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Big Changes for Birth Control Rules—But Not Big Enough

The Obamacare contraception mandate is getting a Trump-era overhaul.

BSIP/NewscomBSIP/Newscom

There's a lot to unpack in the government's new rules regarding birth control, health insurance, and personal ethics. Issued this week and slated to take effect in January, the rules revise Obama-era directives on the now-notorious contraception mandate and are very similar to draft rules released in October 2017.

Lawsuits quickly followed that first Trump-administration attempt at a revision. By the end of last year, two federal judges had temporarily blocked enforcement of the changes.

The new "Final Rules on Religious and Moral Exemptions and Accomodation for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act"—issued jointly by the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor—differ from the earlier rules "in technical ways," say the departments in a November 7 statement.

The good news is that the rules respect religious freedom without veering into ideology on their own accord. (You can ignore the outrage peddlers trying to portray the changes as some sort of religious fundamentalist plot.) They set up more consistent and expansive protections for people with religious or moral objections to birth control. And they should stop the onslaught of lawsuits against HHS from objecting employers.

"The Trump administration inherited dozens of lawsuits filed against HHS by organizations with sincerely held religious or moral objections" to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, says the HHS/Labor/Treasury statement. It notes that Obamacare "did not require contraception coverage in health insurance," merely the coverage of certain to-be-determined "preventive services," and that it exempted grandfathered-in plans from even this broad requirement.

It was in 2011 that federal regulators defined preventive services to include all FDA-approved contraception methods, meaning all employer-sponsored health insurance plans were required to cover them at no point-of-sale cost to the insured. An exemption was offered to churches, religious orders, and religious auxiliaries with doctrinal opposition to some or all forms of contraception.

Religious nonprofits could not get a total exemption but could apply for an "accomodation." This entailed notifying the government of their objection to offering health plans with contraception coverage, at which point the government would arrange for the health insurer or another third party to provide the coverage. After the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, this accomodation was extended to closely held for-profit organizations, too.

Democrats feared that a Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration would kill the contraception mandate entirely. But the new rules offered last year and their 2018 update both leave the mandate mostly intact while carving out more and broader exceptions.

Under the first new rule, churches, religious orders and auxiliaries, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, non-public institutions of higher education, and "other non-governmental employers with religious objections" are allowed to opt out "on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs." Insurance issuers can also opt out if all of the companies they provide plans to are also exempted. And individuals can opt out of being insured by a plan that includes contraception coverage to the extent that their employer and insurance issuer are willing to provide another option.

Under the second new rule, all of the above except publicly traded businesses can get an exception based on "non-religious moral convictions opposing services covered by the contraceptive mandate."

In either case, the accomodation is available, but it is also "voluntary, at the option of the entity," the departments explain. "That is, an otherwise exempt entity can elect to take advantage of the accommodation, which would provide contraceptive coverage to its employees and their dependents," but does not have to.

That brings us to the bad news: A lot of women could lose any insurance coverage for contraception. HHS and company estimate that the changes "may affect the coverage of approximately 6,400 women," and could impact up to 127,000 women.

Thousands of women losing coverage for contraception is no good, even if you don't think that the solution is forcing others to subsidize the service. Less access to or use of contraception means more unintended pregnancies, and more unintended pregnancies means more of all sorts of negative outcomes.

Liberal activists have been objecting to the changes by doubling down on the insistence that all employer-sponsored health plans must offer contraception coverage. But there's a third way, one that doesn't dictate that employers violate religious principles or ethical convictions but also helps ensure low-cost access to at least some forms of birth control for people whose health insurance doesn't cover it (as well as for the many women without health insurance or those who need access to it without a spouse or family member knowing): The FDA could allow hormonal birth control pills to be sold over the counter.

Over-the-counter contraceptive pills would both drive down costs and increase ease of access for women regardless of whether they're insured. And in conjunction with the repeal of other unnecessary regulations about how birth control can be prescribed and obtained, all sorts of new services and venues that make obtaining birth control easier could flourish. (Emergency contraception, one of the most contested forms of birth control among those with religious objections, is already available without a prescription in the U.S.)

Freeing birth control pills from prescription-drug status is an idea that people across political factions (and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have backed in the past. Hopefully, the new contraception-mandate rules will finally lay to rest the years of fighting over this issue, which ultimately affects a very small minority of American women, and start us working toward solutions that expand contraception access for all.

Photo Credit: BSIP/Newscom

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  • Ken Shultz||

    "Democrats feared that a Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration would kill the contraception mandate entirely.

    Yeah, that's the way it works.

    The Democrats always fear the Republicans are actually principled libertarians in disguise.

    The closet progressives who staff this site hardly bother to wonder if principled libertarianism is compatible with their progressive ideas.

