggesting it’s trying to do).

                    This whole exchange stemmed from a misreading of Mr. Knapp’s initial comment, in which his statement that, “As long as we have a system where employers provide health care, what medical care a woman receives is between her and her doctor, not her and her boss. Period. End of story.” was made pursuant to his own views, on his own authority, whatever its worth.  He wasn’t saying the validity of that statement had anything to do with Keehan’s views or public positions.  Again, I’d love to see a cite to where Carol Keehan claims to be speaking for the Church.  Whether she’s crossed any lines drawn for her by her church in giving her own views and what should be done about it if so – and whether she needs to butt out – is really not for us to say.  Who are we to say that?

                    None of this is to say she isn’t an Obamite tool.  (Obama does get to have, you know, people on his side, after all; allies.) But if she’s an Obamite tool she’s still an Obamite tool with all the right to speak as far as anyone here can dictate.  If the USCCB claims to have or believes it has some claim on some part of her right to say some things publicly, they’ll have to say so themselves or figure out a way to enforce that or something.  And that still wouldn’t mean she wouldn’t have the right to breach that restriction and speak as far as we’re concerned.  That’s their affair.

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  4. As ubiquitous as it is, I would’ve thought the pill would be available as cheap generic by now. Why is it still expensive enough where women even need to use insurance to pay for it?

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  5. I can’t get enough of seeing a thread populated overwhelmingly by males debating something that they’ll never take. It is amazing the degree to which men assume that women’s health is something that they should have a say in, as if women are sitting around denying men various forms of health care via legislative fiat.

    That’s before we even get to the fact that birth control is used to treat a wide variety of maladies which men know literally nothing about (like painful and irregular menstruation, the creation of cysts, etc). Or the fact that a bunch of ridiculously elderly virgins (the Catholic Bishops) are being allowed to speak about this issue as if they have a clue in the world what they’re discussing. For people concerned with liberty, which many of the commenters here claim to be, you certainly seem to prioritize the liberty of people who have no goddamned idea what they’re talking about than the people who would be genuinely affected by this legislative nonsense.

    Meanwhile, if the same thing was proposed for medication you required for whatever reason, your heads would explode at the injustice of it.

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    • I got my vasectomy. I am therefore allowed to have opinions on birth control.

      I can provide the note that I got from Planned Parenthood stating as much later, if you’d like.

      (The “proof of vasectomy” demonstration was embarrassing, I’ll have you know. The note made it worth it, though.)

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    • This is one of those weird things where, I presume, men who agree with X are not questioned whether they have standing to have an opinion on X… only the men who disagree with X.

      I’m of the opinion that if men who disagree with X shouldn’t have an opinion on X (and I’m okay with that idea) then men who agree with X are *EQUALLY IRRELEVANT*.

      (This falls under my “meta-opinion” rule which states that even if I am not allowed to have an opinion on X, I am allowed to have an opinion on whether I am allowed to have an opinion on X.)

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        • I’m *PRO* contraception!

          I look at you people and I wish there had been a lot more of it!

          The question is whether I am pro-contraception to the point where I think that the government should force people to take it and I am not.

          I think that people should make the decisions to take contraception *THEMSELVES*, without my input one way or the other.

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            • In that vein, I’d like to ask if anyone has argued in support of preventing women from taking contraception.

              Because arguing against the positions I’ve seen people argue as if they’re arguing that women should be prevented from taking contraception seems about as off-base as arguing against the position supporting policy is one that will force them to take it.

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                  • Wait… Are you suggesting those that don’t want it offered in insurance plans aren’t against it? I thought the whole deal (by those that sounded the trumpets) was that it was a moral infringement of something they thought should be forbidden.

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                    • Given that almost all of the people who happen to be up in arms actually take it in the privacy of their own homes? I think that there is something else going on.

                      I think the problem is one of whether the Catholic Hospitals that heretofore had not been forced to provide such can continue to not provide such (and allow their employees to buy it in town).

                      (Unless, of course, we’re talking about places that threaten their employees who chose to use birth control with termination… was that an issue at any point? For the record, I consider that a violation of privacy.)

