Monday, February 6, 2012

Take That, Catholic Church!

The Obama Administration has decided to mandate that all employers have to provide birth control, including abortion-inducing drugs. This mandate now covers the Catholic Church. Which, understandably, they are not jolly pleased about.
“This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets,” [Catholic League head Bill ] Donohue said.
You don't say.

This law seems to be on dubious grounds to start with - the constitution protects freedom of religion, but the constitutional basis for healthcare mandates is unclear (and still awaiting a Supreme Court decision). This is only a concern for reactionaries like me that don't read the Commerce Clause as being the 'Do Absolutely Anything Clause'. But frankly that ship sailed many years ago. On the other hand, how this plays in with the First Amendment is not at all obvious.

The question is why the Obama administration would be so hell-bent on making the Catholic Church provide birth control to its employees. This would cover Catholic schools, hospitals and charities. But honestly, how many employees does this really affect in the overall economy? It seems more likely that this is the administration's decision to give the finger to the church in order to curry favour with women's groups. I presume their logic is that not many Catholics vote Democratic anyway, so screw 'em.

As a basic matter of liberty, if the Catholic Church doesn't want to provide birth control, then it's no business of the government to make them. Then again, if you take this kind of radical thinking too far, you might wonder why the government has any business demanding that other employees provide birth control, or why the government has any business mandating health insurance provision at all. This thinking would clearly make you as the worst kind of dangerous libertarian loonie.

You can rely on the National Abortion Rights Action League to dissemble and mislead on this kind of thing:
“The Catholic hierarchy seems to be playing a cynical game of chicken and they don’t seem to care that the health and well being of millions of American woman are what’s at stake here,”National Abortion Rights Action League President Andrea Miller said.
Ah yes, the old canard of deliberately obscuring the relationship between health insurance and health care. The people involved are already employed (or they wouldn't be affected by the bill). If contraception is really important to you, then either don't sign up to work for the Catholic Church, or pay for it yourself. In equilibrium, if the average person has a demand for birth control, then the Catholic Church will have to pay higher wages to compensate for the healthcare that they aren't providing. Use the higher wages to buy the pill on your own - you don't need the Catholic Church to hold your hand. It's not like this is a one-off $100K cancer treatment expense, where if it's not done through insurance you can't afford it. The pill is pretty cheap, and it's a regular ongoing expense, so budget for it yourself. It doesn't make the slightest bit of difference if my employer gives me a $40 pill, or the $40 in cash to buy it myself.

For obvious moral reasons, it does make a big difference to the Catholic Church. And for utterly opaque and wrong-headed reasons, it apparently makes a big difference to the government and the National Abortion Rights Action League, who think that buying the pill on your own would constitute a horrible travesty. So much so, that they're willing to risk a brawl with America's Catholics.

Way to contribute to the Republican Get Out the Vote effort, guys!

No comments:

Post a Comment