Government Intervention

Businesses Shouldn't Be Forced to Pay for Employees' Birth Control

Leftists apparently think government not funding something is akin to banning it.


Religious oppression was one reason many of our ancestors came to America. They wanted to escape rulers who demanded that everyone worship their way. In Ireland, Catholics couldn't vote or own a gun. 

I assumed that because many of America's founders came here to escape such repression, they were eager to allow religious freedom in America. After all, the very First Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." 

But I was wrong. On my TV show this week, Chapman University economist Larry Iannaccone explains that many American settlers were just as tyrannical about insisting that everyone follow their religion: "In the Northeast, it was Puritanism or Calvinism. In New York and Virginia, Anglicanism, the Church of England. Elsewhere, it was Catholicism." 

Only when colonists tried to form a nation, and met with others who practiced different religions (or none, like Thomas Jefferson), did they put freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. 

So what does that mean today? President Obama tells religious people that he supports "the right to practice our faith how we choose."

But Obamacare functionaries ordered Christian groups to fund employees' purchase of birth control and the morning-after abortion pill. Some religious people believe both pills are a form of murder. Would their president force them to pay for what they consider murder? You betcha.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, sued, and the Supreme Court ruled that some faith-based corporations can get an exemption from Obamacare. But it was a pathetically narrow victory, applying only to small, privately-held companies, and they still must hire lawyers to beg for an exemption. Non-profits and bigger groups such as Notre Dame still must fund what they consider to be murder.

Leftists still assailed the court for granting even this tiny exemption. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she "can't believe we live in a world where we'd even consider letting big corps deny women access to basic care." 

Harry Reid said, "If the Supreme Court will not protect women's access to health care, then Democrats will." 

What utter nonsense! No one was "denied access" to anything. Anyone with a prescription can buy birth control pills at Wal-Mart for $9. Are leftists so in love with big government that they think government not funding something is akin to banning it? Apparently they do.

Hobby Lobby's owners were represented in court by a group called the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Becket's director, Kristina Arriaga, says Hobby Lobby isn't stingy or cruel: "The Green family pays twice the minimum wage, closes on Sundays, gives very generous benefits to their employees, and they did not object to 16 out of the 20 drugs (for which coverage was mandated)."

I say it shouldn't matter whether the Green family is good to its employees. No one is forced to work for them or any company. If business owners don't want to fund birth control, alcohol rehab, haircuts or anything, that should be their right.

They created the company (or paid to buy it), and as long as they don't collude with competitors, they should be allowed to impose whatever rules they want. Employees aren't trapped. Anyone can quit. Companies that give more generous benefits will attract better employees. That competition protects workers better than government mandates ever will. 

Letting government make so many one-size-fits-all decisions creates new problems. Iannaccone argues that religion is more vibrant in the U.S. because the American government has mostly left religion alone. In Europe, governments subsidized religion or set the rules. The state promised protection for all but ended up becoming an enforcer of orthodoxy. That made religion more homogeneous and less appealing. Forty percent of Americans say they go to church every week. In England and France, only 10 percent do. In Denmark, only 3 percent attend.

"Religion is a market phenomenon like other ones," Iannaccone says, "and when you make the government the arbiter, the funder, (religion) operates like a typical lazy monopoly. Incentives are lost. The clergy get focused on pleasing politicians rather than the people." 

Government ought to leave us alone so we can do as we please, in collaboration with whatever God we believe in. 

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. I love you Stossel, but you are far, far too charitable to the progressives you attack in your polemics.

    As a expatriate of the USSR I can tell you without a doubt that these people are seasoned dissemblers who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of destroying the freedoms of conscience, assembly, and speech. You MUST confront them and their with maximal rhetorical firepower each and every time. The only response to the slavers is “fuck off”

    1. *of association,* not assembly. Though that one too.

  2. How is he supposed to get access to cough drops if we don’t make someone by them for him?

  3. OT: More financial illiteracy from “consumer advisory panels” –…..24201.html

    My favorite quote from this article: “In a world where animals have more rights to space and food than humans, it is time that the DOT and FAA take a stand for humane treatment of passengers.” Only one problem: being able to fly on a plane is a privilege, not a right. If a customer wants legroom, they can choose to pay more for one if they desire. The same logic should apply to dog owners, but because of another badly-thought out and inconsistently applied regulation it doesn’t.

    1. Its not badly thought out and inconsistently applied – its a recognition of the fact that humans are arseholes and would stuff their dog in the Samsonite if they thought it would save a few bucks on the ticket.