                       

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                    • For my part, it’s that I see the difference between

                      • Being forced to pay for X
                      • Letting people do X if they want with their own money
                      • Being prevented from having access to X

                      I have no problem with the middle one but I do have the problem with the first one being painted as being identical to support for X or that the last two are effectively identical.

                      I support letting people take medicinal marijuana (or recreational, hell!) if they wanted.

                      I object to being forced to pay for it. And I object to my being okay with letting people do it if they want to with their own money as being painted as being identical to support for prohibition.

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                    • Oh, I get that. I just don’t get why you think the the bishops opposing this aren’t doing it because they’re anti-contraception.

                      They may have a point, and they may be right, and maybe the government has no right to make them pay for it. But this whole it’s not an anti-contraception thing? I’m not seeing where you’re getting that from.

                      Like your own example, there are a lot of people i know that take prescription drugs that are anti-medical marijuana. You can wrap any theoretical argument for why one might be pro drug and not want people prescribing medical marijuana that isn’t anti- medical marijuana; but that doesn’t change the fact that those that fight it do so because they’re against medical marijuana.

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                    • Tod,

                      The bishops and their supporters among the laity are morally against birth control, yes, and that antagonism undoubtedly fuels their opposition to the mandate, but the pressing issue for them is being forced to materially cooperate in something the deem immoral.  Why?  Because, according to their way of thinking, this material cooperation is itself immoral.

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                    • And if they’re fighting to make birth control illegal, expect me on the front line.

                      From what I understand, they weren’t doing something yesterday, they were told that they had to start doing it tomorrow, they said “no, we don’t want to change”, and we’re acting like they’re changing a policy when, really, they’re just not changing it the way we want them to.

                      They aren’t preventing their employees from taking birth control but just saying that they don’t want to change their policy from what it was yesterday. Talk to a guy on a military base and ask him if his FSO has the same opinion on MMJ.

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                    • The “material support” nonsense is a logical nonstarter. The moment you hire someone who doesn’t match your preferred moral standards, you’re providing material support to their lifestyle. End of story. No amount of attempted contortions by the Bishops or the Church can actually change the fact that they’re working from fallacious logic.

                      If they are truly actually concerned with “material support” they would have invasive checks for lifestyle choices they consider immoral in all their employees. To complain otherwise when the issue at question isn’t actually forced provision, but the taking away of a tax shelter (let’s not confuse the two) isn’t a free exercise or conscience question. It’s one of them wanting the state to privilege their beliefs over others. It’s nonsense. And the more mincing I hear about this “material support” stuff, the less sympathy I have for their position.

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                    • It’s not moral nonsense, Nob, but it may help your understanding of the Church’s position to know that it recognizes that not all forms of material cooperation with evil are immoral.  I think you’re running on the idea that the Church condemns all material cooperation with evil, but that’s not the case.  Paying taxes and voting, for example, entail material cooperation with evil, but the cooperation here is remote enough and the reasons for doing these acts proportionally good enough to justify them.  Proximate material cooperation with evil, which I take it is how the bishops view having healthcare policies that cover contraceptives, would, however, be immoral in this analysis.

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                    • The moment you start making proximate value judgments about the “degrees of separation” between you and the moral support for “evil” (scare quotes intentional, because I don’t see a lot of evil about contraception) then you’re in territory that admits you’re on shaky logical foundations and morally bankrupt.

                      But let’s take a big hypothetical here.

                      Should a Catholic institution hire an LGBT person who serves as the breadwinner of a single earner household?

                      Or a single Jewish woman living with her unemployed boyfriend and having lots of premarital sex?

                      In both cases the “proximate material support” for what the Bishops would consider sinful and immoral behavior would be substantially greater than providing health insurance which may or may not be used for birth control and doesn’t matter a wit because every other plan available on the market has to cover birth control, too. By paying people and allowing them to even have a particular lifestyle, it’s a very DIRECT material support.

                      Would they argue then, that they should terminate all single people living in sin with their significant others from Catholic institutions? What if they’re also gay?

                      The fact that they don’t, either shows a lack of moral clarity (which isn’t surprising from an institution that regularly covers up sexual abuse of minors) or inconsistency. Either way, we’re reduced to the argument that the “proximate material support” argument is nonsensical and just conveniently used to bash women’s reproductive health rights.

