Religious Freedom, Religious Exemptions, and the Responsibility of the Majority

Religious Freedom, Religious Exemptions, and the Responsibility of the Majority March 13, 2012

Lets talk about religious freedom, shall we? It seems that the religious news feeds are consumed with the notion lately, all centered on coverage for birth control and emergency contraception. For those who haven’t been following the controversy, it all stems from a new Department of Health and Human Services rule that would require employers to provide contraception in their health care plans. This new rule would apply to all employers, including schools and hospitals run by religious organizations, though churches and businesses that primarily hire people of their own faith were granted exemptions. This prompted a firestorm of controversy, particularly from Catholics, who claimed the new rule trampled their religious freedoms.

The all-male, all-Abrahamic, panel on religious freedom.

The Obama Administration countered by creating a new compromise that would make contraception coverage a direct relationship with their insurance provider in instances where a religious employer objected to offering coverage. While the compromise mollified some Catholic institutions, Roman Catholic Bishops, along with a growing chorus of conservative protestants and evangelicals, are doubling down in their opposition. Now, it isn’t simply about Catholic hospitals and other employers run by a religious organization, but about any employer who doesn’t morally agree with birth control (despite the fact that many states already mandate contraception coverage). Hence the recently voted-down Blunt Amendment that would have created unprecedented conscience exceptions to employers providing health insurance.

“But Blunt’s proposal doesn’t just apply to religious employers and birth control. Instead, it would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law—everything from maternity care to screening for diabetes. Employers wouldn’t have to cite religious reasons for their decision; they could just say the treatment goes against their moral convictions. That exception could include almost anything—an employer could theoretically claim a “moral objection” to the cost of providing a given benefit. The bill would also allow employers to sue if state or federal regulators try to make them comply with the law.”

Conservative activists think that this is a winning wedge issue, claiming that there is a “war on religion” (or at least religious freedom) underway, promising apocalyptic results should Obama get a second term. Meanwhile, conservative pundits seem to have gone over the edge in their attacks on law student Sandra Fluke, who gave testimony on why contraception coverage was important. This was after a controversial House panel on the contraception rule that included only men. All of this exists in an atmosphere where contraception, abortion, and women’s health seem to be under a level of scrutiny and attack not seen in years. 2011 and 2012 have been record years for abortion restrictions, and it seems like we are re-arguing debates that had been, for many, largely settled.

So, with all this talk about religious freedom, about a war on religion, where are the voices of minority religions? We seem to hear all about what Catholics and evangelicals think about contraception, and occasionally we even hear from a Muslim, but what about the millions of Americans who are outside the conservative Abrahamic paradigm, or the millions who are but disagree with their conservative brothers and sisters? As religion professor Anant Rambachan, a Hindu, recently pointed out Christianity isn’t the only religion that has opinions about various social issues.

“It is important that our voices also be offered in the public square. This amendment threatens to enshrine in law the perspective of particular religions and marginalize others. Once you start enshrining Christian morality into law, you inherently limit the religious freedoms of non-Christian faiths.”

Instead of being about religious freedom, this debate, according to Danielle Tumminio, is becoming increasingly about how members of one religion can treat members of another religion.

“The issue, then, is really about how Catholics treat non-Catholics. After all, presumably Catholics would not want birth control — it’s all the other folks who do. Which makes this a debate not about religious freedom but about how people of one faith care for those who do not share their beliefs.”

The preferred defense against such arguments is that individuals can simply not apply at employers who they disagree with, or not frequent businesses who don’t share their moral views, but that isn’t always an option. Particularly when the only hospital near you might be a Catholic hospital, or a town is dominated by conservative Christian business owners, which is far more towns than you think. It simply isn’t feasible for all the non-Christians to move to a socially liberal area and only find employment with non-Christian employers. We are supposed to be living in a secular society, one that not only protects the religious liberties of hospital owners, but also protects the rights of individuals who might need care at one. As such, compromises need to be made, or else the grand experiment of our republic fails.

Religious exemptions must have limits or they are useless in protecting the rights of individuals and groups who may disagree with a certain faith’s beliefs. Once you extend religious/moral exemptions to any and all private business it would quickly create areas in the United States where certain groups are “relegated to a special untouchable status,” leading to the ostracism of a variety of communities and increasing “balkanization.” Scenarios where Pagans suddenly find it increasingly hard to find businesses that will serve them aren’t some cautionary fantasy tale. If the level of religious exemptions currently favored by certain politicians were allowed to become reality, it could lead to tacitly enforced “no-go” areas for non-Christians.

It’s easy to forget that it was once Catholics who helped usher in a sweeping disestablishment of religion in the United States. We once lived in a “Protestant America,” one where Franklin D. Roosevelt could safely opine that “the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance.” Carlton J.H. Hayes, the first Catholic co-chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, maintained that “in this country Protestants have the major responsibility for assuring justice and true toleration to non-Protestants, not because they are Protestants but because they are [the] majority group.” Today, Catholics and Evangelicals are the most powerful Christian groups in America. They are the majority group. As such, they can no longer pretend to be the trod-upon minority of years past, can no longer refuse to own their own power and privilege in our society. While we must certainly guarantee their religious freedoms, it must now be weighed against the rights of any and all who don’t fit into their conceptions of morality or a well-ordered society. Any religious exemption in a secular pluralistic nation must be weighed against how that exemption will affect the millions who don’t believe as they do.

The compromise offered by the Obama Administration seems more than fair to the moral sensibilities of Catholics and other groups opposed to contraception. Any steps further would enshrine a status quo that simply privileges the majority, and create a rights system that is beholden to whichever religious group is currently in power. While that may seem ideal to Catholics and evangelicals now, I would remind them that no group’s fortunes prevail forever, and there may come a day generations from now when Pagan hospitals are asking for exemptions from the desires of Christian patients. At such a moment, they will no doubt want the majority to be extra-sensitive to their beliefs and needs, to their different moral views.

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185 responses to “Religious Freedom, Religious Exemptions, and the Responsibility of the Majority”

  1. As Americans United (for the Separation of Church and State) puts it:

    “Religious freedom is a celebrated American tradition. Our Founders knew that mixing religion and government only caused civil strife, inequality and very often violence in pluralistic societies. For more than 300 years, church-state separation advocates have fought to keep the tradition moving forward. Thanks to these efforts, modern Americans enjoy more religious liberty than any people in the world.”

    Here’s their page of writings of the U.S.’s early advocates of religious liberty is here:

    Part of religious freedom is to recognized as a tax-exempt religious entity by the government.  Here’s something that happened (which birthed the Lady Liberty League):

    “In late Summer 1985, federal legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress that would have taken away equal rights for Wiccan churches and practitioners. In the House, Representative Robert Walker of Pennsylvania introduced HR 3389 and Congressman Richard T.Schulze of Pennsylvania introduced a similar amendment to the Tax Reform Bill of 1985. Senator Jesse Helms introduced Amendment 705 to HR 3036, the Treasury, Postal, and General Government Appropriations Bill for 1986. All three pieces of proposed legislation would have taken away tax exempt status from Wiccan churches. Helms’ amendment was approved by a unanimous voice vote of US Senators on September 26, 1985.

    “Lady Liberty League emerged as a result of the nationwide networking that emerged and successfully defeated this first federal legislative attempt to take away rights from Wiccans and other Pagans. The Helms amendment was defeated on October 30, 1985 when it was removed from the Appropriations Bill in a joint conference committee. Shortly thereafter, Schulze withdrew his amendment, and the Walker Bill was set aside, eventually dying with the close of the 99th Session of Congress.”

    Both “legs” of religious liberty are important. 

  2. The religious right is in favor of this at the moment because all they have considered are the reproductive issues that they care about. Consider the moral whiplash when they are denied coverage of an emergency blood transfusion due to working for a Jehovah’s Witness with a moral objection to the procedure.

  3. Over on GetReligion they’re all in a tizzy about how this issue is *not* being framed in the mainstream media as a religious-liberty issue but as an argument about contraception. Of course it’s both, and becomes less and less of an authentic religious-libery issue the more the Administration offers reasonable compromises. By dipping into the Abrahamic corner of the blogosphere you’re covering a minority position that’s moving closer to the fringe every day.

    Meanwhile, the obduracy of the Republicans is painting them as the anti-contraception party. A few GOP strategists are running around with their hair on fire warning this could be catastrophic for the party in November. Personally I find it amusing. (I’ve been watching Republicans since I was ten years old and they’ve never been this amusing.)

    “Catholics and Evangelicals […] can no longer pretend to be the trod-upon minority of years past, can no longer refuse to own their own power and privilege in our society.”

    They can and will as long as they are allowed to get away with it. It’s a part of the foundational story they tell one another intramurally and fill their kids’ heads with in Sunday School.

  4. I agree jason , the folks who are in the drivers seat of the republican party can not claim to be a downtroden minority any longer . At this point we need to fix our broken government , the obstructionism needs to stop. Our govt. needs to work for it’s people once more . Somehow we need to let people know we need more dems in the congress , so progress can occur again . With congress locked up , the American people are the ones that suffer.One the other point , getting our voices heard , i’d like to know how to do this . I send letters to my senators, reps regularly . Those of us in the fringe groups have no real political clout .What we need to do is form some sort of Pagan/Hindi commision , with our united numbers we can’t be denied. What i am hoping is that my wife is correct, those crazy right wing folks have pissed off a quite large voting block , American woman . That in itself will give Obama another term and may help bring a few more dems with him .Shift the balance in our govt.We need to return to days past , when after all the campain nonsence , our politicians worked for us . Not protecting absurd polarising policies .i do agree with everything you stated , we need to stand up make ourselves heard , acknowleged.The only problem i see is in the hearding cats issue w/ Pagans . But unless we don’t want things to change , we need to get past all the petty internal bikkering and get things done . Otherwise we’ll always be that forgotten group of fringe lunnies to the mainstream . For the most part the mainstream dems and republicans don’t even know we exist . This needs to change, we are not just part of a political base . We as a united front can be a force that needs to be reckoned with .Finally have some political clout , then they will have to listen to us .     Kilm, sorry for rambling on a bit , but this stuff is of concern to me

  5. “At this point we need to fix our broken government , the obstructionism needs to stop.”

