A particularly twattish argument

On New Years Eve, supreme court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction blocking the Obama administration from implementing the aspect of the ACA known as the “contraception mandate”, which requires employee insurance plans to cover a range of preventative women’s health needs. The government has until today to respond. The injunction itself is standard legal procedure, and says little about how Sotomayor or the rest of the court will rule on the merits of the case. But the lawsuit itself, and the related suits challenging the contraception mandate, offer an increasingly troubling look at just how far peddlers of far-right ideology will go not just to claim their own right to live according to their beliefs, but to mandate that you and I do the same.

No, no, it isn’t.

It’s an argument about whether they should be forced to pay for the way that you wish to live your life.

Quite apart from the fact that insurance is an entirely insane way to pay for contraception there’s the point that none of these people are arguing that people who work for Catholic organisations should not be allowed to use contraception. They are arguing, however, that a Catholic organisation should not be forced into paying for something that it sees as sinful (although that gets a bit complex. No one argues that being on the pill in itself is sinful. Rather that having sex without the possibility of conception is).

The forcing everyone to live like someone says is in fact coming from the supporters of this contraception mandate. Catholics (and others) must, must, pay for their employees contraception.

Please note that I’m all in favour of contraception for anyone who desires it: this is about the mendacity of this argument being presented, not about the underlying issue itself.

37 thoughts on “A particularly twattish argument”

  1. So apparently American nuns are now “peddlers of far-right ideology”. Looks like all their trendy post-Vatican 2 ecumenical kumbayahing and lefty justice-n-peacing hasn’t won them any friends among the progressives. The sisters are trying to defy Obama, so will be thrown under a bus.

    That’s one of the problems with progressivism, is it not? It’s a Red Queen’s Race of obnoxious posturing. Nothing is fixed. Today’s lefties will be denounced as tomorrow’s far right bigots if they don’t keep up.

    Thirty years ago you were a racist if you hated racial minorities, now you’re a racist if you aren’t keen on becoming a racial minority. Ten years ago you were a disgusting homophobe if you opposed civil partnerships. Now you’re a gay-bashing bigot if you oppose gay marriage.

    I believe the bible has something to say about what happens when you sow the wind. The nuns might want to look that bit up.

  2. I thought all those horrible right wing capitalists who don’t want to employ women of childbearing age because they get up the duff would be only too happy to pay for contraception?

  3. “…but to mandate that you and I do the same.”

    Projection, much?

    But the Proggies are self-evidently on the side of the angels, so their mandates are divine.

  4. IanB
    Employers paying their employees’ healthcare costs is one thing, being legally required to pay for their employees’ lifestyle choices is quite another.

    Steve
    If you ever mention that Catholic justice’n’peace shit on this blog again I will hunt you like a dog! You have been warned.

  5. “The real absurdity is having employers pay for employees’ healthcare. Utterly insane.”

    IIRC it’s a hangover from the era of FDR’s price and salary fixing. Employer-provided health insurance didn’t count as salary so could be used by employers to attract employees.

    One of the insane stupidities of the US insurance debacle is that employer-provided insurance is tax deductible, but individually-provided insurance isn’t, so has to be paid out of post-tax dollars.

    If you look at the Swiss system, it’s an individual mandate and tax deductible.

    This brings me onto a Ritchie point, his idea that Switzerland is some kind of tax haven for ordinary people. It really isn’t. There’s extreme tax competition, moderated to a degree by the low labour mobility of the natives. But, property and rental prices vary in inverse proportion to the taxes: i’ve just moved house, and my rent has gone down about 200 a month, but my tax has gone up about 200 a month…

    Anyhoo, a back-of-the envelope calculation.

    Mid-30s married man, single-earner, 2 kids, a fairly average municipality in canton Bern. Earning CHF 140k (on paper GBP94k, in reality nearer 70k when cost-of-living adjusted)

    In rough figures:
    NI-equivalent (but no NHS): 5%
    Income tax effective: 10%
    Compulsory pension: 6%
    Health insurance for family: 4% (with potentially CHF 7800 out-of-pocket if everyone gets ill. Plus, it’s compulsory so it’s effectively a tax and due to the NHS this is in theory included in NI in the UK)

    Total deductions: 25%

    And if re-calculated for a single man, the health ins drops to about 1.5% (potentially 3100 out-of-pocket expenses) and the tax rate jumps to 20%, for a total of 31.5% deductions.