    The principled Republicans who come here are disappointed to find that the site has abandoned its libertarian principles.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "closet progressives"

    Shikha self identifies as a progressive libertarian

    ENB was calling herself a postmodernist in her twitter handle

    Nick has been going postmodernist as well, and went "No True Communism" recently
    "Totalitarians professing communism killed millions of people, but this analogy is flawed. Hitler was the leader of Nazism, Stalin the leader of...Stalinism, not communism."
    https://goo.gl/xnJ8CT

    It's the cocktail party crowd at Reason.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    First they came for the complex matrix of low-cost or free contraceptive rules, but I don't identify as a woman, so I said nothing.

  • Longtobefree||

    Good. That is how it should be.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is an article.

    Congrats, Idris Elba: but next year, let's have a less macho sexiest man alive
    --Caspar Salmon
    Why is the winner of People magazine's annual award always so square-jawed, paternal – and straight?
  • Eddy||

    It's a complete mystery.

    How's Pajama Boy's modeling career doing, by the way?

  • DiegoF||

    I am earnestly praying next year they pick Beto.

  • ||

    Why is the winner of People magazine's annual award always so square-jawed, paternal – and straight?

    Doesn't that list include the likes of Brad Pitt, Adam Levine, and Johnnie Depp? Not that there's anything wrong with them, just that I think Caspar has 'square-jawed' confused with 'has a jaw'.

  • ||

    That was pretty much exactly my late grandfather's observation -

    "I'm supposed to believe Matt Damon and Ben Affleck fought WWII? WWII was fought by guys who looked like Robert Mitchum."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And the really real reality was that it was fought by guys that looked like Paul Giamatti.

  • Agammamon||

    Oh man, oh man, oh man - you should read the actual article.

    This can feel surprising in the era of the internet, when gay twink culture has fed into straight desire . . .

    And take a gander at a picture of the author.

    Oh, and the author was abjectly begging for forgiveness the next day because he dared impugn the dignity of a minority while being white.

  • DiegoF||

    Oh Jeez. Yes, I would indeed imagine that Mr. Salmon feels rather indignant that the bigotry of our toxic macho culture has deprived him of his right to have others consider him sexually desirable. Why must a man look "handsome" in the narrow, parochial, cookie-cutter sense shared by The Rock, Bradley Cooper, Adam Levine, and Keanu Reeves?

    In truth, though, Mr. Salmon probably won't have to wait much longer for People to do something outrageous to keep its Sexiest Man issue in the news like this was still 1987. I'm frankly surprised they've yet to pick Chaz Bono. A decade ago they actually often had problems getting anyone to accept the honor, which had become such a national joke that people's publicists feared it. Now they've turned yet another corner, and too few in the public care enough to even sustain its toxicity.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Next year they will correct their sins and pick Chris Christie!

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Have I mentioned yet that Drumpf is leading a Christian fundamentalist plot to turn this country into The Handmaid's Tale? Because that's exactly what he's doing.

    #Resist
    #StandWithPP

  • JesseAz||

    Not your best work. Could have mixed sex crazed father's sleeping with nuns and the need to protect them.

  • Longtobefree||

    Why not just cut to the chase and say Trump is going to end sex crimes by executing any accusers?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Maybe you could throw in something about Trump endorsing Romney's plan to take away women's tampons.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The good news is that rules respect religious freedom without veering into ideology on their own accord."

    Making rules about what is and isn't acceptable speech is a fucking abomination, no less so for me agreeing with some present interpretation.

    Rules that delineate what is and isn't protected religious beliefs are likewise a fucking abomination.

    To think that I would find the DHS delineating my religious beliefs acceptable because I agreed with their present interpretation is to either fundamentally misunderstand or not give a shit about what it means to be a principled libertarian.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

    The government has no business establishing acceptable religious practices or prohibiting the free exercise of religion--and that also applies to religious beliefs I abhor. Is there something hard to understand about that?

    The First Amendment doesn't protect violating someone's rights with your religion any more than the Second Amendment protects violating someone's rights with a gun?

    Is that hard to understand, like really?!

  • Mickey Rat||

    The first mistake was that the government has no business mandating what is in an employee compensation package. All this other nonsense comes from accepting that first bit of meddling.

  • Qsl||

    Actually, I think the first mistake is the concept of religious exemption at all.

    It is essentially a special class, protecting some rights (or groups) more than others for fairly arbitrary reasons. The application is nearly always biased, and only allows expression deemed fit by the government.

    Either everything is permitted or nothing is. Religion should have nothing to do with it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't think our rights are defined arbitrarily by the government. The legal protections for certain rights arose from the same place as our opposable thumbs. We evolved them.

    We don't have stupid tragedies like the Thirty Years War anymore because, through the Peace of Westphalia, we evolved an understanding--the emperor doesn't determine the religion of the provinces (freedom from establishment) and individuals are free to practice their own religion regardless of the religion at the provincial level (free exercise).

    When people's freedom of religion depends on political power being held by someone of their own religion, they'll fight like cats and dogs to make sure 1) someone of their religion holds the reigns of power and 2) that someone of another religion never holds the reigns of power. You'll see the same thing cross-culturally and throughout history. Societies that don't feature freedom of religion are less evolved.

    The reason Syria is such a mess is for precisely that reason. If Assad loses, the Christians and the Shiites are doomed. Likewise, if ISIS won, what would the Christians and Shiites have to look forward to?