    At the risk of seeming terribly simplistic, imho the way to do this is to vote Democratic for everything in November. It is false to reality to compose an even-handed, “Shame on both parties” position on this. Obstrutionism has become a chose Republican tool since 2008, in both houses of Congress.

    The Republican Party needs a time-out to work on just what it is in the early XXI Century.

    Now, I fully agree with you that neither party knows we Pagans exist. That imho is wholly due to our collective choices as a community. I get lots of solitications to sign on-line petitions; none have come from a Pagan source, that’s Not How We Do Things. And the GOP and Dems don’t know we exist.

  6. Despite what some people would think, contraception and abortion are one of my hot-button issues. I will absolutely NOT vote for a Republican as long as the war on women continues, and I give money and time to Planned Parenthood, because dammit, this is IMPORTANT.

  7. Yeshua Ben Yusef must be rolling over in his tomb at what has been done to his teachings! 

  8. In an odd way I believe it’s a good thing that we’re having this national discussion, given that the concept separation of church and state is so poorly understood and the Religious Right seems to be leading the discussion on “proper” interpretation.  To hear them tell it, the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…) and Free Exercise Clause (“…or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”) impose a one-directional proscription, telling Congress “hands off” of religion while placing no such proscription on religious influence over law and government.  When you stop to think about how religious influence might be established in federal law, the matter looks quite different – one would have to first be elected to Congress in order to enact federal laws, and once there, the Establishment Clause applies.  Similarly, “free exercise” has repeatedly been determined by the Supreme Court since the end of the 19th century to apply to beliefs and opinions, but not necessarily practices (polygamy, human sacrifice, etc.).  These clauses guarantee religion an unfettered role in society, unless the states can demonstrate compelling reason to restrict or limit that role in the interest of public welfare.  They also guarantee a government that is strictly neutral on religious matters while shielding federal laws from its influence.  When the Danbury (CT) Baptists approached President Thomas Jefferson for clarification on the legal intent of these clauses in 1803, the President first used the term “separation of church and state” to illustrate the point that he, James Madison, and other Constitutional framers intended to make.  He could not have made the point any more clear, and this has been our collective understanding ever since.  It is only recently that the Religious Right has challenged this interpretation in favor of their “Christian Nation” agenda which threatens the individual liberties of any and all citizens who do not share their religion, social beliefs, morals and opinions.  The mere existence and exercise of dissent may be upsetting to them, but these are by no means abrogations of their religious liberties nor grounds to abrogate those of which and whom they don’t approve.  Those of us who value true religious liberty in this country should neither court nor accept any form of compromise, we must reclaim the protections afforded us by the U.S. Constitution before conservative lawmakers legislate them out of existence for all but the majority faith. 

  9. It’s easy to forget that it was once Catholics who helped usher in a sweeping disestablishment of religion in the United States. 

    Yes, and unfortunately the Catholic Church turned around and showed its true colors the moment it gained sufficient institutional power to “win” a place as part of the dominant religious establishment.  As far as the organization goes, the Catholics have never actually supported religious freedom —  there are many liberal Catholics who do, but the Church’s leadership remains completely dominated by hardcore fundamentalists.

  10. I’ve written ad nauseum about this very thing in the Catholic and conservative forums, and I’ll spare you the dreaded long script, but to put it mildly, the bishops are full of fertilizer on this. In their conception of the issue, anytime the government fails to defer 100% to their doctrine in any matter, or balances their religious rights against any other consideration at all, then they’re being “oppressed” and it’s a “War on Catholicism.” They are also lying through their teeth when they it’s “not about contraception.” It absolutely is.
        The pro-life movement has a very recent track record of trying to outlaw contraception. The so-called “personhood amendments” put on the ballot in several states would, without question, outlaw the pill and all other forms of hormonal contraception. Catholic bishops have not formally endorsed the measures because they want a national, not state by state strategy. Catholic theology considers birth control which is even capable of preventing post-fertilization implantation, as tantamount to abortion. There is simply no way they cannot seek to outlaw it sooner or later. 

  11. Pagans, we can’t have it both ways.  We expect others to honor our
    religion, and not be forced to hire Catholics or Pentecostals at our
    metaphysical stores, spiritual retreats, and so forth.  We want to be treated with parity in the workplace.  Yet we don’t
    want to grant this same right to other religions whom we disagree with? 

    Also… and most of youse aren’t gonna like hearing this… the real problem for many conservatives is the “bread and circuses” mentality that seems to espouse the notion that we taxpayers have to support others’ pleasure.  This includes buying health care for people other than our own families.  Even people who have jobs… I notice it says, “employers provide insurance”.  NO.  If you’re in a group health plan, and they take on one more health service, ALL of the people paying into the health plan see a raise in premiums and deductables!  Why should *I* be forced to pay for someone else’s good time?  Why?  Are we gonna have to provide their hairstyling next?  Their movie tickets?  That is the fear of Mr. Obama having a second term!  People voting themselves perks at others’ expense.  It’s a very selfish mentality.

    Besides, birth control is FREE already at your local health department or free clinic (for the indigent) 75c at any gas station, and approximately $1.00 each at any Wal-Mart, for the rest of us.  If you want the pills, they’re about $20 – 40 per month.  If you’re too broke to buy birth control, and too shamed to admit you’re poor and go to the free clinic (which is already paid by MY taxes, you’re welcome) then keep your legs closed, or swallow!  

    Why, oh why, must we buy into the liberal fallacy that the world owes us a living?

  12. Taxpayers DO seem to be a “downtrodden minority”, Kilm, as one working person supports four others with their taxes… only half being family members.  Republicans are the only ones fighting for taxpayers.  I don’t see the American people “suffering”, I see some of them with their hands greedily extended, demanding more… and the taxpayers rebelling!  We already provide free birth control to the indigent.  We don’t need to be providing it to people who can darn well pay for it themselves!

  13. And Republicans are also fighting the war on babies… again.  Birth control is FREE at health departments and clinics for the indigent.  It is CHEAP at most big-box stores.  I don’t need to provide it for anyone, nor do I need to be forced to pay for lazy people who refuse to use it to be kinslayers.

  14. Or, the person who needs the blood transfusion could buy their own private insurance, from a company who provides it, rather than asking Jehova’s witnesses to pay for it for them.  Again, the bread and circuses mentallity.  Someone else owes me a living…

  15. I don’t put up with this “kinslayer” garbage from Christians and I’m not about to put up with it from Pagans either. There is NO scientific evidence for any form of consciousness whatsoever before 24 weeks’ gestation. Two-thirds of abortions sweep a poorly-differentiated mass of tissue out of the body.

    It reflects poorly upon us to be regurgitating deliberate lies spoken by desperate religious zealots to convert the scientifically ignorant to their cause.

  16. This is nonsense. We are all paying for Viagra now so someone else can have “pleasure”. Viagra is covered by health insurance. Its only where women’s bodies are concerned that men suddenly say “I won’t pay for it”.
    I and many others have spoken about this for weeks. Now its time for everyone to call their reprisentatives, especially if you live in a “Red” state. Tell them that Obama’s compromise is very fair.
    Any woman who does not want contraception (keeping in mind that many women take contraception for medical conditions other than pregnancy) and any man who doesn’t want Viagra doesn’t have to purchase it. But both needs to be available for persons who need them (also more than 90% of Catholic women are on birth control).

  17. So then why should MY tax money pay for men’s viagra? Surely that’s paying for someone else’s “good time”.

  18. [Rolls eyes] Do you even know how much private insurance costs? I looked into just vision and dental for myself because my employer’s insurance doesn’t offer it. It would take at least a 6 figure salary.

  19.  Funny you should say that A.C., as in most Heathen societies you weren’t a person until you were named and abortion was a regular practice.

  20. Um–do you get that we’re talking about health insurance paid for by employer and employee premiums, not tax dollars?  And that the net cost of birth control (or abortion, for that matter) is negative to other insurance subscribers, because it reduces costs?

    You’re not making sense.  As well as maligning insurance subscribers as lazy and kinslayers–something that would be malicious and ill-informed even if you were talking about Medicaid and Medicare, which are funded by tax dollars.

    To me, the level of your misinformation seems to imply that someone other than the objects of your criticism is lazy here.  And your willingness to dismiss the needs of others makes throwing around terms like “kinslayer” seem almost self-parodying.

  21. “Instead of being about religious freedom, this debate, according to Danielle Tumminio, is becoming increasingly about how members of one religion can treat members of another religion.” 

    Yes.  I think that’s well put.  And reminds me of my response (both as a Quaker and as a Pagan) to another controversy in the current culture war, that of gay marriage rights.  The notion that permitting those of us who belong to religions that recognize the validity and sanctity of same-sex marriage to perform those ceremonies is somehow an imposition on the “rights” of those religions that don’t allow it–what is that (besides an excuse for legal bigotry) but an attempt to restrict my religious freedom by imposing the values of another religion on mine?

    That’s one reason why I’ve seen so many Pagans taking prominent roles in the religious argument for the freedom to marry.  We disapprove of the religious beliefs of one sect being imposed politically on all others who hold different ones.

    This really is about refusing to cede the right to politically control the members of religious minorities to majorities.  Attempts to reframe it as refusing to honor religious freedom are inappropriate.

  22. “We expect others to honor our
    religion, and not be forced to hire Catholics or Pentecostals at our
    metaphysical stores, spiritual retreats, and so forth.”

    Actually, we/you should hire Catholics and Pentecostals to your organizations(metaphysical stores, etc.), provided they are respectful, want to work there and follow the same policies as everyone else. Not to do so would be both illegal, and, in my opinion, morally wrong.

  23.  And where do you think the money for birth control at these clinics (probably a Planned Parenthood) comes from A.C.?  You and I are paying for that with our taxes and the Repubs are trying to slash funding for those too.  When you get your way, how will women (and yes there are many who can’t afford an extra 40 dollars a month for birth control- I couldn’t in college) be able to get contraceptives?

  24. The list of red states and the list of states that are net takers of money from the federal government looks remarkably similar. Blue states very often are states that contribute much more in taxes than they get in benefits returned from the government. Sounds an awful lot like red staters want to have their cake and eat it, too.

