Just as a quick followup to my reluctant opinion on the HHS/Catholic dustup over the refusal to exempt faith-associated, secular-run institutions from contraceptions requirements. I wanted to share two posts on the subject…
The first is another post by Jonathan Cohn over at TNR, who frames the discussion the same way I am, but then notes this (my emphasis in bold):
I respect those who disagree—whether it’s those who think employee benefits morally implicate employers or those who wonder whether birth control even belongs in health insurance. And although many large Catholic institutions already provide birth control coverage, without evident difficulty, I understand that the leaders of other institutions may feel differently. But I wish the less nuanced critics of the administration’s policy (yes, Speaker Boehner, I’m looking at you) would show a similarly open mind, by acknowledging that improving access to contraception is a goal many of us believe is important.
Cohn is actually being a little more conciliatory that I would be. If employee benefits morally implicated their employers, or if these religious facilities thought as much, then contraception bought out of pocket would be every bit as morally implicative as health insurance benefits.
Another post is well done by Scott Lemieux, who makes the case that this isn’t really forcing a particular religion to violate one of its central tenants:
[..] if opposition to contraception represented a widely practiced tenet of the Roman Catholic faith, I believe that the government’s interest in securing gender equity with a reasonable, generally applicable law should prevail, but I can understand seeing this as a difficult question. But forgoing contraception is not central to the faith of most practicing Roman Catholics. There’s not a genuine clash between religious freedom and pressing government interests here; rather, a small minority of religious leaders are seeking a special exemption that burdens women in the name of principles the overwhelming majority of their followers reject.
The American Conference of Bishops does not constitute the entirety of the Catholic faith.
The other is by Andrew Sullivan, who pretty well eviscerates all the main objections, and brought up a point related to a Twitter rant I exercised yesterday (my emphasis added):
The only institutions covered by the birth control mandate have chosen to participate in the broader market, a zone of private life governed by political rules. It’s incumbent on critics to explain why this particular rule is a dangerous expansion of state power over market actors as compared to, say, forcing a Randian executive to follow minimum wage laws. If they can’t, then it seems like the coverage requirement protects women’s rights without appreciably increasing the state’s threat to private associations.
Yesterday I put out a challenge on Twitter for someone to provide a legitimate reason for why these particular organizations should be exempt given that: If employer-provided insurance is a form of employee-wage (including the employer share of the insurance), and the employer specifically states that the tenants of its faith holds no claim to the way traditional wages are spent, how do they then claim that faith requires them to discriminate insurance compensation? What makes health insurance different than traditional wages in regards to their faith? I’m still waiting.
*Update – Added some missing links.