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US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate 903

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can-we-just-have-communist-care-instead? dept.
theodp writes "First approved for contraceptive use in the U.S. in 1960, 'The Pill' is currently used by more than 100 million women worldwide and by almost 12 million women in the U.S. But just hours before the Affordable Care Act was to go into effect, Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay temporarily blocking a mandate requiring health insurance coverage of birth control, and gave the Obama administration until Friday to respond to the Supreme Court on the matter. Sotomayor's order applies to a group of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and other Roman Catholic nonprofit groups that use the same health plan, known as the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust (PDF). The group is one of many challenging the federal requirement for contraceptive coverage, but a decision on the merits of that case by the full Supreme Court could have broader implications. One imagines Melinda Gates is none too pleased. So, will U.S. health care require a Department of Personal Belief Exemptions that are dictated by employers (PDF, 'The Trustees of CBEBT and the management of Christian Brothers Services are dedicated to protecting the employers participating in the CBEBT from having to face the choice of violating their faith or violating the law')?"
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US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate

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  • Religious people can't simply leave it well enough alone, and just say "Well if you think contraception is wrong, just don't buy it." Instead, they have to dictate to others what they may or may not do. "We can't allow you to get contraception through our health plan!"

    This kind of thinking is wrong and needs to be abolished. Let each person decide what they think is best for themselves. If someone wants to believe a person will "go to hell" if they do something, that's fine. That someone can simply not do i

    • by jbeaupre (752124) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @01:53PM (#45837893)

      That's what they are arguing: Those that think contraception is wrong shouldn't have to buy it. As employers, they are being told to pay for something they believe is morally wrong. They believe that by being complicit, they risk hell. So they wish to simply not do it. They want to decide what is best for themselves. They don't like that others are dictating to them what they may or may not do.

      Sometimes the rights or responsibilities of two people or two groups conflict and has to be hashed out in court.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I want to seem them prove they risk going to hell. Once they can prove that hell exists, then they can prove that paying for contraception (whether they use it or not) risks eternal damnation. Extra ordinary claims require extra ordinary evidence.
      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:48PM (#45838473)

        So if my employer is a Christian Scientist I don't get coverage?

        Clearly there has to be some sort of limitation on this sort of thinking.

      • by letherial (1302031) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @03:07PM (#45838673)

        So your saying that despite the constitution, as long as i consider it 'morally wrong' then i can go out of my way to not pay for it. Whoohoo, im going to call IRS and tell them out of all my taxes, i dont want one penny to go to bombs, wars, or anything that can be used to kill anyone.

        Lets put it in a differnt term, They pay people with cash that can be used for anything, drugs, booze, whores...basically anything the church morraly objects to they hand over pieces of paper that allow that kind of behavior. Is the next stop going to argue they dont need to pay employees because of what they can do with cash?

        Healthcare is a payment, They could just pay the fine and force employees to get heath insurance from the exchanges and BOOM..its out of there hands. This is not about stopping it, its about religious oppressment, something the cathcolic church is quite good at, and quite fond of.

        • If I run a business and pay for health care for my employees, can I choose not to pay for blood transfusions for employees? What if I think blood transfusions are wrong?

          I agree with parent's last paragraph. Health insurance is a form of payment, employers should have no say whatsoever.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @03:19PM (#45838791)

        I don't want to fund a *lot* of things my federal tax funds on moral grounds, I still have to pay it.

        Sorry, I don't have a lot of sympathy here. If they get to weasel out of buying contraceptives on moral grounds, then I get to decide where my income tax money is spent on moral grounds. No special privileges.

      • That's what they are arguing: Those that think contraception is wrong shouldn't have to buy it. As employers, they are being told to pay for something they believe is morally wrong.

        There seems to be a disconnect here.

