Sunday, February 5, 2012

Health Care Problems

Some of you may remember several months ago, when there was some controversy over new health care regulations that were being proposed.  The regulations say that, among other things, all health care plans have to include contraceptives, abortions and pregnancy prevention.  People who have moral objections to abortion are, well, pretty much out of luck.  President Obama has recently given these health care regulations his personal thumbs-up, and they're set to go into effect next year.

As you might expect, there are some exemptions to this rule.  Certain groups who have religious or moral objections to abortion do not need to comply with these laws.  Groups that qualify for exemption include:

1. The Amish
2. Christian Scientists
3. Native Americans

Groups that do not qualify for exemption include:

1. The Catholic Church

Does anybody else see a problem with this?  Clearly, there is a problem with these new laws, if they do not classify the Catholic Church as an "organization which has religious and/or moral objections to abortion".  I'll spare you the specific details of why we don't qualify, but trust me, they're not logical.

I mean, just in general, if a law allows for religious exemptions, no particular religion should be excluded without just cause.  Otherwise, you're getting dangerously close to religious discrimination (which is illegal) and to breaking the separation between church and state (which is also illegal).

So, the way things are now, it's starting to look like the government will force Catholic institutions to purchase something which violates their religious beliefs.  Needless to say, the Catholic Bishops in the United States are very unhappy with this, and they have set up a conscience protection website to help people contact the government and learn more about the issues.

I'll keep you guys posted if there are any major developments.  Right now, I'm hoping that either the laws will be rejected outright by Congress, or that the government will change the laws so all religious organizations that want an exemption can receive it.  To deny an exemption to any religion--much less the largest religion in the world--without just cause is a gross miscarriage of justice.


Cat said...

The bill is about the insurance coverage, not the health care providers. Catholic hospitals can say they won't provide abortions, but I don't know of any Catholic health insurance companies.

Missi said...

We had this topic discussed after the homely yesterday, I hope that Congress will realize what they're doing and stop it at once, or I'm afraid things are going to get ugly between the Catholic Church and Congress.

Emily said...

There's a pretty easy way around this stipulation. These laws apply to any healthcare organization that expects federal financial aid.
If the Catholic church will not be granted an exemption to this rule, then Catholic hospitals can simply become private institutions and refuse federal aid money like the Shriners. Then they can set whatever rules they want about the types of services they do or do not provide.

Anonymous said...

This is merely a plan to provide the protection, not any kind of incentives to provide the service. The law basically says if a woman wants any type of sterilization or pregnancy prevention, health care plans have to provide her the option.

Now I agree that if other groups are listed as exempt from this rule then it isn't right that the government is drawing lines and allowing certain religious groups to qualify and not others (though I do find it amusing that the site you linked to says the law is unjust because Jesus and his followers would not be included in their definition of "religious employers" when they were neither an organized religion or an employer of any kind...and for that matter they were Jewish, not Catholic) but when you look at the language of the bill, it is pretty difficult to see where this will really affect the Catholic church.

As Cat mentioned, this law does not say a Catholic hospital has to provide abortion or contraceptive services, but a Catholic insurance company will have to pay for those services elsewhere should a woman request them. Perhaps there are Catholic insurance companies that I am not aware of that are affected by this rule, but otherwise there is no issue.

I also find it interesting that the site you linked to complains that this coverage will be provided even if the woman in question has issue to it. I fail to see where this is a factor at all. My insurance company is willing to pay for contraceptives (though to be honest I am not sure whether or not they will pay for an abortion) but that certainly does not mean I HAVE to use it. No one can make me do anything with my body that I do not approve of (at leas not legally).
However, if a Catholic woman strays from these beliefs and decides she wants an abortion or birth control, a hospital cannot refuse her coverage simply because of her religion since that would be discrimination. I believe this type of issue is what the bill is striving to prevent because, unfortunately, according to a recent study roughly 1/3 of women who take advantage of abortion services name themselves as religious or moral objectors to the operation which includes Catholics or other religious groups. So in the end the choice lies with that individual woman and her relationship with God, and priests can give her guidance and advice on how to handle such matters, but they cannot force her hand. Though this argument is still irrelevant when it comes to the nature of this bill since there are many non-Catholic organizations who provide these services for women that will take her in so long as she complies with the mandatory counseling and health procedures required by law. And her insurance company will have to help her pay for it, since it was her medical choice and conscientious decision.

Sparksbet said...

Most of the people that have thus far commented have missed something very important. It's not about forcing Catholic hospitals to provide abortions. That's not what the Catholics (as well as many Protestants)are upset about. The bill forces Catholic employers to provide health care plans to their employees that cover abortion and contraceptives. It's not about the health insurance companies - at least not this particular debate. It's about religious institution and companies, INCLUDING CHURCHES, being forced to essentially buy contraceptives and abortion treatment for those who work for it. As an example - say a 23-year-old woman named "Ravenna" works as a church secretary. This woman, being a bit hypocritical, is living with her boyfriend. The church she's working for, whether they believe sex outside of marriage is wrong or not, is FORCED to give her a health insurance plan that covers contraceptives and abortion treatment. It's essentially making the church pay for something that they believe is wrong. THAT is what most people are upset about.
Furthermore, don't be ignorant and think that the government is going to stop with this. I've heard rumors that there are anti-discrimination laws that are being discussed that would force churches and religious organizations to hire people regardless of their faith or sexual preference. Which means that a church wouldn't be allowed to refuse to hire someone who isn't a Christian or who is homosexual. The health care restrictions are only the beginning. The government is clamping down on Christians more and more, and it's not going to stop unless we do something about it.

Miriam said...

The LDS (Mormon) church is opposed to those kinds of things, too. :/ There aren't LDS hospitals or anything, but there are plenty of LDS doctors...

Doug Indeap said...

Notwithstanding wild-eyed cries to the contrary, THE HEALTH CARE LAW DOES NOT FORCE EMPLOYERS TO ACT CONTRARY TO THEIR BELIEFS--unless one supposes the employers' religion forbids even the payment of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion).

Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have occasionally confronted such issues and have generally ruled that the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, fraud, negligence, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate. When moral binds for individuals can be anticipated, provisions may be added to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

Here, there is no need for such an exemption, since no employer is being "forced," as some commentators rage, to act contrary to his or her belief. In keeping with the law, those with conscientious objections to providing their employees with qualifying health plans may decline to provide their employees with any health plans and pay an assessment instead or, alternatively, provide their employees with health plans that do not qualify (e.g., ones without provisions they deem objectionable) and pay lower assessments.

The employers may not like paying the assessments or what the government will do with the money it receives. But that is not a moral dilemma of the sort supposed by many commentators, but rather a garden-variety gripe common to most taxpayers--who don't much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action of the government. That is hardly call for a special "exemption" from the law. Should each of us feel free to deduct from our taxes the portion that we figure would be spent on those actions (e.g., wars, health care, whatever) each of us opposes?

AmaiKa said...


Now, take a deep breath in, and let it out.

Stop arguing with each other and listen, there is no need to argue this any further. The point of the matter is that the government is breaking down the religious-government barrier (Wether they realise it or not.) and that it's against the constitituton.

I understand that everyone has the right to their opinion, but if every comment is going to be pointing out the flaws in the comment above in about three paragraphs, I think we can just stop. Go ahead, yell at me if you must, but please don't lose sight of the real importance of this blog post,our rights.

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Anonymous said...

I'm a Latter-Day Saint, (LDS, aka Mormon) and we don't believe in abortion either. I swear, it's just like killing a baby! I hope that exemptions will be allowed to all religions too.