Liberty, Not So Much

birth-control-pillWe’ve heard a lot from the Roman Catholic church of late about how its “religious liberty” is supposedly infringed by the Obamacare “contraception mandate”. It’s a dodgy and unconvincing argument for any number of reasons (and hypocritical too, given the church’s earlier support for universal healthcare), to which one can now add this (via the National Catholic Register):

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has voiced his support for over-the-counter access to birth control, a position that Church representatives say goes against Catholic teaching on contraception.

“The Archdiocese of New Orleans disagrees with Governor Jindal’s stance on this issue, as the use of birth control and contraceptives are against Catholic Church teaching,” Sarah Comiskey McDonald, communications director for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, told EWTN News Dec. 14. Robert Tasman, associate director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, also echoed the archdiocese’s statement.

Making the pill available OTC is a generally excellent idea, but Jindal is approaching it from the perspective of a (very) devout Roman Catholic. His cannily pragmatic argument is based on the idea that making the pill available OTC will remove much (all?) of the rationale for including it under the HHS rules, but even this still is not, apparently, good enough for the Archdiocese. Note that these clerics’ objection to Gov. Jindal’s proposal is based on religious, not medical grounds. That their opposition to contraception is not shared by many of their coreligionists, let alone by most Americans of other faiths—and none—is, apparently, an irrelevance. Their ideology must be imposed on everyone, and that’s it.

Remind me again why should we pay attention when this church starts talking about “religious liberty”. I must be missing something.

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6 Responses to Liberty, Not So Much

  1. Alan says:

    This is factually incorrect: “Their ideology must be imposed on everyone, and that’s it.”

    Is the Catholic Church not free to communicate their teachings as moral advice to the citizenry at large? It seems that’s what your statement implies. Are they only free to argue their case as long as nothing they argue for ever gets implemented no matter how many people agree? Is the Catholic Church not free to decide what constitutes their teachings and require of those calling themselves Catholics to hold to their teachings?

    Yes, many who call themselves Roman Catholic don’t follow the Church’s teaching but they are not “co-religionists” in terms of being equal voices in determining Church teaching.

    And yes, most of the Church hierarchy in the US are partly to blame for their own fate in supporting Obamacare and all sorts of leftist causes. Being happy to use the force of government in certain cases and not others undermines their credibility in making their case for protecting religious liberty but it doesn’t undermine their case.

    Obamacare could proceed just fine without the contraception mandate.

    I have not seen any logical, scientific arguments as to the benefit of the universal mandate let alone any that could balance taking away freedom from others.

    As far as contraceptive drugs being available OTC, they are serious drugs with side effects that require monitoring by qualified physicians. Politics is not a good reason to change that.

  2. mike shupp says:

    If we’re REALLY concerned about religious objections to this and that, shouldn’t we let Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses and other folks who don’t approve of modern medicine escape from taxation for hospitals and floridation and other public health measures?

    Also, shouldn’t we let woman-owned organizations be able to choose health care plans that don’t pay for prostate and testicular problems?

    I mean, we’re talking about basic fairness.

  3. D says:

    More and more I’m seeing this yearlong discussion of contraception as the ultimate head fake by Obama. By forcing the Catholic church to offer it, he set up a political debate that made the socially conservative right look like a bunch of Keystone cops, re-arguing culture war issues from two generations ago.

  4. Richard says:

    The Church’s stance isn’t hypocritcal if you accept the premise that birth control is not “health care,” or at least, not health care that anyone else should be forced to pay for. A month of birth control pills is $9 at Walmart. If you can afford Tylenol, you can afford birth control. (And that’s not counting the free condoms that are about as rare as sand it the desert nowaways.)

  5. D says:

    “if you accept the premise…”

    But that’s the crux of the issue, isn’t it? Birth control IS health care as currently defined. Changing the premise is not an option. Or if you do want to change the premise, focus on making birth control available OTC instead of blathering about religious liberty.

  6. Andrew Stuttaford says:

    Alan, those clerics are, of course, free to preach what they want, but let’s be clear what they do want: they want the law to prohibit OTC access to oral contraception for religious reasons, and they want that law to apply to everyone, regardless of religious belief. Under the circumstances, I struggle to take their church’s complaints about Obamacare’s alleged threat to “religious freedom” very seriously.

    And, no, there are no convincing scientific grounds to support the suggestion that the decision to take *certain categories* of oral contraception needs the degree of medical supervision that a prescription implies.

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