Sunday, February 12, 2012

Contraception at Catholic Institutions: A Reasonable Compromise

I appreciate the justice of both sides of the recent argument about whether religiously affiliated institutions which employ and serve everyone should be required to offer contraceptives as part of their insurance coverage.

The issue is not about the freedom of religion.  By way of comparison, if churches were required to provide something contrary to their doctrine to their ministers, who were required to adhere to the doctrine, that would violate the freedom of religion.

But practically every large denomination sponsors ministries that serve the public - the Catholic Church most of all.  And nearly all of those ministries do not have a religious test for employment for every job. Therefore, as far as employee insurance goes, they are in the same boat as secular employers.

Nonetheless, I think the First Amendment requires the state to bend over backwards to try to accommodate the sensibilities of religious institutions, as well as what they can claim in strict justice.

So the decision by the Obama administration to not require church-related public ministries to pay for contraception directly, but instead to require their insurance carriers to do it, seems to me a just compromise.


Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

I just find it so annoying that the same religious groups who oppose abortion are equally zealous about birth control. they want to prevent abortion AND limit birth control and family planning, which is quite counter-intuitive.

I think this is another example of why we need to get rid of the sub-par private health system we have and make one that is universal and nationally funded so that these problems are resolved.

Whit Brisky said...

I think this dispute points up (one of) the essential errors of ObamaCare. As long as we have employers paying for health insurance, employers should be able to decide for themselves what coverage, if any, to provide. It's the employer's money. The fact that the Church's employees may not all be Catholic changes nothing as far as the Church is concerned. It does not want to use its money to pay for things it finds immoral. The employee can always go out and buy it on her own - It's not like cancer treatment that costs thousands of dollars.

Better to have each individual buy insurance for his or her own family, and pay only for the insurance they want and can afford. Buy it when you are young and healthy and it can never be cancelled except for non-payment.

And birth control is not something that anyone would ever buy insurance for (it's really pre-paid health-care). If you wanted it, you would simply buy if off the shelf. If not, you would not spend the money. Why should someone who does not want or need birth control help pay for providing it to others?

And finally, with the US, along with the rest of the West, in demographic collapse, the last thing government should be doing is subsidizing (or forcing others to subsidize) things which make the problem worse, like abortion and contraception.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

As someone who has had to buy birth control in various forms from regular pills to morning after treatments, I can tell you birth control is by no means cheap. Further, the Church's opinion should not matter at all when it comes to the health of its employees. Your argument that contraception and abortion make the problem worse is unfounded. For one, contraception prevents not just pregnancies but also abortion, and the government still does not directly fund abortion services (though I think it should for low income families who cannot afford children).

Anonymous said...

I think freedom of religion is exactly the point. No Church should be forced to provide a service that is contrary to their belief system. The fact that so many Americans think this is ok scares the daylights out of me.

And as far as Kentucky Red's opinion that a nationally funded health system will solve all of the problems, what world do you live in? Our government is far worse at providing services than the private sector. And they have no ability to operate within their means, so by all means, let's give them another huge program to try to manage.

And, as a Catholic woman who does believe that birth control and abortion are immoral, why am I, as a taxpayer, expected to subsidize this for the rest of the population? Birth control is not healthcare - it is a means to make your body NOT work the way it is supposed to. I am tired of paying for other people's irresponsibility.

Whit Brisky said...


Unlike the White House, I know that nothing is free. If you don't pay for your birth control, someone else has to.

As to birth control and abortion, what about adoption, or reserving sex for marriage? You are creating a false choice. The problem I was talking about is our demographic decline and neither birth control nor abortion will help that.

I'm not saying a woman should not be able buy birth control, but we should not be encouraging it. We should be encouraging live births.

A culture which is confident in itself will look to the future, not to present comfort. And that will mean that children will become more important.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

You expect people to reserve themselves for marriage and put up for adoption, even though our teen pregnancy rates are the highest in the developed world precisely because of the failing "abstinence only" education. We need to get real, the way to condemn people to poverty is by making them have children they can't afford, and before you claim adoption keep in mind that for one the costs to house foster children for more than a year on end and the psychological effects it has on them. So why not prevent that and instead make it so that more children who born are actually wanted? With our teen pregnancy rates (and subsequent poverty levels they produce) as high as they are, we need a new direction.