    We've largely avoided that in the United States because of the First Amendment, and it wasn't by accident. Madison knew exactly what he was doing, why, where he got it from, and what it would do. You're arguing with success.

  • Qsl||

    However, unless rights are defended by the government, there is hardly a reason to have government at all. That is de facto defined by the government regardless of origination.

    Nor does that change the fact you are still making a special class of rights arbitrarily. And minority religions are still persecuted regardless of the best intentions Madison.

    Essentially you are arguing some people should have certain freedoms because of religion, whereas I think EVERYBODY should enjoy those same protections regardless.

    Again, religion should have nothing to do with it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "However, unless rights are defended by the government, there is hardly a reason to have government at all. That is de facto defined by the government regardless of origination."

    Social adaptations thrive for the same reason as other adaptations--they confer benefits on the people who can enjoy them and those who have them can avoid various negative consequences. This isn't just where our freedom of religion came from--it's about the essence of the rights themselves.

    As libertarian capitalists, we know there are negative consequences associated with ignoring individual property rights. The same things happened in the USSR, China, Cuba, and Venezuela--and all for the same reasons. It doesn't matter whether the government wants to recognize that there are predictable, consistent, and unavoidable negative consequences associated with ignoring people's property rights--those negative consequences will assert themselves anyway, no matter what the government and its laws recognize. As you continue to violate people's right to make choices about how their own property is used, your economy suffers. In the USSR, they had to let individuals have small gardens of their own--or the people would have starved to death.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's easier to see this principle at work in property rights because markets make things much easier to quantify, but the same principle is at work in things like freedom of religion. There are consistent, negative consequences associated with violating people's religious rights--cross-culturally and throughout history--and governments cannot violate religious rights without their society suffering the negative consequences. When the original Muslim fanatics overran Iran, they classified Zoroastrians as "people of A book" (rather than People of THE Book) because the negative consequences of religious intolerance made fundamentalism cost prohibitive. It's much like communist fantaics allowing some private ownership so people can feed themselves from their own garden. ISIS is a spent force today because they failed to recognize this principle.

    Our rights exist regardless of whether the government routinely violates them. The evidence of their existence is testified to in the consistent negative consequences society suffers when they're violated. Ignoring the laws of gravity would have negative consequences for society, too--and gravity would exist regardless of whether the government recognized it in law. It's the same thing. If the government violates religious rights in this way, there are consistent negative consequences for society--no matter whether the government understands or accepts that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Our rights are the reality to which the laws of society must conform or suffer negative consequences. It's the law about our rights that are the fantasy. They're only effective insofar as they protect our right to make choices for ourselves from the government and other individuals. If the law fails to do that, we will suffer the negative consequences of that failure--regardless of where those rights originated. It isn't that our rights wouldn't exist if the government didn't protect them. It's that the law must conform to the reality of our rights or society will suffer the negative consequences.

    If the reality is that if the law fails to spell out specifically that the government must not interfere in people's religious rights, then there will be negative consequences--then that's the way it is.

  • Qsl||

    And again, no.

    The nature of "rights" is highly dependent on context and the cultural/environmental forces that shape them. I do not expect a tribe of hunter-gatherers to have the same notion of rights as some seafarers, as some kids in Brooklyn; nevermind the extreme pomposity of forcing libertarian prescriptions down the throats of people who have no desire for them or their worldview. Can't I have my Free Love Bowl-a-Rama in peace? And is that going to have the same the same subset of "rights" as those ancaps over there or that socialist commune over the hills?

    Going off on some tangent of a Platonic Ideal of Rights (which even libertarian capitalist can't agree on, let alone their manifestation) is subterfuge against the social institutions (i.e..- government) and how well they function for each circumstance. Or shall we have One-Size-Fits-All Government as well?

    The evidence of their existence is testified to in the consistent negative consequences society suffers when they're violated.

    And here I thought libertarianism was principle over consequence. Do you really want to start interjecting utilitarianism into the mix as well?

  • Qsl||

    But specific to religion, why should it hold such an exalted place in the hierarchy of rights? Why not sexual freedom? Why not psychoactive freedom? Why not dietary freedom? Isn't religious freedom encased in all of these? What specifically does it require beyond "I'm not bothering you. Leave me the fuck alone"?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But specific to religion, why should it hold such an exalted place in the hierarchy of rights?"

    Whatever position it holds in the hierarchy, it holds regardless of whether we believe it should.

    I suspect violating some rights tends to have less severe consequences than others, and it may be that violating people's religious rights has more severe consequences than some other rights.

    The Romans understood that Jews had a funny thing about idolatry and that the negative consequences of not respecting that were far worse than whatever they'd get out of putting up a statue of the emperor in the temple and making them bow before it.

    Telling people they can't use stupid hate speech has negative consequences, too, but maybe they aren't as severe as legally requiring someone to damn their own souls to hell for eternity. That would be my first hypothesis on that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The nature of "rights" is highly dependent on context and the cultural/environmental forces that shape them."

