On Birth Control and Pork

Rick Warren, ladies and gentlemen:

Requiring employers to provide insurance covering contraception is no different than forcing a Jewish deli to sell pork, evangelical Christian pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren said Wednesday.

“I don’t have a problem personally with contraception but I support anybody’s right to not have to pay for it if they don’t believe in it,” Warren said on HuffPost Live.

“That’s what I support. That’s called freedom of speech. In other words, if all of a sudden they made a law that said every Jewish deli in Manhattan has to start selling pork, I would be out there with the rabbis protesting that. Why? I don’t have a problem with pork, but I believe in your right to not have to sell pork if it’s not in your faith.”

This is wrongheaded for the following reasons (I’m sure there are others):

1) A kosher deli is an explicitly religious business. The businesses challenging the birth control mandate are not; they are businesses that are owned/run by religious people who want to force those views on their employees.

2) The birth control mandate deals with how a business insures its employees, not the products it may sell. The “business” in which a kosher deli engages is the sale of kosher meat to religious customers. The businesses challenging the mandate aren’t suing because they are being forced to sell birth control. They are suing because they don’t want the health insurance they provide to employees to allow the employees access to birth control. A closer analogy would therefore be to a jewish deli that wanted to be able to prevent its employees from purchasing pork with their wages. I have yet to see such a suit.

3) Perhaps this is my own sensitivity as a Jew, but whenever I hear a Non-Jew leap to analogize a perceived wrong to Christians to a wrong to Jews, I am immediately skeptical. It may not have been Warren’s intent, but what he’s suggesting is that Jews are happy to restrict Christian practices as long as their right to practice as Jews is left alone. I think it also demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be in the religious majority in a country in comparison to being a tiny minority.

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  • thehersch

    I think you probably intended a “mis” on the “understanding” of your final sentence. Are you saying that religious Jews are a tiny minority of religious people in the US, or that Jews are a tiny minority of all people in the US? The former may be true, I don’t know. Jews as a whole are perhaps a small minority; if it were tiny the politicians wouldn’t go to such lengths to curry their favor.
    Also, not that it makes Warren’s remarks any less ridiculous, it is you who introduced the term “kosher”. There are many delis owned and operated by Jews, featuring “Jewish-style” food like pastrami sandwiches and knishes, that aren’t remotely kosher and that sell pork. Wagshal’s in Washington is a prime example.
    The broader point, really, is that providing health insurance that can be used to obtain contraception is not forcing the unwilling religious business owner to provide contraception any more than does paying wages that can be used to obtain contraception. As you say, there haven’t been any lawsuits over forcing business owners to pay their employees wages.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

      Thanks for the edit. And yeah, I did add kosher in place of jewish because I figured that’s what he meant. But you’re right – at this point, nine out of ten jewish-style delis aren’t kosher.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

      Jews are a small minority of the overall US population (hovering under 2% i believe and still highly congregated in a few regions/metro areas) and a small percentage of the religious population (although the orthodox movement continues to grow). All i meant by the majority/minority comment is that I think Warren might honestly not realize what it would mean to be the victim of actual governmental discrimination against or persecution of his religion.

    • torourke78

      The obvious reply to that is that employers typically don’t keep track of how their employees spend their wages. If an employee of mine uses the wages I pay him to visit brothels specializing in young girls trapped in the sex trade, then I am not materially cooperating in something I find morally wrong because I have no knowledge that this is going on. If the federal government steps in and tells me I have to cover his trips to the brothel as part of the insurance plan that I arrange, then they are forcing me to be complicit in this activity. You are the ones directly injecting employers into the sex lives of their employees, all for the sake of covering something that can be easily purchased out-of-pocket at any drug store in the country.

      • thehersch

        Employers typically don’t keep track of what goods and services their employees obtain with their health insurance either. Among the other flaws in your idiotic analogy is that brothels specializing in young girls trapped in the sex trade, and trips thereto, are illegal and almost universally considered morally depraved, neither of which is remotely true of contraception in the United States.