    Running the same numbers based on GBP 70k (which should give about the same lifestyle) with PAYE gives about 35% deductions.

    Hardly an earth-shattering difference.

  6. Fuck em. They prescribe contraception I don’t care about their religious morals. They can leave that job if they so desire. The patient’s rights to access contraception should not be impinged because their doctor doesn’t like it. If a nation as a whole didn’t like it

    The realities of healthcare aren’t that it’s an endless and diverse free market. In reality you tend to be very limited and in no way a free market in providers due to simple geography regardless of the way it is paid for (the price differences between one hospital and it’s nearest competitor for various treatments in the US simply prove this is true or competition would start working it’s magic, but it doesn’t).This goes double in emergency and urgent treatment.

    Catholic organisations not offering contraception or contraception/abortions when medically necessary or in the case of rape etc are not only being unproffessional and short sighted, imposing their will in an area the patient should get to decide and they are actively perpatrating what I’d say amounts to the exact opposite of what religious folks like to pretend they are about (but never are).

    Why the hell does the church have involvement with medicine anyway? They are the last people you want advising you. I say it’s the same with any religious organisation or individual willing to do any work for public money they have to follow the rules and do the work without the religion influencing it. They can’t discriminate or not do part of the contract simply because people who claim to represent the invisible man in the sky told them to.

    If they want to do that, they can get out of healthcare or not operate using the insurance system or whatever.

    We fire teachers for preaching religion, registrars for not marrying gay people despite it being part of their job and what they are paid to do. You wouldn’t expect a muslim to refuse to serve alcohol if they were employed to work on a checkout. There is little difference, if you have a job, you do the job, not the job except those parts you don’t really like because of your beliefs.

    If you are paid to be a doctor, be a doctor not a morality police.

  7. Ironman – If you ever mention that Catholic justice’n’peace shit on this blog again I will hunt you like a dog! You have been warned.

    Fair warning, mines a tin of Chappie.

    CAFOD, the main “Catholic” charity in England and Wales, and SCIAF, its Scottish counterpart, are more interested in extolling “climate justice”, “gender justice”, “fairtrade”, and the “Robin Hood Tax” than they are in any of that old-school rosary-bead-clutching Catholic stuff, such as opposing abortion or the breakup of the family.

    (If you search SCIAF’s website, “climate” has 52 hits, “abortion” has zero. The scores on CAFOD are 300 and 3 respectively.)

    “That’s why, along with many other groups and charities, we are calling for:

    “A new and reliable source of funding for developing countries, known as the Robin Hood Tax. This tiny tax on financial transactions (FTT), an average of just 0.05 per cent, could raise an amazing $400 billion per year to help fight poverty and enable developing countries to combat climate change.

    “Reform of the financial sector. A financial transactions tax would discourage the most risky and short-term speculation and instead encourage longer-term investments.”

    http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Get-clued-up/Robin-Hood-Tax

    “SCIAF is part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) coalition. In 2009, SCIAF supporters and SCCS successfully campaigned for a radical Climate Change Act. The Act is the most ambitious in the world and commits Scotland to significant cuts in carbon emissions – 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

    “In 2012, following months of campaigning, the Scottish Government created a Climate Justice Fund. SCIAF will work to ensure that the fund meets our recommendations.

    “SCIAF continues to monitor global climate talks such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process; calling for greater action on emissions cuts and more support for developing nations.”

    http://www.sciaf.org.uk/campaign-with-sciaf/climate-justice.html

    American nuns are, if anything, even more tiresomely left wing, and most of them were big fans of Obamacare before (and possibly still since) the contraceptives thing came up:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18405302

    And none of it will stop the leftist left-footers being thrown under a bus by their progressive pals. They’re just useful idiots.

  8. Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.

  9. Catholic employers should provide contraceptive and abortion coverage just like Muslim employers should provide ham sandwiches and beer.

