creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum
21 Jan 2015
The Persistence of Policing for Profit: Eric Holder's Forfeiture Reform Is Welcome but Does Not Go Nearly Far Enough

Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced last Friday,… Read More.

14 Jan 2015
Charlie Hebdo in the Dock: Despite Its Stand Against the Terrorist's Veto, France Treats Offensive Words and Images as Crimes

On Sunday, as more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris in support of the right to draw … Read More.

7 Jan 2015
Legal Pot Slips Through a Loophole: Why an Anti-Drug Rider Failed To Keep Cannabis Criminal in the Capital

Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says a rider in the … Read More.

Contraceptive Failure

Comment

A month ago, the Obama administration said religious organizations will have to pay for health insurance policies that cover contraception and sterilization, even if they consider those practices immoral.

Two weeks ago, responding to widespread complaints that its edict violated freedom of conscience, the administration unveiled a "new policy," under which religious organizations will have to pay for health insurance policies that cover contraception and sterilization, even if they consider those practices immoral.

And people are still complaining. Can you believe it? Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard from a lineup of Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, evangelical and Jewish leaders who noted that President Obama's supposed compromise, which the White House claims "fully accommodates important concerns raised by religious groups," is "no accommodation at all," as Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University put it.

Under the new rule, Obama explained, "if a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company — not the hospital, not the charity — will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles." He insisted that "religious organizations won't have to pay for these services."

But they will have to pay for the medical coverage, the price of which will reflect the cost of paying for contraception and sterilization.

"Ultimately," Harvard economist Greg Mankiw noted on his blog the day after Obama's announcement, "all insurance costs are passed on to the purchaser, so I cannot see how policy B is different in any way from policy A, other than using slightly different words to describe it."

News outlets nevertheless reported the administration's spin as fact. Reuters claimed "the revised approach puts the burden on insurance companies, ordering them to provide workers at religious-affiliated institutions with free family planning if they request it, without involving their employer at all." The New York Times called the new approach a "concession," saying it "shifts the cost to insurers."

And what prevents insurers from shifting it back? The White House argues that there will be no need, because providing 100 percent coverage for contraception and sterilization saves insurers money by preventing expensive pregnancies and births.

It is not clear why profit-driven businesses must be compelled to do something that supposedly boosts their bottom lines.

Testifying at last week's congressional hearing, Catholic University President John Garvey called the administration's cost argument a "Shazam Theory" that "resolves the intrusion on religious liberty by making the compelled contributions magically disappear." Even if the administration were right about the net financial impact of its mandate, Garvey added, his university still would be "forced to pay for ... activities we view as immoral."

The mandate's supporters seem genuinely puzzled by the notion that their cost-benefit analyses do not override religious liberty. "Why should an employer's right to reject birth-control coverage trump a society's collective imperative to reduce unintended pregnancy?" asks Harvard College administrator Erika Christakis in a recent Time essay.

Christakis has a degree in public health, which helps explain her unabashed embrace of collectivism and her blithe assumption that individual rights must yield to the demands of medical experts who know what is best for us. But Obama used to teach constitutional law, so he surely understands that the free exercise of religion is supposed to be guaranteed even when it's inconvenient.

By exempting churches from the birth control mandate, Obama concedes their religious freedom is at stake. But he arbitrarily denies that freedom to church-affiliated organizations. Although he acknowledges "many genuine concerns" about the mandate, he isn't willing to address them in a genuine way.

Christakis has some advice for people forced to subsidize services condemned by their religion: Suck it up. She says, "The cost of living in a democracy is tolerating moral judgments we don't always like." Yet that is exactly what Obama refuses to do.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum. To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
It isn't even just about religious or moral issues--the whole thing could easily wind up providing politically correct medicine--prescribing other meds that have friends in the bureaucracy but questionable results and side effects; disallowing treatments on bureaucratic and social engineering bases, a whole giant can of worms. Scary.
Comment: #1
Posted by: partsmom
Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:56 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Jacob Sullum
Jan. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 31 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Ben Shapiro
Ben ShapiroUpdated 28 Jan 2015
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 28 Jan 2015
Dennis Prager
Dennis PragerUpdated 27 Jan 2015

11 Mar 2009 John Yoo's Evasive Military Manuevers

10 Sep 2008 Platform at Sea

2 May 2007 Good Cop, Bad Doctor