  25. Isn’t it terrible how this government forces the employees of Catholic institutions to use birth control?  Yep, since the Pope can’t be everywhere at all times like God making sure that no Catholic is caught with a condom on, apparently, judging from all this bur-ha-ha, Obama’s shock troops are breaking down doors of Catholics and doing something (not sure what that would be, exactly) to any of them caught having protected sex.  Right?  NO?

    (I also have it on good authority that the Pope is a Muslim)……..

  26. Yep. As long as someone has the interest and isn’t in it to harass or convert the clientele, it’s nobody’s business.

  27. People hired in metaphysical store (etc) also have to be knowledgeable and be able to work comfortably and effectively with the clientele. The same thing applies to music stores, furniture stores, sex-toy boutiques, and so forth. 

  28. If you believe there should be no such thing as shared risk or insurance and that everyone should thrive or die in the streets on their own merit and fortune, then you’re right. If we are going to have insurance, it’s absurd to let people get into these games of “I shouldn’t have to pay for …..”
      If you say you shouldn’t have to pay for birth control, why should I have to pay premiums to cover heart disease or diabetes or strokes, all of which are 90% + the result of someone’s poor lifestyle choices? Why should I have to pay for the compound fracture someone’s 12-year-old kid got skateboarding?
        Or the brain injury they got in football? They got themselves into that mess. Why should I have to pay premiums to cover chemo for people who have pancreatic cancer or some other tumor that we know is going to get them sooner or later? Why should I pay for prenatal care or childbirth for someone else? I didn’t conceive the brat. Shouldn’t they support their own “pleasure.” ?

  29. I’m not being forced to PAY for others’ marriages, but I am being forced to pay for others’ contraception.  Your religious freedom does NOT equal my responsibility to pay for your health care.

  30. I don’t think that you should have to pay for the conditions that you mentioned, Kenneth.  I think that I should have to pay for my own insurance, for my own family, and you should have to pay for your own insurance for your own family… or invest and use the dividends for your health care. So you actually made my point for me.

    What everyone seems to forget is this legislation is trying to force employers to pay for group plans that include various health needs, including contraception.  Religious issues aside, that is quite far down the slippery slope to socialism.

  31. Why not? At this point, it’s pretty well-established that American-style socialism (i.e. socialism for the very rich and screw everyone else) doesn’t work. I’d argue by now it’s time to give European-style socialism a try.

  32. Yes, Repubs are trying to slash “services” because taxpayers can no longer be the fountain of milk and honey!

    I AM a fifty-year old white WOMAN who is TIRED of paying for everyone else.  I managed to get pregnant only when I wanted to, or go without sex, or use birth control, so I have that same expectation of others.  It’s called “Responsibility”.  The only “chains” binding me are the high deductions from MY earnings which are given to others… at MY family’s expense.

    How will women afford to avoid conceiving, you ask?  1. Use natural birth control, grows in the wild or is cultivated and sold at botanicas.  2.) Work and buy their own.   3.) Marry (or be in a committed relationship with legal contracts) before deciding to have children.  4.) Yes, be celibate when you can’t afford birth control… or do any of the other sexual acts which don’t cause conception… it is NOT that difficult. 

    I’d not call that girl a “slut” for asking ME and other taxpayers to pay for her birth control, while she’s in college… I didn’t get to finish college, because I had to WORK and pay MY OWN WAY… there’s another “S” word for her… “Selfish” or “Spoiled”.

  33. There was just a Supreme Court decision, widely celebrated in Pagan circles, over organizations not having to employ people whose religious beliefs and actions were not in keeping with their organizations.  What’s good for the goose…

  34. A.C. what of the case of many , someone i personaly know, uses the pill to regulate the menstral cycle , w/o it she has extreme pain and blood lose to the point of anemia .Not all birth control is used for pleasure . And what of the costs of unwanted children when birth control isn’t available . i personaly don’t have a problem w/ healtcare insurance , that the person getting it payed for , paying for birth control. I personaly am upset my insurance no longer pays for my allergy meds[antihistimine ] , i am a diagnosed Asthmatic / copd patient.Tis enuf fun dealing with these increasingly cheap insurance companies , we don’t need the govt. making a difficult situation worse. religious beliefs donnot belong in a health care debate . Particularly in a plauralistic society . Kilm

  35. You obviously didn’t listen to the actual testimony of Sandra Fluke, which was actually about non-contraceptive uses of birth control (of which there are many). The fact that you haven’t acknowledged that point says to me that you are getting your information from right-wing radio and pundits and not from the actual source material. 

  36. There are many other hormonal alternatives that help women regulate medical conditions, including natural botanicals.  They can be available to those who need them — and THEY can pay for them, not me.

  37. There are lots of different medical conditions that are treated with hormones, and it is not safe and effective to use “natural botanicals” for all of them. I truly hope you are not encouraging women with potentially life-threatening conditions to use herbs instead of following recommendations from their physicians.

  38. Let me clarify.  There are several issues in play, besides the violation of religious rights for those who don’t believe in birth control having to pay for others’ contraception.

    I’m pointing out that birth control is currently available, to the indigent, paid for by our taxes. That is one issue.  Why should we have to provide more public services, when free birth control is already available?

     I’m further pointing out that birth control is cheap, and people who are not indigent, people who work, can pay for it their ownselves, rather than forcing employers — including small, one-ownter businesses — to add contraceptives to their health plans.  That increases costs for all working people.  It makes my health premiums increase, as well as making goods and services more expensive, when benefit packages are made mandatory.

    Two sides to the same coin.

    People who refuse to work, expect taxpayers to give them handouts, are lazy.  Howcome they have all this time to have sex, instead of going and getting a job, or going to school?

    Women who commit fetuscide are kinslayers.  Killers.  Murderers.  You can put all the feminist “spin” on this you want, someone who has an abortion is killing a living, conscious human being.

  39. You completely fail to understand how insurance works, then. Insurance is based on the concept of a shared risk pool – you are NOT paying for your own medical coverage, you are paying a tiny fraction of the medical coverage of everybody, who in turn pay a tiny fraction of your medical coverage.

    That’s how it works.

  40. Um, there’s no scientific evidence for any form of consciousness, period.  Prove that someone is conscious.  You can judge response to stimuli, but not consciousness.

    As a mother, I was able to discern my children’s music preferences, food preferences, when they were uncomfortable, when they had indigestion, when they were awake or asleep, from about a month after conception.

    Subjective?  Yes.  However, many mothers will tell you the same thing.

    Don’t want children?  BUY your own contraception, or DON’T have intercourse during fertile times.  That simple.  Much easier than forcing unwilling people to pay for your jollies.

  41. “We expect others to honor our  religion, and not be forced to hire Catholics or Pentecostals at our  metaphysical stores, spiritual retreats, and so forth.  We want to be treated with parity in the workplace.  Yet we don’t 
    want to grant this same right to other religions whom we disagree with? 
    You are completely mischaracterizing the situation. Religious institutions are free to only hire people from their own faith, and institutions that do so are EXEMPT from the new regulations. As are churches, temples, and any other religious institution. What isn’t exempt are religious-run institution that hire significant numbers of employees who AREN’T of their faith. Like Catholic hospitals and universities. Even then, the compromise solution allows those institutions to not spend money on contraception directly,  and will instead mandate that insurance companies deal with the employees directly, thereby keeping Catholic employer’s hand’s clean from having to pay for contraception. Of course, over 20 states already mandate that such institutions include contraception coverage, so this new compromise from your hated socialist Obama will actually be MORE conservative that the laws in place in much of the country. 

  42. Yes. We manage to pay for our own insurance, we go without other things, such as television.  It does NOT take a “six figure” salary.  It would be a lot more affordable if taxes weren’t so high, having to pay for other people who refuse to work!

    Another option is investing and using the dividends for health needs, or saving money for health needs.  Or using alternative medicine.

    And as for vision… Wal-Mart has eye exams for $150 and glasses for $50. 

  43.  Oh noes, socialism!  Having safety nets provided by the government by a pooling of tax resources is socialism.  We live in a country that is partly made up of this system.  If you don’t realize this, you’ve been living under a rock.  If you don’t like it perhaps you would enjoy Somalia.

  44. “Women who commit fetuscide are kinslayers.  Killers.  Murderers.  You can put all the feminist “spin” on this you want, someone who has an abortion is killing a living, conscious human being.”

    You can spew that opinion at your own news site AC. I don’t appreciate it here. If you feel you can’t simply stop calling people who have abortions “kinslayers” or “murderers,” let me know, and I’ll take appropriate steps to help you stop using my forums for your extreme rhetoric.

  45. By the way, if you’re on Blue Cross, some fraction of your premiums go to covering my HRT. In that case, thank you 😉

  46.  And I will happily criticize the hypocrisy of any in those Pagan circles who claim that religious discrimination by employers is okay while asking not to be discriminated against. This has no bearing on my disapproval of such religious discrimination.
    I am also unaware of this supreme court case or of any wide celebrations in pagan circles over it. I am interested in reading regarding the case. Do you by chance have a link or name I can search for this case?

  47. I will say, you make a good point about supporting the lazy good for nothing folks who don’t want to work.  But what about the ones who do want to work?  The ones who could afford personal health insurance, but one day, they got laid off and have been pounding the pavement for another job, anything, with no luck.  So I suppose now it is their fault they can’t afford decent health care for their children and themselves?  And the rest of us should just turn a blind eye and say to hell with the rest of you, I don’t care, just as long as I have what I need?  I’ll be the first to admit, there are a lot of people who defraud the system.  It’s not perfect, but to make such a sweeping generalization of fellow human-kind is truly sad and disheartening.  And honey, let me tell you from experience, personal health insurance DOES cost more than television, or even internet service for that matter.

  48. Let’s start with the government service that has the largest impact on the budget – the military.

  49. If we can withhold our support for things we don’t agree with that easily, I’d like ALL of my tax monies back that paid for the wars in Asia.