    This is demonstrably false as is shown in property rights. Doesn't matter whether it's China in 1960 or Venezuela in 2017. Violating property rights in that way has the same consequences for the same reasons--independent of culture and throughout history.

    Perhaps you think that property rights are fundamentally different from other rights in that way? They're not. A right is the obligation to respect other people's ability to make choices for themselves. Property rights are the right to make choices about how something is used, who uses it, for how long, etc.

    Religious rights are about the right to make your own choices about your own religious beliefs. As I've shown, violating those rights has consistent negative consequences for all the same reasons, whether you're talking about the Muslim conquest of Persia circa 650 CE, the Thirty Years War circa 1630 CE, or the Syrian Civil War circa 2017.

    Property right, religious rights, free speech, other rights, too--we know they exist independent of culture, historical context, or government because violating always has consistent consequences across cultures, across historical eras, and across various forms of government.

  • Ken Shultz||

    In short, rights arise as an aspect of our agency--just like morality. Inflicting your own choices on others who can make choices for themselves is immoral (see rape and theft) and it's also a violation of their rights. Without the ability to have chosen to do otherwise, we can't even talk about morality. Meanwhile, the obligation to respect the agency of others is what we're talking about when we talk about "rights". This is the connection between morality and rights. They both arise as an aspect of agency, and agency itself is fundamental to humanity--regardless of historical era or culture.

  • Qsl||

    Whatever position it holds in the hierarchy, it holds regardless of whether we believe it should."

    Great!! Tautology. So again, what specific freedoms would freedom of religion require that isn't already inherent in an atheist free society? Can't atheist have more than one wife? Can't atheist be militant in their dietary choices? Can't atheist badger others that The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy the most fabulous book ever written that everyone simply must read? Can a Christian live in such a society, free from religious persecution, precisely because they are not persecuted in any other way?

    And using examples specific from religious wars as proof of the need for religious freedom is a bit on the nose. Branch Davidians would be a little closer to home, and while certainly a horrific abuse of government power, can be addressed by simply stating maybe the government shouldn't set children on fire. Religion adds nothing to the equation. You are essentially making the SJW argument but for religion.

  • Qsl||

    "This is demonstrably false as is shown in property rights."

    This is demonstrably false by the mere fact we are debating it.

    And while your ability to create vast tracts of text that do little to address specific questions raised, this is not the end of knowledge or wisdom (well, except for a certain constipation in libertarian thought).

    THE most fundamental property right is you own your own bones, and considering your response to that is "Has willing human sacrifice been a big problem lately, that we need the government to step in and say what is and isn't protected by the First Amendment?", I'm kinda doubting your commitment to Sparkle Motion. Nor have libertarians come up with anything significant, much less consensus, on that other body ownership problem- abortion.

    Seems a bit premature to start making grand pronouncements regard the absolute nature of property rights, much less any other without showing your work first.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "And while your ability to create vast tracts of text that do little to address specific questions raised"

    You stated that the nature of rights is highly dependent on context and cultural factors.

    Property rights refute that statement. Other rights are not fundamentally different from property rights. It's just that the negative consequences of violating property rights are easier to quantify.

    "THE most fundamental property right is you own your own bones"

    The most fundamental right is the right to make choices for yourself. Rights are choices, they arise from our agency, and there is nothing more fundamental than that.

  • Qsl||

    That is ONE question of several I've raised.

    So if I form my own little socialist commune, what do property rights mean in that context, or do we need the Ken approved notion property rights? Most of Europe has Right to Roam enshrined by law, and there doesn't seem much problem with it. Is that Ken approved, or do you impose your notion of property rights there as well? Quite the little tyrant in your notion of property rights. And we won't even touch the difficulties of land ownership after wars of conquest.

    I'd say that's pretty culturally and context dependent.

    "The most fundamental right is the right to make choices for yourself."

    And now you are just being facile. Kind of hard to even entertain the notion of choice without having self-ownership at the core.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Progressives are about using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices against their will for what progressives believe to be the greater good.

    I'm talking about the government refusing to violate people's right to choose and practice their own religion so long as they don't violate anyone's rights.

    You see the difference there. I know you do.

    In addition, I'm arguing that these rights neither originate from nor are defined by the government. I am saying that governments that fail to protect this right do so to the detriment of society--cross-culturally and throughout history. If the government violated this right often and deeply enough, chaos would ensue.

    The question is not whether this right exists without government or what guidelines the government should use to allow for it. The right to choose your own religion would assert itself regardless. The negative consequences associated with ignoring people's rights are inescapable.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Progressives are about using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices against their will for what progressives believe to be the greater good.

    I'm talking about the government refusing to violate people's right to choose and practice their own religion so long as they don't violate anyone's rights.

    You see the difference there. I know you do.

    In addition, I'm arguing that these rights neither originate from nor are defined by the government. I am saying that governments that fail to protect this right do so to the detriment of society--cross-culturally and throughout history. If the government violated this right often and deeply enough, chaos would ensue.