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                    • The acts of hiring people to do jobs not related to their lifestyles do not entail proximate material cooperation with those lifestyles.

                      Now, if I were a school principal and I hired a known bigot to teach children a subject matter that pertains to his bigotry, and he instructed the children to be bigots, then I’d say you’d have a case for accusing me of proximate material cooperation with bigotry, even if I didn’t intend for the students to learn bigoted ideas.    I’d be morally culpable, no?

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                • Not including it in a healthcare policy serves to prevent its use.

                  That didn’t hold up very well, EDK, esp since use/demand is already about 99%.

                  There are other facts here that must be contended with before one has a genuine rebuttal, such as religious freedom under RFRA.  I don’t think you can make “compelling interest” stick and you need to.

                  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.

                   

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              • The entirety of the Catholic hierarchy believes women shouldn’t take birth control. Much of the Evangelical movement believes that birth control usage should be prevented by law (see “personhood” amendments). So yes, the people opposed to this legislation do so at least in part because it would make it (much more) difficult for women to gain access to birth control.

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                • Much of the Evangelical movement believes that birth control usage should be prevented by law (see “personhood” amendments).

                  Um. Those are about abortion.

                  Which, if you want to call it “birth control” I suppose you’re technically correct but please understand that I am spectacularly unmoved by the framing.

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                  • They are not entirely about abortion. Because they declare that the moment of conception is the point at which life begins, much birth control that prevents implantation would be banned under those amendments.

                    I wonder, frankly, how many of us really understand the varieties of birth control and how they ACTUALLY work. My guess, including myself, is not many.

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    • “It is amazing the degree to which men assume that women’s health is something that they should have a say in.”

      It’s the state that has made health care a part of public policy, and this is a republic. If the question is, “In a republic, should all citizens have a say in public policy?” my answer to that would be an emphatic “yes.”

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        • Um, yes. If you don’t want health care to be a matter of public policy, then privatize it completely. Then, neither I nor any other man would have a say in the agreements reached between a woman and her doctor.

          What you can’t do is say that I have a responsibility to pay for health care, but no right to say what health care entails. Either it’s a public matter, or it isn’t,

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          • Umm, no. Nobody forces you to believe that you should make health care decisions for women. Nobody. You’re voluntarily deciding that your opinion about women’s health is important enough to voice; I’m arguing that perhaps you ought to leave women’s health to women in the same way that men’s health is left to men. There is no medical treatment that is specifically men-only which women create entire movements to gain dominion over.

            That you’d actually go so far as to declare (or at least imply) that contraception doesn’t count as health care indicates the degree to which you’re committed to not understanding women or women’s health. And who exactly is forcing YOU to pay for it? What model are we arguing about? Are you a Catholic priest? Are you a Catholic bishop?

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            • I’m sure it doesn’t matter to you, but I’m actually supportive of contraception and abortion rights. And, I was discussing this very matter of what constitutes health care with another commenter above — my position is that the right to access contraception and abortion are important, but that doesn’t make them health care.

              One solution to this whole mess would be for the state to provide these things, independent of health organizations of any kind. Then, of course, we would have to have a public debate about that. Unless we’re willing to stipulate that having access to these things constitute Constitutionally-protected rights (which may be the right thing to do, in the end) then they are subject to ordinary legislative processes and ordinary norms of democratic debate. If not, then I don’t see why there should be a special rule that certain segments of the population are simply excluded from the discussion (unless, of course, they “really care” about women’s health, or have “really thought about it,” in which case they’ll have the “right position” in the discussion, anyway.)

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              • Charles, I know what you wrote. Here it is:

                Considering that, for most women, control over fertility is about autonomy and not wellness, the fact that birth control pills can be used to treat/prevent illnesses and ailments (a pregnancy is neither of these) is very relevant to this debate. 

                I have no idea what you’re basing this claim about autonomy versus wellness on. I assume its your own biases, but maybe you have some data that indicates that the majority of women taking birth control are simply doing so to remain not pregnant and not for any other reason (like endometriosis or anything else mentioned here, things I’d wager you know absolutely nothing about). Even if they are though, you do understand that pregnancy can pose legitimate health risks to the mother, right? That there are women who will miscarry. That there are women prone to ectopic pregnancies. Yet even for them you declare based that the taking of contraception isn’t “health care.”

