Pillheads: On Contraception Issue, Rightbloggers Baptize Insurers and Defend the Faith

tomt200.jpgOn Friday the Obama Administration revealed its compromise with religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals, who didn't want to offer birth control in their health insurance plans. The orgs won't have to pay for it if it offends their beliefs, the President said -- the insurers would be obliged to supply the pills and whatnot themselves.

Problem solved! Well, not really. Rightbloggers stormed the internet barricades to complain that, because the church groups pay the insurers for insurance, their activities on behalf of church-group employees who want birth control are an unconscionable violation of religious liberty.

Prior to the Friday announcement, rightbloggers had been incensed about the original rule that made Catholic orgs that had mostly non-Catholic employees offer health care coverage that included contraception. Mark Steyn spoke eloquently for them all when he wrote that "President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII," "we're not talking about mandatory condom dispensers next to the pulpit at St. Pat's - not yet," etc.

(We can dispense, BTW, with the tedious business of saying "and other groups," because it's Catholics -- or, rather, Catholic bishops and civilians of the Opus Dei variety -- who've generated this whole controversy; you don't see a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses complaining, and of course no one listens to the Muslims.)

The post-concession argument seemed to be that religious people should still be offended, because somebody who does business with the Catholics would be paying for birth control, which is the same as the Catholics paying for it. Also, abortion is murder.

"Insurance companies -- not the religious employers themselves -- would be forced to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception," said National Review's Hannah Smith. But "religious employers would still ultimately be paying for these services against their conscience, with the costs spread through higher insurance premiums for their employees."

"Catholic hospitals and universities would pay insurance companies premiums, which would pay for contraceptives and abortifacients," said Michael Hammond of RedState. "Evil doesn't become good because it's laundered through a third party."

This reasoning united such diverse rightbloggers as RedState yokel streiff ("My guess is that the employer whose employees are getting the 'free of charge' service is going to see their bill go up... This is an attack, one of several staged by this Administration, on religious freedom") and urban sophisticate Megan McArdle ("The insurers have to provide it 'at no cost.' Which of course means the Church will still be paying for it").

"Where do insurers get money to pay claims?" asked Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "They collect premiums and co-pays from the insured group or risk pool. No matter what the Obama administration wants to say now, the money that will cover those contraception costs will come from the religious organizations that must now by law buy that insurance and pay those premiums... the government is forcing religious organizations to both pay for and facilitate activities that violate their religious doctrine."

One wonders if priests ever buy prescription drugs and, if so, how they make sure the money they send to pharmaceutical companies isn't used to make birth control pills. It must make for some heated theological debates down at the corner drug store.

We might also say something about anti-war Americans having to pay taxes that go toward blowing up foreigners (and even American citizens via drone) -- but why bother? Let's leave the floor to the brethren:

pillbox.jpg
Look out! It's here to snap off your religious freedoms!
Morrissey's Hot Air colleague J.E. Dyer attacked the MSM malfeasance of... The Wall Street Journal, which had used the headline "Obama Retreats on Contraception." "What are they, USA Today?" asked Dyer. "I expected better of WSJ. I expect the editors to recognize the significance of distinctions like this, and refrain from using headlines that bolster a counterfactual narrative."

Dyer explained that not only were the insurance companies merely laundering the contraception money for baby-killers, as Morrissey argued -- they weren't even insurance companies anymore.

"If the federal government can step in and arbitrarily require a company to provide things for 'free' that were previously elective, premium-based services," reasoned Dyer, "then it is no longer an insurance company. We are not buying insurance from it; we are simply participating in a mandatory government program whose features can be changed at any time, regardless of what we or the 'insurers' want... the overriding reality that Catholic employers will be required to pay for "insurance" programs that distribute contraception to their employees."

Seen this way, the so-called "doctors" who are collaborating with Medicare are no longer practicing "medicine," but a similarly protean Big Government scam. And don't get us started on the "U.S." "Army."

Believe it or not, Dyer wasn't the only one who thought this way. "Why are we even calling it 'Health Insurance'?" asked toothpick at RedState. "What we are calling 'health insurance' is not health insurance at all. It's more of a purchasing pool which gives people the right to consume certain goods and services paid by a third party... Imagine paying a flat fee to Safeway for the right to pick up our weekly grocery haul (perhaps with a small co-pay at the cash register) - and calling it 'food insurance.'"

This whole pooled-risk thing is clearly a scam if toothpick can't get food insurance. Why did no one think of it before it became a multi-billion-dollar industry?

Burt Likko of the League of Ordinary Gentlemen agreed: "This is obviously a tissue of cover which those religious employers see through and does not assuage their concerns," he said, and hoped the Catholic Church would challenge this clearly unconstitutional act in court. "The question on this side of the test," he said, "would be whether being required to pay for contraception in an employee health care plan, whether directly or indirectly through a private insurer, imposes a burden on that belief," he said.

