ANALYSIS: Obama Reproductive Health Reg Mirrors State Conscience Protections
[Via Think Progress]
The Catholic Bishops and their Republican allies argue that the Obama administration’s regulation requiring insurers and employers to offer reductive health coverage at no additional cost sharing is an “unprecedented attack on religious liberties” that will force houses of worships to sacrifice deeply held beliefs. In reality, the rule, part of the Affordable Care Act, exempts houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith. But religious groups contend that its conscience protections are too narrow.
I believe they are complaining now so that they can circumvent the current laws in 28 states, do an end around by using Federal laws and accomplish what they could not at the state level. Small government politicians are going along with this for political reasons. Politics does make strange bedfellow.
Just a reminder that the PPACA regulation states pretty much what is already in the regulations of a majority of states (28) and the conscience exemption language follows that of at least five states, using language that has been shown to meet constitutional muster. In eight states, there is no conscience exemption at all. In fact, PPACA allows greater latitude for conscience exemptions by overriding these 8 state regulations. Remember, Federal law almost always trumps state law.
Contraception benefits are not a new thing. Catholic hospitals and universities have been doing this – covering contraception – for many years. For example, the largest Catholic University in the country offers contraception benefits.
Any of these places could have self-insured or refused to offer any drug coverage at all – the regulation in these states say that if they offer prescription benefits they have to include contraception. But they haven’t.
They are careful not to mention the laws in these 28 states at all. Instead of asking for a countrywide change in regulations, they only pinpoint this regulation. Why?
Why aren’t the Archbishops discussing current policy in the 28 states that goes against their teachings? How about the eight states that permit no conscience exemption at all? Why aren’t they stopping all those Catholic hospitals and schools that are currently providing the same contraception benefits they now caterwaul about?
Why have they chosen this moment to write such diatribes?
And when you throw in polls indicating that a majority of Catholics agree with the new regulations, you have to wonder. In fact, according to surveys, 98% of sexually active Catholic women have used non-Church approved methods of contraception with almost 70% using exactly the same methods covered by the regulations.
The Archbishops are certainly not aligning themselves with their parishioners. The only people that align themselves with the Archbishops – who have a majority that are against the new regulations – are white evangelicals.
Why are they doing this now? Why make it a political issue?
Here is my conjecture.
If they can get the Federal program to cave to their demands, it means that they will be able to get around the current laws in 28 states. They will be able to overturn the will of a majority of Americans.
Federal law trumps state law. If the Feds mandate a certain exemption in the PPACA, it would cover all 50 states. If the Archbishops can get the Feds to exempt ALL Catholic institutions, it will carry through all states and the 28 laws on the books will be vacated.
Then every Catholic institution gains a competitive advantage over non-Catholic institutions providing the same services. The level playing ground we aspire to will be gone, tilted in favor of the Catholic Church.
The Archbshops hope to go against the people of 28 states, against the will of the people and against their own members by using the politics of the situation to steamroll through their religious agenda – an agenda that they have failed to accomplish at the state level.
In the greatest irony, they are using the Federal government to accomplish the same sorts of overreach that they and other conservatives complain about. Supposed small government politicians are joining forces with them to use the Federal government to override the laws in a majority of states.
Funny how small government views smply disappear when politics is on the line. For them, centralized government is bad unless they get to control it. Then it is just fine. This is all about using Federal muscle to go against the wishes of a vast majority of Americans.
What is it called when a connected religious minority dictates the governing of the majority? Theocracy is too strong but it certainly is the endpoint.
Not really a good use of our government. But such is its current state of decay.