  50. Leaving aside the valid issues being discussed here, I would like to say I think that a lot of the religious ranting being done over women’s birth control is being pushed by extremists.  I had my tubes tied at a Catholic hospital (it’s the only hospital here), all I had to do was sign a form that I wasn’t a Catholic.  A Catholic friend of mine had a vasectomy at the same hospital, his priest had him do a few hours of community service (but that was between him and his church).  I hope the rationalists can keep the zealots from upsetting the apple cart that keeps things operating in a logical fashion.

  51. Altho most employers do supply healthcare insurance , most employees are required to pay copays and employee contribution , usualy as a payroll deduction for their insurance . So the person getting the birth control is paying into the insurance plan as well .In essence they are using a perscription benifit they payed into as well . Other people are not being asked to pay outrite for someone elses pleasure .That is how insurance plans are sopposed to work. I felt i needed to clarifiy my previous position on this .    Kilm

  52. Is this about insurance companies? How often have you heard of these companies upping a persons rate after a claim? Home or car or medical it doesnt matter. But have a storm go through your neighbborhood and everyone but you claim damage but yourrates go up.
    All insurance pays for others.

  53. What I am objecting to is that people who don’t believe in a certain procedure are being forced to provide that procedure for others, to pay for it. 

    If someone buys insurance in a health plan through work, and another
    member of the plan gets contraception, the person who bought the
    insurance is in fact paying for the contraception.  If I pay for a file cabinet, or a physician, or the electric bill, or the linoleum on the floor, for an institution that provides abortion services, then I AM paying for abortion services.  If an employer contributes matching funds to a health plan, then the employer is being made to pay for the contraception.

    It is NOT really a compromise; it is liberal double-speak.  Saying: “you’re not
    really paying for contraception, well, not directly,” when money is being pooled in
    the same health plan, paid for by all members of the plan, with matching
    funds from the employer, then re-distributed to members of the plan who wish to have contraception…. it’s untrue… you really ARE paying for others’ contraception!  Including the employer, who offers the matching funds!

    What would be a good compromise is having two separate group health plans… or eliminating group insurance all together, and making individual plans available, with a discount for everyone employed at the business.  The latter solution is more expensive for the consumer.  If an employer contribution is desired, the employer could pay a higher salary, so that employees could buy their own health insurance.

    Jason, you were very happy when the SCOTUS passed employment laws for religious exemptions for employers, stating they didn’t have to offer services to employees that were contrary to faith.  HOW is this different?

    And please don’t say that I “hate” Mr. Obama.  He’s our president and deserves our respect.  I strongly dislike many of his policies, I wouldn’t vote for him, but he is a good man with family values, and I do not “hate” him.

  54. I don’t like it at all, which is why I vote for candidates who offer services that benefit EVERYone, such as roads, public libraries, and military protection, and vote against offering services to a select few.

  55. Please read my reply to Jason, under his comment.  If I am paying for a light fixture in a clinic that offers, say, nose-hair tweezing, and I am against nose-hair tweezing, then I am paying for others to have that service.

  56. I did read the part of Ms. Fluke’s testimony where she stated that she had a pal who required birth control pills for a medical need… but there are many other alternatives for hormonal therapy than contraceptives.  And she didn’t say why her pal (or her friend’s parents, or her friend’s partner) couldn’t pay for the Pill, which only costs $20-40 per month.

    Did YOU miss the part where she said that she was in college, but couldn’t manage to afford her own birth control?  And did you question how she could manage to afford a college education but not medical care, or wonder why her partners couldn’t help pay for contraception, or wonder why she had all that time for sex rather than studying, or wonder why she couldn’t trot herself down to any local convenience store, on any college campus, and buy her OWN birth control, rather than asking taxpayers and workers who pay for their own insurance, to provide it for her?

  57. “Jason, you were very happy when the SCOTUS passed employment laws for religious exemptions for employers, stating they didn’t have to offer services to employees that were contrary to faith.  HOW is this different?”

    Could you narrow down which SCOTUS decision you are talking about? Instead of just saying “SCOTUS decision.” I’ve written about more than one you know. The most recent one I remember off the top of my head is about the ministerial exception, and if that’s what you are thinking of, it doesn’t decide what you think it decides.

  58.  Because, hey, the college system is broken and over-priced.  We pay an obscene amount of money to fund a top-heavy, bureaucratic administration.  I can’t afford health insurance.  At all.  Period, the end.  Because I’m in school I’m paying thousands of dollars a year for a chance at a better job, and I have to work in a bullshit half-assed job because of the screwed up economy where I make barely better than minimum wage and can barely pay for my car in order to GET to school. 

    The CEO of Nanoscale in the SUNY system makes more money than the
    president of the SUNY system itself, over 900,000 dollars a year. 

    I got into a Gods damned accident in 2009. Do you know where I went?  The chiropractor.  Because I could afford it.  I can’t even afford to see my general practitioner because I don’t have enough money for it.  And the kicker is?   Healthy New York is too much money.  The “affordable” state healthcare is unaffordable for me, but I make too much money to apply for things like Fidelis Care.

    So get off your high horse and don’t fall into the line of thinking that conflates “education” with “inherent wealth”.

  59. AC and Ryan, iirc that decision had to do with activities (such as a religious school) which the sponsoring institutiont could reasonable say was part of their ministry, even though it might be teaching trigonometry. Thus the staff are ministerial, and can be subjected to regulation as such.

    Paganism imho lacks the institutional strength to be able to claim legally that a metaphysical bookstore is part of our ministry. In an anti-discrimination suit, I fear the plaintiff would win.

  60.  Regarding Alice’s comment,

    Women who commit fetuscide are kinslayers.  Killers.  Murderers.  You
    can put all the feminist “spin” on this you want, someone who has an
    abortion is killing a living, conscious human being.

    It just so happens that one of my projects in progress is a book on the social and spiritual history of abortion (working title: Lilith’s Children).  So I’ve done a little bit of research on the subject at hand.

    First, I’d note that close to 90% of the abortions performed in America are done during the first trimester.  I question how “conscious” a zygote is.  I’d also note that many of the later-term abortions occur because the woman didn’t have early access to a facility, lacked the funds, or was too young to understand she was pregnant.  IIRC, a disproportionate number of second-trimester abortions are performed on young incest survivors who become pregnant and don’t realize what is happening.  (I can get more exact statistics, with citations, upon request).

    As far as “kinslayer” goes, the pre-Christian woman had access to all sorts of concoctions designed to “bring on menstruation.”  Heck, in many cultures it was considered acceptable to leave an unwanted or deformed baby out on a hillside to die.  Even those where exposure was frowned upon generally allowed for herbal remedies until the “quickening” – the time when the baby’s motions could be felt, typically mid-second trimester. (They believed the earlier the potions were taken the better, but that had more to do with the mother’s health than with ethical concerns about the baby).

    I’d further add that while Christian Europe may have had prohibitions on abortion, there was still a tradition of unwanted babies being “stillborn” (thanks to suffocation or strangulation) or later dying thanks to a parent “rolling over” on them during sleep.  So I’d say that if Alice doesn’t like safe, legal and subsidized abortion I doubt she’d be any more satisfied with the alternatives.

  61. Religious parity has nothing to do w/ healthcare benifits .In a plauralistic society it is absurd to allow an employer to determine what benefits thier employees get based on his/her own religious beliefs. When in all likelyhood the employees don’t share the same views/beliefs.How would you like it if your muslim employer based how you are treated based on sharia laws, would this be fair to a non muslim worker. Doing such a thing is a violation of an employees rights, enforcing personal religious based morals on someone who dosen’t share those beliefs/ views.Say in the case of a pagan that works for a Muslim or visa versa . To my way of thinking religious parity is an entirely separate issue .As others here have suggested this seems to be more about the dominate religion enforcing it’s views/ morals on the rest of us .In America religion and all that goes with it is supposed to be a private matter , not envolved in the public forums and laws . This is the best way for a pluralist society such as ours to operate . And by the way . America was designed by our founding father to be pluralistic from the beginning . This country was never meant to a christian or any other religion based theocracy.    Kilm

  62. Remember when some state (I forget which) wanted a law that all miscarriages had to be investigated by police? The assumption was that women who miscarried did so deliberately and that the zygote was a fully functioning human being, thus any miscarriage had to be investigated as murder.
     Also, in Catholic theology a “good woman” even if she has other kids, will choose to sacrifice herself (die) if the birth of a child is life threatening to her. Women are worth nothing in these instances. Fetuses and Zygotes are the new “golden calves”.

  63.  $150 eye exam is a lot when you have little to nothing left over after bills at the end of the month.  Investing… I hear that a lot.  Lots of folks I know who were smart and invested lost most of what they invested.  It’s how my father lost his retirement.  He would’ve been better off taking what he had saved and going to Vegas.

  64. I have had people repeatedly recommend that I use various herbal remedies in lieu of synthetic 17-b-estradiol for my hormone replacement therapy. My research indicates that you can’t actually DO this in the United States – the herbal preparations available don’t have the consistency or the safety to be able to do this.

  65. If I could “like” this comment more than once I would. I have lived in Europe where there was guaranteed health care, better food, free college (and good vocational training for those who were not college bound). If we didn’t spend all our treasure on endless wars we could have these things, plus develop the alternative energy solutions to get us off our oil addiction.

  66.  I think you might want to take a look at this which explains how little of our tax dollars actually goes to the indigent miscreants and those wanting “hand-outs”, as you say.  Very little of government spending actually gets spent on the poor.  There’s a breakdown here:  Corporate welfare accounts more for government spending than the poor.  $250-$500 a week for a single mother with two children is not going to break the government’s bank.

  67. Its nuts that .30 cents of every health care dollar goes to insurance companies. American life expectancy is dropping (Canadians live 2 years longer than we do, probably because they have less stress, they don’t lose their home and their savings when they get sick). If we had single payer national health care for all (we already do for some – its called MEDICARE) this insane waste of health dollars would stop.

  68. Safety nets and birth control *DO* benefit everyone.  It makes society as a whole better and stronger and more civilized.  I’m sorry but some folks just don’t want our society to devolve into your Lord of the Flies Utopia.  Half if not most of this argument would not be happening if wages weren’t stagnant and the upper crust didn’t practice wealth hording.  Maybe you’re just irritated at the wrong people.

  69. So why am I not seeing a big to-do about this in conservative circles, if the issue is about “paying for someone else’s good time”? Why is it just focused on the female side of things, when pleasure is NOT the predominant purpose of birth control for women?

