It’s the end of the world — chaos, the apocalypse, and well-woman visits

Today, August 1, is either:

A. Cause for celebration for 47 million American women who, as of today, gain “access to eight new prevention-related health care services without paying more out of their own pocket,” according to Health and Human Services; or

B. Cause for calamity, woe, despair for all patriots and Christians who, as of today, witness the death of religious liberty, the death of the Constitution and the End of America, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

So it seems that HHS and the USCCB have rather different views as to what today signifies. Who should we heed? I’m thinking that maybe the all-male, authoritarian patriarchy commissioned to enforce religious obedience might not be the best source of information on women’s well-being and/or religious liberty. So let’s go with HHS.

Health care law gives women control over their care, offers free preventive services to 47 million women,” says the press release from the agency (via):

Previously some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women at all under their health plans, while some women had to pay deductibles or copays for the care they needed to stay healthy. The new rules in the health care law requiring coverage of these services take effect at the next renewal date – on or after Aug. 1, 2012—for most health insurance plans. For the first time ever, women will have access to even more life-saving preventive care free of charge.

According to a new HHS report also released today, approximately 47 million women are in health plans that must cover these new preventive services at no charge.  Women, not insurance companies, can now make health decisions that will keep them healthy, catch potentially serious conditions at an earlier state, and protect them and their families from crushing medical bills.

Specifically, the eight preventive-care provisions that, as of today, will no longer entail any out-of-pocket costs for 47 million American women are:

  • Well-woman visits.
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.

In other words, health insurance must cover preventive health care for women.

In other words, the U.S. Catholic bishops and their evangelical “co-belligerents” are anti-preventive health care for women.

Anti-prevention. Anti-health. Anti-care. Anti-women.

Just ponder how many wrong turns a religious leader has to take to wind up so far from love. It’s astonishing.

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  • Gotchaye

    I substituted an Amazon boycott to make sure that the only difference between the two  situations was that one agent was causing harm and one wasn’t.  You (we) want to say that the CFA boycott is fine and that what the
    Catholics were (are?) doing is wrong.  You offered a standard that might
    allow us to make that determination.  The CFA boycott is different in many ways from employees of Catholics not getting contraception covered, and I wanted to test the standard you suggested rather than allowing some other factor to make the difference.  It seemed to me that your standard would lead us to say that the hypothetical Amazon boycott is wrong because Bezos isn’t hurting anyone by funding pro-SSM causes.  The problem is that the standard reason to think that it’s wrong to oppose SSM at all is that that’s a form of harm.

    My point was that, if that’s true, you’re not really saying anything interesting about conscience arguments.  Whether and to what extent they are permissible or obligatory is just a function of whether or not the person’s conscience is actually leading them towards the good.  “That’s harmful” is either an argument against particular conscience claims or an argument against the underlying position, but it’s not independently an argument against both.

    That is, you seemed to me to be saying that what makes the Catholic employers wrong is just that it’s not wrong to use contraception, and what makes the CFA boycott permissible or correct is just that it’s wrong to oppose SSM.  So boycotting responsibly requires having the right position on the underlying issue (SSM, here), and that’s all there is to it.

    Put yet another way, can you give an example of a successful conscience argument, according to your standard, on behalf of a position that is itself wrong?  If not, then it doesn’t seem to me that there can be an independent norm there.  It’s entirely possible that you can, and even that you do have one in this case, if you think that SSM opponents are decisively wrong for reasons that don’t have to do with harming others; that’s just how I interpreted you.

  •  Eh, I think it falls apart either way. Their logic doesn’t make sense because it was constructed to make people feel better about doing something that they think their religion opposes. Most Catholics in the West either use or tolerate contraception, but some of them think that it’s wrong, so some people in the Church came up with this Byzantine framework where the use of contraception is both unacceptable and tolerated. It’s the equivalent of coming up with a strict vegan diet that lets you eat large amount of meat and dairy products.

    And that’s fine with me in this case. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone who self identifies as a Christian has to live up to the strictest interpretation of their faith.

    The problem with a holey condom for holy sex is that someone is still acting to reduce the chances of pregnancy for a particular sex act in order to
    accomplish same.  The rhythm method gets a pass because there’s no
    guilty act – not having sex isn’t wrong.  Using a condom in an
    HIV-discordant relationship gets a pass because the contraceptive effect
    isn’t intended, in a Catholic-y sense.