        • torourke78

          Employers who self-insure do keep track of what their employees obtain via health insurance as they have to sign the checks. Like this guy:


          And if you don’t like the analogy, then consider any other activity that might be legal but morally wrong for some people. The fact that most might not consider it immoral is hardly a reason to impose those views on those who disagree. That’s why we protect conscience rights for minorities in the first place.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            That’s funny, I just read the story and noticed that the whole lede is that he DOESN’T KEEP TRACK. Sure, he “signs the check,” (though I’m sure he doesn’t), but he turns a blind eye because he doesn’t want to know. In a company that falls under the ACA, you should be big enough to have a bookkeeper or someone else sign off on reimbursements, there’s no legislative requirement that a C-level employee sign off on BC or any health care.

            It’s hilarious that the Kennedy’s, who are the primaries behind Autocam, have placed themselves in this dilemma. They claim that they have a religious obligation to provide health care, and thus do so as a “self-insured” company, but never explain why they can’t just use a different insurance company to provide the care for them. Sure it costs a little more, but if they have such a moral problem with signing a check (which, btw, happens AFTER the birth control is already bought) they should just hire someone to sign it for them.

          • torourke78

            But even if he doesn’t personally sign the checks, he is complicit in the transaction because he is knowingly compensating his employees with a product he finds immoral. And I find it hilarious that you think it is the Kennedy’s who have put themselves into this dilemma. Apparently they should just change the way they insure their company to comply with a regulation that has been forced onto them by the Obama administration for reasons that you don’t feel necessary to mention. Would it be too much to ask you to come up with any rational policy reasons as to why employers should cover contraception without so much as a co-pay? It costs less than two dollars a day.

  • Mike

    Maybe a better analogy involving Jews would be as follows:

    A Jewish family wakes up on a Saturday morning to find that their toilet has been running overnight and they have several inches of water in their living room. They call a plumber, who is Methodist, to come out and fix the leak and dry up the water. However, after the work is complete, the family decides that paying the plumber would violate their religious beliefs, as it would imply that they were causing someone to work on the Sabbath. The plumber takes them to small claims court, where a judge orders them to pay or be held in contempt of court. The Jewish family now claims they face a crisis of conscience, as the government is forcing them to choose between their religious convictions and legal punishment.

    Would anybody take that argument seriously?

    There are all kinds of other arguments you can make following this logic, none of which sound reasonable or merited. Muslims are required to pray to Mecca five times daily, and Federal law requires that employers provide their hourly employees with paid breaks, therefore, the odds are high that an employee who’s Muslim may pray during a paid break, yet a Catholic employer doesn’t claim that the government is violating his religious freedom by requiring him to pay an employee to practice a faith which contradicts his own beliefs. The Civil Rights Act requires employers with at least 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for the religious beliefs of its employees, yet the University of Notre Dame doesn’t counter by arguing that their corporate religious freedom should allow them to refuse their Jewish employees who wish to use a vacation day to observe Yom Kippur.

    You are absolutely right dedc79, this isn’t about “religious freedom” at all, this is about an over-reactive religious majority that’s accustomed to throwing it’s weight around attempting to make a political point, something that religious minorities don’t have the luxury of doing. On a more primal level, these people are acting like arrogant, self-important assholes, just because they can.

    The irony is, all of these businesses have been providing contraception coverage for years, whether or not they realized it! There is no mechanism in place within the group health sales and
    underwriting process that would allow a businessowner to choose to have a plan cover Lipitor, Xanex, and Levitra, but not oral contraception,
    Plan B, penicillin, or whatever other ridiculous thing somebody might want excluded. Prescription plans are quite simple and uniform; if a doctor prescribes a drug, a prescription drug plan will cover it, period. That the government now requires all health plans to cover contraception is little more than an esoteric argument at this point, as it does nothing more than reinforce the preexisting approach of the health insurance industry prior to the ACA.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

      Thanks for this, you put it much better than I did.

    • thehersch

      Yes, very well said. One quibble: You refer to an over-reactive religious majority; the people pushing this ridiculous twaddle are a very small minority that happens to know how to make a large noise.

    • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

      However, after the work is complete, the family decides that paying the
      plumber would violate their religious beliefs, as it would imply that
      they were causing someone to work on the Sabbath.


      Listen to what you just said:

      However, after the work is complete, the family decides that paying the plumber would violate their religious beliefs, as it would imply that they were causing someone to work on the Sabbath.

      Your whole analogy doesn’t make sense.

      The act of cleaning up the water is work independent of payment – you invoke the word “work” before you bring up the concept of pay.