        Obamacare is taxpayer-funded. When you pay your taxes, you don't get a line-item budget that allows you to individually route as much or as little of that tax payment as you want to wherever you want it. You have a limited yea-or-nay say in the matter and that's it. And if you don't want to allot money for a specific purpose, the Government just moves a few shells around and it gets paid for anyway. If there has ever been a government department that was actually shut dow

      • by cnaumann (466328) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @04:46PM (#45839415)

        You can extend the argument. If they pay their employees with money, and the money can be used to purchase contraception, then they risk Hell. Therefore they should not pay their employees with money.

        I cannot see the difference between purchasing an insurance plan for employees that covered contraception and paying them with money that can be used to purchased contraception.

      • Those that think contraception is wrong shouldn't have to buy it. As employers, they are being told to pay for something they believe is morally wrong. They believe that by being complicit, they risk hell. So they wish to simply not do it. They want to decide what is best for themselves.

        They are, of course, welcome to do that. No employer in the United States, as far as I am aware, is compelled by the federal government to offer its employees health insurance. If these employers wished to stick to their particular and dubious bit of moral high ground, all they have to do is stop offering their employees a health plan. Top up those employees' salaries with the amount the company isn't shelling out. Problem solved; the company doesn't have to pay for insurance that covers contraceptives (or blood transfusions, or chemotherapy, or abortions for rape victims, or whichever religious hobby horse the company's executives are on about).

        But these employers seem unwilling to exercise their complete freedom to opt out of buying these horrible, tainted, health insurance plans of the devil. They really want to buy their employees some insurance, for two entirely and purely selfish reasons. The first is that these employers really like the favorable tax treatment and deductions that they get buying the insurance as a company. (For some reason, they have lost track of how a quid pro quo is supposed to work--the government gives them a tax break, and in exchange they have to spend some of that money in a way that follows government guidelines.)

        The second reason is that if these employers just gave their employees money in lieu of insurance, they wouldn't be able to exercise any control over what sort of immoral insurance their employees bought on the open market. These employers like to be able to dictate the terms, conditions, and especially the limitations of their employees' healthcare, and what those employees are allowed to do with their own bodies. Letting employees have the freedom to buy their own insurance means giving up that control.

        So that's the two part problem. Employers want to enjoy a tax break without fulfilling the requirements to earn it, and employers want to control their employees' bodies seven days a week, and not just nine to five. Nobody's being forced to pay for something they believe is morally wrong; they're just moaning because they don't like the reasonable conditions associated with a rather lucrative tax break.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Religious people are not legislating anything, which is exactly the point. They don't want to be forced to buy contraceptives, and, if they choose not to, then what's wrong with that? Instead, the Obama administration is legislating that religious people be forced to buy it, even if they consider it to be wrong.

      If a company chooses not to include contraceptives, then that is their right since they are the ones paying for it. If an individual chooses not to buy a policy with contraceptives, then that is t

      • by ranton (36917)

        Religious people are not legislating anything, which is exactly the point. They don't want to be forced to buy contraceptives, and, if they choose not to, then what's wrong with that? Instead, the Obama administration is legislating that religious people be forced to buy it, even if they consider it to be wrong.

        This is incorrect. The government is requiring them to offer coverage, but no one is forced to buy contraceptives. Like it has been mentioned before in this thread, it is no different than taking taxes from someone with a religious aversion to violence and using it to pay soldiers. It is simply a fact of life that the government is going to mandate you pay for things you don't like, whether it is indirect via taxes or more direct such as the ACA or car insurance mandates.

        How far do we allow people to compla

    • by mrlibertarian (1150979) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:01PM (#45837977)
      The fundamental problem here is that the government has coupled health care and employers together. For some strange reason, the ACA did not fix this problem. We need to decouple health care and employers by eliminating the tax break that employers get. If we do that, then we'll no longer care what health care plan our employer offers, just as we don't care what car insurance plan our employer offers.
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:24PM (#45838195)

        For some strange reason, the ACA did not fix this problem. We need to decouple health care and employers by eliminating the tax break that employers get.

