The Miter Mafia and HHS, Part II

I didn't title the first part as Part I only because I didn't realize I would be writing a Part II.  The problem is, I wrote my first post about the 5 pages of "summary" at the start of their 21-page whinefest, hit publish...and then I kept reading.  And there is far too much fuckery in there to keep to myself.

This is why you read me: I'm the gift that keeps on giving!

So, my original post was about what I got out of pages 1-5.  Yes.  A whole post about just the first 5 pages.  Now.  Picking up on page 6...

"Indeed, for individuals with a conscientious objection to contraceptive coverage, the ANPRM actually exacerbates the problem.  In its February 10 rule, the Administration proposed to have insurers “offer contraceptive coverage directly to the employer’s plan participants (and their beneficiaries) who desire it."  The ANPRM,however, no longer uses the language of “offer,” which allows for the possibility of acceptance or rejection.  Instead, HHS would now require insurers or third-party administrators simply to “provide this coverage automatically to participants and beneficiaries covered under the organization’s plan (for example, without an application or enrollment process), and protect the privacy of participants and beneficiaries covered under the plan who use contraceptive services.” 
As a result, women will have less freedom, not more.  They will not have the freedom to decline such coverage.  They will not have the freedom to keep their own minor children from being offered “free” and “private” contraceptive services and related “education and counseling” without their consent.  Thus, the mandate now poses a threat to the rights not only of employers, religious and secular, but of parents as well.  It is even proposed that this intervention into the family may be delegated to “private, non-profit organization[s]”potentially including groups such as Planned Parenthood, which may volunteer for the task.

Restriction is Freedom!  Up is Down!  Right is Left!  Making something available without requiring you to A: have prior knowledge that it exists, and B: jump through hoops to get it, is TAKING AWAY OUR FREEDOM, LADIES!  (As usual, the Church refuses to acknowledge cis women who can't get pregnant, trans women, trans men, and everyone else not a fertile cis lady who will use birth control specifically to keep her uterus empty.)

They are being willfully obtuse about the difference between "automatic coverage" and "taking advantage of coverage provided", of course.  Yes, everyone will be automatically covered, but it's not like the insurance companies are going to show up at your doorstep and force packets of the Pill into your hands.  Being covered by this rule is a passive state that doesn't affect you in any way, unless you choose to access these services.  Hell, I'm sure they'd be thrilled if nobody used the coverage, as that means less money spent on providing it.  As I understand Catholic doctrine, the sin is *using* birth control, not simply *having access* to it.  So this objection is purely spurious, not that I expected anything better from the MM's spin machine.

And what is this fuckery about minor children?  We are talking about health plans provided to employees and, in some cases, college students.  All of whom are adults.

If they're talking about the minor children of the employees who may be covered as dependents on their parents' plan, well...again I will point out that it's a passive coverage.  Considering that most kids don't exactly get individual mail notifying them of their coverage under their parents' health insurance, how exactly are they going to know A: that it's covered, and B: even if they know that (which would most likely be because of the giant shit fit the MM is throwing over this rule in the first place), how to go about accessing it?  Again, this is not a situation where PP employees are going to climb through your child's bedroom window and deliver the Pill by the bucketload.  They're kicking up stink over a, while possible, extremely implausible occurrence.

Next up, page 8, where they express their dissatisfaction with the definition of "religious organization" (which we all know they want to mean "any organization with a religious person running it, no matter the purpose and scope of their work or who they serve or hire"):
Reduced to its simplest terms, an organization is “religious,” in the Administration’s view, only if it is insular, while organizations with a missionary or public outreach are deemed insufficiently “religious” to qualify for the exemption.  We are free to worship our God, but not to serve our neighbor.
Bzzzzzzzt!  Thanks for playing, try again never.  This is their usual bullshit of "any restriction in any way of how we do our public service stuff, even if it's for the protection of said public we're "serving", even simply removing government contracts or money from the equation and leaving us to do it on our own, is OPPRESSING OUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!"

Y'all are absolutely free to both worship your god and serve your neighbor.  You just can't use worshiping your god as a shield for discrimination in how you serve your neighbor (or how you treat the secular personnel you hire to help you serve your neighbor).  There's a difference.

Okay, now, stop eating and drinking and cover your keyboards, everyone, this next one had me making extremely undignified sounds at my desk.  Page 12, regarding the fact that the insurer would still be providing the objectionable services using premiums the employer paid to them:
One might ask how this is any different from paying salary to an employee who then uses that salary toward purposes the employer believes to be intrinsically evil.  

Ahem.  What I mean to say is, lol they are making the exact argument I - and probably many other people - fully expected them to fall back on in order to take the next step in exerting religious control over nonreligious people simply because those nonreligious people happen to depend on the religious people for an income to live off of.  They're currently only using it as an analogy for the relationship between the employer and the insurer that provides the "intrinsically evil" care, but that tells us they do believe the two to be equivalent.  So given that, how long before they start applying that argument directly?