  70.  “What I am objecting to is that people who don’t believe in a certain
    procedure are being forced to provide that procedure for others, to pay
    for it. 

    If someone buys insurance in a health plan through work, and another member of the plan gets contraception, the person who bought the insurance
    is in fact paying for the contraception.  If I pay for a file cabinet,
    or a physician, or the electric bill, or the linoleum on the floor, for
    an institution that provides abortion services, then I AM paying for
    abortion services.  If an employer contributes matching funds to a
    health plan, then the employer is being made to pay for the
    contraception.”  That’s the nature of insurance.  Are you against insurance altogether then?  I am ethically opposed to paying for someone’s heart surgery (theoretically, not in reality) because they were overweight or didn’t exercise.  Should I have to pay for it?  If we go your route and anyone could decide not to pay for certain care because they’re opposed to it, insurance would fall to shambles.  It would unravel into each person having to pay for their healthcare directly.  This would be the inevitable conclusion.

  71. but there are many other alternatives for hormonal therapy than contraceptives.

    Given that most of the trans women I know on oral HRT are taking birth control pills, I’d be interested in hearing what “alternatives for hormonal therapy” you are talking about.

  72.  Then pull yourself out of the medical insurance institution altogether and bootstrap it if you’re that morally opposed to it.  I’m opposed to a lot of garbage I have to pay for through a pooling of monetary resources, war being the biggest one, but I haven’t seen a “moral opposition” refund check yet.

  73. Know what, forget it, don’t bother answering.

    I’m an American taxpayer too, and I deserve to have some of MY tax money going towards services that will actually benefit me and improve my life. We can play the “mine mine mine” game all we want, but the fact of the matter is that conservatives are not the only ones paying taxes. They should not be the only ones getting a say in how those taxes are used.

  74.  I had that same issue in my teen years, Kilm.  It’s called menhorragia. It was pretty awful.  I missed a lot of school because of it and was anemic for years.  The pill fixes that really well. 
    I don’t understand though why it’s unacceptable for some reason to discuss contraceptives in their primary use.  Why do we have to frame the issue as “but it’s a medication too”.  A society that has fewer unwanted pregnancies, and thus fewer abortions, thus fewer children born into poverty, thus less money spent on safety nets for the impoverished is a win-win for that society as a whole.  We need to grow up and stop sniggering or shaming people who talk about sex or admit to having sex.  It’s not dirty, it’s not a crime.  It’s a natural phenomenon, as normal and necessary as eating, and found in most of the animal kingdom in one form or another and, yes, even for pleasure.  Heck, bonobos have orgies even.  Let’s grow up and be rational civilized adults and stop acting like fourth graders screaming about cooties.

  75. In Western European (Dutch, German) folklore, the soul was supposed to enter the body three days after birth. This was supposed to coincide with the moment an infant is able to fix his / her eye on an object. This does not prove anything, but why shoud Christian folklore be considered more important than Pagan folkore? 

  76.  An often overlooked fact.  Thank you, Kenaz.  I’d be really interested in reading your work once it’s finished.  One topic I find incredibly interesting is ancient midwifery and this goes right along with it. Be sure and keep us updated. 

  77. As Jon Stewart said awhile back:

    “I’m just saying to the people who are upset about their hard earned tax
    money going to things they don’t like: Welcome to the [effin’] club. Everyone pays for [stuff] they don’t want all the time. You know what, reimburse men for the Iraq war and oil subsidies, and diaphragms are on me.”

  78. *Crap, “reimburse me” not just men! (Although some people do seem to believe that women are not taxpayers…. *sigh*)

  79. The whole libertarian argument is 100% unadulterated, analytical-grad bullshit. I say that because it’s based on a completely bogus accounting system in determining who is “self made” versus sponging. 

    Most libertarians, when it gets right down to it, are like the 14-year-old kids of rich parents. They think everyone else in the world is a parasite except, of course them. Any taxation or money that flows to anyone poorer or darker than them is “socialism.” The stuff that accrues to them is, well, earned.Somehow. In their accounting scheme, anyone besides them is getting a handout. They ignore all of the thousands of ways other peoples money made them what they are. The free public education paid for largely by taxpayers who had no kids of their own in school. The fire service without which their home would be almost uninsurable. The bazillion-dollar highway that serves a relative handful of people in their semi-rural area. The Medicare that pays out three times what they paid into it to cover their obesity-related diabetes and heart conditions.The billions of dollars in tax-supported basic research that underlies ALL of today’s technologies, spent by generations who saw no direct benefit in their lifetimes. Then there’s Medicaid, derided as a handout for welfare queens. The dirty little secret is that it’s also wildly popular with the middle and upper middle classes as well. When grandma comes down with Alzheimer’s, it’s amazing how few of these self-sufficient Randians suck it up and pay for her $7,000 a month nursing home tab out of their own wealth. By dint of accounting magic, grandma suddenly becomes “impoverished” and dumped on the state dole.Like all trust fund kids who fancy themselves “self-made” men, they’re all about it as long as they aren’t completely cut off from dad’s money…. 

  80. I think it would be a real interesting exercise to do a true and full accounting of the balance sheet for each one of us. That is to say, assign the true value, to the cent, of the benefits you accrued over your lifetime from someone else’s money versus the money of yours that went to taxes, ie in your book “stolen” from you. I propose a full accounting, followed by a full squaring up. If you truly paid out more than you received in all the ways you benefited by other people’s money, we’d call that “theft” and the government would repay you the balance.
    If, on the other hand, the balance fell the other direction, you’d be branded a “welfare cheat” and you’d be liable to repay every red cent in benefit you accrued in excess of what you paid out.
    This accounting would, of course, take into account far more than direct government checks paid out to people or “welfare” proper. Every single way in which you benefit from past or current public spending would be assigned a fair value and one proportionate to your life. Every highway, every sewer, every public service or piece of infrastructure that enabled you to have the opportunities you had and to live the standard of life you now enjoy.
    I’ll bet there’s damn few people in this country who would really want to risk their financial future on that game.

  81. The SCOTUS decision I think you’re referring to is about ministerial exception. In other words, when a church is employing someone for core church functions – ritual or education, that employment situation is largely exempt from discrimination law. 
        So too is the case with the contraception mandate. Churches and closely related entities that hire and or serve primarily other church members are exempt. The bishops want much much more than that. They argue, in essence, that anything a religious organization touches magically becomes an extension of ministry and is therefor immune from any legal interference whatsoever.
        If a Catholic organization buys a 20-hospital multi-billion dollar health care network, that suddenly becomes a “church.” If they decide that Christ called them to the energy sector and they buy a majority stake in BP, that becomes a “ministry” and the government can’t force them to do anything at all. That’s an insane over-reach of freedom of religion. 
       Freedom of religion in our legal tradition is expansive. It was never absolute nor can it be. It is intended to give a wide berth and a presumption of validity to those things a person needs to worship and to “be” a person of that faith in the world. It is not a force field that blocks out all other laws and considerations. It is a burden on government and employers to do whatever reasonably can be done to accommodate a religious practice and to limit those practices only where there is a good and largely unavoidable and non-targeted reason for doing so. 
       The Catholic Church does not have even an incidental interest in protecting anyone’s “freedom of religion” but their own. Their bottom line demand is that government either enforce Catholic doctrine in all matters and to never force the church to adhere to any law it doesn’t like. Anything less is “oppression.” 
       We’re not buying that crap, and neither will any Supreme Court. 

  82. Leaving
    aside your anti-abortion rhetoric, you are simply wrong about the
    notion that paying for birth control increases costs of insurance.  It
    lowers them, because pregnancy and birth are far more
    expensive than contraception or abortion, as well as less subject to
    still-more-expensive medical complications.

    There is, then, a net reduction in costs to all
    insured within a pool when women have access to contraception.  From a
    pure cost analysis perspective, you’re just flat wrong.

    Are you wrong about the morality of abortion?  That question is above my
    pay grade.  I have an opinion on the morality of abortion, but I will
    acknowledge freely that my opinion is just that–a thoughtful one, I
    hope, but no more provable than the opposite opinion, unless we appeal
    to a deity for a ruling.  Intelligent and good people disagree on that
    one, and I have never seen any good come from arguing about it.

    Particularly when the argument begins with inflammatory language and a conflation with other issues.

  83. You’re not talking about insurance. Insurance is 100% about shared risk and everyone sooner or later helping to pay for some cost they did not incur and may not approve of. That is what insurance has been about since the first insurance scheme was sketched out on a napkin at Lloyd’s of London over coffee 320 some years go. 
      What you’re proposing is not insurance at all. It is a society in which you either have half a million in reserves to cover medical disasters or you get dumped in the street to die unless some private charity has the pity and means to help you.  That’s one way to do it, to be sure, but I’ll take a bit of socialism, with all its lumps, over that any day.

  84. @facebook-556495406:disqus That’s odd, most of the trans women I know who are on oral HRT are taking 2mg Estradiol (straight, no chaser).

  85. That could get me started on a whole new tangent! HRT is a classic example about how the “free market” ideologists are actually the biggest socialists in the history of the human race. In any  real free market system, HRT would cost a few dollars a month, based on the real costs of ingredients and amortized research investment on technology that is now 60+ years old.  In the “free market” we really have, companies are granted a monopoly, engineer false “shortages”, drive up the costs by several decimal places over their true value and you, the consumer, (and insurance) are legally barred from going anywhere else. Our corporate system is worse than socialism. It is pure welfare, for billionaires. We develop all of the key basic research for drugs on the public dime. The pharma companies take that and build on it a bit, and then we give them guaranteed profits at whatever level they like. The taxpayer gets all the risk and front-end investment, they get all the payoff. 

  86. Katie: that could be.  When I was on HRT I was on a finasteride/estradiol combo and was under the impression estradiol is also used for birth control. 

    2mg? I was on 8mg at first, but that got dropped to 4 after I started crying while watching horror movies.  I rather miss HRT. Estrogen did wonders for my moods and my mental stability once I got on a proper dosage. Unfortunately, it also did horribly bad things to my blood pressure, so I had to go off it.