        McCain wanted to do that in 2008 [cbsnews.com]

        Didn't happen because politics.

      • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @04:14PM (#45839233)

        For some strange reason, the ACA did not fix this problem.

        Actually it mostly did fix it, albeit imperfectly. Now if I lose my employment I can still get health insurance coverage of reasonable quality for a reasonable price and I cannot be denied coverage just because I got sick previously. While I won't argue that the system is ideal (far from it), it is a MUCH better situation.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @01:45PM (#45837801) Homepage Journal

    Sotomayor is generally considered one of the most liberal Supreme Court Justices, but here she is issuing a ruling that will make conservatives very happy. In other words, she made the decision based on legal principles instead of her personal ideology. Don't hold your breath waiting for, say, Thomas or Alito to do the same, ever.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I guess I can breathe now?
      It was really hard to find: practically HIDDEN in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito [wikipedia.org]
      "Alito's majority opinion in the 2008 worker protection case Gomez-Perez v. Potter cleared the way for federal workers who experience retaliation after filing age discrimination complaints to sue for damages. He sided with the liberal bloc of the court, inferring protection against retaliation in the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act despite the lack of an

  • Dangerous Road (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @01:46PM (#45837815) Homepage

    By that logic you should also exempt organ transplants, blood transfusions and any other medical procedure that any group, religious or otherwise, objects to. In other words, you might as well give the fuck up and stop providing any coverage at all.

    • Re:Dangerous Road (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:00PM (#45837959)

      Or (and here's a silly idea) implement single-payer.

    • Well, why not. There are occasional news stories of Christian Scientists rung up for murder because they didn't get their kids treated for pneumonia.

      Contraceptive drugs are often used for treatment of medical conditions - it isn't just about pregnancy.

      This kind of political crap is one of the many reasons I believe religious organizations should be taxed.

      • Contraceptive drugs are often used for treatment of medical conditions - it isn't just about pregnancy.

        Who opposes the use of contraceptives for medical conditions? That's a strawman you've attacked there. Most agree there isn't any problem using contraceptives for medical conditions.

    • In other words, you might as well give the fuck up and stop providing any coverage at all.

      That's a good idea. Employer-based heathcare is an idiotic idea, only put in place as a temporary hack to get around [unconstitutional] wage-controls in the post WWII era, and causes all of these absurd legal scenarios, which do deserve to be challenged. But challenging the symptoms is a never-ending, and so losing, game.

      Employers know full-well what an employee really costs, and it's only because the tax code favor

    • by BigDaveyL (1548821) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:07PM (#45838009) Homepage
      Technically, you are free to work for any employer or no employer at all. You are also free to buy contraception (or organ transplants on your own). You are free to buy your own insurance as well. The problem is that you disagree with your employer on a benefit that they are paying for. Just like any other employer policy, if you do not like it, you are free to leave (or in this case buy your own). If the religious convictions of your employer bothers you, whether they are right or wrong, technically no one is holding a gun to your head to work there.
      • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:20PM (#45838137)

        The problem is that you are not actually free to buy your own insurance, because if the employer does it for you, they get to use pre-tax money to do so, whereas you have to pay tax first. There are other problems too of course, since health care bought by individuals is so much more expensive, it is a niche product, and niche products are usually expensive in a mass market economy. Still, the fundamental problem is the tax issue.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, that's just a slippery slope argument. The real problem with the Catholic position here is that it is incoherent.

      Covering contraception under a health plan is not "paying for contraception". It's paying for contraception *coverage*, because it is the employee that decides to take the medication -- which by the way has numerous other therapeutic applications besides contraception. What's going on is the RC church trying to interfere with their employee's medical coverage.

  • by rnturn (11092) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @01:54PM (#45837903)

    ... Viagra coverage for men, too. Only seems fair. If you can't get it up, it must be part of His plan.

    Frankly, I've never understood the Church's fanaticism about birth control and sex without conception. I guess their `thinking' is along the lines of what comedian Chris Rush said when he joked (paraphrasing): "Don't you know that when you masturbate you're murdering millions of potential Christians?"

