Ken's Project Blog

May 29, 2012

NYT – The Politics of Religion

Filed under: Health Care,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:36 am

Over at the New York Times, they posted an Op-Ed concerning the dust-up over religious affiliated groups and the federal government’s requirement that they provide no-cost contraception, including the morning after pill. It is staggering that so many half-truths were crammed in to such a short Op-Ed.

I’ll refer you to the actual Op-Ed for the complete text, but let me point out a few of the more egregious mis-representations:

“Mr. Obama very publicly backed down from his original position and gave those groups a way around the contraception-coverage requirement.”


“After religious groups protested, the administration put the burden on insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to women who work for religiously affiliated employers like hospitals or universities — with no employer involvement.”

This refers to the government deciding that religiously affiliated organizations would not be charged directly for the cost of providing the required contraceptive coverage – hoping people will assume that the insurance companies would reach into their own pocket and pay for the contraceptives from their own profits. Ask yourself this question: Will a religiously affiliated organization see the cost of their health coverage go up, down, or remain the same once this expense is ‘covered’ by the insurance companies? The answer is, the cost will go up – the insurance companies won’t be donating coverage for contraceptives to these organizations (they are not in the business of giving things away) and contraceptives aren’t free… It’s just that there won’t be a line item for the cost on the invoice.

Carefully avoided in this Op-Ed is the impact to those religiously affiliated organizations that choose to self-insure, a common practice among religious hospitals – how does a self-insuring hospital avoid paying for contraceptives?

“The vast majority of Americans do not agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-contraception stance, including most American Catholic women.”

As if that matters. The tenets and beliefs of the Catholic Church are not up for vote based on popular opinion – if the majority of Americans felt it was OK to steal, would the Catholic church find itself left with only nine commandments?

“The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.”

This was the final line in the Op-Ed, the author’s attempt at a “coup de grace” – but he falls short: the churches aren’t trying to impose their doctrine “on everyone,” if they were to emerge victorious in this “battle” the only people impacted will be those women that choose to work at religiously affiliated organizations (hospitals, schools, charities, etc.) – they will simply be “forced” to pay full price for contraceptives, and there will be no impact on any other woman covered by employer-subsidised medical insurance.

I find it very telling that the supporters of this contraception regulation feel it is necessary to misrepresent the stakes (“impose doctrine…on everyone“), hold up ludicrous arguments (removing the line-item from the invoice solves the problem), and attempt to convince religious groups that they should let popular opinion polls determine church doctrine…

I agree that someone is trying to impose their doctrine on everyone, but it isn’t the Catholic church.


New York Times: The Politics of Religion


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