      The irony is, all of these businesses have been providing contraception
      coverage for years, whether or not they realized it! There is no mechanism in place within the group health sales and underwriting process that would allow a businessowner to choose to have a plan cover Lipitor, Xanex, and Levitra, but not oral contraception, Plan B, penicillin, or whatever other ridiculous thing somebody might want excluded. Prescription plans are quite simple and uniform; if a doctor prescribes a drug, a prescription drug plan will cover it, period.

      I’m not sure that’s true. It’s late and I only did a glancing shot at research but I found this:

      For some types of birth control, there is only one option available
      in the United States, so plans should cover them; for example, Ortho
      Evra is the only patch and NuvaRing is the only ring, so they must be
      covered. But there are many kinds of pills, and many health insurance
      companies cover only some of them, so which pills are covered without co-pay will vary by plan.

      Unfortunately some insurance plans are not following the law yet. At
      the National Women’s Law Center, we hear from women whose plans are only
      covering the pill, but not the ring or the patch. Other women have been
      told that only generic brands are covered, even when the brand-name
      drug they need doesn’t have a generic version. Health plans have been
      given some leeway to determine what is covered, but they should not be
      able to stop you from getting the birth control that is right for you.


      Granted, the article is 11 months old and is a source I’ve never heard of, but it is an advocate for covered contraception so they don’t seem motivated to sandbag.

      The point is, health insurance plans CAN stipulate what is and what isn’t covered.

      I suspect that employers can absolutely purchase a plan that does, or does not, cover Viagra, for example.

      • mike


        Regarding my Sabbath analogy, I think that’s a fair rebuttal.

        That aside, let’s be clear about hormonal birth control – ACA or not, a health insurance plan can always stipulate that they only cover the generic version of a drug, or that the drug must be obtained via mail order, but prior to the ACA, Blue Cross and the other mainstream health insurers did not offer a group health plan that expressly excluded coverage for all forms of hormonal contraceptives, because that’s not how prescription drug plans work.

        I also might add, health insurers have typically always covered vasectomies and tubal ligations as well (and abortions in 29 states). That has not changed with the passage of the ACA.

        If you want to draw a really narrow point, you could argue that the government wasn’t “forcing” any employer to buy this coverage prior to the ACA, the market was. Then again, if you’re trying to portray yourself as a victim of an intolerant overreaching government, (as the owners of Hobby Lobby and others are) it would help if you weren’t already providing coverage for the thing you’re now arguing against.

  • torourke78

    The family of five that owns Hobby Lobby (they are not a publicly traded company) very much sees their business as an extension of their religious views. They do not open on Sundays and do not sell any material that promotes alcohol consumption. Their mission statement explicitly states their goal of honoring the Lord in everything they do. I won’t claim to know much of anything about kosher delis, but I have a hard time seeing how they can be described as explicitly religious businesses while Hobby Lobby cannot. They both sell things to earn money and both bring their religious views into the workplace.

    Furthermore, they are not “forcing” their views on anyone. If Hobby Lobby employees want to go purchase contraception at the local drug store, they are free to do so. It’s widely available and costs about two dollars a day. The employers opposing the mandate do not want to be forced to be complicit in this transaction. It’s the Obama administration imposing its views on them.

    • thehersch

      But those are two dollars the employees received in wages from Hobby Lobby. The moral position is exactly the same. That is to say, there is no moral implication for the owners of Hobby Lobby in either case. Their employees are acting independently of the business owners whether they obtain contraception via health insurance or with their wages.

      • torourke78

        Well, obviously the owners of Hobby Lobby and the plaintiffs in dozens of other lawsuits disagree, otherwise they wouldn’t be filing lawsuits. By forcing these owners to cover contraception as part of an insurance plan, you are making them complicit in a transaction they find wrong. Just because you think their views are silly doesn’t mean that surely they must also agree that their views are silly. See here:


        And what exactly is the point of forcing employers to cover something as part of an insurance plan that you seem to agree is easy to obtain and relatively cheap? Because you enjoy ordering people around? You are excited to make health insurance more expensive?