    2. The same logic shouldn’t apply. If a passenger chooses to save money by having less legroom, or no legroom, or so little room they cause themselves pain, that’s their right. But it’s not the same to inflict that on others under your control, whether your own children or even animals. There’s a valid debate as to how much we should protect animals, but that is a different issue.

  4. Stossel is great, but I think that he believes that the progressive agenda can be destroyed through logic and reason. The problem is that the core of the vast majority of their talking points are not based on any logic that I can decipher besides their usual tribal-like tendencies. The same applies to the idea of mandated birth control: “My friends and professors tell me that birth control was a great societal accomplishment, so companies that do not support its advancement to every possible person are REGRESSIVE OPPRESSORS that MUST be stopped!”

  5. Are leftists so in love with big government that they think government not funding something is akin to banning it?

    Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

    1. Eventually I’ll tire of reading Bastiat.
      One day.

      1. I don’t see that quote as getting old, ever. The truly amazing thing is a quick google search would reveal a piss ton of people who would actually claim that “we did not want people to eat because we don’t want the State growing grain.”

        1. I thought the State paid people to not grow grain.

          1. No. The State regulates it. They control it. Without the State regulating and controlling the production of grain, no one would do it. And even if they did, they would poison it because that’s how greedy capitalists make profits. Big Tobacco did, and that proves that all capitalists did.

        2. I’ve actually argued with people who truly felt that before the FDA, everything sold by greedy capitalists contained poison. The only way to know your food or drink wasn’t poisoned was to grow it yourself. Because greedy capitalists will happily poison their customers in their evil quest for profits. Just look at Big Tobacco. What other proof do you need?

          1. I talked to some young mid wearing a pot leaf baseball cap. Was for legalization but only the goverment should be able to grow it so you would know you werewn’t being poisoned. He was drinking Bud Light and eating wings fron the place next door. I was astounded at the stupidity. I made an attempt to educate but I don’t think he was intested in having his worldview challenged.

            1. Kid not mid. I hate this phone.

              1. I thought for a moment that you were in the Navy.

            2. I’m sure he would tell you that all commercial beer was poisoned before government regulation. I’ve heard that many times, though I’ve never seen any evidence that anyone other than government poisoned alcoholic beverages.

              1. Yeah, the cartels didn’t spray their own crops with paraquat

        3. “… we did not want people to eat because we don’t want the State growing grain.”

          I’m certain that I’m not the only person around here who is considered anti-social or a partial misanthrope for my views just for the reasons Bastiat so eloquently described (and you paraphrased, Gill).

          To avoid this one day I tried something new. I initiated a conversation with a close friend of mine and basically said/asked something like the following.

          If I think that there is a family in need and I want to give them my money, would you agree that that is a good thing?

          If I think that families with children should have temperature control in their houses so that the children won’t suffer through extreme temperatures during the summers and winters and I want to pay for the air conditioning and heat and the monthly bills, would you agree that that is also a good thing?

          The same goes for a computer, printer, and internet access.

          If I and my associates think all of this is good and we decide to buy all of these things for all the families in need then it stands that we have done good on an enormous scale.

          Now, what if we cannot possibly afford to achieve our good-natured goals? However, what if there is something we can do because of our position in society, and that something is to force other people to use their money to achieve our good-natured goals? Is this still a good thing?

          1. Greed is wanting to keep what is yours.

            Altruism is wanting to spend what is not yours.

    2. While I’m generally satisfied with education we got in high school, the fact that we were given Hume, Mill, Bentham, Marx (well nominally it was a Marxist country except not by the time I got to high school) but never even mentioned Bastiat is a huge black mark on the philosophy courses we had.
      And huge thanks to H&R for introducing me to him. It’s frightening how you can just reprint his polemics as editorials today and they’d be perfectly in context.

  6. Leftists never cared about “access” to birth control, or anything else. All they want is to impose their beliefs on others through government force. You know, the very act that is prohibited by the spirit of the First Amendment.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      Just like they don’t care about gay rights or gay marriage. They only care about those things in so far as they can be used as a weapon to give them power. The moment gays are no longer useful in that, the Progs will turn on them.

    2. Double THIS!

      Leftists’ ideology is about control and conformity. They have applied a lot of window dressing to it all, to make it palatable, because if they came out and openly shared their beliefs and plan of action, most people not deluded or infected with jealousy and covetousness, would suffer a stroke, and it has worked well for them. But have no doubt that the leftist believe tyranny is fine and dandy as long as they pretend the end goal is something they can claim is noble.