    The question is not whether this right exists without government or what guidelines the government should use to allow for it. The right to choose your own religion would assert itself regardless. The negative consequences associated with ignoring people's rights are inescapable.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The government has no business establishing acceptable religious practices or prohibiting the free exercise of religion--and that also applies to religious beliefs I abhor. Is there something hard to understand about that?

    So... Aztec ritual human sacrifice. Yea or nay?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Let's see...

    One person's rights end where another person's rights begin.

    That provides an answer to silly human sacrifice dilemmas.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I agree. But that does contradict Ken's rather absolutist statement.

  • Mickey Rat||

    It does not mean anything goes in curtailing an employer's ability to act according to their moral principles.

    An employee does not have a right for their employer to provide any level of healthcare or insurance beyond what is negotiated. We get into all of this 1st amendment entanglements by accepting the premise the government has the authority to create and define such a right.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    It does not mean anything goes in curtailing an employer's ability to act according to their moral principles.

    I didn't say it did.

  • Mickey Rat||

    That is the usual reason why that argument is brought up, as the camel's nose under the tent of religious freedom.

  • JesseAz||

    Hey dummy dear...

    "The First Amendment doesn't protect violating someone's rights with your religion". It isn't absolutist.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Even for willing sacrifices?

  • Ken Shultz||

    You think the observation that your rights end where another's begins contradicts my statement that, "The First Amendment doesn't protect violating someone's rights with your religion any more than the Second Amendment protects violating someone's rights with a gun"?

    You should work on your reading comprehension.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Oh Little Lefty, always making sophist arguments and observations.

  • ||

    That provides an answer to silly human sacrifice dilemmas.

    No, it doesn't. In religions that practice human sacrifice, it's not at all uncommon for the "victims" to be willing participants. You typically get to become a god, after all.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    So that is an interesting conundrum. Wonder what Ken and Jesse will argue in that case.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The right to life is unalienable. Just as you cannot consent to become a legal slave, you cannot consent to be legally killed. Human sacrifice is always a murder.

  • Qsl||

    So no assisted euthanasia then.

    I gotta tell ya, these "freedoms" feel more like a burden every day.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Do you bemoan not having the ability to sell yourself into slavery as well?

  • Qsl||

    Yes actually. It's my fucking meat. As soon as you start down the line of protecting me from myself, there is no end to the mischief that can be imposed.

    Not to mention bonded labor use to be a way to escape horrific situations. I really don't see a difference in paying someone upfront for their services and doling it out over the course of years. The effect is still the same.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The 13th Amendment outlawing slavery was actually imposition on freedom?

    Again, first principles are that basic human rights are unalienable. If they are not, then we are discussing a different concept of rights than the American one.

  • Qsl||

    Selling others and selling myself are indeed two completely unrelated concepts. All the pity the 13th doesn't distinguish between the two.

    And no, with unalienable rights comes unalienable responsibilities. Since that is clearly not the case, your first principles are flawed.

  • ||

    So no right to suicide? How will you enforce that?

    Doesn't "self-ownership" imply an absolute right over your literal life? If you want to die and the state won't let you, isn't that compulsory labor in the most fundamental sense?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Technically the 13th allows slavery as punishment for a crime.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Has willing human sacrifice been a big problem lately, that we need the government to step in and say what is and isn't protected by the First Amendment?

    There's this thing called a criminal trial. When one person kills another in a human sacrifice, the accused murderer should get a trial. Whether it constitutes the crime of murder is decided by a jury. That's the definition of crime--one person violating another person's rights.

    If the accused's defense wants to appeal on the basis of First Amendment protection, that's their right.

    In the meantime, suggesting that criminal law should be replaced by the Department of Health and Human Services' regulations is something only progressives as ignorant as ChemJeff would believe. We can't have people just choosing to do whatever they want so long as everyone consents because human sacrifice?

    That's shithead stupid.

  • ||

    The government has no business establishing acceptable religious practices or prohibiting the free exercise of religion

    "Except when it does" is what your argument actually is.

    No one is suggesting anything other than that people who say they are completely and absolutely dedicated to freedom of religion are largely full of shit - you're not. There are limits and there are situations in which you think it's good and proper to forbid certain religious practices even where all participants are willing.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The government has no business establishing acceptable religious practices or prohibiting the free exercise of religion"

    A jury is not the government. This is what is meant by, "a jury of one's peers".

    When the Department of Health and Human Services decides what is and isn't an acceptable violation of First Amendment protections of my religious rights, it does so without the benefit of a jury, a public trial, a speedy trial, a judge, the right to a defense counsel, the right to appeal, etc., etc.

    If you want to convict someone of a crime, you have to go through due process, and the Department of Health and Human Services rewriting regulation so as to decide what is and isn't within the proper purview of the First Amendment is a total, complete, end around due process.

    When nuns refuse to finance their employees' fornication, it is not up to Congress or any of the agencies they oversee to decide whether their First Amendment rights are being properly considered. It's up to the nuns. If you want to violate their right to define their own religious beliefs, then you need to charge them with a crime, get them indicted, prosecute them, and persuade a jury to convict them of that crime.