        • thehersch

          The owners of Hobby Lobby may disagree, but I notice you don’t provide
          an actual argument that the moral position is different. Come on, make a
          case. Show us how employees obtaining contraception with their
          employer-provided health insurance puts their contraception-objecting
          employer in a morally different position than employees obtaining
          contraception with their employer-provided wages. Not that their
          employer feels ickier in one case than the other, but that the employer
          is actually in a morally different relationship with the transaction. Go
          on. I dare you.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            I agree with you that no serious person would see a moral difference, but sadly they just wave the “religion” flag and get a lot more leeway. We can’t have courts interrogating plaintiffs to determine how sincere their religious beliefs are, for reasons I think are obvious. That’s not to say they actually give credence to absurd “religions”, they obviously veer towards whatever they consider “real” religious beliefs, but they can’t start nitpicking over whether the Kennedy’s or whomever have a genuine basis for their religious beliefs. As an atheist, my obvious justification for that is that a religious challenge would never stand up in any court if they were required to show that they had a real basis for their belief…

            N.B. The volokh link included elsewhere in torourke’s comments (which I agree are simply lazy trolling) does seem to include the “sincerity of belief” factor in the analysis, but I thought courts had done away with it. I need to do more research on this one. But, as you said quite clearly, there is no cognizable difference between paying for health care that includes it and paying them more money to cover their health care costs.

          • torourke78

            I already did, but you chose to ignore it. Employers don’t keep track of what their employees do with their wages, and so if their employees use their wages to do things they find morally objectionable, they are not materially cooperating in the act since they have no knowledge that the act is taking place. Forcing employers to cover the act as part of an insurance plan makes them complicit in the act, since they know that their employees may avail themselves of contraception covered by the plan. I understand that this might strike you as a distinction without a difference, but for orthodox Catholics and other religious conservatives who take their conscience rights seriously, it’s a big deal. There would not be dozens of lawsuits otherwise.

            Now how about answering my questions? In order for the Obama administration to show that the mandate does not run afoul of RFRA, they have to show that there is a compelling governmental interest in promoting whatever it is that is being disputed. What’s the compelling governmental interest in forcing employers to cover something that is widely available and relatively inexpensive? Because if you can’t answer that question, then you are probably not going to win your case.

          • thehersch

            This is very weak tea indeed. Any employer who isn’t a drooling imbecile knows, KNOWS, that the wages that he pays his employees may be used to obtain contraception. The Catholic employer with these major moral concerns indeed should know that his Catholic employees of childbearing age are probably obtaining contraception, whether with their wages or with their health insurance. If the employer who knows that their employees may use their insurance to obtain contraception is complicit in the act of obtaining contraception, the employer who knows that their employees may use their wages to obtain contraception is just as complicit. The fact that there are dozens of lawsuits that attempt to draw a distinction between the two doesn’t demonstrate that there actually is one.

            I am mystified by your apparent belief that the relative cost of contraception has anything to do with the issue. Amoxicillin is cheap, but health insurance plans generally cover it, even though Christian Scientists might not want to use it.

            The RFRA is simply irrelevant here, as no one’s free exercise of religion is affected in any way by the requirement that contraception be covered by health insurance under the ACA. No one who objects on religious grounds to contraception is required to use it. No one who objects on religious grounds to contraception is required personally to provide it or pay for it. Businesses, not persons, are required under the appropriate circumstances to provide insurance that meets certain standards. Contraception is very widely considered a public health issue, regardless of what some religious cranks may think, and properly included in the required coverage of health insurance under the ACA. Those whose peculiar religious scruples object to it need not avail themselves of it.

          • torourke78

            A Muslim employer whose religious views lead him to shun pornography may know in his heart that some of his employees are using their wages to go out and purchase pornographic magazines, videos, or web content. That doesn’t mean we should go ahead and require him to be complicit in that transaction by forcing his business to cover porn as part of health insurance or some other form of compensation. Especially since no one who wants porn seems to have any problem getting it. You’re free to sneer all you want at the beliefs of religious people who enter the marketplace, but we live in a country where the free exercise of religion is protected by both the RFRA and the First Amendment.

            And you’re simply begging the question by stating that the RFRA does not apply (the Tenth Circuit court disagrees with you by the way, as it ruled that Hobby Lobby would likely win its case under the RFRA). Under your line of reasoning, any religious person who wants to start a business, whether for-profit or non-profit, must apparently check their beliefs at the door in order to get into the marketplace, no matter how absurd the reasoning behind the regulation forcing them to violate their conscience. The LIttle Sisters of the Poor are an international group of women whose mission in life is to provide health care for the elderly poor. They are non-profit and they raise money for the care they provide in part by begging for donations out in the street. They are suing the Obama administration because they are being forced to comply with a mandate that violates their conscience. They face millions of dollars worth of fines and the potential closing of their ministry if they fail to comply with the mandate, and all because they don’t want to be complicit in something that you have conceded no one has a problem obtaining outside of the insurance model. But I’m learning that for progressives, aggressively prosecuting the culture wars comes before making sure the elderly poor have the health care they need.