  87. A.C., you’re completely off topic.  I am not discussion payment at all here, but the idea of religious freedom being what a majority religion feels free to do to members of other religions.

    That your analysis of health care costs is inaccurate isn’t even the point.  Your inability or unwillingness to accurately read and respond to others’ words is.

    As Daniel Patrick Monihan once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.”  Read and respond to the reality in front of you, both in terms with what other writers here are saying and what the actual facts are that are relevant to your positions.

    Or be prepared to be ignored… because I at least have no more time for you today.

  88. I agree completly with everything you have stated Crystal . But unfortunatly we still have to deal fools like Rush Limbaugh. I saw a protest sign a lass was carrying in washington last week that sums it all up ……. ” i can’t believe i still have to protest about this “.Another one said” i thought we already worked this one out”.     Kilm

  89. A.C. what i meant by those claiming to be a downtriden minority is Christians . Altho the middle class is in trouble these days .Most of the damage was done by the trickle down policies of the republicans .Under these policies the rich got  richer and the middle class got screwed . My income and purchasing power has actualy shrunk . Due to the housing bubble bursting also due to republican deregulation of financial markets and banking , my mortgage is underwater .I am no fan of our friends the greedy republicans , not overly fond of the dems either for not standing up and not allowing this crap to happen . These types of things are why i’m an independant voter , a small L liberatarian, one of these pesky independants. I’m not at all pleased out the current goings on in Washinton DC . But getting back to Jasons point Christians in general cannot claim to a downtroden minority when they hold an 75to 80% majority in the US  and are also in the drivers seat of the republican party ……………tis frikkin absurd.      Kilm

  90. Health Insurance from employers is part of your wage your earned it. To have employers deny you coverage based on their religion is theft.

  91. Fully available birth control for both sexes along with sex positive education starting in elementary school is the only way to reduce the abortion rate. Holland has the lowest abortion rate of the West because it does just what I have mentioned above. 

  92. I find it amusing that you express such a puritan attitude that even the puritans would find extreme (lets not talk of bundling). 

  93. Yes the world does owe us a living and all other creatures as well. That is life. We love and work and pass it on. The world is not selfish it freely gives with a little labor and sharing.

  94. She is paying for her insurance at school the school choose not to over it thus cheating Ms Fluke. She did not once ask for tax payer dollars.

  95. Yes taxpayers are paying for marriages. When marrried people get goivernment benefits that I a single man cannot get then I (taxpayer) am subsidizing your marriage.

  96. Kenneth , you are correct the Ayn Rand brand of Liberatarians are nuts and isolationists to boot .I consider myself a small L Liberatarian of the truest form . not what today is commonly known as a liberatarian .     Kilm

  97. And people who call abortion murder are responsible for every single nutjob that decides it’s okay to set off a bomb at an abortion clinic, or assassinate doctors that perform much-needed and often life-saving procedures. Because if abortion is murder, they reason, why isn’t it being punished?

    If you call abortion murder, then you are accountable for those deaths. Congratulations.

  98. You mentioned the Catholic church wants a national, not state by state strategy. Yet they seem quite content with the state by state strategy in banning same sex marriage (they are currently hard at work on this in my state). I wonder why you think they won’t take that tack with banning contraception as well? Just curious, really.

  99. Yes! And as Katie mentioned above, that argument no longer holds water as it’s the red states that are the biggest “parasites” on society of all! This article is a bit over the top but completely hilarious, and recommended reading for anyone who thinks that it’s the conservatives that are paying for all our liberal benefits – it’s the other way around.

  100. A couple helpful links.

    How contraception actually SAVES all us taxpayers boatloads of money:

    And how “your” tax dollars are actually being spend (mostly on defense and seniors, by way of Medicare and social security and other safety nets set up). Yes, some poor people are getting some of “your” family’s hard-earned money (though if you were really that bad off, you’d be getting tax credits too) but I’m guessing most of the geriatric community are not spending “your” tax dollars on contraception. (Viagra, maybe.)

  101. As others have pointed out elsewhere, I don’t think you understand what “insurance” is.

    What you keep trotting out throughout these discussions is a glorified savings account — you pay in, and you get the money out. You receive the sole benefit of that money. And special accounts like this exist: they’re called health savings accounts, established in 2003.

    But they are *not* insurance. Insurance, by definition, is pooled risk. Your insurance company is pooling the chance of you making a claim with the chances of other people making a claim — and in the aggregate, the company winds up paying out slightly less than it takes in, in order to pay administration costs (the AHCA also set this ratio at no less than 80%).

    So no, you are not purchasing *personal* insurance for your family. Such a thing does not exist, by definition. Your insurance policy is, again by definition, pooled with every other insurance policy held by that company, and you are paying for every single procedure that said company covers, whether you like it or not.

    I understand that this is something you are (vehemently) arguing against, but the reality is that you are already doing it.

  102. @facebook-556495406:disqus The estrogen doses required by hormone replacement therapy for trans women and postmenopausal women are more than an order of magnitude higher than those found in combined oral birth control pills.The highest estrogen dose I’m aware of in any approved birth control pill is 50 micrograms of estradiol; you would have to take forty such pills per day to reach a typical HRT estrogen dose (2 mg / day). And those are the old style high-dose pills; with modern low-dose pills you would need sixty to seventy pills a day.

  103. You are describing the way you think health insurance should work; Katie is describing how health insurance actually does work. As a matter of fact, at no point in the entire history of the world has any known health insurance program ever functioned the way you think health insurance should work.

    If you want to completely change the way insurance works, it would behoove you to prove that your way would actually work.

  104. This, very much. When people say “the world doesn’t owe you a living,” they make it seem like the idea of expecting to have your basic needs provided for is a bad one.

  105. ‎”The world doesn’t owe you a living” claims the conservative. I ask, “Why not? Why can’t we consider it to be a basic human right that everyone deserves a certain standard of living, that everyone deserves clean food and water, that everyone deserves to be healthy – and to receive comprehensive medical care when not healthy?

  106. Sorry guys ………..i ranted wee bit yesterday, but this stuff hits a sour note to me , bugs to crap put of me , actualy.   the state of our govt and the Christians trying to dominate us are two topics of major concern to me .     Kilm

  107. Just one thing to add to Kenaz’ response to Aldag, and that is that the best way to drastically reduce the number of abortions is to ensure that everyone has access to birth-control, along with the necessary information to use it effectively. Even that is far from a 100% guarantee, but anyone genuinely interested in reducing the number of abortions should be in favor of free birth control for everyone. The only exception would be those who agree with Rick Santorum and the “personhood” crowd who believe that hormonal birth control = murder.

  108. Why should I have to pay for lung diseases brought on by smoking? Smoking is a lifestyle choice. Just the smell of cigratettes makes me cough but my insurance has to pay for the result of smokers taking their pleasure! (just being ironic)

  109. I don’t believe in smoking. I hate breathing second hand smoke, the smell on people’s clothes. Yet I pay for insurance that covers the diseases resulting from smoking. Some pople think its pleasurable to smoke and we all pay for the consequences.

  110. Gee, I am being forced to pay for Viagra, early death and disease from smoking, diabetes brought on by lack of excersize and bad diet. I am forced to pay for immoral wars that I don’t support. Heck, I am childless but I am forced to pay for schools and libraries. Thats part of living in  a human society. Why is it that only women’s health is the target?

  111. I want to apologize to people for using harsh and abusive language yesterday, especially to Jason, Katie, Cat and Crystal… and anyone I missed.  We can disagree, even vehemently, but that is no reason for me to become so enraged that I am impolite and verbally hostile.  I am sorry if (when!) my language got out of control.

  112. I believe that we each must also give back to our family, society and environment.  Unfortunately, in the past few days, I’ve observed a few people who are takers / players (not here on TWH; out in real life) and I got really upset at having to support them at my family’s expense. 

    For example, watching Mr. Aldag outside, swinging a mattock and pulling last year’s corn stalks out of our garden, working with a broken leg… and watching my neighbor, who has claimed disability for 16 years, collecting welfare, racing up and down the street on his ATV, with gas at 4 bucks a gallon… and wondering why we’re being made to support him, pay for his healthcare…

    It gets to me.

  113.  You and I have very different ideas about the sources of the problems… agreeing there IS a problem… wondering about solutions.

  114. I appreciate that you decided to apologize, though I’m still concerned about your tendency to use “impolite and verbally hostile” language when engaged in a debate. You can continue posting here, but consider this a warning that further rhetoric of that nature won’t be tolerated. It’s not about your politics, it’s about the language you use whenever politics come up. I rarely permanently ban people here, trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but it will happen the next time I’m given cause.

  115.  I guess we’re gonna have to disagree about this topic… my research has told me very different things… one of the reasons that historic Witches underwent some persecution in Europe was because they performed these procedures, and most of society disagreed with it.  The red garter originally meant an abortionist.  They didn’t need to hide or have a secret sign because they had society’s approval, but because it was so drastically frowned upon.

    Currently most of the 2 MILLION abortions performed in America are for convenience… the usual reason being “it interferes with school or work”, and that is from Planned Parenthood’s own statistics.  Most young women were taught about pregnancy young… (quick poll of our kidz’ friends said around eight years old, 4th grade.)  At risk of sounding sarcastic… they know what causes pregnancy nowadays… so it seems that avoiding the cause would avoid the symptom.

    I also wish to point out that exposure, suffocation etc. as well as abortion may have been acceptable in some ancient societies… but so was slavery.  My ancestors used disemboweling to punish theft.  My pal’s ancestors bound their ladies’ feet, with full approval of the women.  Many societies advocating having six or more children, as well.  That don’t make any of these things acceptable today. 

    You see, one of my major concerns about Mr. Obama forcing health care providers and employers to do things against their religious strictures, as well as being forced to fund them, it’s a slippery slope… what will be forced on us next, against our religious beliefs? 

  116.  How about charities pay for this, rather than taxpayers or insurance carriers?  The original feminist societies passed the hat to make birth control available… that is what Margaret Sanger did, and even she did NOT advocate public funding.