    I guess that works. It does make the contraception mandate thing seem even sillier now. If it’s more tolerable to allow something (as long as you’re not actively involved in causing it), then why are they so worried about rules that the HHS is imposing on insurance companies? I can understand the distinction between the two, and I can understand why they wouldn’t be happy about it, but their rhetoric actually suggests that being forced to allow contraception coverage is just as bad as being forced to use it. 

    It’s probably just politics; if they applied the same standard to this that they do with condom use, they wouldn’t be able to electioneer quite as vigorously, but I still don’t respect the arbitrary double standard.

  • AnonymousSam

    Considering how old many of the higher ups in the Catholic church are, they probably have fond memories of the church having absolute power. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that contraception was illegal in the US and other countries. Griswold vs Connecticut was 1965, Roe vs Wade was 1973, and Lawrence vs Texas was 2003. They probably viewed each of these as further evidence that the United States was slipping into depravity and now they’re scrambling to decry it all and reclaim their former glory.

  • Tonio

      It seemed to me that your standard would lead us to say that the hypothetical Amazon boycott is wrong because Bezos isn’t hurting anyone by funding pro-SSM causes.

    My point wasn’t about the boycotts themselves but their goals. How would my question look if the CfA opponent took some other action to protest the company’s funding of FRC and Exodus?

    The problem is that the standard reason to think that it’s wrong to oppose SSM at all is that that’s a form of harm.

    Would you explain how that’s a problem?

    Put yet another way, can you give an example of a successful conscience argument in favor of something like a boycott, according to your standard, which is motivated by a position that is itself wrong?

    The premise behind my question is Fred’s contention that the conscience argument doesn’t work in the case of the Catholic employer. It’s one thing to  not want one’s money to support political campaigns to deny gays equality. That’s fair game because it’s about how an entity is treating others. It’s another to not want one’s money to help provide access to contraception, because that’s about how individuals are treating themselves in their personal lives. A conscience argument might work if the employers were actually being forced to use contraception, and as Charity noted above, the stance of the bishops is that being forced to allow contraception coverage is just as bad.

     I want to be able to say that everyone should be able to agree that the Catholic employers are in the wrong, even if we don’t agree about whether or not contraception is moral or not harmful.

    I doubt that one can arrive at the former without a premise that individuals are justified in deciding for themselves whether to use contraception, and that premise would seem to require that contraception use is morally neutral. A stance that its use is morally wrong leads to the conclusion that individuals have no justification in using it.

  • Johnsmithofamerica

    To quote I Will Fear No Evil though,
    “We have a nasty word for women who use the rhythm method.””What?””Pregnant.”

    Not quite.  The first line is off (I don’t think the word nasty should be in there, but I can’t remember exactly what the right quote is), but the word in question was definitely “mothers,” not “pregnant.”

  • Fusina

    Dan Cathy to the world:

    “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,”

    So. A quick flip through the bible focussing on the big name people and their “traditional” marriages (mostly this is what I remember from sunday school)…Abraham. Wife Sarah. Concubine, Hagar the Egyptian. Jacob (Abe’s grandson, incidentally) two wives, Leah and Rachel, two concubines, Zilpah and Bilhah. David, wife Michel, wife Abigail, wife Bathsheba, more wives I can’t remember all the names just now, and numerous concubines, unnamed as I recall. Solomon, David’s son, no wives named, just a number. Three hundred wives, seven hundred concubines.

    So, traditional marriage in the bible is, often as not, multiple wives (esp. if you are king), and mistresses as well. I mean, so far as I am aware, David, like Dan Cathy, was still married to his first wife, assuming she didn’t die in childbirth or disease.  So in order to have a “traditional biblical marriage”, Dan Cathy et al are non starters. Course, they are probably referring back to Adam and Eve.

    I do think Cathy is on to something. And I say to him:

    “I think you are inviting God’s judgment on yourself when you shake your fist at Him and say, ‘I know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on any generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that they have the audacity to define what marriage is about,”

  • AnonymousSam

    Sue me, I read it ten years ago while I was in college. :p

  • VCarlson

    You’re doing better than I. I just remember something along the lines of:
    We have a *name* for people who ise the rhythm method.

    Not book or even author, so you’re way ahead of me. It’s been … a little longer than ten years since I’ve read it, though.

  • Gotchaye

     So, as far as I can tell, we agree about what you were saying – you weren’t offering an independent norm to judge particular conscience arguments.  The norm basically reduces to “conscience arguments work iff the target of the proposed action is in the wrong”.  And there’s not really any point to arguing about the conscience argument (for the legitimacy of a boycott, for example) instead of about the underlying position (the moral status of SSM, for example) because one’s position on the two is linked in this way, in that what one thinks of the first depends on what one thinks of the second.