            And your pathetic dodge of the cost issue aside, how easy it is to obtain contraception is crucial to the issue of RFRA. If the government cannot show that there is a compelling interest behind forcing employers to cover contraception, then their case fails. And you are simply wrong that those objecting on religious grounds won’t be paying for it (although you deftly knocked down the straw-man that those employers won’t be required to actually use contraception when they have sex. Is that how you reassure yourself that you are not nearly as thuggish as you come across? “We may have moved on from telling conservative Christians to ‘stay out of our bedroom’ to ‘pay for what we do in our bedroom.’ But hey, at least we aren’t forcing our way into their bedrooms!”) Their premiums will be entering the same risk pool that doles out the money for the contraception. And given that without so much as a co-pay, there will be no incentive to be cost-conscious, expect to see premiums rise as people claim their brand-name contraceptives for “free” when in reality the premiums of the those employers who object will go up to cover the cost.

            And while I have no doubt that you and other mindless defenders of the Obama administration consider contraception a “public health issue” (whatever that means) and that consequently the government can force all large employers to cover it through their insurance (which is a complete non-sequitur), in reality the mandate is a giant subsidy to PhRMA, which endorsed Obamacare, lobbied heavily in favor of the mandate, and now stands to profit handsomely because of it.


            Lastly, up to this point, you have not even attempted to provide a single rational argument as to why this mandate is needed at all. Lots of smart people think food is a public health issue, but that doesn’t mean we need to force life insurance companies to cover trips to the grocery store and restaurants without so much as a co-pay. I’m left wondering if your support for this mandate is rooted entirely in your visceral contempt for religious conservatives, particularly those scary Christian ones.

          • thehersch

            Sorry, you have presented no even minimally persuasive argument that contraception covered by employment-based health insurance is violative of a business owner’s faith-based objection to contraception in a way that contraception covered by employment-based income is not. Unless you can do that, you’ve got nothing but hot air.

            While I may or may not have a visceral contempt for “religious conservatives”, whatever that might mean, I do believe that a secular business does not have the right to impose the religious views of its owners on its employees, no matter what religious views those might be. If you want to impose your religious views on your employees, go ahead and be a church.

          • torourke78

            And you haven’t even attempted to present an argument that the mandate is necessary at all. I find it amusing that you want people that you have a barely-concealed contempt for to present an air-tight case about conscience rights, material cooperation in something considered wrong, etc. and yet you cannot even bring yourself to offer a single argument about a much more foundational issue: why we need this mandate at all.

            All you have offered to this point is some vapid, content-free platitude about contraception being ” widely considered a public health issue” and then a total non-sequitur about how it therefore needs to be covered under an insurance model by force. In other words, Kathleen Sebelius said so, so there! Dolores Umbridge would be proud.

            Here let me help you out: “I think that the government should force all companies of a certain size to cover contraception without a co-pay because…” take it away. And if you choose to respond, remember that you have already conceded that contraception is cheap, and thus not particularly difficult to obtain. Nancy Pelosi told us that most Catholic women use it anyway (which means they have access to it) and the CDC confirmed that “lack of access” to contraception is a non-issue, particularly within the context of unplanned pregnancy. As such, this squashes your bizarre assertion that religious employers are “imposing their views” on their employees when it comes to contraception, as you have already acknowledged that they can get contraception anyway. Your attempt to drum up some sort of theocratic nightmare is laughable, according to facts which you don’t bother to dispute.

            As it is, you sneer at the conscience rights of religious conservatives while presenting an essentially faith-based rationale for why the mandate is necessary at all. It’s necessary because we say so, therefore shut up.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            IT’S ALREADY LAW! The argument about why it’s in there has been hashed out, and it’s done, and you lost at the legislative level. The state has a compelling interest in ensuring fair and free access to health care for women. That’s a compelling state interest, regardless of the cost of alternatives. The burden has now shifted to you to show that there is a real religious objection that will somehow draw a line where:
            (1) using contraceptives is bad
            (2) paying for contraceptives for someone else is bad
            (3) giving someone money that you know they’ll spend on contraceptives is fine
            (4) paying someone else to pay for someone else’s contraceptives is fine.

