In a religious freedom/liberty conflict among religious
employers, employees, and students, who wins?
2012: Side effects of HHS Mandate: a massive
reduction in teen births & number of abortions.
Congressional politicians enter fray.
Additional side effect of the HHS Mandate:
If the mandate is not implemented, then women who do not wish to procreate will have to pay for their contraceptives. These are difficult to afford by many women. Many do not buy contraceptives and risk pregnancy.
In the U.S., nearly half of all pregnancies are unexpected and unplanned. Of these, about 43% are terminated by abortion. If the mandate is implemented, then more women will be able to use contraceptives because they will be free of co-pays. There will be far fewer surprise pregnancies. The abortion rate should plummet. Employers will benefit because fewer women will interrupt their employment to take pregnancy leave.
The results of an unusual study about the effects of free contraceptives were released during 2012-OCT. 1 It involved more than 9,000 women in St. Louis. Many were poor or lacked health care coverage. 39% of the women in the study had difficulty paying for their basic expenses. They were given the freedom to chose from any contraceptive method at no cost to them. Their options included free birth control pills, IUDs, or contraceptive implants. Many women chose the latter method which normally cost hundreds of dollars. Results showed only 6.3 live births per 1,000 teenagers among the group. This compares to a national average rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens during 2010 -- a massive reduction. The abortion rate was 4.4 to 7.5 abortion per 1,000 women in the study which compares to the national rate of almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women. Again, a massive reduction.
Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, commented:
"As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates. This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps us get to that goal."
Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, commented:
"It's just an amazing improvement. I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access." 1
Dr. Breeden's comments would seem to be obvious. Although his conclusion would be accepted by essentially all secularists and by the vast majority of adherents to most faith groups, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is unalterably opposed to both abortion and contraception. Further, the Church's moral theology teaches that it is not permissible to commit a minor sin in order to prevent a major sin. Thus, engaging in contraception -- even if it were considered to be a relatively minor sin compared to abortion -- is not permissible even if it prevents the death of an human embryo or unborn fetus which many Catholics regard as equivalent to murder of a human person.
Jeanne Monahan, spokesperson for the Family Research Council suggested contraceptive use can encourage riskier sexual behavior. She said:
"Additionally, one might conclude that the Obama administration's contraception mandate may ultimately cause more unplanned pregnancies since it mandates that all health plans cover contraceptives, including those that the study's authors claim are less effective." 1
Monahan apparently was unaware of one of the main findings of the study -- the drastic reduction in pregnancies and abortions among those given the option of choosing free contraception.
The article in CBS News concerning the St. Louis study produced some interesting comments by readers:
- "TAMARIA13" gave an amusing and imaginary weather report:
"In Other News, Water is wet, more on this stunning development later on in our program. ... I'm seeing a storm of angry religious comments, followed by a light hailing of sarcasm, and eye rolling."
- "THINKINGONETOO" wrote:
"Prevention is the key; abortion is just an archaic way of treating a symptom of irresponsible behavior.
If the receiver of long-term birth control wants to run around sleeping with every Tom, Dick and Harry (no pun intended), that is their CHOICE.
This way, the irresponsible party risks contracting a disease sure, but doesn't have to have the death of their own offspring on their hands."
- JOHNLOCKESGHOST" WROTE:
"Allowing people to have choices. Isn't that what freedom's all about?"
- BOOKVERK3778 wrote:
"... the US has let the insurance companies away with dictating what they will or will not cover. It is about time that they had a universal health care system where it is the needs of the patient that dictates the care they receive not a faceless HMO in a call center. While National Health Service in the UK far from perfect at least it tries to put the patient first and most if not all contraception is free, though persuading people to use it is another issue altogether." 1
2012-AUG-01: Congressional politicians enter fray:
Requiring health insurance companies to give female employees the option of receiving free preventative care in their health insurance plans at no cost to their employers caused two Republican lawmakers to describe the mandate as an massive attack on American culture.
Rep Mike Kelly (R-PA) is a well known opponent of abortion access. He used the language of President F.D. Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech to describe the HHS mandate. Kelly said that 2012-AUG-01, the date when the regulation became effective, will "live in infamy" along with two other dates: 1941-DEC-07 when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and 2001-SEP-11 when the 9/11 terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. He said:
"I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."