    Or not…

  10. Mani-

    Okay then, let’s have employers choose a food supplier for their employees. And a clothes supplier. And, choose where they go on holiday. And so on.

    Because making choices for yourself means you’re neglected.

    As Abacab said, it’s a hangover from the second world war. It may be time for the USA to move on from the age of permanent waves and voluminous trousers.

  11. as if it was needed, greg has just proven that the obamacare supporters are debating their wishes about what it would be about and not the actual implementation of it

  12. My current employer (and also my two previous ones) pay for private health care for me, and I can also get additonal cover for my family if I choose.

    However all three employers gave the flexibility to take this benefit as cash if I didn’t want to use their choice of provider or if I didn’t want the health care at all and was happy to trust the NHS.

    A pretty sensible arrangement and I’m sure it’s used by many large companies. And also one that’s valued by employees.

  13. Steve

    I warn you off mentioning the Justice’n’peacers.. and off you go burning my eyes with CAFOD. Do you have a deathwish?

    BTW, I am attending a talk and debate at my parish church (Newman Association) given by our Archdiocese Justice & Peace knob titled ‘Faith & Food’. I am so looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into him.

  14. @Ironman: thank you for alerting me to the existence of the NA. Yours would be N Mersey, I presume. It all looks very interesting and I think I’m going to join it in London.

    I remember listening for ages to some twattish old layman at Worth Abbey banging on about the need to drink fair trade coffee at all times and wondering what the hell this had to do with the Rule of St Benedict, then enduring a sermon by a deacon mainly about climate change. Aaaargh.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    greg – “Fuck em. They prescribe contraception I don’t care about their religious morals. They can leave that job if they so desire. The patient’s rights to access contraception should not be impinged because their doctor doesn’t like it. If a nation as a whole didn’t like it”

    That is nice for you. The doctor in this case isnot impinging anyone’s right to access contraception. Anyone can still go to their doctor and get the Pill. Or even an abortion. They are just insisting that they should not have to take part in the murder of small children.

    “Catholic organisations not offering contraception or contraception/abortions when medically necessary or in the case of rape etc are not only being unproffessional and short sighted, imposing their will in an area the patient should get to decide and they are actively perpatrating what I’d say amounts to the exact opposite of what religious folks like to pretend they are about (but never are).”

    Well good for you. You think you get to decide what that nice religion Christianity is all about. I guess that means I get to decide what a real homosexual is. And of course that nice Liberace is not one because he did not dress up in Nazi uniforms and leathers.

    The issue is not about providing abortions “when medically necessary or in cases of rape”. It is about providing routine abortions. But I think that people have a right to choose not to take part in murder, even if someone else thinks it is kind of cool or even medically necessary. Why do you think they do not?

    Unprofessional and short sighted? How so? Do you also think it was unprofessional for Tescos to decline to provide oranges from South Africa?

    They are not imposing their will on anyone. They are not deciding whether someone has to have an abortion, or whether they shouldn’t. Anyone can still walk into any abortion clinic, put down their cash and have their foetus sucked up. You are imposing your will on them. By making them take part in it.

    “Why the hell does the church have involvement with medicine anyway? They are the last people you want advising you.”

    Because so many Leftists are ar$eholes with big mouths and tight fists. So while people like you talk and talk and talk – and do nothing, the Catholic Church has got on with building hospitals, hospices, schools, retirement homes and so on. 2000 years of providing care for the vulnerable. All built with pennies from the poor. Which you now want to stop. Because you think some fool from Georgetown should not have to pay for her own condoms.

    “I say it’s the same with any religious organisation or individual willing to do any work for public money they have to follow the rules and do the work without the religion influencing it.”

    So time to stop the public funding.

    “If they want to do that, they can get out of healthcare or not operate using the insurance system or whatever.”

    But in this case you are mandating that they use government funds. It is a tax after all. So you are taking an entirely private enterprise, a hospice say, and you are now insisting that they have to provide abortions for their employees. So how is your analogy even remotely accurate?

    “You wouldn’t expect a muslim to refuse to serve alcohol if they were employed to work on a checkout.”