            It’s a stupid fucking argument, which is probably why you haven’t spent any time trying to shore up that side of it. Instead of demanding that we justify a legislative mandate that is already law, why don’t you try finding real justifications for the absurd religious stance you’re positing?

          • thehersch

            Thanks, Nickgb, you’ve put it in a nutshell. As Mike points out elsewhere in this thread, most employer-sponsored health insurance already covers contraception. Further, contraception is just one of quite a number of preventive services that conforming insurance plans are required to cover at no cost to the beneficiary. Aspirin therapy, for example, for people at risk of cardiovascular disease, and blood pressure screening. What are those doing in there? They’re inexpensive! Specifically for women, there’s a list of twenty-two preventive services mandated to be covered at no cost to the beneficiary, mostly inexpensive. Why torourke78 thinks proclaiming “It’s inexpensive!” in a triumphant tone improves the quality of his shoddy little argument mystifies me.
            Still sillier, of course, is the bizarre distinction he makes between wage-purchased and insurance-purchased contraception. In the former case, the employer can pretend it’s not going for contraception, but in the latter it’s just too hard to pretend? That really just wraps it up, doesn’t it?
            For the last bit of silliness which I shall respond to in this thread, torourke78 (again, with a triumphant flourish) reminds us that Nancy Pelosi has said that most Catholic women use contraception anyway. Well, yes. They get it with their health insurance.

          • torourke78

            Hey, an argument! Or I guess this is as close to an argument as you can muster. As it is, it amounts to little more than, “We’re insuring a bunch of other stuff that probably shouldn’t be under the insurance model, so why not contraception?” Which is weak. The purpose of insurance is to protect people against the unexpected event which may be crippling financially. Not to force other people to subsidize Stuff I Want. Even Jonathan Chait understands this:


            And the whole “no cost to the beneficiary” is just crazy. Of course they will pay for it, in the form of higher premiums. You really don’t think drug makers and insurance execs are going to eat all of the cost of this “free” care, do you? Because if so, then you might want to drop the sneering about how ridiculous you think the material cooperation argument is, when you are imposing your own stone-age economic and political views on everyone else.

            And the fact most Catholic women use contraception..period…is enough to demolish the idea that those fighting the mandate are “imposing their views” on other women. Contraception can be purchased for ten bucks at any Walmart or Target. In sum, the best you can muster for this terrible idea is to point to other terrible ideas, which is not the argument of someone who is confident of his position.

            It’s been real guys.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            We’ll terribly miss your strong desire to name-call while also accusing us of bigotry towards Catholics. Keep your trolling over at Bloomberg and NRO, we’ve already exhausted our patience training our own trolls here.

          • torourke78

            Except that isn’t the law. It’s a regulation that was imposed from on high by the HHS, and could easily be undone by a different administration without going through Congress. And just saying “We win! You lose!” is tantamount to saying “I don’t have an argument. Shut up!”

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            Remind me again about how regulations have a different force than the US Code, please. And until then, you don’t have an argument. Shut up.

            Still waiting to hear your justification on the religious line-drawing.

          • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79
          • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

            Link is dead. Here’s the abstract at least: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23037916

          • torourke78

            Yeah, I read that back when it first came out too. One major flaw with that study–there’s no control group. They walked up to people and offered them “free” IUD’s mostly and then tracked their unplanned pregnancies vs. the general population. That doesn’t exactly model how most women get contraception. They either make the effort to get it or they don’t, and unless progressives have a plan to walk up to every woman of child-bearing age in the country and offer them free IUD’s, then that study is worthless.

    • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

      Widely available and cheap contraception? You must be talking about birth control pills, such as oral contraceptives?

      • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

        Widely available and cheap contraception? You must be talking about birth control pills, such as oral contraceptives?

        Quick searches are showing that the patch and the shot cost about $50 a month; less than the quoted 2 bucks a day.

        And 2 bucks is about half a beer, a third of a pack of smokes, 15 minutes of work.

        • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

          My point was that neither Autocam nor Hobby Lobby were about contraceptives, and thus his $2/day doesn’t apply. His underlying argument is still pretty absurd, but I prefer to disprove based on factual errors when I can because they’re simply easier.

