Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The contraception debate

Up until now, the government has not had much problem supporting non-church Catholic institutions that provided public services, with few if any strings attached.

The Obama administration is enforcing the HHS rule that artificial contraceptives are "preventive medicine" and therefore must be covered by insurance provided by all institutions.

I can point to three problems this presents:

(1) the rule includes the "morning-after pill", which is an abortifacent--it flushes the fertilized egg (which has its own unique DNA, different from the mother's, and is already growing) down the toilet.

(2) classifying artificial contraceptives as preventive medicine is an abuse of language. Pregnancy is not an illness. Contraceptives do not prevent a malady. There is no analogy between the Pill and the chicken-pox vaccine. Yes, there are statistics roughly correlating contraceptive use with some macro-level health benefits. But this data can't logically be the sole basis for classifying some drugs as "preventive medicine". Under the same logic, Medicare should pay for fish dinners because their omega-3 content is loosely "preventive" of mental problems.

And (3) this is a slippery slope to more strings tied to government funding that will threaten more and more Catholic institutions with the dilemma of complicity or closure.

I see the arguments of the left and I am not going to call their position a "war" or "malicious". I do not think it is any of those things. This is mostly our fault as a Catholic community for failing to evangelize ourselves on the spiritual and health benefits of natural family planning. If 98% of Catholic women use artificial means of contraception, why would Obama believe he is attacking anyone of importance? Those women will still vote for him regardless.

A line needs to be drawn, but where do we draw it? The left wants religious institutions to tow a secular moral doctrine or get out of the pool. The right wants the government to tow a religious moral doctrine or get out of DC.

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I regret that I have lost a great deal of work on this essay.

The ultimate point I wanted to make is that the government generally does not, and should not, use considerations of religious belief to make choices regarding the NPOs that it funds.

As a hypothetical example: suppose the FDA was looking to contract out responsibility for testing various food products, and a non-profit organization with proven credentials asked for a grant. The only catch is that this NPO, a Jewish one, refused to handle pork products of any kind. To be denied the grant on this grounds alone would be tantamount to illegal discrimination.

The government has shown that it has no problem making accommodations for the religious beliefs of individuals who serve the country in good faith.

Except in cases where an NPOs beliefs are directly complicit in criminal behavior, the government should not pick fights with NPOs on the basis of beliefs, or contract only with organizations who tow the line on its secular humanistic moral ideology.

1 comment:

Chris M said...

Jeff! Geoff? It's Chris aka gargantuan from Violating Voices!

I found you! Do you have a facebook or such?