                I have never proposed a rule that excludes men from this discussion. I have simply observed that there is something awfully disconcerting about men taking a position of dominion over women and women’s health care when there is no example worth discussing of women en masse doing the same thing to men.

                Do you take any medications on a regular basis?

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                • I understand completely that there are plenty of good rationales for declaring either access to abortion or contraception to be health care. And I never said that they aren’t health care — the whole reason I considered the therapeutic aspects of these drugs to be interesting was precisely because I thought that to be more relevant to the question (are these things health care?) than the mere fact that people find these things to be important. And, ED’s OP brought up the issue  of whether these things are health care implicitly, because he seemed to be arguing that they are health care, by virtue of the fact that they are important to women. I may have misread that, but that argument seemed odd, and that’s where my concern was coming from.

                  My point is that having introduced these issues into the public sphere, we’re going to make some distinction, as part of a democratic process, and that an alternative process (e.g., some expert-approved, technocratic definition of health care, that allows elected officials to duck these sorts of question) is untenable. A more tenable solution to these issues would be the one I mentioned above, which would be to argue that access to these things are (or should be) protected Constitutional rights. And, again, I might be in favor of that. Failing that, though, they are matters of ordinary legislation — I care about these matters because I’m a citizen.

                  I also have to say that I don’t really care for having my motives impuned based on that fact that I have an opinion on something, or even that I hold a particular opinion on a subject. Nor do I care to be insulted and declared to be stupid, ignorant or mentally ill based on the fact that I like to push on the philosophical foundations of some of the claims that are being made in the public discourse about this. People can disagree in good faith, and that’s what I’m doing.

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    • I can’t get enough of seeing a thread populated overwhelmingly by males debating something that they’ll never take.

      I can’t handle it anymore, honestly. And I can’t even believe that this is a controversial topic in 2012.

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    • “I can’t get enough of seeing a thread populated overwhelmingly by males debating something that they’ll never take.”

      What’s your opinion on Viagra?

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  6. So our healthcare system is all screwed up for innumerable reasons like the fact that we have to get insurance from our employers. 

    This isn’t entirely true.

    You can get insurance, on your own, by buying a policy from an insurance company.

    The problem is that employer based health care has become an ~expected~ part of employee compensation.  And because insurance companies can make a lot of money on group rates, they find ways to spread costs out over that group and thus offer policies at a lower price to them than they would to individuals, making it more expensive to go it alone than through your company.

    However, as the laws currently stand you can still get insurance on your own….

     

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    • Fair enough.

      Your expected utility for pursuing health insurance outside the framework of employer/employee relationship is quite a bit lower, which is more or less Erik’s point ;)

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      • Yep and ultimately more fixable.

        I believe that if we’re going to talk about the market deciding how to finance healthcare reform then we should let the market decide.  And that means divorcing employment from insurance.  The idea that employers MUST provide it is not tenable long term (and might not be constitutional in its own right).  There’s a better fix in trying to get more exchanges and groups and to get the insurance companies to provide more private plans.

        Sadly I don’t have an concrete solutions other than to beat the drum that what we’re doing now isn’t working and the plan we’re following won’t fix it either.  It just keeps kicking the can…

         

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  7. Well, the contraception mandate is literally a plot by the Devil to undermine morality. Obama just wants to silence the Church’s voice. The power of evil, the devil, is certainly looking everywhere where the power of evil can make a difference. And that’s why Christians have got to stand up and violently oppose this. We cannot let darkness overshadow us.

    How do I know this? A Bishop told me so. “Violently oppose this”. From a Catholic Bishop. I guess that whole “turn the other cheek” thing is just a suggestion.

    Sharia Catholic law trumps all.

    There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce.

    – Mark Twain

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  8. I wonder why we don’t just let the people who know the issues best make decisions we all have to abide by, with no exceptions. Like with healthcare — if we just pick 12  healthcare experts and let them make all the decisions, then it won’t be so confusing.

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  9. Pingback: Attention Conservatives: This is why the correct answer was always, “What he said was inexcusable.” — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

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