      1. They also want to kill God as do all communist. You can’t worship God AND the State. I’m an atheist but don’t make a big deal of it. I respect other peoples right to believe as they choose as long as they don’t try and impose their beliefs on me. That goes for God worshippers and State worshippers.

  7. I like Stossel, but his economist misreads history. The early colonists were tyrannical about religion because they were separatists. They came here to get away from other religions so they could live in a community of their own. That is different than living in a multireligous community and then trying to enforce your religion on everyone else. It wasn’t that the early colonists didn’t understand the problems of a multi religious society. It was that they knew these problems all too well and decided to solve those problems by coming to North America and forming their own religious communities.

    The reason why they later endorsed the separation of church and state was not because they had never dealt with any other religions before and after doing so decided to end their evil intolerant ways. They knew full well the dangers of religious intolerance in a multi religious society. They were only a hundred or so years removed from the English Civil War. And only a couple of hundred years removed from the tyrannical rule of the Tudors, They fully understood that enforcing a single religion on an unwilling society required a murderous and tyrannical government and that doing so inevitably created strife and civil war.

    1. Unlike current Progressives, they were not pig ignorant and understood history. And anyone who knows anything about history knows that when the government gets into the business of managing and running people’s private and spiritual lives violence and tyranny are the inevitable results.

      1. As for the colonial era:

        Massachusetts was majority-Puritan, meaning they didn’t see themselves as a separate church as such – they wanted to “purify” the English church, it’s just that the rest of the English Church had unacceptably “Papist” elements like bishops, kneeling at the altar, etc.

        The Plymouth people were separatists – forming their own church – and Roger Williams basically ended up as a church of one: He was a rigid Calvinist who saw existing churches as so corrupt he couldn’t in conscience join them. Naturally, Williams was acutely sensitive to the need for religious freedom, which he provided for in Rhode Island – thus, the other, corrupt churches wouldn’t be able to oppress his pure faith.

        New York was officially Anglican but largely let non-Anglicans alone. Virginia was Anglican and insisted that non-Anglican preachers get licensed.

        Pennsylvania was run by Quakers but provided for religious equality for Christians and non-persecution of non-Christians, although if your religion included the use of oaths you were generally out of luck. And in one deviation from pure libertarianism, the Pennsylvania government prosecuted some dissenting Quakers.

        1. Meanwhile, Massachusetts were pretty serious about keeping their community free of religious persecution, leading to them hanging a few Quakers.

          1. Unlike Williams with his Reformed Church of Roger Williams, the Massachusetts people thought that they would be collectively punished if they allowed religions besides their “true” on to exist on their pure soil.

        2. The Quakers were separatists as well. You just remake my point. Most of the colonies were set up by people looking to live in their own religious community. They were of varying tolerance of outsiders but they were all set up as communities where one religion would be supreme from the start. That is not the same as starting with a multi religious society and turning it into a single religion.

          1. The Pennsylvania founders wanted a refuge for Quakers, but also recruited non-Quaker immigrants, like Germans and Scots-Irish. The Quakers did basically run the place, but their principles wouldn’t let them exclude non-Quakers.

            Massachusetts was more about setting up a Godly community run by people certified as “saved” under Calvinist tenets.” The salvation-challenged were sometimes permitted to live there, without political rights, assuming they kept their heads down.

            So in a sense, both sets of leaders were trying to set up havens of refuge for their religion, but differed in how outsiders would fit into their scheme.

    2. The Founders read their Locke, specifically A Letter Concerning Toleration.

      1. True. But they only understood and agreed with Locke because they understood the results of English religious intolerance.

        1. Definitely, since that was also the backdrop for the Letter.

      2. Which Founders? I wasn’t aware they were monolithic in thought. Was it the Federalists? The Anti-Federalists? The covert anglophiles who pined for a King to rule them?

  8. Access doesn’t mean access. It means free.

  9. “In Ireland, Catholics couldn’t vote or own a gun.”

    Are you inferring that we alllow Catholics to vote and own a gun here? Who let that happen?

    1. They did it during prohibition. The fools figured if you cut off their booze, they could be trusted with voting and gun ownership.

      1. The things you learn here

  10. I don’t understand why progressives rail about this but then simultaneously insist that employers pay for their employees health insurance.