    I want to point out that “Free” means “someone else pays for it”.  TANSTAAFL

  117.  You’re right, sex is not shameful or dirty, but it is something that we have control over.  You did NOT have control over your menhorragia.  You DO have control about when and how often you have sex.  I am not arguing that sex is bad… I am arguing that people who cannot afford their own contraceptives should be responsible, control their urges, and pay for their own desires.  Eating isn’t shameful or dirty, either, yet I would caution someone who was overweight, predisposed to diabetes, to not guzzle high-fructose corn syrup.  This is something they can control.  I would greatly resent either having to feed them, or to pay for their insulin if they make a poor choice that leads to an unwanted health situation.

  118. But that’s a false distinction. Having a road network and a public library network benefits everyone, but each individual road or public library only benefits a select few. The only value “everyone” gets is the overall social plus from being able to travel or being able to read books, and the exact same argument applies to health insurance. It benefits everyone because it is a common social good, not because every single person is going to personally use all of it. 

  119.  Did you know that Medicare pays before either insurance or savings?  I found that out when doing my Mom’s estate.  And that’s wrong.  A person who has money in the bank should be paying for health care.  Their insurance company should be paying for their health care.

    Defense is 11% of the federal budget, lumped in with various domestic law enforcement programs.  All entitlement programs are 43% of the budget, including Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, food stamps, and other forms of Welfare.

  120. Actually, you are forced to pay for others’ marriages — marriage comes with a HUGE package of financial benefits which are de facto paid for by every other member of society. 

    If marriage was just a social thing, it wouldn’t be nearly as big a deal in civil rights.

  121. Disability fraud is an entirely different subject than what I’m talking about, though, and I’m disappointed with the red herring. I’m sorry about your neighbor, I wish something could be done about what he’s doing.

    “The world doesn’t owe you a living” is in my mind a polite way of saying “some people deserve to die.”

  122. Yes, when you get something free that means someone else pays for it. “Someone else” in the general case when we’re talking about free health care is “the entire society, which then gets the benefit of healthy members who can contribute to the general welfare.”

  123.  Actually, the two are inseparable for me… the religious ideal of honor having a lot to do with self-sufficiency.

  124. “Currently most of the 2 MILLION abortions performed in America are for convenience… the usual reason being “it interferes with school or work”, and that is from Planned Parenthood’s own statistics.”

    Currently, in the United States, for people working in most professions, there is no such thing as paid maternity leave. If you go on leave to have a baby, you have to take it from FMLA, which is unpaid (and if your employer turns down your FMLA for whatever reason, the accumulated absence will undoubtedly exceed whatever your absenteeism limits are). Also, FMLA doesn’t even apply to small businesses. Two-thirds of mothers who give birth while employed find themselves required to find a new job post-partum.

    Given this, I would submit that the proper course of action to cut down on elective abortions to avoid missing work would be laws mandating maintenance of employment and paid maternity leave.

  125. Yeah. Someone who can’t afford contraceptives can REALLY afford a pregnancy.

  126. It is worth noting here that the United States is one of only THREE countries in the entire world which does not mandate paid maternity leave. Not three industrialized “First World” nations, mind you, three nations on the planet. Yes, we’re BEHIND the “Third World” in this.

  127.  I don’t think it’s fraud, I think he’s disabled yet still able to work.  I’m legally blind, but can do many things… and wouldn’t dream of taking government money that I do not absolutely need. 

    I think that our society, and liberal political views, enable people who CAN work to NOT work.  If people are faced with, say, having no heat, or having to eat Ramen
    noodles every day, I believe they’d try a lot harder to support
    themselves.  We enable them to get away with being dysfunctional by
    giving handouts.

    I wouldn’t dream of going to the doctor and charging insurance for anything but a dire illness… and am vastly irritated when others do so…. especially when society has to foot the bill.  When The Best Daughter in the World complained of the high price of
    birth control, my advice was “better cut more hair” (her job).  Thus I haven’t much patience with the young lady who can afford to attend Stanford University, yet can’t
    afford to finance her own contraception.

    Yes, this IS part of my religious beliefs.  Asatru Virtues of Strength, Honor and Freedom (which covers self-sufficiency)  Celtic Virtues of Strength, Honor, and Self-Sufficiency.

    And no, I don’t think some people “deserve to die”, including babies whose parents don’t want them.  Yes, I do believe they’re actually babies, human children.  This may be at odds with what others believe…. which is why I do not wish to outlaw it, but resent being forced to support it.

  128.  FMLA is not unpaid, but you do have to use sick and vacation days. 

    Isn’t it a bit unreasonable to ask a small business to pay someone’s salary who is not working?  My small business couldn’t afford that.  I could afford to hold a job for a worker, but not pay them AND pay another person’s wages, too… or go without their productivity.

    Lest it start a whole ‘nother argument… a good reason for mothers to not work while children are small… which means having a committed relationship with partner with a job BEFORE getting pregnant.

  129.  Unfortunately there is currently ONE working person, often making a low wage, for every TEN people who are not working… that is top heavy and not sustainable.

  130.  Why is abstaining or using sexual techniques that do not lead to pregnancy so untenable?

    It seems as if people are saying the only choices are working people being forced to pay for everyone’s contraception, or having to pay for everyone’s abortion.

    Third, better, alternative — individual responsibility.

  131. And you don’t think that this might not be due to structural problems due to a four-decade-long conservative restructuring of society to embrace dog-eat-dog capitalism?

  132. I don’t think we should be writing social policy on the premise that everybody is perfectly responsible 100% of the time, or has partners who are perfectly responsible 100% of the time.

    Writing social policy on the basis of individual responsibility is both (a) ignoring the meaning of the phrase “social policy” and (b) playing craps with people’s lives.

  133. As a healthcare professional, I will point out that while you might be able to cover routine medical/dental expenses without a six figure salary, it is literally impossible to cover major emergency care or long term a care without a seven or eight figure salary. Comprehensive universal health insurance is literally the ONLY way anyone outside the 1%, and even many members of the 1%, can reliably obtain first-rate health care.

  134. “As a mother, I was able to discern my children’s music preferences, food preferences, when they were uncomfortable, when they had indigestion, when they were awake or asleep, from about a month after conception.”

    I hate to break it to you but these were all illusions on your part. There is no brain tissue to speak of at conception + 4.5 weeks, no digestive system (the digestive system does not actually become active until shortly after birth, so it’s impossible for a fetus at *any* stage of development to have indigestion), no circulatory system, nothing but a just-differentiating mass of tissue.

    I’m sorry to put it that way, but those are the facts.

  135. Disability is a tricky thing to judge. The fact that someone is able to ride an ATV doesn’t necessarily mean he’s working a scam. He may be, but how much do you really know of the guy’s full situation? 
       In theory, anyone who is alive can “work” in the sense that they can do something that someone would pay them for. Steven Hawking can’t bat an eyelash as far as I know, but he manages to make himself quite useful. Nevertheless, there’s a big gulf for the average person between being able to do “something” and being able to hold down a full time job. You’ve got to be able to stand for long periods, or walk a bunch, or sit for long periods, carry things etc.
        You need to be able to perform all of the physical, and mental things for the livelihood for which you are trained or could reasonably be trained. I don’t know you’re neighbor’s full story, do you? He might have suffered a TBI or some spine injury. He might be taking a fistful of oxycontin every day just to get by.   I’ve got a buddy on disability who has MS. If you had seen him walking around yesterday, you’d think it was a scam. He looked healthy enough, walking just fine, at least the block or so from his house to a coffee shop where I met him. But there’s days and weeks and months where he needs a cane, or can’t even get out of bed if his life depended on it. He’s in and out of hospitals for weeks at a time.    Can he work? Yes and no. He’s damn good with computers and graphic design and websites. What full time employer is going to take on a guy who will be out sick a quarter of each year and who has an astronomically expensive pre-existing medical condition? If he had stayed off disability and scraped by on a minimum-wage basis, he’d also have no medical coverage. He’d be dead or in a nursing home on medicaid within a couple months.    So he gets his disability check and insurance, and makes a few bucks off books. Is he “working the system”? Some people might say yes, but I wouldn’t trade places with the guy for any money, and neither would any of you, unless you’re already worse off somehow. 

  136. Welfare is by definition not an entitlement program; look it up in any economics textbook.

  137. This frustrates me, and can’t help but feel more for the employees than the employers or hospitals who fear their convictions being offended. If I have to choose between a woman employee suffering with an unwanted pregnancy, whether or not she chooses to keep it to term, or having an employer or whatnot offended by providing such coverage in the employee’s insurance, I will side with the woman, hands-down. She has far more to lose.

    I can’t wait, and hope to live to see the day of those Pagan hospitals.

    EDIT: Edited for civility.

  138. AC, the threat to your freedom from diabetes comes from the prospect that everyone may someday be forbidden to consume foods that diabetics shouldn’t.

    That’s the way we deal with drugs. A certain portion of the population cannot handle drugs; their brains are wired for addiction. To address this, the rest of us are treated as though we had the same problem.

  139. @google-3a2b156863fa3e65eb10a77b8ebcd4cf:disqus Neither are food stamps nor Medicaid – all three are need-based programs, which are the opposite of “entitlement.”

  140. A.C. , the only problem w/ your comment on mothers not working when kids are young is that in our modern world and economy this just won’t work . People at child bearing age , men and woman can’t survive on one paycheck . They don’t make enough money to even survive in a modest home on one pay.Todays economic conditions demand two workers per household to have enough money to just get by .I’m not talking about having excess income from two well paid employees , i’m talking about just surviving and paying normal bills . A truely middle class existance .The days of a single wager earner as when our parents were young are over , with a stay at home mother , as mine was.I personaly would love to tell my wife she didn’t need to work , but for us and most people nowadays this just isn’t economicly possible . We and most folks need two incomes in a household to just maitain what we have . We live in a small townhouse , donot have new cars . and don’t take expensive vacations . We are a true middle class family as most of the 99% are.    Kilm

  141. By some estimates, 50% of the world’s work hours will disappear by 2030. Whether we want to or not, we are going to have to re-evaluate what kind of society we want to have in terms of not haves and have-nots, but in terms of helping everybody.

  142.  Your analysis shows me that people should wait to be in a committed relationship, and wait to bear children, until after they’ve learned a skilled trade.   If young ladies realize they can’t make it on one paycheck, why are so many of them choosing to get pregnant before they’re in a committed relationship?  How will they afford daycare?