    Actually I think some Department Store has just granted that right to their Muslim workers.

    “If you are paid to be a doctor, be a doctor not a morality police.”

    And if the State asks you to murder the mentally ill and those nasty Jewish people over there? You are obliged to do it? How about if the State decides it is your job to monitor executions, as a doctor?

  16. @ greg
    I often (usually) disagree with SMFS but since Christianity is all about healing (sometimes physical, sometimes spiritual), it is not just ridiculous, it is just plain barmy to say “Why the hell does the church have involvement with medicine anyway?” If your anti-Christian/anti-Catholic principles allowed you to read the Bible you would find that Jesus put healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind ahead of preaching in his answer to John the Baptist.
    Prior to WWII free, repeat FREE, medicine was provided to the poor in this country by religious foundations and charitable donors inspired by religious principles. Without the Church there would have been no, repeat NO, medical treatment for the poor.
    Your ignorant bigotry is unwelcome in a blog used by libertarians and non-libertarians alike.

  17. “If you are paid to be a doctor, be a doctor not a morality police.”

    Dr. Mengele, call your office.

  18. The problem is down to an overly broad modern view of what “healthcare” is. Contraception is not a healthcare issue, in the same way that you wouldn’t expect healthcare providers to supply free leg pads and helmets to people who play cricket.

    Recreational sex, like recreational cricket, is something an individual may choose to do with their bodies and which may have negative outcomes if precautions against those negative outcomes are not taken. But in neither case is it a healthcare issue.

  19. AndrewSW

    I would indeed recommend the NA.

    I particularly like that one of its principles is free academic enquiry. In that spirit we will be hosting a talk by a barrister, a Muslim by the name of Chowdery (absolutely no connection with Anjem Chowdery) who will be discussing “The Spirit of Cordoba”.
    I appreciate disagreement – I know that JamesV objects greatly to belief in what he sees as a fictional beinmg. He is a thoughtful and though-provoling correspondent. My objection is to the socialists who have taken Gramsci’s model to heart, have introduced Marxism (because that is what it is) into my church, are using their ‘Catholic’ label as a cloak for this and have done it so well that it has become axiomatic that the Marxist view of the world is the Christian view; it isn’t.
    Reading the sort of bollocks Steve researched for us reminds me of a scene from ‘The History Man’:
    “You don’t have a social conscience” “No, I have a moral conscience”. Today many “Christians” are ignorant of the difference, just as Gramsci would wish them to be.

  20. ” it has become axiomatic that the Marxist view of the world is the Christian view; it isn’t.”

    You can’t be entirely surprised at that though, Marxism and Christianity both look to a teleological explanation of history and Catholicism emphasises the primacy of the church in a very similar way to that which Marxists see a revolutionary party, particularly the Trot variety. It’s also hardly a new thing for Roman Catholics to voice collectivist social views.

  21. Thornavis

    Yep, the theology of Marxism is striking to anyone raised in a religeous environmenr.
    Another is the belief that it has found the Absolute Truth. The difference here is (and I’m going to enjoy this) the fundamental tenets of Marxism have been thoroughly debunked; Christianity’s never really hav been.

  22. I’m not sure that the fundamental tenets of Marxism have been debunked, I’m nowhere near knowledgeable enough about economics to be able to say but I think it’s incontrovertibly the case that all practical attempts to make Marxist theory work have failed, so it’s much the same thing.

    Christianity can’t really be debunked as it depends ultimately on truths that are unknowable this side of the grave or maybe beyond.

  23. @ Thornavis
    Marxism (and many other -isms) has been tried and found wanting. Christianity has been found difficult and not tried.
    That has been a standard quote throughout my lifetime.
    Strangely I have never heard a refutation.
    Would you like to be the first to supply one?

  24. So Much For Subtlety

    Thornavis – “It’s also hardly a new thing for Roman Catholics to voice collectivist social views.”

    Although Catholics tend to be Fascists, not Marxists. Even though France and Italy have had very large Communist Parties indeed. Jews tend to be Communists. And vice versa.

    john77 – “Christianity has been found difficult and not tried.
    That has been a standard quote throughout my lifetime.
    Strangely I have never heard a refutation.
    Would you like to be the first to supply one?”