  • Since when it is an issue obeying the law on the basis of "religious beliefs"? If there were a religious organization that believes in human sacrifice do they get an exemption of obeying the law of homicide?

    There are many laws that can be dismissed on the basis of "religious beliefs": sacrifice, torture, divorce, adoption, medical care, anti-racist laws, equality laws, holidays, and the list goes on. If the Little Sisters of the Poor have issues with the law of the land they are free to go to other countrie

  • Next Step (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ntchpalm (1541261) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:11PM (#45838055)
    The next step is for CEO of BIGCOMPANY to decide that cancer is something decided by God, and that paying for their employees to get treatment to cancer violates their religious beliefs.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:17PM (#45838109) Journal

    News for nerds -- as if politics isn't bad enough, of what need have nerds for things which keep women from getting pregnant?

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:24PM (#45838201) Homepage Journal

    This entire argument is completely skewed, it shouldn't be blocked due to religious considerations, it should be blocked based on the fact that government is dictating to the employers and employees as to how employers pay their employees! Where is the freedom? Where is the freedom to associate, freedom of contract? Where is freedom to run private property as one sees fit? Why are you all accepting as a fact that government can dictate to employers and employees must be paid in contraceptives rather than in cash?

    The second valid argument is of-course the fact that government is dictating that insurance cannot BE insurance but instead must be some form of prepaid health management system.

    What do contraceptives have to do with catastrophic events that insurance is supposed to cover? Why are contraceptives any more special than food or clothing or machine oil or fuel or housing for that matter?

    Insurance is a bet that some event will take place and actuary science is used to calculate the probability of events based on individual participant's and then the bets are placed. What does it have to do with events that are of near 100% probability (that women will have sex?) Insurance is not there to provide you with every day items, in fact insurance shouldn't even cover child birth - it's an EXPECTED event, not an unexpected one, it's an event that people must prepare for and they even know with almost complete certainty when exactly this will happen and they must plan for it.

    Medical complications during child birth might be covered by insurance but child birth itself is simply an expected procedure that should be paid OUT OF POCKET just like most doctor visits and most other things, like birth control.

    The real issue is that it is a question of individual freedom, not a question of religious prejudice.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @02:53PM (#45838543) Homepage

    My response to them would be:

    "If this were a matter of the employers chosing for themselves, plaintiffs would have a valid point. If this were a matter of plans churches were offering to their clergy, plaintiffs would have a valid point. But this is a case where the employers in question are not making personal choices and are not acting as a church, but are acting as ordinary employers offering coverage to employees who don't necessarily follow the same beliefs as their employer. And an employer does not have the right to dictate to their employees based on the employer's religious beliefs. Plaintiffs aren't asking merely to be allowed to follow their own beliefs. They are asking to be allowed, as an ordinary employer, to say that because they don't believe in X that their employees are not allowed access to X either. If plaintiffs arguments are valid, then it would be acceptable for a business run by a Jehova's Witness to offer coverage that forbade treatments involving blood transfusion simply because the business owner followed that belief system. And we don't permit that. We don't allow a business owner to force his employees to follow his beliefs just because they work for him. We don't allow him to say "Profess to follow my beliefs or you won't be allowed access to health insurance.". To allow that wouldn't be freedom of religion, it would be the antithesis of freedom of religion."

  • by CyberZen (97536) on Wednesday January 01, 2014 @03:37PM (#45838939) Homepage

    ...shut down your business. Seriously, if these convictions are truly heartfelt, then the rational thing to do is to sell/get out of the business. (I'm thinking about the Hobby Lobby case here, more than anything else.)

    I personally know a Quaker or two who intentionally keep their earnings below the taxable level, so they won't have to pay federal income taxes - and therefore indirectly support war. This causes them a great deal of personal hardship, but... hey, havin' principles isn't always easy.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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