    There are ways for young families to survive without assistance… a couple working different shifts and taking turns with child care, communal families, one or more partners doing home-based work, finding ways such as gardening to lower the food bill… the list goes on.

    Also, and this is gonna make some people mad, but:  I keep hearing that women are smart enough to make their own decisions, so the government shouldn’t interfere with their choices.  Yet they want all this assistance from the government (taxpayers), after they make poor choices.  It seems to me that many are being enabled, so the incidence of bad choices is rising.  “Keep the government out of my womb” — “I want free birth control”… Ironic, isn’t it?

  143.  Kenneth, I lived across the street from this guy for sixteen YEARS.  I’ve seen him do all kinds of things that if he chose, he could get a paying job.  It is easier to get paid by the State (we taxpayers).  I feel that liberal politics enable the behavior of not working when it’s possible to work.  The system needs to be changed, NOT to boot everyone off the freebies immediately, NOR to give a complete free ride, but a sliding scale.  Rather than a cutoff number, no help at all after a certain point, instead a measure of help.  And if there’s laziness, drug abuse, or recreational choices rather than working choices, THEN cutting off benefits.

  144.  We NEED to reevaluate how we each can contribute, how we each can support ourselves, how self-sufficient we can be, first.  “Helping” is often a euphamism for “enabling”.

  145.  This is a reply to Andrew, who said:

    “The US employment-population ratio is about 58% (with an adult civilian population of 242,435,000)

    You’re saying that it’s about 9%?”

    This is working age adults, and is not factoring in children and those who truly are too disabled to work at all.

  146.  This is a reply to Katie, who said, “And you don’t think that this might not be due to structural problems
    due to a four-decade-long conservative restructuring of society to
    embrace dog-eat-dog capitalism?”

    NO, I think this is due to structural problems due to the Johnson administration’s “Great Society” inception of Welfare, and 40+ years of public schooling and enculturation which indoctrinated young people that benefitting from “entitlement” programs is an acceptable, even desirable, lifestyle choice.

  147.  This is a reply to Katie, who said:

    don’t think we should be writing social policy on the premise that
    everybody is perfectly responsible 100% of the time, or has partners who
    are perfectly responsible 100% of the time.

    “Writing social policy on the basis of individual responsibility is
    both (a) ignoring the meaning of the phrase “social policy” and (b)
    playing craps with people’s lives.”

    This is the crux of the liberal / conservative argument.

    Conservatives state that individuals must be responsible, and when they are not, the individual must pay the consequences.

    Liberals state that individuals needn’t be responsible, because society will step in and pay for their irresponsibility in the name of helping them.

    That “social policy” seems greatly unfair to the people who ARE
    responsible, who work, who obey the law, who manage their relationships
    and lives successfully.  It is enabling irresponsible behavior.

    b.  People are playing craps with their own lives.  Perhaps allowing a few failures will teach a valuable lesson.

  148. “Liberals state that individuals needn’t be responsible…”

    No “liberals” don’t “state” that. Only in the imaginations of conservatives. Social safety nets have saved and improved the lives of millions of people, that’s just a simple fact. We had a time when we “allowed a few failures” to teach people “valuable lessons,” it was called the 1920s. It wasn’t a pretty time or place to be alive (unless you were rich). 

    The funny thing is, conservatives in the entire rest of the civilized world, from Asia to Europe to the UK to Canada, all recognize the importance of single-payer health care, of a social safety net. The Tories in England would never think of dismantling their health system. Yet, here in America, the rhetoric that investing in a social safety net is somehow “coddling” citizens is taken at face value. With “examples” of individual  bad actors (“welfare queens”, etc) supposedly proving how such systems are bad for us as a people.

    You have often complained that people distort the conservative position AC, I ask that you stop and realize that perhaps you are distorting the liberal position on these issues. That you are, essentially, fighting a liberal straw man. 

  149.  Why is doing thing the hardest and most torturous way considered responsibility? I mean, if birth control is expensive or unavailable, yes, it is very responsible to not have sex to avoid pregnancy and I tip my hat to all the couples for whom birth control was not affordable or available who abstained for years because they did not want or could not afford kids. The sexual side of things has made and broken relationships, and being so responsible was not easy.

     Even still, that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to be “responsible” for your actions, and it doesn’t mean that other people are less responsible because things have gotten easier.

    I’d say making highly effective birth control more easily available better enables personal responsibility. Unprotected sex can be a highly irresponsible activity, yes. Making sure you have protected sex, or none at all, is responsible, yes. Using protection against pregnancy that doesn’t require cooperation or correct usage by the man in the relationship is even more responsible.

    I don’t see how making hormonal birth control free or cheaper and easier to fit into a personal budget diminishes personal responsibility. I don’t see how making it an easier choice to make, saying that if women REALLY were responsible they’d find that money or just never have sex ever, diminishes personal responsibility. I don’t see how acting like only matters of mere survival, and not social and personal things that are as much a part of life and personal well being as eating and sleeping, are worth ensuring the safety of, diminishes personal responsibility.

    Now, insisting that everyone have the same moral strength and character, even there could be other, easier ways to not get pregnant, and insisting that the risk of unplanned children ever be present a punishment to force people to take responsibility for what they do, negative effects that ripple all around society be damned, because we’d all be in a better place if THOSE people would get their act together anyway?

    THAT is irresponsible.

  150. A.C.   i never said we need assistance , i for one don’t and won’t . All i was saying is that , a single earner households are very rare these days . For the most part is non existant .Now as far a single mom w/o proper income , i too have a big problem with that . But some one using their own isurance , that they payed into , for birth control or anything else is not mooching off of anyone .Even having a skilled trade these days , as i have , is not enuf to survive in a single wage earner houshold .Cost of living is just to high these days .With sexual desire and drive being what it is and has always been people are not goung to abstain from sex . Birth control is necesary , having it readily available is a good thing. Unwanted pregnancies put a large burden on couples and our healthcare /insurance systems . Not to even mention population control/management . Altho not much is beng made of it here in the US, Population management is an important issue , we as a species are putting way to much demands on our mother earth. Here economics are making large families not as likely .but it is still a big problem in the developing  , third world . We need to deal with this , while we still can b/f we tip the scales beyond return. this is at a critical stage now . Anyone not blinded by extreme views can see this .   Kilm 

  151.  Aldag: “How about charities pay for this …

    The question is do you really want to reduce the number of abortions or not. If you do then you should be in favor of doing whatever is necessary to see to it that everyone has full access to free birth control. Period.

  152. We live in a closed system (a single planet), in which everything we do affects everyone around us (which is everyone in the world). The idea that we can be “self-sufficient” is ludicrous.

  153. The “individual responsibility” mantra denies that collective responsibility can even exist.

  154. A.C. and to others here . I’d just like to comment on how much i enjoy a good discussion w/ those of opposing and like views . Actualy A.C. we probably share many views . I am Sinnsreachd , a CR . My views would best be described as Liberal Liberatarian in the truest form , no Ayn Rand influences.I fall into the ranks of those pesky independants .We need to keep our heads level , the discussion civil . Altho many us , myself included, feel passionatly about things we must be good bloggers. Now on another point i personaly wouldn’t look for or accept public assistance unless things got extremely dire , as a Warrior my code of ethics precludes such things , not to mention my family would help.As a Sinnsreachd we are trying to re-establish the concept of the extended family , who can help one another.We seek to live in a more tribal way. Where families are closer together , even on the same homestead or household .We wish to form our own Celtic community eventualy.In a functioning Sinnsreachd community daycare would not be a problem , family or tribe[clan] members would step up to fill that need .   Kilm

  155. There are about 142,000,000 people working according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    The total US population is a little over 311,500,000 according to the Census Bureau:

    This is clearly *not* TEN not-working to ONE working in the US. More like SIX not-working for every FIVE working, counting *everybody* (including elderly, children, and disabled).

    Your estimate is simply unsupported by actual facts.

  156.  Some of those people who are working are still being subsidized, as they’re working part-time, working while going to school, or working in low-paying jobs and asking for entitlements. ONE person is supporting TEN other people in some manner.

  157. In other words, you refuse to acknowledge the facts and choose to substitute your own dogma. Until you can present actual numbers from a reliable source, we have no choice but to dismiss your claims as without merit.

  158. While that may seem ideal to Catholics and evangelicals now, I would remind them that no group’s fortunes prevail forever, and there may come a day generations from now when Pagan hospitals are asking for exemptions from the desires of Christian patients. At such a moment, they will no doubt want the majority to be extra-sensitive to their beliefs and needs, to their different moral views.

    This is quite a silly argument: “The privileged majority should get special rights because we might be the privileged majority some day!” Absolutely not. No group is entitled to “extra-sensitive” treatment at the expense of the equal rights of others.

  159. @A.C. : you’re hand-waving. Real numbers, please. To be TEN to ONE means that you’re only counting 31,000,000 as working (now redefined as 100% independent of society, I guess).

    The B.L.S. lists only 27,000,000 as working part time, btw – less than 20% of all workers.

    So numbers, please. Else why not just say it’s a HUNDRED to ONE?

  160. @A.C. : you’re hand-waving. Real numbers, please. To be TEN to ONE means that you’re only counting 31,000,000 as working (now redefined as 100% independent of society, I guess).

    The B.L.S. lists only 27,000,000 as working part time, btw – less than 20% of all workers.

    So numbers, please. Else why not just say it’s a HUNDRED to ONE?

  161.  Arrrgh, I’d really hate to add to this confusing level of replies, but my monolog has some weird double negatives and dangly bits where I contradict myself royally.

    In short, I think I’ve heard too much about personal responsibility in terms of making sure one’s nose is rubbed into one’s misfortune and mistakes. I know responsibility is more than that.

  162. @Jason Pitzl-Waters: You are arguing in favor of Obama’s decision to compromise with Christian extremists over the contraception issue, which is giving special rights to the majority. That compromise was politically expedient, but morally bankrupt.

  163. That’s really now how your statement came off, honestly. You came off as supporting the compromise as a reasonable balance, where it is actually an incredibly dangerous special right for religious extremists which opens the door to even more special rights in the future.

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