    . . . not have the head of the DHS write a memo.

  • Ken Shultz||

    ". . . not have the head of the DHS write a memo."

    Not have Congress pass a law either.

    You see, there's this thing called The First Amendment, and it starts out, "Congress shall make no law".

    Some people just can't seem to comprehend what that means. Among other things, it means my opinion of other people's religious beliefs matter so little, that they shouldn't even enter within the purview of democracy--unless I use my religious beliefs to violate someone's rights, in which case, I can and should be charged with a crime, have a right to a jury, a trial, etc. etc.

  • ||

    I don't think we really have a disagreement here.

    Honestly, I don't think you're original point responds to what the article is about - the DHHS's rules aren't defining what religious practices are acceptable - they're essentially saying you don't even have to have a "religious" objection - it can be a "non-religious" moral objection.

    I don't think ChemJeff was really responding to your point as such - I think he was bringing it back around to a discussion that was had the other day about freedom of religion as regards human sacrifice.

    Be that as it may, I was responding to Mickey Rat's assertion that "One person's rights end where another person's rights begin" provides an answer to "silly human sacrifice dilemmas." It does not.

    If DHHS were making rules regarding what are and aren't acceptable religious practices, I agree that that would be an abomination. But I also think you're getting really, really worked up about something that isn't happening.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The good news is that rules respect religious freedom without veering into ideology on their own accord."

    I do not want rules that allow for religious objections.

    It suggests that, somehow, our religious objections are subject to their rules.

    Fuck that!

    If I violate someone's rights with my religion, they should prosecute me with respect for my due process rights.

    If they don't want to do that, then I guess they should just leave us all to make our own religious rules for ourselves. That's what freedom is all about. It's not about the government making rules for me that are consistent with my religious beliefs.

    Incidentally, I don't engage in hate speech either, and, yet, I still oppose the government making rules about what does and doesn't constitute protected speech that way. They have no business making rules about what people can and can't say. If someone uses their speech to violate someone else's rights (say by handing a bank teller a threat to shoot if she doesn't empty the cash register), then that person should be prosecuted as a criminal. It's all the same thing.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "That's shithead stupid."

    Ken, when you're looking for a big helping of shithead stupid, have no fear! Jeffy is always there, ready to deliver, and in spades.

  • Kivlor||

    This is a better example than I had. I was going to use Zoroastrian burial rights, which are not allowed in any city in the US.

  • JesseAz||

    So you are throwing in with being as stupid as Jeff. Good to know. Second to last paragraph. Ken wasn't absolutist.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    So whose rights are violated by a Zoroastrian burial?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've actually taken classes at UCLA on Zoroastrianism and their burial practices. I've taken it with practicing Zoroastrians, of which there are many in the surrounding Iranian-American community in Westwood. Their burial practices have evolved over the course of millennia, and while I believe they continue to use those practices in India, I've never heard the Zoroastrians I spoke with complaining that their burial practices--whatever they are in Los Angeles--were a problem with the government. I heard plenty of other complaints.

  • ||

    Sikhs also largely don't complain about not getting to carry their knives everywhere. That doesn't mean a religious practice isn't being forbidden - it just means that the religious people are being cooperative about it because as Sikhs and Zoroastrians they are very used to it. They aren't tolerated in India very well, either. In fact, they largely have it better here.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So we're mostly talking about a non-problem.

    If an individual Sikh wants to defend himself in court by having his lawyer argue that carrying a ceremonial knife into a government building is protected by the First Amendment, then he'll have a sympathetic ear if I'm on the jury. Appellate courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, are supposed to protect his First Amendment rights, too.

    There is no need for the Department of Health and Human Services to get involved deciding what is and isn't protected by the First Amendment, and ChemJeff's objection on the point of human sacrifice is the solution to a problem that probably doesn't exist. If and when someone claims First Amendment protections for human sacrifice, that jury will weigh the credibility of testimony and evidence in that situation--and if nobody in that trial gives a shit what the Department of Health and Human Services has to say about the First Amendment and religion, then that may suggest that the world isn't as stupid and crazy and ChemJeff.

  • Eddy||

    Hormonal birth control dispensed at the cafeteria, mandatory nooners for all employees, prostitutes for the ugly, poor, or smelly employees.

    Any science-based health policy should include at least these things.

  • contrarian||

    Why in the hell should insurance cover birth control at all? Taking birth control pills is not a risk that you hedge against, it's just a helpful product that costs money, so pay for it yourselves.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Many companies cover preventative medicine (ie early colonoscopies) because the long term costs are lower. Just makes sense (like sending home sick people so they don't make everyone else sick). Long term cost of a baby far outweighs the lifetime cost of contraception.

    However, the simpler solution would be for all the shrews and shrills who squak about this to set up a non profit to but the patents, manufacture, and give out the goodies. The cost spent for one year if matches on Washington would likely cover it. Instead, the pussy hats have to make a statement about other people's money, showing they either don't care or can't do math.

