The Reality of the Battle over Contraception
This week the news has been hijacked by the debate over President Obama mandating religious institutions to provide contraception coverage in their healthcare plans. The debate has become increasingly irritating because there are so many more noteworthy things of report this week. The economy is continuing to grow, the United States and Afghanistan have reportedly began talks with the Taliban which could end the war, a new online privacy bill was introduced in the senate, Iran apparently sent war ships to Syria to help their military, and the list can go on. However on top of all of this, the only news we have heard all week is the back and forth battle over mandating contraception coverage. The discussion should have ended last week when President Obama compromised on his politically sensitive mandate, but the intensity has only ramped up. The compromise would have allowed religiously affiliated institutions to be exempt from paying for the contraception, shifting the burden to the insurance companies, where the Obamacare law mandates insurance companies provide contraception anyway; after the debate continued all week long, and polls which showed President Obama was in the politically popular side of the argument, the President has apparently decided there will be no compromise. Religious institutions will not have a choice, and they will provide contraception to women despite their religious objections. Even a comment made as a joke by an aid to Rick Santorum about women practicing abstinence has become a political firestorm.
Research has shown that 98% of Catholic women use contraception at some point in their lives, leaving a mandate for insurance coverage very popular. Those on the side of President Obama have argued that it is discriminatory for contraception not to be covered, implying it is a right for women to be given contraception. If birth control is a right for women equality dictates it must be for men as well; this being the case, in order for the government to provide equal health care for both men and women they must mandate that all employers provide condoms and vasectomies as part of health coverage also. Another argument used by those pro-mandate is that contraception is preventative health care. This makes sense, as pregnancy costs thousands of dollars to the insurance companies, and a child then costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to a parent. However, if this is the reasoning for a contraception mandate one could easily stand before a court and argue that abortion must also be covered by insurance, even for religiously affiliated groups. Moreover, vitamins, supplements, fruits and vegetables could also be argued to be preventative of disease; should health insurance companies also be responsible for diet? Republicans argue that contraception cannot be deemed preventative health care because pregnancy is not a disease. This is true, however, broken bones are also not a disease, yet senior citizens are given preventative care for falls regularly. Furthermore, those who agree with requiring religiously affiliated institutions to provide contraception point to the issue of funding. Many Religious hospitals, charities, and universities take government funds in forms of grants or subsidies; many argue that if the government is funding the institution the separation of church and state has already been broken, thereby giving the government the right to determine whether or not they must provide contraception.
On the other hand, opponents of the mandate say that the government–President Obama in particular–is staging another attack on religion, and specifically Christianity. The term anti-Christian bigotry has been coined by Newt Gingrich; a very entertaining observation. If any progressive movement is opposed by the right wing the left wing screams bigotry, yet the term is never thought of as a two way expression. Left wing radicals who bully right wing fundamentalists because of their religious beliefs are bigots in every sense of the word, just as much as a religious opposition to social issues, such as this, are bigots. Another strong argument being made by the opposition is that health insurance is a form of compensation, which is determined by the employer, not the government. This is not entirely true; the federal government has been setting basic compensation standards ever since the first minimum wage was established. However the counter argument can be made that if an employer can determine that only full-time employees receive health benefits and the government can mandate what health benefits are, than all employees must be given contraception due to equal compensation laws.
The final argument being made against the mandate is the separation of church and state. This is often used by both sides despite the fact it is not found in our Constitution. The term was coined by Jefferson years later, and does not mean government and religion must be two separate entities never to mix; it means there can be no official Church of the United States, sanctioned and enforced by the government. This is the basic essence of the First Amendment. Though both sides make compelling arguments for their case, the fact is that the Constitution forbids mandating religious institutions to do anything unless murder or conspiracy against the government is involved. The First Amendment explicitly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. If the Catholic Church holds religious beliefs against contraception, the government mandating them to provide contraception is a law directly prohibiting their free exercise. Whether or not contraception is right or wrong is not the issue; whichever side you find yourself on you must ask yourself whether or not you believe in the Constitution as the governing document of this nation. If that answer is yes than contraception must come from somewhere else. Planned Parenthood offers contraception at very low cost to those whose insurance does not cover it. The government can provide it for those employed by religious institutions. A tax credit can be given to provide for those who are not covered by insurance. There are numerous ways to provide women with contraception coverage if you feel it is a right to women, but the Constitution is clear that forcing a religious institution to practice something expressly against their beliefs absolutely violates the First Amendment.
Many have tried to justify this action by saying that if a Catholic hospital serves and employs only Catholics, then the government cannot mandate a provision of contraception. This argument is ludicrous. Those who make it imply they would agree with qualified trained physicians and medical professionals refusing their services to the sick because of their religion. Not only does that violate the Constitution (as does hiring based on religion) but it makes unavailable a number of doctors and medical experts to the general public at a time when we have a shortage of doctors just because of a childish quarrel over contraception. Furthermore, if the Catholic Church is the entity backing the hospital, and signing the pay checks for each employee than it is the Catholic Church providing the compensation. If compensation is being provided by a religious institution than the establishment itself is a branch of that institution. The same way a church or cathedral provides religious services, a hospital or instacare providing medical services is, according to their own religion, a religious service. To regulate that in any way is prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Contraception may very well be a right for women; that debate is not the issue at stake here, and can be taken up another time. But please, President Obama, if you feel it is a right, find another way. Whosoever feels women must be provided contraception can take that argument to the Congress any other way, but we cannot violate the Constitution, for if we do, the very freedoms this great country was founded on are void, and we are left with no history, no philosophy, and no tradition to look back on; for we have chosen to oppose the very nation so many have died to create.
18 February, 2012
Posted on February 20, 2012, in Constitutional Law, Patriotslog Articles, Religion and tagged birth control, Catholic Church, Constitution, Contraception, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, health insurance, Obamacare, President Obama. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.