          • torourke78

            You might want to re-read the article about Autocam, because it clearly is about oral contraception among others. Especially the part where the owner states that birth control pills cost $9 at Walmart. And given that the average salary at his company is $53,000, $9 a month is easy to afford, particularly in western Michigan where the cost of living is low. To see how expensive other forms of birth control cost are, including sterilization, see here:


            All of them average out to $2 a day or less.

            And according to Planned Parenthood, the morning-after pill costs between $30 and $65.

            So the only factual errors involved here are your own.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            The appellate decision in Autocam was a little difficult to parse on this one, at one point they mention all contraception and in another they specifically reference sterilization and abortifacients. I could dig up the briefing but then I’d be carrying your water for you.

            Glad that you’re still pitching that article that expressly says he DOESN’T ACTUALLY SEE THE NUMBERS, which should be enough to cover his “sincere” moral qualms.

            The fact that his employees could cover it themselves doesn’t change the fact that they have a federal right to it. Would you be fine with a poll tax of 50 cents, simply because it’s so easy to pay for? There’s a compelling public health interest here (both from a non-discrimination stance and also a real health consequence for unwanted pregnancies), and no cognizable religious argument. All of this beside, a shareholder doesn’t have a cognizable religious exercise right based on that status.

            So, to summarize:
            1) His personal religious argument is absurd (it’s okay to give them money for it, even if I know some of them will use it for contraception, as long as they don’t tell me)
            2) His business doesn’t have religious rights
            3) There is a compelling interest in providing contraceptive health care to women, both because of the cost to society for providing care for unwanted pregnancies and also their personal health consequences
            4) The relatively low cost of the treatment doesn’t change the analysis any more than the low cost of most poll taxes made them okay.

          • torourke78

            1. I seriously doubt you would make that argument were a Muslim employer protesting a regulation imposed upon them by a Republican administration. Furthermore, in 32 of the 38 cases where federal courts have ruled on the merits, the Obama administration has lost, and while that doesn’t necessarily portend the plaintiffs will win at the SC, it certainly removes any idea that their complaints are “absurd.”

            2. The Tenth Circuit Court disagrees, and we will see what the SC says.

            3. Hey, an argument! Good job, it only took you a few days. Too bad it’s worthless. Nancy Pelosi told us that 98% of Catholic women have used contraception, which if remotely accurate, tells us that access to contraception is not exactly a pressing need now is it? Let’s follow her “logic”, shall we?. “98% of Catholic women have used contraception…which shows that forcing Catholic institutions to cover contraception on their health plans would not restrict religious liberty at all…so we can go ahead and “increase access” to something I just explained five seconds ago everyone is already using.”

            I’m sold, how about you? The CDC studied the issue in 2009 and found that contraception use between 1970-2009 was basically universal for women of child-bearing age. It also surveyed thousands of women who had unwanted pregnancies and asked them why they had not used contraception during the time they conceived. The percentage of women who responded “lack of access” to contraception? Zero. Maybe, that is because, contrary to what many of the left believe, contraception is legal, widely available, costs less than two dollars a day, fully subsidized for those at or below the poverty level, and given out for free at Planned Parenthood. The result? Everyone who wants contraception can get it. Just ask Nancy.

            4. This argument is so absurd it doesn’t merit a rebuttal. So instead let’s pretend a Republican administration used the fact that there is a Constitutional right to bear arms to make some ridiculous argument during an election year to justify imposing some sort of mandate that all employers had to provide their employees with “access” to firearms even though anyone who wants a firearm can go out and get one. Would you be on board? I mean, we could come up with some absurd justification that it might reduce burglaries, and thus save money on insuring your home and some such. But why bother? Your position is ridiculous. Get serious.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            1. Well, you clearly haven’t really followed the blog then. I’m pretty much opposed to any religious exercise rights trumping facially neutral laws (absent some showing of disparate impact or discriminatory intent).

            2. So does the 7th circuit, but their arguments make no sense. The rough idea is (1) corporations have some rights, (2) corporations are not specifically excluded under RFRA, therefore (3) corporations have religious rights. It’s an absurd argument that will probably either stand or fall 5-4 at the SCOTUS level, But until someone can explain to me why a secular corporation has religious rights, I’m not accepting the 7th and 10th Circuit’s bare assertions.