  • JesseAz||

    It's the company's choice. Don't force it on them.

  • Agammamon||

    A colonoscopy is a preventative measure against a *possible* outcome.

    Pregnancy is something that's basically guaranteed to happen if you have sex. *Not* getting pregnant is the eventuality you need to insure against there.

    In addition, paying for a decade's worth of birth control becomes pointless when someone decide's now's the time and goes and gets pregnant anyway - in which case you're still paying for childbirth *and* a decade's worth of contraception.

    And, frankly, the expenses that come with childbirth aren't really things that should be *insured* against either. Again, not having children is the outlier and any normal person should be putting aside money for the kids they're almost certain to have. Insurance for *twins or more*? Yeah, I can see that. Insurance paying for childbirth? That's just a pre-payment plan.

  • Sheriff Bart||

    ENB-

    Couple of questions:

    1) Will these entities still provide drugs used for birth control if prescribed for other conditions?

    2) Will some entities, like Hobby Lobby, provide birth control, but not a handful of abortifacients?

    Seems these were the two points missed by the progressives the last time around...

  • Echospinner||

    How much does it cost?

    High end around $1000 that will get an IUD good for at least 3 years.

    Cost of unwanted pregnancy is much higher.

  • contrarian||

    If the choice were covered birth control vs no birth control, insurance companies would probably cover it for free. However because everyone will just buy it anyway, it's not cost effective. That's why they won't cover it by default without the mandate.

  • JesseAz||

    So you're advicating for forced consumer guidance? Very libertarian there.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I want ENB and all women to pay for my condoms.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They're a bit pricier than most because they're Trojan Magnums.

  • contrarian||

    You've got it easy. Try getting them to pay for 2 gallon garbage bags.

  • ||

    If women aren't buying condoms for you, you're doing it wrong.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Having anal sex with men is a high risk situation, especially for bottoms of magnum wearers... What with the ripping and tearing. Good on you for making him wear a condom.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I'm imagining you saying that in Proseeor Frink's Voice.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Reading comprehension error. I said "my" condom.

    You really need to try harder leo, I mean wiley coyote.

  • Agammamon||

    Akshewally - she already does. And so do I.

    Free condoms can be had at just about every 'free clinic' and tons of other places - a lot of that cost is subsidies by quangoes (charities that get the majority of their funding from the government).

  • Spiritus Mundi||

    That brings us to the bad news: A lot of women could lose any insurance coverage for contraception. HHS and company estimate that the changes "may affect the coverage of approximately 6,400 women," and could impact up to 127,000 women.

    6,400 to 127,000 is 0.004 to 0.08% of all women in the US(based on 1.5e8 women). Oh the humanity.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    And they all have blue hair, chest tattoos, and nose piercings. Imagine that.

  • JesseAz||

    Man, you're a bigot. You forgot to count all the transgenders.

  • Longtobefree||

    That number is too fluid - - - -

  • DiegoF||

    ENB is right--at least in her ultimate conclusion. This is all a bit silly. The Trump Administration can wave a magic wand tomorrow and free the entire country from this obnoxious prog talking point. Make these pills available OTC; they will weep inside for the loss of demagoguery opportunity but this is one executive order even they will not dare to reverse.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    They'd still protest, because women will die when they don't visit a doctor. See also Jeff Sessions resigns.

  • buybuydandavis||

    That would involve a tiny bit of freedom from the rent seeking medical mafia.

    Can't have that.

  • SFCatMom||

    I am in favor of OTC birth control pills, but I'd like to point out that, after the initial fitting, spermicide creams don't need a prescription and are extremely effective when used correctly with a diaphragm. It may require a little cooperation between the partners, but the cream doesn't act systemically on the woman's body as hormones do.

  • DavidTaylor||

    Diaphragm's require a prescription, so that's not an OTC alternative to prescription hormonal birth control.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Freedom is not allowed in medical care. The medical mafia has to get their pound of flesh.

  • JFree||

    Thousands of women losing coverage for contraception is no good, even if you don't think that the solution is forcing others to subsidize the service.

    I think carving contraception out as some unique medical spending is wrong. Because the fact is that there is a TON of discretionary medical spending that is included in 'insurance' and that probably accounts for well over half of the total cost and well over half of the incremental increases over time.

    We need to start thinking in terms of emergency coverage/financing v discretionary coverage/financing. That's the only way to actually look at the problems we face in this country.

  • flyfishnevada||

    'Merica! Land of the...oh, forget it.

  • Rockabilly||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland identifies as a man and woman by fucking himself.

  • Joe Emenaker||

    I think my main irritation with granting exemptions to the mandate is that they can do it under-the-radar. Sure, we now know not to shop at Hobby Lobby because they took one for the team and filed their high-profile case, but how many other organizations are now able to use that decision to quietly coerce their employees with their own moral view?

    What I'd like to see is some combination of: 1) organizations have to explicitly disclose to potential employees (*before* hiring) that they choose to provide less-than-complete coverage (eg. "This organization only offers health plans which lack standard reproductive health coverage") so that potential employees are forewarned about what they're getting into, or 2) a public registry of those organizations which have opted for the exemption so that (like with Hobby Lobby) consumers are able to know what kind of organizations they're patronizing.