Continuing shortly thereafter on page 13, the MM begins making up new "rights" for themselves, as they are so often wont to do...
One can suppress religion not only by making conscientious objectors actively cooperate with what they see as evil, but also by depriving them of the right (a right that others continue to exercise) to support what they see as good.  Those who favor contraceptive coverage will retain the right they have always had as employers to provide a health plan consistent with their values.  Objecting religious organizations will lose that right, because any plan they offer will be amended by others so that the practical outcome for employees is exactly the same as if the organization had no such objection.  
Yeah, that's...really not what's going on here.  Not even a little bit.  Employers do not have any "right" to "provide a health plan consistent with their values".  What they have is a legal obligation to provide a health plan to their employees, without discriminating in that coverage.  Y'all are making this up.  This "right" is pulled *right* (u c wat i did thar?) out of your collective ass.

And you notice, dear readers, that they're not even baww'ing about their precious pennies funding it at this point.  They're just upset because the practical outcome for employees is not within their control.  That they cannot literally force their employees to abide by their moral rules or force them to pay out the ass for the privilege of self-determination to go outside the purview of the church's control.  They are revealing perhaps more than they think they are, when they make this objection.  They've just admitted that no matter what kind of compromise we offer, it will never be okay unless they can completely bar their employees access to family planning of any kind, without regard for the employee's moral rules on the subject.  They really do believe that employing a person entitles you to control over that person, including in extremely personal areas of their life, if it's because "Jesus said so".

They then try to pretzel-logic their way into arguing that there's no point in providing contraceptive services for free like this anyway, because either it's the government trying to "convince" employees of religious organizations to use contraception they weren't already using, or just relieving the financial burden on those who already use them and pay out of pocket for it, in which case the savings that are supposed to go to paying for the coverage, which are intended to come from costs like childbirth and well-baby care that won't be necessary if more people have access to contraception, won't be there to support it.
The Administration’s assumption under Goal 2 [to fund the coverage with savings on birth/well-baby costs] is that the employees of objecting employers were not already using contraceptives.  If, for example, they already were paying for contraceptives with their own financial resources, there would be no reduction in births from making those contraceptives “free.”  (The only thing to which this would “increase access” is whatever the employees will now purchase with the money they no longer spend on contraception—and that could be almost anything.)  Yet in earlier rulemaking, the Administration tried to justify its narrow and discriminatory definition of an exempt “religious employer” by arguing that any broader class of religious organizations probably has many employees who have no objection to contraception and so will not be seriously impacted by the mandate. The Administration faces a dilemma on this point.  Is it trying to change these employees’ reproductive behavior, or not?  That is, does it assume that its policy will chiefly influence employees of religious employers to increase their use of contraception by removing perceived cost barriers, or that it will merely reduce the out-of-pocket cost of contraception for employees who already use it? If the former, it intrudes into the right of employees and their families to take account of the teaching of their faith without undue influence from government.  If the latter, the policy may produce no “savings” that can be applied toward helping to offset the costs of contraceptive coverage, because it is chiefly being applied to people who already accept and use contraceptives anyway. In the very cases where the contraceptive coverage is “free”—that is, where its costs are offset by “savings” in other areas—the Administration would achieve this goal by undermining a far more important freedom.
So they're again taking the very broad stance - you know, the one that can't even remotely be repackaged as being about "religious freedom" - that contraception should not be universally covered at all.

They're also making an extremely flawed assumption - namely, that employees of religious organizations which do not offer contraceptive coverage will be able to afford contraception outside that coverage and will have done so in every case.  Some can.  Some do.  Some are able to access other resources, like Planned Parenthood, which can help them access low-cost contraception.  But it is the height of naivete (and no more than I would expect from a bunch of celibate old cis men pontificating from on high) to assume that anyone in this country who wants contraception will have it with or without insurance to help them pay for it.

Not to mention, that people who manage to make whatever sacrifices in order to be safe from unintended pregnancy (or, y'know, to control any of the half a dozen conditions that hormonal birth control helps with...?), may be giving up almost anything to make that work.  Like better food - or enough food.  Clothes for the kids they already have.  The ability to live in a safer part of town.  The MM made that argument themselves, in the above quote, only they meant it to sound scary - who KNOWS what else those godless fucks might be doing with that money??? - rather than reasonable - who knows what those people might be doing without in order to have this?

And at last, we have reached the end of this coal train of bullshit, finishing on a summary note that reemphasizes their misunderstanding of the terms "health care" and "preventative care" by insisting that contraception is neither, and at the last brings it back to trying to make things about their freedom to impose their will on those around them, while disappearing the freedoms and lives of those most affected by this whole fiasco:
The final rule continues to keep in place a regulation that defines as “preventive health care” drugs, devices, and procedures that render a woman temporarily or permanently infertile, and that may be associated with serious adverse health outcomes.  We believe that this mandate is unjust and unlawful—it is bad health policy, and because it entails an element of government coercion against conscience, it creates a religious freedom problem.  
Similarly to the related issue of abortion, this problem comes down to a fundamental clash of freedoms: when the freedoms and rights of two different entities are in mutual opposition to one another, something has to give.  Someone has to come out on top.  Someone has to have the 51%, the tie-breaker vote.  And as usual, the Miter Mafia would see the individual freedom and lives of people with uteruses subsumed to the will of the Church.

Fuck.  These.  Assholes.  I cannot say this clearly enough.  The Miter Mafia is worming its way further and further into the lawmaking and regulation activities of an explicitly secular government which governs a population comprising many different faiths and often, no faith at all.


And I can only hope that the Obama administration and HSS have the spine to stand up to them and tell them exactly where they can shove their notions of Catholic moral supremacy.


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