Thursday, February 16, 2012

On the HHS Mandate, as delegated by Congress in the PPACA

Regarding this article ( that I posted on facebook, this beginning of a conversation took place:

A Voice: I'm not sure I get the stance here. It seems like this accommodation is exactly that. This places the choice back on the employee and health insurance beneficiary, where it should be. Perhaps I am just ill versed in this social concern but I've never heard that making sure my health insurance doesn't provide coverage for contraceptives, etc is a duty as a Catholic.

[Basil,] are you aware whether your insurance plan covers these things? Did that enter your mind at all when you signed up for it? Isn't the moral locus, my choice about use, as opposed to the option itself?

This seems to to be tangentially about religious freedom, and more about arguing about legality of catholic prohibited sex stuff. I.e no one is forced to pay for it, so the complaint is that it's available. Granted in the case of abortion pills that is a fair argument, (right to life trumping religious/secular freedom). In the case of straight contraception, doesn't a call to make contraception illegal amount to something like religious oppression, such as Evangelical's calling for a prohibition of alcohol?

I guess my question is: if you aren't forced to pay for it, you are complaining that health insurances have to cover it, short of the abortion pills, who cares?

ps. how is this about religious freedom, and not another complaint at the general moral decay of a society?
A Second Voice: How is this not about the 1st Amendment (religious freedom)? The administration claims to "strike the appropriate balance" between women's health needs and "the unique relationship between certain religious employers and their employees in certain religious positions" -- this is an incredibly narrow interpretation of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If one defines freedom of religion to mean freedom to believe certain things inside your head, then almost anything is permitted for the government to mandate.

The first ppl affected by this are the insurance companies, who are now forced to pay for things which many believe to be unethical: the administration has said ITS ethical dogmas are correct, and so the companies must submit. Secondly, the people who purchase coverage plans from the companies -- and now under the PPACA (so-called Obamacare) that's every American -- are forced to A) purchase the insurance (and thus pay for contraception and abortion or B) pay a fine to the government or C) close operations. I don't know; to me this is not too murky.

Although I agree this is not merely a 1st Amendment issue. To me it seems more akin to the government funding of abortion that has been historically prevented by the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy (which Pres. Obama has circumvented in PPACA and repealed, respectively). This is a plain breach of the most basic responsibility of government - nay, of any society or community of human persons - to protect human life and defend human dignity, especially of the most vulnerable persons. In each of these cases, the ideology (the theology, or metaphysics, and the anthropology) of a group in power has produced an understanding of ethics which requires access to abortion and contraception as a fundamental right. Thus any opposition, whether religiously based or not, becomes unethical, and therefore justifiably suppressed, as a religiously based defense of slavery or stoning women would be. The Obama admin., and scientific progressives in general, see their task akin to that of the British Emp. in the 19th century, abolishing slavery and the mistreatment of women regardless of the religious and cultural opposition of the peoples they had conquered. So I do think that the freedom of religion argument is a little late in the game, and that ultimately the argument must be made on ethical grounds, universal justice, etc.

A Third Voice: I may not be as winded as you folks, but I do strongly side with the Church on this one. Im going to just touch on a few more specific statements that [First Voice] has made. First off, you are saying the benefits are going into the right hands...
it is clear in saying that you arent aware exactly what is occuring. Imagine for a moment that you are pro life. You honestly believe that at the moment of conception the egg and sperm are officially a human being. You firmly believe that it is murder. You own a company. A company you have raised from scratch that has grown so large that you require a health insurance plan that your company pays for and supports. This company is owned by YOU. YOUR private owned company is not owned by the government in any way shape or form. Now, the government is telling you that your PRIVATE, and SELFOWNED company is required to pay for acts that are against your beliefs. Even if you take the religious aspect out of why you have those beliefs and how the governement is telling you to defy them and pay for abortions... You are still being forced to follow regulations unnecessarily placed that also happen to go again your faith.