            3. The fact that contraceptive use is widespread doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be covered under all health care plans as mandated by the ACA. Ensuring that all women have access to it, even if they already can get it, is an important goal. You point to PP providing it; they have limited resources and can provide other vital services if they don’t have to provide BC. Can you provide a link to that survey? Here’s a different study that shows the significance of that $600/year on women, not to mention the impact of no-cost BC on abortion rates: http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections-politics/newsroom/press-releases/new-contraceptive-study-proves-access-no-co-pay-birth-contro/

            Sorry it took a few days to give you an argument, I sometimes forget that trolls need things spelled out at that level. Most people take it for granted that BC is important for women’s health.

            4. Whether a benefit is small or large doesn’t change the fact that it’s a compelling state interest. If the federal law mandated that employers buy guns for employees, I wouldn’t love that law, but my objection wouldn’t be “But they’re cheap enough that employers don’t need to buy them!” That’s an argument against passing the law, not enforcing it.

          • torourke78

            “Ensuring that women have access to it, even if they already can get it, is an important goal.”

            And you find the claims of religious employers bizarre? Sorry but the above takes the cake. Thanks for chatting.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            You’re right, it should have said “free access,” though I think that was already implied strongly.

            I’m not saying that a world where women have to pay for their own BC is immoral and this world is moral, I’m simply saying this world is preferable. It’s important to make sure that women don’t have a $600 non-pregnancy tax for being women.

            But on the other hand, we have a religious belief that apparently says it’s immoral to pay for someone else to have contraceptive coverage but only if you personally sign the reimbursement check and not if you pay someone else to do it, even though you know that’s what’s happening. Truly a magnificent religious theory, that.

          • torourke78

            Except that it isn’t “free”, unless you are delusional enough to think that the drug makers are magically going to start producing millions of dollars worth of contraception for “free”…all out of the goodness of their hearts presumably. Or unless you think the insurance companies are going to start eating the whole cost of the “free” access to contraception, again, out of the goodness of their hearts. Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that progressives believe that drug-makers and insurance executives are a bunch of swell guys. That’s exactly what they have been saying over the years!

            In reality, the insurance companies are going to start charging higher premiums to offset the cost of the “free access” to contraception. Those higher premiums will come out of the checks of those female employees (and the male ones too), which means lower take-home pay. To actually suggest that this mandate amounts to “free access” to contraception is insane. And since there will be no co-pay, there is absolutely no incentive to be cost-conscious. No reason at all to prescribe the generic contraceptive. Brand-name all the way! Maybe that’s why PhRMA endorsed Obamacare? Maybe that’s why they lobbied heavily in favor of the mandate? Are you on PhRMA’s payroll by any chance?

            And if you are going to knock other people’s religious beliefs, can you please not embarrass yourself by professing absolutely insane beliefs like drug-makers and insurance executives are going to hand out millions of dollars worth of contraception for “free”? Because that’s much crazier than even the most insane belief of the most crack-pot of fundamentalist churches.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com/ nickgb

            And you know full well that the BC will be essentially free to the women who take it, and that the increase in benefits provided will not substantially change anyone’s premium (unless, of course, you suddenly find BC pills to be very expensive and thus think that it will be expensive to provide that benefit?).

            You’re running in circles like a dog chasing its tail, and you’ve finally achieved some kind of ouroboros of ignorance! Birth control is so cheap that women should pay for it themselves! Birth control is so expensive that everyone’s premiums will go up if it’s covered! GARGH!

            Arguing that forcing coverage for BC will not result in a noticeable increase in premiums is a lot less crazy than a religion where “It’s immoral unless your money gets laundered through an insurance company.” Granted, that’s not as crazy as the earth being 9000 years old or humans coexisting with dinosaurs, but it’s still pretty crazy.

            Now, until I see a real argument from you about how the religious argument here makes any sense, I’m done feeding this troll.

  • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

    A closer analogy would therefore be to a jewish deli that wanted to be
    able to prevent its employees from purchasing pork with their wages.

    A “closer yet” analogy would be a law that requires a kosher deli to compensate its employees with pork.

    • thehersch

      That’s not analogous at all. Employers aren’t required to compensate their employees with contraception, for pity’s sake. Sometimes it seems as if you people aren’t even trying. Making right-wing noises isn’t the same as an argument.