And as to the idea that the government is worse at providing services, tell that to the over 40 million uninsured Americans who cannot pay for the private system, which has been continuously ranked as one of the worst in the developed world. We cannot think the private sector will fix the problem of health, it has continuously failed us and thus we need to get off of our market-obsession and start instituting a system that benefits all citizens.

Anonymous said...

Religious ministries are just as much an expression of religious belief as are worship and doctrinal statements. There is no difference between the state requiring a minister to teach doctrines contrary to his or her beliefs and the state requiring the RC to provide birth control for its lay employees. There's no centrist formula here that lets you split the difference.

Anonymous said...

"So why not prevent that and instead make it so that more children who born are actually wanted?"

That can be achieved through abstinence just as well through abortion and birth control.

Why don't you "get real" and admit that abortion is homicide? What about the effect of abortion on children who are killed in utero? What about the spiritual and social costs of a society that murders its children in utero because of the inconvenience of supporting them once they're born?

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

I disagree, when you take responsibility for peoples' health that includes their reproductive system, if you want tax-exempt status you should not deny any sort of health treatment simply because of religious beliefs.

As for abortion being "homicide", a woman choosing what to do with her own reproductive system is not homicide. A fetus is still an extension of her body and thus she should have the right to make any changes or have any procedures done to her reproductive system without impediment.

And again, look at the rates of teen pregnancy and subsequent poverty levels arising from them, it is because we have an abstinence only education policy that equates using condoms to Russian Roulette (which is a laughable and dangerous comparison). We cannot think that teens and adults will not have sex until marriage, we need to be realistic and understand that people are hormonal and sexual creatures and thus it is better to educate them on being safe about it than giving them a Puritanical answer of "no sex until marriage and same on you if you do".

gruntled said...

"Religious ministries are just as much an expression of religious belief as are worship and doctrinal statements."

Some churches do require all the employees in their service ministries to accept the doctrinal statements of the church, and some require students in their schools to do so, as well. Catholic institutions typically do not. Catholic hospital and college insurance policies include many non-Catholic employees and students.

This allows a bright line to make a centrist solution. If everyone receiving the insurance must adhere to the denomination's beliefs in order to receive the insurance, then the state should not require them to violate the conscience of those individuals. If not, not.

Whit Brisky said...


No one is saying that non-Catholic employees of Catholic institutions cannot use birth control, only that the Church will not include it in its medical coverage. That's the "centrist" position. If the government mandates the coverage, it is taking a moral position contrary to that of the Church. And of course the non-sense that insurance companies will provide it for free runs into the no free lunch problem. Someone must pay for it. One way or another, those who disagree with contraception will be forced to help pay for it, through higher premiums or higher taxes.

Again, contraception, annual physicals, etc. are preventitive care. They are not insurable because there is no risk to insure. Covering preventitive care under medical plans amounts to pre-paid health care, not insurance. That is, if an annual exam costs $500 per employee, the premium for every employee will go up by $500. If someone wants contraceptive coverage, it is almost certain that person wants to buy it, and the premium for that person will go up accordingly. Why run the money through the insurance company? Let each person pay for preventitive care himself and keep insurance for insuring risks.

Michelle said...

There was once a king who was faced with a peasant revolt.
"The rich get fresh cream, while we have to drink sour milk!" the peasants cried.
So the king and his advisers retreated to their chamber to ponder a solution.
The next day the king appeared before the crowds of peasants and made the following announcement: "From now on, the poor will have fresh cream, and the rich will get the sour milk!"
The peasants greeted this announcement with thunderous applause. Then one of them asked the king how this would be so.
"It's quite simple," said the king. "From now on, we will call sour milk 'fresh cream' and we'll call fresh cream 'sour milk'."

Anonymous said...

"A fetus is still an extension of her body and thus she should have the right to make any changes or have any procedures done to her reproductive system without impediment."

How does it follow that a fetus, in virtue of being an "extension" of the mother's body, is not a human being or lacks human rights?