    Given the way the ACA exchanges are set up like a group plan, there is no longer any good reason why employees should get have to their insurance via an employer. All that does is limit the employees choice of plans to only those his employer approves, as opposed to any plan on the exchange. Just get rid of the employer mandate entirely and let everyone buy plans on the exchange. The birth control issue goes away completely because the employee can buy any plan they want. The employer is no longer involved.

    On a second note, it’s ironic that the progressive rail against plans not covering birth control, when there are all sorts of ways in which the ACA mandates limit patient choices in themselves. Why is it wrong to not cover birth control, but perfectly ok to force infertile women to pay for maternity coverage? Or pediatric dental? It seems like they are totally ok with forcing people to have a long list of coverages they approve of.

    The only things they object to are when someone ISN’T FORCED to do something they want. Forcing people to have substance abuse coverage is fine and dandy, but not forcing employers to pay for birth control is horrifyingly wrong.

    1. . Why is it wrong to not cover birth control, but perfectly ok to force infertile women to pay for maternity coverage?

      Hazel that is because the point of making people pay for birth control is to force people to act against their religious conscience. It is not about choice or even really birth control. If religious people objected to dental coverage, the Progs would be all about mandating that and couldn’t care less about birth control. Birth Control is only important because it is one of the few things that religious people object to paying for. That is it. The Progs want the government to force people to act against their religion so that they abandon that religion and get with the program of worshiping the state.

    2. It’s one of the many reasons socialized healthcare is a bad idea. A good deal of decision-making is political. Birth control, of course, is a political matter, unlike, say, getting an MRI for a back injury.

      1. Yes. What this has opened the door to is endless political wrangling over what should and should not be on the “essential benefits list”. Becuase everyone essentially cross-subsidizes payment for everything on that list, given the rate structure imposed by the law.
        The result is that what ends up on the essential benefits list is less a product of some objective bioethical medical calculation, and more a product of political influence.

        And of course we already see this. Everyone gets a free mammogram once a year, even though it’s not even medically recommended for women under 40. The only reason that is included is because a bunch of breast cancer awareness groups lobbied for it.

    3. Because when employers pay for it it’s free. Duh.

      1. Except they are quick to say that it is part of your compensation. So which is it?

        1. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

    4. “It seems like they are totally ok with forcing people to have a long list of coverages they approve of.

      The only things they object to are when someone ISN’T FORCED to do something they want.”

      you have a lot to learn,
      and I hope you never learn it.

  11. “In the Northeast, it was Puritanism or Calvinism. In New York and Virginia, Anglicanism, the Church of England. Elsewhere, it was Catholicism.”

    None of the 13 colonies established Catholicism. Maryland’s Catholic rulers provided for religious freedom among Trinitarian Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic. This lasted until the anti-Catholic backlash following the 1688 Revolution – then Maryland’s Protestant majority barred Catholics from office and prohibited the public practice of their faith. It took the American Revolution to change that situation.

    1. They were terrified of another civil war. Worse still, the Catholic Stewarts claimed the devine right of kings and rejected the power of Parliament. The really stupid Stewarts, Charles I and James II were open about that. The smarter ones, James I and Charles II, were adept in keeping their prerogatives while appearing to defer to Parliament.

      1. It was a chicken and egg situation. The Presbyterians and other non-Anglicans were deemed a seditious element, so they were religiously repressed, but it could be argued that if they *hadn’t* been repressed they wouldn’t have been so seditious.

        1. It goes back to Henry VIII. He was probably the worst tyrant in English history. He set the precedent that once a religion got on top, the others were in big trouble. Everything after that was driven by the fear of being on the bottom of things. Mary was brutal as hell to the Protestants. Elizabeth tried to maintain the peace but oppressed Catholics or any deviation from the Anglican. The Stewarts were Catholics and rightfully felt that their fellow Catholics were in danger and acted to protect them. In doing so, they made every Protestant at risk for being guilty of treason for saying the wrong thing. Cromwell of course was a Henry VIII level tyrant and such a tyrant that even the Protestants were willing to live with the Stewarts again.

          After 1688, the King never had a very good claim to the thrown. The Catholic Stewarts had a better claim. The only reason they were not in power was because they were Catholic. So anyone who was Catholic or showed Catholic sympathies was suspect. And the truth was a lot of them were.

          1. James II wanted to use his prerogative to get rid of the persecuting laws – hoping that the Catholics through evangelism could get the English to voluntarily return to the ancestral faith. The Protestants split, the more radical of them often accepting the end of persecution (which had scourged them heavily), while the Anglicans, Presbyterians and some others mistrusted (to put it mildly) James’ intentions. So William III took over and gave a large amount of toleration (not full freedom) to the non-Anglicans.

