Friday, February 10, 2012

Protecting my first amendment right

After hours of research, I've decided where I stand on the Catholic Church vs Contraceptive Mandate issue. What is that you ask?  Well, here's a quick briefing to get you up to speed.

The Health and Human Services Department and the Institute of Medicine recommended the healthcare law, most commonly called "Obamacare", require insurance companies and employers offer free birth control to women. The law did exempt Religious employers from this mandate.  The law did not exempt for-profit organizations or religious owned hospitals, universities, and charities that primarily serve and employ non-denominational members. The mandate has been tested by several state courts.  In fact, over the past 12 years 28 states have implemented similar laws. In several of these sates, the Catholic Church took the issue to court, and in every case they lost.  Today it is a federal issue and the Catholic Church insists on fighting it one more time.  Their claim is that the law violates their religious liberties.  The Church teaches its members that contraceptives of any form (condoms, birth control, etc) are a sin. The only family planning allowed is to calculate your menstrual cycles and opt out of sex during peak ovulation.

Due to the Catholic Church outrage and the Conservative Right taking up arms with them, the Obama Administration has changed the law.  Now, no religious owned organizations have to cover birth control, but the insurance companies they use will have to provide free birth control.

Personally, I've been all over the place on this issue. As a sufferer of PCOS, I think it is ridiculous the Church won't let women receive the health benefits of birth control. As a religious believer, I don't want to government telling Churches how they must act.

This has brought me to think long and hard on the first amendment right.  And each time I thought about Freedom of Religion I couldn't help but think that freedom is also intended to protect US citizens from religious rule.

It was earlier this afternoon that I finally put my thoughts together.  Ready for that epiphany?  Well, here it is.

Religious freedom has two purposes.  One is to protect religions so that they can worship as they please (I'd include Sharia Law in this group). The other is to protect citizens from having those religious views forced upon them (especially citizens not belonging to the religion doing the forcing). Given the history of this country's founders -- I think the later was a higher priority when the Constitution was structured.

Using this definition of religious freedom, which as far as I'm aware is the correct definition, Obamacare's original ruling was most accurate in protecting our first amendment.  The original law (the one help up in courts at the state level) protects the Catholic Church's first amendment right by letting them be exempt from the mandate. But it also protects citizens' first amendement rights by not exempting Catholic run organizations that employ and serve majority non-Catholics. When Catholic schools and hospitals choose to employ and serve majority non-Catholic staff, non-Catholic students, and non-Catholic patients, the first amendment needs to protect those non-Catholic citizens from being forced to follow Catholic tenets.

The new plan still protects Catholic and non-Catholics religious liberties -- but it teaches the Conservative Right that if they squawk loud enough they can get what they want, even when current law and previous court rulings are against them. It teaches the Catholic Church that they can bully the Federal Government into complying with their demands. For the sake of religious freedom, this concerns me (it is the Conservative Right, after-all; that wants to outlaw Islam).

To me, the whole debacle is a great reflection of our country's current politics. One party wants to prey on the emotions of Americans without divulging all the information.  Most people don't know the original law actually exempted Church's.  Very few people know the law is already in affect in 28 different states.  Nearly no one knows the Supreme Court already stood by the lower court's rulings and refused to even view the case made by the Catholic Church.  What people do know is that "Obama is waging a war on religion."

The other party is willing to compromise on issues their opponents don't agree with. Their compromise upholds the integrity of their original motive (provide affordable, preventative health care to women) but also meets the whiny demands of special interests.

In summary, the GOP needs to stop feeding us misinformation, and the Democrats need to stop caving to special interests. We all need to remember that freedom of religion isn't just the option to worship as we please, but also the blessing to make sure no religious belief is unwillingly forced upon us. 


Jodi said...

I like this thought. I thought the Catholic church was more opposed to having to supply the morning after pill? Either way, I think they are a little whiny about it. I personally believe that providing free birth control can solve a lot of other problems. For example, I would rather we have birth control mandated than abortions. Thanks for always providing your knowledge and research to open our eyes a little more!

Polly Blevins said...

It is not our place to say if the Catholic church is too involved in their members form of birth control. I agree with them. If their policy says no birth control, they shouldn't have to provide it. To say otherwise is totally infringing on their belief system. I do think the compromise is okay though. I am with you in the Shria (sp?) law. I think that, they in that religion should be able to abide (unless it is dangerous) I don't know the law but the right went on and on about stoning women etc. I don't know if that is true or not because I haven't looked it up but I think that they are reaching. Religions should not be forced to conform to society. But what does that say about plural marriage? Some religions are a proponent on that....I also think that it is an outrage that they are forcing people to cover birth control but won't go the opposite side and help out with fertility. There is no coverage on that at all. I would gladly pay for my own birth control if I knew that it would help others get at least a discount in the fertility matters. Sure it is way more expensive but some insurance companies cover lap bands or whatever for weight problems and that is expensive too. About people whining to get their way, that is on both sides on all sorts of matters. I am glad people stand up and make a fuss about whatever they think is right. I don't always agree with the fuss but that is the glory of a free nation. If more people would stand up, maybe our gov. wouldn't be so corrupt and there wouldn't be such a mess right now...with almost everything!

