“Accommodation” for for religious groups regarding birth control coverage

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From the Strib:

President Barack Obama will announce a plan to accommodate religious employers outraged by a rule that would require them to cover birth control for women free of charge, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Obama was expected to make the announcement at the White House Friday.

This could work out, because I can easily imagine a law suit by an employee who does not get the same coverage as some other employee in some similar job elsewhere, as well as a law suit from, say, a school board member insisting that teachers/staff in their school NOT be covered. Since the 1st amendment is mainly to protect individuals and not institutions, this absurd patchwork of regulations would be reversed.


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5 thoughts on ““Accommodation” for for religious groups regarding birth control coverage

  1. It’s hard to say whether it will be reversed, but I’m sure it will be challenged. Requiring an employer to provide coverage for (i.e. to subsidize) an action that is contrary to the employer’s religious beliefs is arguably “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. However, so is telling a Satanist that he’s not allowed to sacrifice babies.* The protection provided by the first amendment is not absolute.

    The individuals-versus-institutions angle might get some traction in a challenge, but the constitution doesn’t make that distinction explicitly.

    * That is, assuming hypothetically that a Satanist might feel he should do that for religious reasons. Don’t flame me over it, please. It’s just an illustration.

  2. It isn’t automatically true that his is wrong. It depends. I can imagine employees not getting normal health care coverage because of the beliefs of their employers, and I don’t see how that’s right. But I may be missing something.

  3. I am a bit confused on this subject and maybe someone can elighten me. Just because the health benefits plan covers birth control it does not mean that you have to use it. What exactly is the issue that the religous groups are upset about? Do they think that since it is covered all the women MUST be on the pill? Or is it really that they just have to offer benefits that include birth control? Does that mean that the Jovies will be the next group to protest because they are upset that their health benefits actually cover blood tranfusions?

  4. Yes, Rick, I think you’ve pretty much nailed the intellectual aspect of it.

    The Catholics are upset because their dogma does not allow contraception — therefore, they don’t want their health insurance plans for their employees to cover contraception. Nevermind that not 100% of their employees are Catholic, or that a substantial percentage of “practicing” Catholics use birth control nonetheless in violation of church teaching. The church doesn’t want to offer something it considers immoral, per se. (Which, BTW, tells you how whackaloon the church is on this issue.)

    This could indeed lead to the kind of religious-based carve-outs you propose.

    As I understand it from news reports, the way around being proposed by the Administration is to have employees of Catholic hospitals buy health insurance directly, rather than have it be provided through their church employer. Don’t know how this will fly, but seems like one small step towards elimination of employer-based health insurance. Which is just fine with me.

    I’m sure the words “sell-out” or “accommodationist” will be leveled, but it sounds like a practical solution that has the benefit of overcoming a religious objection without actually eliminating the requirement for birth control to be covered.

    Frankly, I hadn’t thought of it myself. So, kudos to the Obama team for getting creative, and not pissing off a group that tends to vote “blocky”.

  5. Cooties.

    As far as I can tell, the general problem seems to be that because money is fungible, it gets contraception/abortion cooties if it goes through an organization which may support contraception/abortion even if bookkeeping keeps it separate. Viz Komen and Planned Parenthood.

    My concern is that dependence on religious-based organizations to provide services which could be provided by secular institutions (e.g. Catholic hospitals), which grew up in times pre-dating health insurance, could limit choice due to geographic remoteness. This is one reason I’ve opposed faith-based initiatives. (Look what happened to whatever the Catholic charity is that provided adoption services when it actually came time to give equal service/health coverage to gay couples.)

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