    We have had 2000 years of Christianity shaping Western civilisation. It seems a little odd to claim that no one has tried to implement it. But if it is not humanly possible to implement Christianity, then perhaps it is not possible to be implemented – even if this argument is a lot like the Islamists who claim Islam has never been tried.

  25. I agree with SMFS that it’s up to Catholics to say what their beliefs are. But the rest of his argument “It is about providing routine abortions” is wrong. We’re talking about a contraceptive mandate. No one is telling the Catholic Church to pay for its employees to “have their foetus sucked up”.

  26. So Much For Subtlety

    PaulB – “But the rest of his argument “It is about providing routine abortions” is wrong. We’re talking about a contraceptive mandate. No one is telling the Catholic Church to pay for its employees to “have their foetus sucked up”.”

    Yes they are. The Church has been told it must pay for comprehensive birth control and abortions. Routine abortions. And types of contraception that amount, in Catholic eyes, to the murder of a human being much like abortion – the Pill, and IUDs for instance.

    What is particularly hypocritical about this is that the Obama administration is willing to give waivers to everyone. Except the Churches. Big businesses? No problems. Unions? Of course. Which is why some nuns are apparently trying to claim they are in fact a Union.

  27. I will readily concede that the Catholic churches in England and Scotland are completely and absolutely wedded to statist solutions for every ‘problem’. They are also completely sold on the idea that business is bad. Ergo investment in Africa is discussed only in terms of tax avoidance ‘killing millions’ – they really do say that.
    It also has a serious problem caused by its cult of frugality. So materialism is decried; frugality venerated. This is excellent in its place. However, we also say we want to feed the poor. The first means we cannot accept that the world isn’t one of zero sum gains , that some self interest is legitimate and that consumerism, desire, even gluttony might serve mankind well. ‘Greed is Good’ is self-evidently not just evil, but wrong in practice. No need to even think about it, on we go happily mouthing our platitudes.

  28. john77

    “Marxism (and many other -isms) has been tried and found wanting. Christianity has been found difficult and not tried.
    That has been a standard quote throughout my lifetime.
    Strangely I have never heard a refutation.
    Would you like to be the first to supply one?”

    I thought I’d said that I didn’t think that it was possible to provide a refutation of Christianity, is this going to be another of your hair splitting/make up things the other commenter said type of arguments ? If so I’m not playing.

    That ‘difficult and not tried’ argument is a cop out and exactly the same as that used by socialists who are always telling us that as socialism has never been properly tried it can’t be said to have failed. If that’s the best that theists can do, and it often is, then it’s little wonder fewer people now take theism seriously.

    In any case I’m not concerned with whether the social aspects of Christianity, in so far as they can be teased out from the surrounding secular environment, are benign or not, some are I will happily admit but rather with the truth of the faith. Marxism can be falsified both through economic theory and practical effects. Christianity, belief in which depends ultimately on faith, cannot be, apples and oranges.

  29. The Church has been told it must pay for comprehensive birth control and abortions. Routine abortions.

    That’s just not true. Abortions are not covered by the contraceptive mandate. See section 1303 of the act, or press coverage of the current case.

    And types of contraception that amount, in Catholic eyes, to the murder of a human being much like abortion – the Pill, and IUDs for instance.

    The Catholic Church is entitled to its own faith, but not its own science. Contraceptives work by preventing ovulation or fertilization, hence the name.

    However, it’s possible that some contraceptives – the IUD in particular – may occasionally prevent the implantation of a blastocyst if their primary mode of action fails.

    So the truth is that, in addition to their objection to all artificial contraception, Catholics are concerned that they are being obliged to fund (indirectly) the provision of contraception which may occasionally prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Let’s show respect for that concern by not conflating it with polemic about sucking up foetuses and murdering small children.