            Ireland was a bit of a different story. I keep getting told that “William didn’t want there to be so many persecuting laws in Ireland,” but the Protestant establishment got William to sign off on those laws anyway. Even the Irish Presbyterians ended up with the short end of the stick, getting persecuted almost as bad as the Catholics.

            A fascinating story – fascinating to read, anyway, not to live through.

            1. James II problem was he kept putting Catholics in charge of regiments without requiring them to take a loyalty oath. He also wanted a large standing army. People were terrified of a large army because Cromwell had used one to great effect in oppressing them. Unlike his older brother, Charles II, he just didn’t have the political acumen to remain in power. He constantly fed the paranoia of his Protestant subjects.

              1. Oh, he pressed all the wrong buttons, all right.

          2. yeah, but on the plus side, Cromwell introduced the mens’ short hair cut. Centuries of Westerners have him to thank for that

            1. But it didn’t stick. The Aristocracy looked like 70s glam rockers until the end of the 18th Century. It really wasn’t until the turn of the 19th Century that people decided effeminate long haired dandies were not the pinnacle of masculinity.

  12. I’m convinced that the main impetus for birth control is population control. Progressives also want birth control readily available to prevent the wrong people from procreating. Thirdly, they want to free women from having babies they don’t want.

  13. Only when colonists tried to form a nation, and met with others who practiced different religions (or none, like Thomas Jefferson), did they put freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.

    I know Stossel is unintentionally white-washing but; I have it on good authority that no atheist has ever nor will ever hold any political sway in this country.

    Since he had no religion and held *the* public office, I can only assume he composed his own Bible on the Morals (not divinity) of Jesus Christ as some sort of elaborate ‘purity test’ to his constituency well after he left office and shortly before his death.

    Clearly, the protection of personal religious belief doesn’t extend to include ‘no belief’ and the Constitution is null and void. Only if you stand for not even believing in something/anything on either a personal or cultural level can you stand for… … …

    At this point, the narrative is too tortured for me to continue following.

    1. Signaling to those whose votes/support you want is not the same as being theistic. Anyone who thinks Dubya Bush and Dick Cheney are dyed-in-wool Christians would be surprised to learn their real beliefs. Even regular church-goers count among their number people who use church as a social tool, rather than a confirmation/reinforcement of theology.

      I’d agree that it’s nearly impossible to find a politician who admits publicly to not actually believing in the Judeo-Christian supreme being. But that’s different from actually being heavily theological.

      Saying you’re religious is part of the role, like kissing babies and shaking hands.

  14. Have I ever told you folks of the deep appreciation I hold for Stossel?

      1. If that’s it I’m not sure that I want to know.

  15. (or none, like Thomas Jefferson

    AWESOME dig!

    1. I took it as a ‘Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclomation to free Southern slaves.’-type statement rather than any sort of epigram.

  16. Are leftists so in love with big government that they think government not funding something is akin to banning it? Apparently they do.

    We get that reinforced every time Tony pipes up.

  17. economist Larry Iannaccone explains that many American settlers were just as tyrannical about insisting that everyone follow their religion:

    but this guy is wrong. Each colony was formed initially by a group of like-minded folk who held strongly to the same religious tenets. As each grew, others of like or similar mind gravitated to those similar to themselves. The main fear, based on reality, that drove the inclusion of that forst part of the First Article of Ammendment is that some OTHER group might somehow gain sufficient stremght to force THEIR specific beliefs down the choking throats of all the other colonies. Thus the first word of that Article: CONGRESS shall make no law… meaning there never could be one sect to determine how anyone else would worship or live. The states

  18. Are leftists so in love with big government that they think government not funding something is akin to banning it? Apparently they do.

    Well, yes. Of course. Though I’d say most people I know who identify as progressive or liberal do not also identify as leftist, nor as socialist or communist by inclination. This may suggest intellectual dishonesty, or it may suggest intellectual or political naivete. Somehow they manage to think not right-wing doesn’t translate to leftist. But then, this has been the strategy employed by spin artists for decades. Progressive under Woody Wilson and FDR, liberal under JFK & Carter became not right-wing under Clinton and has held that posture since then. Leo Strauss taught his minions well, the top students under Leo adopted neo-conservative as their disguise, and we’re full circle to Woody with Obama and Elizabeth Warren being progressive but more importantly not right-wing.

    Meanwhile the state grows to the point of excluding all other avenues, and self-reliance is unknown for the most part.

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