Perhaps unsure that he had directly or indirectly made his point, Likko brought out the intellectual big guns: "Think of it this way -- could Congress compel the RCC to pay for an abortion?" he thundered. "Never mind that it would never do such a thing, the question is could it?"

If the thought of Big Gummint shaking down Father Flotsky for abortion money displeases you, then the matter is settled. And even if Big Gummint gets the padre's money in a card game or in some business transaction instead, it's still abortion-contraception and unconstitutional. "An indirect compulsion to pay for something objectionable," Likko said, "is still a compulsion to pay for something objectionable..."

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35 comments
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StringonaStick
StringonaStick

Well my stars, I do believe this is such a winning political issue for the Republicans to get behind.  I hope they flog the idea of denying birth control coverage from now until the election, simply because you just know the mask will slip and they'll start openly frothing about banning all birth control for everyone.  The campaign ads write themselves. 

kevinh
kevinh

If an employee of a church buys birth control using her salary, it's still indirectly the church's money. Therefore those women may only use the rhythm method.

Doug Alder
Doug Alder

Gee Rethuglicans wgat ever happened to your much vaunted principle (a word so out of context with them) of free markets? If an insurance company raises its fees to cover the cost of contraception, then you're free to find a different insurer or even stop offering your employees health insurance (then see who will work for the world's biggest paedophile organization)

Comrade Carter
Comrade Carter

What really ails me is this:  It is cheaper for the "insurance company" to pay for birth control than it would be to NOT pay for it and end up paying for the results.

That aside from the Catholic Bishops, when I was (many years ago) a member of their Church. (Before becoming an atheist.)

parsec
parsec

"An indirect compulsion to pay for something objectionable," Likko said, "is still a compulsion to pay for something objectionable..."

I know what you mean, Likko.  I had to pay for two boutique wars in southern Asia for ten years.

And anyone remember when the claim that after they outlawed abortion they'd be going after contraception was dismissed as hysterical?  An overwrought slippery-slope argument?  Well it looks like they didn't even wait for the first part.

commie atheist
commie atheist

At last maybe we'll see Catholic clergy marching arm-in-arm with ayatollahs against birth control. Something good has got to come out of this.

Personally I'm looking forward to the Bishops marching arm-in-arm with the KKK over the freedom to discriminate against anyone they damn well please.

Synykyl
Synykyl

This coin has two sides:

1) Do I have any sympathy at all for the Catholic Church's position on this issue?   Yes.

2) At am I willing to allow my employer's religious beliefs to dictate what medical treatment is available to me?   Hell no!

susanoftexas
susanoftexas

"no matter how much time and effort the mainstream media, the democrats and some of your own Catholic friends tries to tell you otherwise -- it is not over. That's right--don't listen to the 98% who use birth control. Listen to hypocrites like Scalia,who has only two children, not a quiverful. The whole country should hand over their religious freedom to Scalia's control so she can suck up to the bishops and feel holy while she pretends to be a nun.

Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes

"One wonders if priests ever buy prescription drugs ...."

Other than Viagra, Cialis, and antibiotics?

Glenn
Glenn

I'm glad someone is defending the lofty moral integrity of insurance companies.

mds
mds

"What we are calling 'health insurance' is not health insurance at all. It's more of a purchasing pool which gives people the right to consume certain goods and services paid by a third party ..."

[Consults dictionary for definition of 'insurance']

[Consults volume of 17th-century history for info on Lloyd's of London.]

My gosh, he's right.  Correctly implemented, health insurance involves each individual paying the full cost for services as needed.  Any "risk-pooling" or "payment of premiums" is purely due to the influence of Stalin.  Where did we go wrong, America?

mommadillo
mommadillo

If only the bishops were as vigilant about child-molesting priests as they are about relatively minor violations of church doctrine, eh?

StanChaz
StanChaz

I was raised as a Catholic....or perhaps lowered. :-) Whatever. But seriously: I strongly disagree with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statement, which denounces President Barack Obama's attempts at compromise as "needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions". On the contrary, the Bishops comments are themselves a needless religious intrusion upon the proper and legitimate functions of government...functions that serve to promote women's rights, equality, and fairness for ALL. No one is coming into our Churches and trying to tell parishioners what to believe. BUT If the Bishops want to start businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the rules. Just because a religious group in America claims to believe something, we cannot excuse them from obeying the law in the PUBLIC arena, based on that belief. They can legally attempt to change the law, not to deny it outright. And if they want to plunge overtly into politics from the pulpit, then they should give up their tax-exempt status. Did I miss something, or when it comes to the "sanctity of life", is every single righteous Catholic still a card carrying conscientious objector, refusing to take up arms,  totally against the death penalty, and against contraception in all its forms? Oh well, hypocrisy is at the heart of politics, and politics masquerading as religion even more so. This country is an invigorating mixture of all the diversity that life has to offer, drawing its strength FROM that diversity. We need to work together to preserve, enrich, and strengthen this unique experiment - NOT to tear it down with poisonous, paralyzing, and un-Christian demonization of each other.