As always, I love to read your blog because you have a different perspective and it makes me think a little more and help to define what I think. Also, it makes me not get so angry with the other thinking because I like you and it brings it all back to different points of view rather than not liking the people. : )

Jodi said...

Look at all of these things I learn from all of you! Polly, I like what you had to say too. I agree, no one should ever be forced to do something that is against their religion. I guess if I was in the same position about something in my beliefs I would be making a fuss too :). I think compromise and respect for others belief is the key.

Mandi said...

I take issue with this whole thing - since when is it an employer's responsibility to provide anything to their employee aside from fair compensation for a day's work? Well, that and a safe place for that work to be performed. If it can be afforded by the employer, insurance should be part of that fair compensation, but as for birth control - NOT the employer's responsibility! While I am not a fan of birth control (No offense, but I don't believe there are health benefits to supplying the body with artificial hormones and/or hormone suppressants for any reason - and I'm a sufferer from PCOS as well), if birth control is wanted by a person, it should be available to them via their health care plan, but it is not their employer's responsibility at all.

Liz Szilagyi said...

I don't usually comment on my own posts. But I do want to say, Mandi, I think there should be "no frills" insurance options. Perhaps this would solve the problem you address. I haven't studied this avenue (at all, really), so I'm not sure why it isn't available. Off the top of my head, I'd guess special interests. PS, do you some homeopathic remedy to help conceive? I've only had success using chlomid.

Which brings me to Polly. Yes, it is super frustrating that my insurance will cover diet pills, but not my chlomid. Give me a break! But on to the more serious discussion of religious freedom. I'll share what I know about Sharia law. As an Abrahamic religion, Islam believes in the laws of the old testament, which allowed for stoning. But in accordance to modern society Islamic nations (even extreme ones like Iran) use a penal system instead of stones. Women are stoned for adultery only in extreme Islam states, and even then it usually isn't a legal form of punishment nor does it occur often. Men (and even women) throwing the stones only get away with it because the government is hands off in private family matters. The only aspect of Sharia law that would be illegal in the US is ... drum roll ... plural marriage.

In Malaysia (a Muslim state) I met many people living Sharia law who were quite conservative and had very high morals. Their values should be appreciated in the US, not threatened.

Liz Szilagyi said...

Likewise, the Catholic Church shouldn't feel threatened that money given to them from Catholic members is going to be used to pay for something they stand against (birth control). And that was NEVER a threat. Churches were exempt all along. Birth control was never going to be covered in Nuns health care (if you heard that last part from the media, you were being lied to).

The money I have given them as the wife of a student (Georgetown) and a patient (Mercy Medical, WI) should also be protected under the first Amendment. I gave them that money in exchange for services, education and OBGYN visits. They should not be able to take that money and use it to force their religious agenda on the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Protestant, Mormon, etc staff they employ. Doing so violates my religious liberties and the religious freedoms of their employees.

Mandi said...

Liz - as far as my PCOS goes, we tried a few rounds of chlomid way back in 2004, but with no success. Our success finally came from natural care with the help of a chiropractor. He did give me a few natural supplements designed to regulate the endocrine system, but mostly we did lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, regular adjustments, and deep (read: painful) visceral massage of my ovaries to break up scar tissue. This process regulated my cycles for the first time in my life. It took a few more months of continued care, but we were able to have our first child without any artificial help. And once the baby-works got turned on, we haven't had any trouble. We are currently pregnant with #4. We haven't had to do any of the specific things along the way that we did to get #1, aside from maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. I do still have a couple symptoms of PCOS, but overall I feel that I have mostly recovered from the condition.

My story is one of the reasons I am against 'Obamacare.' Conventional medicine (the kind covered under standard insurance policies) is not my care of choice, and had I been spending my money on insurance that covered only conventional care, I would not have had the money to receive the care I needed and desired. I don't believe that anyone should be forced to purchase anything - it should always be a choice! But that aside, if I am forced through government regulations to purchase health care, it should cover the ways I desire to maintain my health. They don't, and Obamacare cuts out the option of the high-deductible plan that I would most likely choose because it would less expensive for me, but still cover emergencies - which is the only reason I would use it - leaving me the money I need to pay for the care I desire. I believe our health care system is broken and is more of a sick care system. I don't want sick care - I want care to help me stay healthy. I know a lot of health care policies do cover chiropractic adjsutments, but not natural supplements 'prescribed' by chiro's or other natural health professionals. And if medicare is any example of the kind of system our country will eventually end up with for every person, I want no part of it. Yes, chiro care is covered under medicare, but only if you are injured in and 'event,' not if you are trying to maintain your current state of wellness. That is NOT health care!

Sorry - this kind of turned into a rant. :)

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