It's indeed morally significant for both the fetus and the mother that the former's life depends upon the physical connection with the mother, but this hardly seems to justify the conclusion that the fetus isn't human.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

If you think that life begins at conception you can think that, I tend to think that as long as it's attached to the mother it is still her body and her reproductive system. Thus, it's her decision without exception.

Anonymous said...

Birth control is provided free at Planned Parenthood.

Anonymous said...

Red it OK to deliver a full term baby or fetus if you will and crush it's skull as long as the cord is intact, if the mom requests it? Really are we that far along?

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

It's the mother's body and reproductive system. As unpleasant as the experience may look or be, it is her decision and no one should tell her otherwise. I see it as no different than any other surgery or procedure that is potentially gruesome to watch.

Thomas said...

In terms of the constitutional analysis (which may, of course, differ from another normative analysis), whether or not the religion "serves the public" is irrelevant. You don't give up your freedom to practice religion when you enter into the public, and using this as a factor seems to rest on the factually false assumption that religion is primarily a private matter of belief and only secondly a matter of public and social practice.

gruntled said...

The issue is not whether the religion serves the public, but whether the particular institution - hospital, school, or the like - requires that all the people covered by its insurance policy be committed to the religion's principles, or whether any member of the public may be served by that insurance - that is whether their is a religious test for employment or enrollment.

Thomas said...

That's not quite the problem. A religious institution can use religion as a basis for hiring (under both Title VII and the constitution). (In fact, depending on how far the ministerial exception goes, a religious institution may be free to discriminate on other grounds, such as gender.) But by not doing discriminating on a religious basis in hiring, an institution does not waive its right to free exercise.

What is important for constitutional purposes is whether a rule that compels someone to do something that violates its religious scruples.

(Smith eviscerated the free exercise clause, so as a practical matter there's no protection for free exercise anymore, but I'm assuming we all agree that case was wrongly decided.)

Whit Brisky said...


By your reasoning, a Catholic (or other Christian) doctor opposed to abortion must nevertheless perform them for patients if they do not require that all their patients be pro-life (which of course they cannot do). And a Catholic or other pro-life employer must pay for abortions for its employees if it does not (or cannot) limit its employees to those who share its views.

You are missing the point entirely. It is the employer's money and the employer's act to provide health insurance. By providing coverage for procedures/medications that violate its moral or religious principles, it is implicated in this violation. He who pays the piper should be able to call the tune.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why, if the raison d'ĂȘtre of a religious ministry is religious, the operations of that ministry are not protected by the First Amendment to the same degree as the religious organization that supports the ministry

Thomas said...


I think they are. The problem is that the Supreme Court in Smith, eviscerated the free exercise clause. It held that free exercise is not implicated where a neutral rule of general applicability infringed on religious freedom. As a practical matter, this means only a law that discriminates as between religions can violate the free exercise clause--but this was already prohibited by the equal protection clause. So, as a result of Smith, the free exercise clause could be removed from the constitution and nothing would change in terms of legal protections for religions.

Anonymous said...

"If you think that life begins at conception you can think that, I tend to think that as long as it's attached to the mother it is still her body and her reproductive system. Thus, it's her decision without exception."

I know THAT you think this. I would like to know WHY you think it. It's not at all obvious why the humanity of an unborn child is completely relative to it's being physically attached to its mother. A newborn infant is not physically attached to its mother, but it's no less physically dependent on others. As I mentioned earlier, the physical attachment of unborn baby to its mother and all that implies is not morally insignificant. But it still doesn't follow that the moral status of the unborn infant depends completely on this.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

I view it this way simply because I view it as the woman's right to alter or rid her body of any sort of ailments, organs, or unwanted aspects. It her decision and her's alone, no one should judge her or tell her otherwise. If someone has an unplanned pregnancy and chooses not to terminate that is her choice, but if a woman does she deserves the right to do so. I see no moral problem at all in terminating a pregnancy

Whit Brisky said...


At what point does morally permissible elective abortion become infanticide? When the umbilical cord is cut?

Anonymous said...

Kentucky Red, this is the last time I will ask: Why do you make the question of the humanity of an unborn child completely relative to the fact of its being physically attached to its mother? Why does a child only become fully human once the physical connection with its mother is severed? When does the body of the unborn child become, morally speaking, its own body and not the body of the mother? Why at that point and not at another?

