Posts Tagged birth control

Stand Up For Freedom Tomorrow

Tomorrow, starting at 12 noon in every time zone, in 160 cities (and counting) across America, there will be major rallies in support of religious freedom, about which you may not hear a peep from the mainstream media.

The movement is a massive, nationwide, concerted protest against the new HHS mandate, which is a regulation contained within Obamacare. If you haven’t heard yet of this mandate, it’s a requirement placed upon all employers, including religious groups, to pay for their employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance coverage. There are very narrow exemptions that would not exclude religious schools, hospitals, or charities.

So a non-profit Catholic hospital, under this mandate, is faced with the choice of either paying for contraception for its employees, in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching, or simply closing its doors.

If you think this doesn’t matter because you’re not Catholic, or not Christian, or not even religious, keep reading.

This is not an issue that only affects Christians. This is an issue of freedom of conscience for every single American.

I defer to the clear and succinct summary at stophhs.com:

The HHS Mandate violates the United States Constitution and statutory law.  The HHS Mandate violates the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech – both guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  It also violates, among other laws, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The HHS Mandate isn’t simply a Catholic issue.  This is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.  The HHS Mandate allows the government to define whether an organization is religious enough and leads the way toward redefining religious liberty as freedom to worship.  As Americans, our Frist Amendment Right to the Free Exercise of Religion is much more than the right to worship privately in a church building or pray in our homes.  Our right allows us, as Americans, to live our faith publicly through our religious ministries and to serve others precisely because of our religious beliefs.  The HHS Mandate dictates that religious employers can only employ their own and serve their own or be forced out of ministry due to hefty fines. (emphasis added)

This goes far beyond the issue of contraception. Ask yourself what the role of government is in this case. Should the federal government be dictating to every employer every detail of every benefit package offered to every employee? If you accept that, should the government be able to tell a faith-based school that they must provide their employees with something that violates the tenets of their faith? Does free exercise of religion mean nothing?

Should the government tell a vegetarian business owner that he must provide lunch for his staff, and it must contain meat?

This is a dangerous intrusion into the rights of each of us to follow our own conscience. Dangerous in itself, and dangerous for what it would mean for our rights in the future.

Today’s attack is against the rights of Catholic organizations. Forgetting tomorrow’s dangers for a minute, let’s think about that danger. The Catholic school system is the largest private school system in America. 2.5 million students are educated at thousands of Catholic schools across the country. Catholic high schools have a 99% (!) graduation rate and save the taxpayer over $19 billion a year, as they are funded by tuition, donations, and their local parishes. There are 221 Catholic colleges and universities in America, 615 Catholic hospitals (12.5% of the nation’s hospitals), and 1600 local charitable agencies including food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

The HHS mandate threatens to shut them all down.

Who is on the right side here?

So go to standupforreligiousfreedom.com. Find your nearest rally tomorrow and GO. Tell your friends.

Stand up.

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GOP and Women

From my recent article at Kendall County YR:

The May 10th editorial by Tony Scott in the Kendall County Record claims that the GOP needs to stop alienating women with backwards social issues like abortion and birth control. Scott goes so far as to claim that “most Republican candidates support limits on… birth control.” This is made up. It’s false. Scott wants the uninformed to assume that these dangerous Republicans are coming to ban sex and make women wear burkas. In fact, the issue of birth control has only been brought up by Democrats recently, in attempts to force religious institutions to provide free contraception for their employees. Even the staunch social conservative Rick Santorum stated that, though he morally disagreed with contraception, he had no interest in restricting anyone’s access to it. If you remember all the way back to January of this year, when the issue was first artificially injected into the campaign by former Democratic advisor George Stephanopoulos at a debate, every single Republican on stage was variously bemused and/or annoyed at the waste of time. Stephanopoulos spent over four minutes repeatedly asking each candidate, in so many words, come on… you want to ban the pill, right? Tell me you want to ban the pill.

The Republican audience got so fed up with the absurdity of the line of questioning that they started to yell and boo. Romney summed up the general sentiment: “George, I — I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no — no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.”

Scott correctly reports that 77% of those recently polled thought birth control “should not be part of the national political debate.” Republicans agree. They’re not interested in it either, despite attempts to characterize the GOP as the party of “extremism and gender inequity.”

Also brought up is the issue of abortion. Republicans need to back off abortion, goes the claim, because 53% of Americans support it! Polls on abortion are tricky. They change. A lot. Constantly. Pew did report last month that 53% of those polled were in favor of keeping it mostly legal, but that number, in its pendulous swings over the past few decades, keeps slowly swinging in a pro-life direction. And swing it does. Between October 2008 and April 2009, support swung from 57% to 46%—eleven points in eight months. There was a three point change between two polls conducted in the same month in 2008. Even six months ago, only 51% of those polled supported abortion. This number moves a lot, but the big picture is a trend towards protecting the lives of our unborn children.

Here’s the bigger picture still. These social issues make for good press and loud arguments, but when asked what issues will determine their vote this November, people list abortion, contraception, and gay marriage low on the list (39%, 34%, and 28%, respectively, answer these issues are “very important”). The top of the list? The economy (86%) and jobs (84%). Our current President is running on a failed record on those issues, against a man who’s spent his life demonstrating a spectacular ability to turn financial failures into successes, in both the public and private spheres. Which of those two men do you think Americans should trust with our economy?

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Seeing with Clarity

I’m often accused, and see other conservatives accused, of not seeing things clearly. It’s a common refrain in many circles, one generally intermixed with references to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

So imagine my surprise when I hear, from the side that sees everything with perfect clarity, the argument that came up in a Congressional hearing last week.

Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, made the case that the federal government must force all insurers and employers, regardless of their religious or moral objections, to pay for contraception for their employees–or, in this case, college students. They must do this because paying for one’s own contraception causes one to suffer “financially, emotionally, and medically.” She even described the sad case of how “embarrassed and powerless” one woman felt upon learning that her contraception would not be free. [1]

Let’s get this straight. The argument here appears to be, “Because I want birth control and paying for it sucks, the government ought to force someone else to buy it for me.” That’s about it. Look closely, we want be sure we’re seeing this clearly.

Birth control is not a basic right, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nor is it a women’s health issue. It’s something that, according to recent polls, most people choose to use at some point. But it’s still a choice, and it’s not a choice that everyone makes, and it’s certainly not something that anyone needs in the sense that we need food and shelter. It’s fairly absurd for Fluke to put contraception-on-demand on the same level as antibiotics or insulin, referring to birth control as a “critical health care need.” But this clear thinker makes an even more dubious logical leap: her claim is that their struggle is “for the access to the health care we need.”

Catch that? She’s attempting to make this about access. She’s making the argument that if we don’t force someone else to buy her birth control, we’re saying she’s not allowed access to birth control.

But this is ridiculous on its face. Everyone has access to birth control. Nobody, despite claims in the media, wants to restrict that access. But that doesn’t mean that colleges should have to buy it for their students–especially where the contraception is against the religious beliefs of that college!

This isn’t about access. Nobody’s banning birth control, or telling you what you can or cannot use. Political leaders are making those claims, and those people are lying to you.

If that’s not clear, think about it this way. I’m seeing lots of excitement online about a company that’s making cupcake ATMs–automated cupcake dispensers open 24 hours. The cupcakes aren’t free, you have to put money in the machine. But by Sandra Fluke’s logic, by failing to provide the cupcakes for free, this company is attempting to ban cupcakes. Charging at this machine is nothing less than restricting my right to cupcakes, and causing financial and emotional suffering.

By the way, let’s look at exactly how much of a financial burden she’s claiming this is. Fluke claims that “without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school.” Now THAT is a lot of–cough–contraception.  Many have pointed out that, assuming you’re spending a reasonable average of $1 a condom at CVS, this means you’re having sex almost 3 times a day, every day, for three years. No wonder people say law school is exhausting.

So that cost is a difficult case to present. Besides, I’ve spent the last few months being told everywhere I turn that women can get checkups, screenings, and contraception for free or reduced cost at Planned Parenthood. Indeed, the argument has been that they hardly do any abortions, THIS stuff is really their main purpose. I also seem to remember that when I went to college, they went out of their way to distribute free condoms and let students know where more free condoms were always available. Not to mention the fact that, upon the slightest amount of research, it turns out that the Target near Georgetown’s campus offers various generic birth-control pills for $9 a month, without insurance. [2] So, if we’re going to look at this clearly, her facts are more than a bit off.

She also argues that having to pay for the pill causes you to suffer “emotionally.” Really? Is she simply referring to the woman that was upset when she found out it wasn’t free? I don’t think that counts as a woman’s health issue. I suffered emotionally when I found out that I couldn’t afford to buy a BMW. That’s not an argument that Congress should write a law forcing my employer to buy me one.

So, if we’re really thinking clearly so far: 1. this isn’t about access; 2. the “financial and emotional burden” fail basic reality checks, and 3. they fail to lead to the logical conclusion that the government ought to mandate that someone else must buy college students contraception.

Finally, she argues that paying for your own contraception causes you to suffer “medically.” This one takes a little more thought, and appears to have some merit, considering the stories she tells. But by her own testimony, her coverage includes hormonal birth control if it’s for medical reasons other than contraception. She tells a couple of anecdotal stories she’s heard about women that have valid conditions and the insurance refuses to pay despite the doctor’s diagnosis. That’s a problem. You can bet that if my doctor told me I needed covered antibiotics for a covered condition, but the insurance company refused to pay, there would shortly be lawyers involved. You’d think law students would be able to work that out.

In the meantime, I’d be buying the medication at Target for $9 a month. I’ll be very interested if anyone can ever validate the “friend who lost an ovary” story (to say nothing of the absurdity of the “friend who decided not to report a rape because Georgetown doesn’t buy us condoms” story).

But the kicker here is that Fluke isn’t arguing to enforce medically necessary treatment. I might get behind that. But no, her argument doesn’t have anything to do with medical treatment, and these stories are nothing more than a litany of red herring. She’s arguing that the government should make her school buy her contraception, just because she wants it and doesn’t want to pay for it. I think, despite the claims of the left, the conservative opposition to this kind of thing is pretty clear-headed and fact-based.

But the unfounded accusations continue. Senate Democrats tweet about the “GOP #Contraception ban.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claims on the Senate floor that “if this amendment passes, it would ban contraception coverage for any woman in America whose boss has a personal objection to it.” The head of the National Organization for Women even claims that the opponents of this mandate are “demanding that the government step in and use the force and power and police power of the state to prevent women from taking birth control.” [3] [4] [5] That’s some clear thinking. These people are simply lying, and it’s sad that so many people are fooled by these lies. I hope one day we can all try to see things a little more clearly.

But maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe at least I’ll get some free cupcakes.


[1] http://www.whatthefolly.com/2012/02/23/transcript-sandra-fluke-testifies-on-why-women-should-be-allowed-access-to-contraception-and-reproductive-health-care/

[2] http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/dc-target-sells-birth-control-9-month-georgetown-student-tells-congress-friends-are-going-broke-pay-pills_632955.html

[3] https://twitter.com/#!/SenateDems/statuses/174905955853676545

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/sen-chuck-schumers-remarks-about-the-blunt-amendment/2012/03/01/gIQAwt6bmR_blog.html

[5] http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/292488/presidents-anti-catholic-allies-ramesh-ponnuru

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