  • Agammamon||

    God that's idiotic.

    1. There's no coercion.

    2. Have you ever worked at a job in the private sector? They disclose all that shit. You just need to get off your arse and read the documents. Its *your compensation package* - why the fuck would you not know what it covers.

    3. And if you wanted to know specifically about an aspect of that package - to the point where it would be a deal-breaker - why the fuck would you not ask about it? That's what interviews are for. They're a two way street.

  • JFree||

    You just need to get off your arse and read the documents.

    Every insurance policy is written at a level that requires both a college degree and a basic course in contract law to understand. This is quite deliberate - so that they can draw on the loopholes as needed. So no - in fact only 10-20% of people can actually understand the policy - and only 2-4% can afford the legal expenses to enforce their understanding of it. And the second they get ill - whoops no longer part of that 2-4%.

    why the fuck would you not ask about it?

    Why the fuck do you think anyone would be bound by what they tell you? Benefits admins do try to honestly explain how it all works. But that is a low level job - and most of their time is actually spent running point for the slew of problems that pop up at the point of delivery between providers, insurance, and employees. If your think your potential boss knows shit about it - you are dead wrong to the point of stupid as fuck.

  • Longtobefree||

    And yet, they let you vote.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Number three is an asshole sh demand from someone I suspect of being a big asshole.

  • Agammamon||

    Thousands of women losing coverage for contraception is no good, even if you don't think that the solution is forcing others to subsidize the service. Less access to or use of contraception means more unintended pregnancies, and more unintended pregnancies means more of all sorts of negative outcomes.

    You are making the claim that loss of *insurance* coverage (to cover an eventuality that is guaranteed, not unforeseen, so not the proper venue for insurance coverage in the first place) is the same as loss of *access*.

    If contraception were expensive - I'd agree with you that the two may be conflated.

    But its not. Its cheap. If there's a barrier to women getting access to contraception when they have to bear the full costs its that prescription requirement for the better options, not that small fee for a doctor's visit. A fee that, I would remind you, would likely come down - including seeing medical professionals specializing in contraception prescriptions - if the consumer were paying the cost and not the insurance company (and ultimately the rest of us through subsidies).

  • DavidTaylor||

    "A fee that, I would remind you, would likely come down - including seeing medical professionals specializing in contraception prescriptions - if the consumer were paying the cost and not the insurance company "

    You might be interested in Elisabeth Rosenthal's book "An American Sickness" on healthcare in the U.S. One of her points is that prices for medical goods and services have not responded to market forces in the way you propose -- look at her chapter 16 on drug and device prices, for example.

    There are no "medical professional specializing in contraception prescriptions." Lots of primary care physicians prescribe contraception, and at least for an initial prescription do so in the context of more comprehensive patient visits; it would be a seriously irresponsible physician who simply dashed off scripts without examinations, tests, etc. I have always advocated for OTC availability of hormonal birth control, but I also know that there is a small percentage of women who have to balance the cost and (in)convenience of doctor visits and prescriptions against rent and food.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The only good rule on birth control is no rule.

  • Longtobefree||

    And yet, working women past menopause still have to pay for maternity coverage - - - - -

  • Echospinner||

    Routine OB and prenatal care is pretty inexpensive. Those younger women are also paying for GYN cancers that tend to occur in older women.

  • Olga||

    So do antivaxer employers get to opt out of providing vaccine coverage? Do Jahovah's Witnesses get to refuse to cover blood transfusions? Do Christian Scientists get to refuse to cover most treatments? If a religion decided that Viagra violated their views would we let them refuse to cover that treatment? Contraception should be treated like any other drug. Some women take birth control to control periods and acne.

    The individual receiving health care should get to decide wait is acceptable. In our country, employer sponsored health insurance is how most people get insurance. It evolved that way. A different situation would be better, but this is what we are stuck with. If we don't allow Seventh Day Adventist to force their non-practing employees to eat a vegetarian diet, we should not allow employers to even know what drugs or treatments employees receive.

  • Eddy||

    "In our country, employer sponsored health insurance is how most people get insurance. It evolved that way. A different situation would be better, but this is what we are stuck with."

    Yes, it evolved randomly.

  • Echospinner||

    The seventh day Adventist hospital when I was there had
    some of the best food in town. It was all vegetarian and they would pile up your plate for almost nothing.

    They had the best equipment. The first PET scanner in the area, top level CT and OR.

    The baby with the baboon heart. That was Loma Linda.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Thousands of women losing coverage for contraception is no good, ... Less access to or use of contraception means more unintended pregnancies

    Less coverage doesn't mean less access.

    And less coverage or less access to contraception doesn't mean more unintended pregnancies.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Freeing birth control pills from prescription-drug status is an idea that people across political factions (and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have backed in the past."

    An actual libertarian magazine would want *all* medicine freed from prescription drug status.

    Baby steps.

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