None of your answers have addressed this question. You have simply restated your position.

Phil 3:14 said...

I'm just wondering if anyone in the administration asked (several weeks ago)

"Do you think anyone will have a problem with this?"

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

Because one's view of humanity can be relative, in the case of a mother aborting a fetus she has the right to value it or not because the fact that it is attached to her body and taking her nutrients and relying on her to survive means that it is still a part of her reproductive system that she can terminate if she wishes. I think defining life at any stage is a terrible idea because it is as much a philosophical question as biological question.

Anonymous said...

Kentucky Red, humanity is relative to what? And with respect to what?

I haven't yet pointed out the absurdities to which your position can lead. Others have already done that. But let me suggest that if humanity is relative in the way you say it is that you would have a hard time talking your way out of a situation with an armed and dangerous individual who thought your humanity was relative to his needs and wishes.

How would you justify the value of your own life to someone who mounted a good argument that his or her own fundamental well being would be secured by your death?

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

Except in the case of a fetus I see it has no different than an appendix, it is simply tissue that has been developed in the woman's body. The point of defining life is irrelevant, it is all about what a woman can do with her own bodily functions, and a fetus is part of that bodily function. Thus, because it is a part of her body she has the right to alter it. My parents chose to have me, and they also chose to terminate pregnancies when they did not feel ready. They were not murderers for doing so, they simply had a medical procedure done that impacted my mother's body. She would have also had the right to terminate me if she wanted because I was part of her reproductive system, but she chose to have me and that is what matters. If it's part of a woman's body it is her choice, there is no moral argument that can change that

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

I refer you to a great blog post about why women should be sad or ashamed for abortions, it is unfortunately vulgar but the point is clear.

Anonymous said...

"it is simply tissue that has been developed in the woman's body."

A fetus is tissue, but it's not SIMPLY tissue. An appendix cannot become a human being. A fetus can. A difference in kind exists between the two that can't be resolved by pointing to the general physical identity between an appendix and a human being. If that were the case there would be no difference between us and a hot dog.

The issue is not the tissue. It's the moral difference between a piece of human flesh and, depending upon the stage of development, a human being or potential human being. Admittedly, the fact that an unborn child's continued life in utero has a significant and intimate effect on its mother's life raises the issue of how to balance the the needs of each, but it doesn't, without further elaboration, decide it decisively in favor of the mother.

The fetus is a human life, and its life is, at some point before birth, its own life. If you deny this you run into absurdities like children becoming human beings the moment the umbilical cord is cut; even though there's no qualitative difference in the child the moment before the cord is severed and the moment after it's severed. Or a 7 month premie that survives was always a human being but 7 month fetus that aborted was never a human being; which adds up to saying one is a person because someone wants it and the other isn't because nobody wants it.

If humanity isn't derived from a fundamentally autonomous, nondetachable property, then none of us are secure against those who would dehumanize us.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

But a fetus is not autonomous from a mother, it is still derived from her bodily functions and thus (in my view) subservient to her wishes. That is my fundamental and uncompromising disagreement, as long as it's a part of her body it is her's to keep or terminate, I do not buy any religious argument against that. A woman's bodily function is her business and no one else's

Whit Brisky said...

Stepping back for a minute, George Weigel wrote a terrific piece in the March First Things -
- about something that is being lost in this discussion.

I believe that our society is most free, most creative, most diverse, most forward thinking (and a lot of other good things) and most happy when government power is circumscribed by individuals, institutions and communities which constitute independent (subsidiary) power centers potentially at odds with government power and coercion. These non-governmental power centers generally have limited coercive power because they are voluntary.

Examples might be churches and religious organizations (so long as belonging is voluntary), employers (since you can always quit or not work for them in the first place), civic organizations, political parties and organizations, and so on. Communities exercise power only though the desire to fit in with a community of which you want to be a part. Protection of private property from government (or other) attacks is also key to individual rights.

When government seeks to destroy or limit all power centers but itself and those that toe government's line, our liberties and happiness are limited. Is it not better to limit government to decisions it must make (because no one else has coercive power) rather than taking those decisions away from the individuals, institutions and other power centers concerned?