  30. @ SMFS and Thornavis
    There is historical evidence for a large number of people who *did* try Christianity – the Roman Catholic Church has declared some of them to be “Saints” (coincidentally the early church’s word for christians). The quotation does *not* imply that no-one has tried Christianity, but that a majority have found it difficult and not tried.
    If you know someone who *has* tried and found it wanting…
    Otherwise

  31. john77

    All of which is as maybe but what it has to do with my original comment and subsequent elaboration I don’t really know. I was comparing Catholic and Marxist social policy not individual practice of religious belief.

    In so far as Catholic social doctrines have been enacted they have failed just as miserably as Marxism, as SMFS pointed out they tend towards Fascism. The failure of large numbers of people to live Christian lives might be an indication of the impossibility of doing so, just as socialism tends to founder on the rock of human nature. We might also ask which aspect of Christian belief we are supposed to practice ? Living according to Catholic doctrine will likely get you roundly condemned as an idolator by some other Christians, just as left footers will denounce Prods as heretics, again all very reminiscent of Marxism. Which leads me to this :

    “If you know someone who *has* tried and found it wanting…
    Otherwise”

    Otherwise what ? Shut up presumably.

    Since you ask the question though I can give you such an example, me. I gave up the Anglo Catholic brand of God bothering largely because I couldn’t suspend disbelief any longer, nor could I accept the life I was encouraged to live as being either possible or sane, not to mention the requirement for such things as confession which I came to believe were positively harmful or veneration of the sacrament which I found absurd. I wasn’t attracted much by the Protestant alternative either although I retain a soft spot for some of the quietist non conformists.

  32. Thornavis

    Well, let me explain one way in which I’ve given this Christianity thing a whirl and found myself surprisingly successful. Unlike adherents of that other disproven religion we’ve been discussing, I’ve found myself very able to accept that you don’t agree, can’t believe and so I wish you well following your own path; John77 does the same. I don’t wish to tarnish your name, denigrate your achievements or do you any harm at all.

    I know this hasn’t been the universal historical case, but – and you will just have to concede this point here – there are hundreds of millions just like us and you should be grateful that there are; the alternative is appalling, as demonstrated so very often through history.

  33. So Much For Subtlety

    PaulB – “That’s just not true. Abortions are not covered by the contraceptive mandate. See section 1303 of the act, or press coverage of the current case.”

    Yes it is. The fact that the Bill does not specifically mention abortion does not mean that it won’t. Let’s go to the record to see:

    “You’ve heard this is all going to mean government funding of abortion,” President Obama said. “Not true.”

    So it is true then.

    “The Catholic Church is entitled to its own faith, but not its own science. Contraceptives work by preventing ovulation or fertilization, hence the name.”

    The IUD is a contraceptive and yet it allows fertilization. The word’s meaning has spread. And I do not speak for the Catholic Church.

    “However, it’s possible that some contraceptives – the IUD in particular – may occasionally prevent the implantation of a blastocyst if their primary mode of action fails.”

    The IUDs primary mode of action is to prevent implantation. It has only been in fairly recent times that IUDs have come with some sort of hormone control which prevents ovulation. The older types, made of some sort of inert metal, do nothing to prevent ovulation.

    “So the truth is that, in addition to their objection to all artificial contraception, Catholics are concerned that they are being obliged to fund (indirectly) the provision of contraception which may occasionally prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Let’s show respect for that concern by not conflating it with polemic about sucking up foetuses and murdering small children.”

    That is not the truth.

  34. Ironman

    “I know this hasn’t been the universal historical case, but – and you will just have to concede this point here – there are hundreds of millions just like us and you should be grateful that there are; the alternative is appalling, as demonstrated so very often through history.”

    Actually no I don’t have to concede any point here and both you and john77 seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am putting forward an anti Christian argument. I was just musing on the resemblance of Catholic to Marxist social beliefs originally. Then john77 in his usual inquisitorial style demanded I justify a position I hadn’t adopted, so I responded with a not entirely relevant personal anecdote. You then come along and, in that slightly passive agressive way that so many modern Christians have adopted, make a decidedly sweeping statement about the beneficial effects of Christianity, which I won’t argue with as such discussions never get anywhere.

    I’m not even very interested in the subject of religion any longer, although there are some byways of unorthodox Christianity that still intrigue me, such as this one ;

    http://www.living.org.uk/index.htm

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