At the same press conference, New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) said:
"This is a right that every American should be outraged, outraged about what this administration and Secretary Sibelius has set forth here on August the 1st. And as Mike said, August the 1st is a day that we as American will look at as the largest assault on our First Amendment rights. 2
Commenting on Kelly's speech, commentator Sarah Morice-Brubaker said:
"Maybe he thinks that the only people who have ever experienced a truly grievous affront to their agency and well-being are these three groups:
- 1) victims of the Pearl Harbor attack;
- 2) victims of the 9/11 attacks; and
- 3) the boss who thinks Unitarian Stella from accounting shouldn’t be using birth control and by gum he’s not going to pay for a policy that lets her do so without copay. Maybe the evidence that contraception improves women’s health does not enter into his analysis at all." 3
Webmaster's comment on the media coverage of the HHS Mandate:
We obtained the references to emergency contraception (EC) by searching the Web for "HHS mandate" abortion. All of the information sources that incorrectly described emergency contraception as abortifacient medication came from religious and social conservative news outlets. We noted that:
- All of the articles seem to have assumed that emergency contraception (EC) works by inhibiting the pre-embryo from implanting in the wall of the uterus; most seem to imply that this is the only mechanism by which EC works.
- None of the articles mentioned that researchers have found that EC does not inhibit implantation, but rather works by inhibiting ovulation or reducing the chances of conception.
On 2013-OCT-16, we Googled: "HHS mandate" "religious freedom". A brief scan among the first eight listings showed:
- Stand Up For Religious Freedom at: www.standupforreligiousfreedom.com:
- Discussed religious freedom only from the point of view of the employer, and does not consider the employee's religious freedom.
- Refers to emergency contraception as "abortion inducing drugs" in spite of all of the scientific evidence to the contrary.
- Stated that the Affordable Care Act attempts: "... to force all Americans to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience. Never before in U.S. history has the federal government forced citizens to directly purchase a product in contradiction to their moral and religious beliefs."
But if a person finds a particular item offensive to their beliefs, they need only ignore it and not obtain it.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/hhs-mandate/
- Also does not consider the employee's freedom.
- Also refers to emergency contraception as "abortion-causing drugs"
- Referred to "... the religious liberty threats faced by the HHS mandate. We will continue to seek relief from the courts and from Congress for those [employers] who object because of religious or moral convictions." They made no mention of the religious freedom of employees.
- The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty at: http://www.becketfund.org/hhsinformationcentral/
- Describes how the mandate: "... forces many religious organizations to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, or pay crippling fines. Again, no mention of any deeply held religious beliefs of the employees.
- The eighth entry on Google links to an essay by Richard W. Garnett, a professor of law and associate dean at the University of Notre Dame. He refers to some unidentified people who believe that those who resist the HHS Mandate:
- "... are trying to 'impose their morality' on employees, or to 'deny access' to items and services to which most people — indeed, many Catholics — have no objection.
He simply responds: "This charge is false." 4
None of the articles that we found saw the fundamental problem in terms of a conflict between:
- The religious freedom of the employer to restrict or prevent medical coverage to their employees on items with which the employer disagrees, and
- The religious freedom of the employee to obtain preventative services free of copay's that are consistent with the employees' moral and religious belief.
Unfortunately, a lot of readers of these articles will assume that because they come from religious sources, they are well researched, accurate, authoritative, balanced, and complete. After all, if a Christian cannot trust fellow Christians who run information sources, who can they trust?
How you may have arrived here:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Study: Free birth control leads to way fewer abortions," CBS News, 2012-OCT-05, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
- Michael O'Brien & Frank Thorp, "Republican likens contraceptive mandate to Pearl Harbor, 9/11," ABC News, 2012-AUG-01, at: http://firstread.nbcnews.com/
- Sarah Morice-Brubaker, "Pennsylvania Rep. Says Contraception Mandate Is Like Pearl Harbor and 9/11," Religion Dispatches, 2012-AUG-01, at: http://www.religiondispatches.org/
- Richard W. Garnett, "Column: HHS mandate still undermines religious freedom," USA Today, 2012-FEB-15, at: news/opinion/forum/story/2012-02-15/obama-contraceptive-mandate-compromise-bishops/53103138/1
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUL-08
Latest update: 2013-OCT-17
Author: B.A. Robinson