Why does the government need to set standards for health insurance at all? Why not let employers and/or (better) individuals buy what they want for the price they are willing to pay - which will drive down the price through competition and rational economic choice, i.e. people will only buy what they need and what they feel is worth the money they can pay for it. And health insurance will either cease to be tied to your job (so you don't lose it if you change jobs, leave your job, or decide to start your own business) or become an element of competition among employers (the best workers will be attracted to the employers offering the best health care deals).

If you don't want coverage for abortion or birth control, because of religious objection or for any other reason, you don't buy it or pay for it. If you do, you do and you pay for it. Why take away this choice? If freedom of choice is our goal, why subsidize one choice over another?

And the Left just seems to think that health care can be a free lunch. Of course everyone should get free health care, they say. But someone has to pay for it! Doctor's compensation is pushed below market value (so there will be a doctor shortage), government boards are given power to dictate (i.e. ration) the type of care given, drug and device prices are limited and approvals delayed and made more restrictive (so there will be fewer new drugs and medical devices), hospital and other provider prices are set by the government (so market signals are scrambled), premiums to employers go up (so employee compensation, particularly at the lower end, go down), and finally spending, taxes and debt go up (reducing economic growth for everyone). What a mess! And with ObamaCare it will only get worse.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

Why does the government set health standards? Because the private market has no interest in people's welfare, only profits. The millions of uninsured Americans who can't afford healthcare or have been denied because of a lack of regulation have made us one of the lowest ranked systems in the developed world (#37 by WHO standards, below Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Chile, and most Western European nations). Healthcare needs are needs that concern all citizens, thus there at least needs to be a government option for those who can't pay for the private policies.

Whit Brisky said...


Your ignorance of basic economics is astounding.

If individuals and families were able to chose the insurance they want, not what some "expert" thinks they need, at a cost they could afford, the market would bring down costs and increase choice. This is as true for health care as it is for new technology, hotels, movies, or any other product or service. A company may only be motivated by profit (though I don't concede that), but if it wants to maximize profits it must give people what they want at a price they can afford. Otherwise they are out of business. That's why socialism and communism always fail, they cannot respond to market signals.

The current market is messed up not because of too little government, but too much. Our tax code forced employers to be the prime mediators of health care. And for companies, the interests of the consumers (the employees) do not always align with the people making the health insurance decisions (management). But remove all the government interference (such as mandates for pre-paid health care, prohibitions against interstate insurance sales, price controls, etc.) and equalize the tax treatment for individual health policies (to move to individual rather than employer based insurance) and the market will provide most people with the care they want at a price they can afford, and bring down overall costs - just like every other product or service. (If health care is essentially free to the consumer, there is no motivation to only buy what you need, so demand and cost skyrocket. But where people are paying their own money for something, they are far more careful shoppers. Cost goes down, quality goes up.)

This was all Eco 101, at least before the Marxists took over the academy.

Thomas said...

"If individuals and families were able to chose the insurance they want, not what some "expert" thinks they need, at a cost they could afford, the market would bring down costs and increase choice."

This is ignorance of Economics 101. It ignores the basics: elasticity of demand, relative purchasing power, etc.

If I have 4 widgets to sell, and 4 buyeres in the market, 3 of whom are willing to pay up to $20 for the widget and 1 of whom is willing to pay $90, I won't set the price at $20 to sell the four widgets at the lowest price possible. I'll set it at $90 and sell the one.

Add to that: there are huge information dissimitries in health care (most people can't read a health insurance contract and they often don't even know the price of services until after they are performed) and the people with the informational advantage are the providers, not the consumers.

Add to that (though this is a related point): there are acute and well known market failures in the health care market.

It's ironic that the side that preaches economic responsibility peddles economic myths--myths right wing economists reject.

Whit Brisky said...

Thomas, I'll give you just one example.

I have a high deductible plan, so most if not all of my costs are out of pocket. I had mild hypertension and my doctor recommended one of the newer pills. If I was not paying for it, I'm sure I would have said fine. But instead I suggested we try a medication that has been around a long time and cost a fraction as much. She agreed and it has brought my pressure down just fine. Multiply that around the economy and there are great savings.

And I'm not a doctor, I just pay attention because it's my money.

Thomas said...