Otisah
Otisah

Yes, the old "money is fungible" trope. It appears it has a lot more influence in abortion arguments than it does against contraception. Perhaps that's why these guys are always adding "abortion and sterilization" when discussing this fauxtroversy?

At any rate, the solution is clear. Requiring Catholic institutions to pay their employees when there is any chance the wages could be used to violate Catholic doctrine is an affront to religious freedom. This practice must be stopped before "President Living Wage" destroys everything that is great about America. First they took our white men from the Oval Office. Then they came for our religion...

Substance McGravitas
Substance McGravitas

The Wall Street Journal, which had used the headline "Obama Retreats on Contraception." "What are they, USA Today?" asked Dyer.

He wanted the WSJ to say Obama won a battle?  Call the propaganda officer AT ONCE.

I A N P M F
I A N P M F

The idea promoted by the Church, that this should only be seen only as a religious freedom issue privileges the rights of a powerful few over the many. Apparently, to the Church and their supporters the rights of employees amount to nothing when faced witht he phantom rights of an institution. More here - http://ianpmf.tumblr.com/post/...

Lulu Lapeache
Lulu Lapeache

Oh, please, B'rer Ryan, don't throw that anti-contraception bill in the briar patch. Don't double down on equating birth control and abortion, because I'm sure you can convince the 98 - 99% of women who use birth control that they are really having itty bitty abortions. You know that Thomas Aquinas was right about the homonculus and every sperm is indeed sacred. Hang in there, keep fighting, don't let those with the icky lady parts make their own decisions when there are celibate men around to do it for them!

hells littlest angel
hells littlest angel

I hate to imagine his outrage when "toothpick" finds out about food co-ops.

Mrs Tilton
Mrs Tilton

You might be on to something there, Comrade.

The bishops reject even the current compromise plan because, they say, the insurers would simply pass the costs of contraception through to them in the form of higher premiums. All right, then. Let the law require the insurers to pay for birth control out of their own pockets, strictly forbidding any pass-through of the related cost.

Insurers would be permitted to charge the bishops only the premiums for insurance plans that expressly exclude contraception. Now, given that the cost of birth control is vastly less than the cost of even uncomplicated pre-natal care and childbirth, the premiums for such plans would, in actuarial terms, need to be significantly higher than those for a normal plan. Sufficiently higher, I daresay, to cover the insurers' birth control expenses and still leave a tidy little sum left over to fatten their bottom line. Since they wouldn't be paying even indirectly for contrracption, they bishops surely could not have a principled objection to this solution, and I am certain they would view the higher cash outlay as a small price to pay for a clean consience.

susanoftexas
susanoftexas

And since controlling others is its own reward, they won't stop with Catholics and birth control either. They'll be after any public support for anything they don't like. If the Protestant clergy are stupid enough to support them on birth control because they don't like a secular government setting the laws, they'll end up abdicating a great deal of secular power to the Catholic Church.

GrayFlannelDwarf
GrayFlannelDwarf

The only problem is Scalia doesn't have just 2 children.  He has nine!  Which would (I think) qualify as a "quiverful."

So your labeling of Scalia as a hypocrite is wrong in this case.

Facts are stubborn things.

"On September 10, 1960, Scalia married Maureen McCarthy, whom he met on a blind date while he was at Harvard Law School. The couple raised nine children, five boys and four girls."

susanoftexas
susanoftexas

Don't forget valium--passing around pedophile priests without hitting the same parish twice must have been a logistical nightmare for the Bishops.

commie atheist
commie atheist

I'll never forget seeing all those bishops marching in protest of the unjust and illegal war in Iraq; they were a veritable sea of red in the streets.

commie atheist
commie atheist

My favorite is "abortifacients," which apparently refers to Plan B, a drug which prevents fertilization, and doesn't work afterwards.  Yes, pretty soon we'll be at the "all birth control is abortion" point, and every sperm will truly be sacred.

surreal_american
surreal_american

Dyer:  "I expected better of WSJ. I expect the editors to recognize the significance of distinctions like this, and refrain from using headlines that bolster a counterfactual narrative."

But, but...bolstering a counterfactual narrative is PRECISELY that which makes wingnut media what it is!

Davis
Davis

Yes, let's talk about the sacred sperm and the prohibition of jacking off.  What is the Church's position on Viagra for unmarried men?  Do they really need a hard-on?

commie atheist
commie atheist

Nah - when they run out of parishes in the U.S., there's always the Philippines, or various South American and African locations.

Davis
Davis

The IUD does not prevent fertilization, just implementation in the womb.  Many women cannot the the pill and rely on it.

GrayFlannelDwarf
GrayFlannelDwarf

My apologies.  I thought you were referring to Antonin not Elizabeth.  I stand corrected.

Mrs Tilton
Mrs Tilton

... and, if Plan B were an IUD, your comment might have a point.

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