Those I know that do not have insurance actually pay higher prices for the same services from the same medical facilities because my insurer has negotiated a discount for the various services. If you've ever had the misfortune of having to look at a hospital bill, you will note that the insurer discount is usually huge. An insurer has way more bargaining power than an individual does to negotiate lower prices.

And government programs like medicaid negotiate even lower prices. In fact, the problem with medicaid is often that the prices are too low for the market--so as an advocate of the free market you should be arguing that medical costs, at least in many cases, ought to be higher. (And this is a clear case where the market makes medical services more expensive rather than less.) Of course, this can price people out of the market.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

Profits for private insurance companies should not matter at all, health of the populous should. Further, it is important to point out that not only is our private system low ranked internationally, but we pay $7290 per capita on health nationally and have a life expectancy of around 77.9 when nations with higher ranked healthcare pay LESS per capita (Denmark in the $3000-$3500 range, Finland below $2979 per capita, France around $3500 per capita, etc.) and ALL of them have higher life expectancy (Source Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2007).

The market system for healthcare is failing over 40 million uninsured Americans who can't afford coverage or have been denied because of preexisting conditions. At the minimum, the insurance companies need to be required not to deny anyone based on health. But a public option could make public health better by making it a universal guarantee for all citizens. Public care would take away the responsibility of health from the employers so that instead of paying for expensive private policies they would pay taxes, along with individuals, for a public service. If the OECD and the WHO say our system of private insurance is low on healthcare quality and costly, it's time we need a new direction.

Anonymous said...


"as long as it's a part of her body it is her's to keep or terminate"

I'd still like to know why you believe this in light of the patent absurdities it leads to.
"I do not buy any religious argument against that"

No need to bring religion into it. Protecting the rights of the unborn is a secular human rights issue.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

It is her bodily function, that is the only thing that matters. No argument can change that, as long as it is simply tissue derived from her body and taking her nutrients it is hers to do what she will. That is the only justification needed

Anonymous said...

I am a huge advocate of this policy. To me, it just makes sense. If we want to prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions in this country, then birth control should be freely available. Many people see this issue as a way to give sexual license to the "less moral" to do as they please. I see it as a reasonable solution to a huge problem.
It is just not about preventing births, it is about protecting the health of women. Some women have medical conditions (such as bleeding disorders or heart malformations) that make pregnancy extremely risky. For them, highly effective forms of birth control (such as IUDs and sterilization) are life saving measures.Other women, like myself, rely on birth control for the treatment of hormone imbalances. Still, other women choose to use contraception because they believe that they should be good stewards of their fertility and actively plan their families.
It's time to stop playing politics with women's health. I have never heard of an employer balk at providing viagra for single men. Women bear the burden of unwanted pregnancy in this country, not men. The faces of poverty in America are predominately those of women and children. Often,they are single women with children. Birth control pays for itself and is safer than childbearing. The women who need birth control the most are often the ones who have the hardest time getting it. No matter the reason a women needs birth control, it is a medical need.
As for the Catholic stance on contraception, it is not as unified as the Church would have you to believe. Ninety-eight percent of sexually active Catholic women use some form of contraception. The layity seem to be strong supporers of it by these figures alone. When Humanae Vitae was released, it caused a flurry of decension among the ranks. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released the Winnipeg Statement saying that many people found it difficult to adhere to this teaching and that birth control should be an issue of individual conscience. I personally know of a Catholic Hospital that have dispensed contraception to a married couple to prevent pregnancy. The only people that seem to be against contraception are a fraction of lay Catholics(1-2%) and the highest ranking members of the Church authority.
Obama made a smart move here. He managed to protect women and appeal the sensitivities of official doctrine. The Church does not have to pay for contraception under the new rule, but their employees may still take advantage of no co-pay contraceptive coverage. Many important Catholic organizations have come out in support of this new rule including Catholic Charities USA. It is clear that the hierarchy, including the USCCB are just looking for a political fight, not to defend the faith.

Whit Brisky said...


Red will never be able to give you an answer that will satisfy you.

Conservatives base their moral judgments on some objective system whether it is the Bible, natural law, empirical evidence or deductive reasoning from fundamental truths. Under this objective system, each individual, no matter the group to which they belong, should play by the same objective rules.

Progressives, on the other hand, base moral judgments on who benefits, and divide of the world into oppressed and oppressors. If the oppressed "benefit," it is right. If the oppressors benefit, it is wrong. Women are by definition "oppressed" and therefor anything which increases their autonomy is good. The unborn are non-persons and therefor neither oppressed nor oppressors and can be ignored. And the Bishops are male oppressors and therefor, a priori, to be opposed.

Conservatives think progressives are inconsistent because progressives apply different rules to different groups of people (i.e. affirmative action) and in different situations, so their favored groups benefit. Progressives think conservatives are using their "ideology," i.e. consistent application of objective rules, to protect oppressors.

And so you can detail the many, many ways in which Red's simple assertion of individual autonomy leads to absurd conclusions in other situations, but it will never register because restrictions on abortion are viewed as part of the "patriarchy."

If you don’t think my analysis is correct, listen to Obama’s rhetoric with this in mind and see if his argument, on almost any topic, doesn’t start with dividing the world into good guys and bad guys, the “millionaires and billionaires” against the middle class, the “insurance companies” against the ill, the “workers” (i.e. unions) against the wicked employers, the bankers against the “struggling homeowners” (who put nothing down and bought more house than they could afford, and now can’t pay their mortgages), the oppressed against the oppressors.

Anonymous said...


"It is her bodily function, that is the only thing that matters. No argument can change that, as long as it is simply tissue derived from her body and taking her nutrients it is hers to do what she will. That is the only justification needed"

It may the case that no argument will change that, but we'll never know until you provide an argument that shows us why your position is invulnerable. Or are you saying it's not even accountable to reason? You know, like one of those religious arguments you don't buy?

Anonymous said...

@Whit Brisky

"Red will never be able to give you an answer that will satisfy you."

I don't want an answer that satisfies me, I want him to be unsatisfied with his answers.

Kentucky Red (not the Republican kind) said...

And what gives you the right to judge a woman with what she does with her body? The simple fact is that this is a woman's reproductive system and her control of it, there is no need for paternal control of it at all. The people who think small government is better always want to impose their archaic ethics on people's personal freedom.

And I am satisfied with my answers because it is not my place to judge a woman with what she does with her body, I am not above her at all. I trust women to make the best decision for themselves and not tell them what to do.

Anonymous said...

"And what gives you the right to judge a woman with what she does with her body?"

You're assuming that it is ONLY her body. If physical attachment is the only criterion for ending the life of a physically attached human being, then conjoined twins who've been harboring murderous thoughts in their hearts have a great new defense in homicide cases.

At some point an unborn child, even though physically attached to its mother, is clearly an autonomous human being; as autonomous as a new born infant who, while not physically attached to its mother, is equally as physically dependent on her -- and perhaps even more physically and emotionally demanding than when in utero (Any parent will understand this.)

So it's not clear that even when the child is physically attached, it's helpful to speak of it being "part" of her body. Autonomous human existence is individual bodily existence, and the unborn child clearly has bodily integrity and existence, even when it's attached to its mother.

Both that unborn child and the mother have rights that may come into conflict. The nature of the conflict can guide our thinking about how to balance those rights. If a mother's survival depends upon aborting her child, that suggests set of answers. If the mother is only temporarily inconvienced by her pregnancy, that suggests another set.

Anonymous said...

Beau, what would a centrist think about this subject?

gruntled said...

Making contraception widely available is a public good with very widespread support. A handful of organizations oppose this public good, though most of their members, by their expressed opinion and especially by their practice, disagree with the official position.

I believe the Obama administration has reached the right centrist position, accommodating the free exercise of the actual ecclesiastical institutions and accommodating the sensibility of their public ministries but shifting the cost of contraception to their insurance providers.

I agree with that Anonymous who began "I am a huge advocate of this policy ..." on further spelling out the particulars of why this is a good centrist compromise.

(I also appeal to all Anonymi to adopt some distinctive pseudonyms, so we can keep you straight.)

Stephanie Gibson said...

I would be the anonymous who said, "I am a huge advocate of this policy...." I just forgot sign into my account before posting.

gruntled said...

Thank you, Stephanie, that helps us keep things a little straighter.