Religious Freedom and the Affordable Care Act

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Obi-Wan McCartney, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I haven't had a chance to really look at the proposed compromise, because it was my son's first birthday, and we announced that he can't play with his big present for a few months: number 2 is on the way! (Due in September.)
    One thing to consider is that many large organizations self-insure.

    For example, my employer (a fairly large company based out of California) used to self-insure on all of its PPO plans (they changed things this year). They hired someone else to administer the program (and to use Aetna's network), but they paid the corresponding costs out of pocket. If I worked for a church that self-insured, then they would technically be a "religious insurance company".

    In such a case, it is a valid concern.

    Kimball Kinnison
  2. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    As someone with a younger brother almost exactly the same age difference, let me say that that's the best possible gift he could ever receive.:D
  3. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    @ Mr44: I've always seen Michael Moore as something of a nut and I'm not inclined to watch his films, but IMO the Birther movement and Tea Party made him took tame by comparison. As for defending Bush, I'm not sure how much there was about this guy that is defensible. I suppose you could say that some of the policies he put in place were simply pragmatic responses to reality, but the rhetoric that Bush attached to these always made him come off as a crusading zealot. I voted for Obama knowing full well that he would continue the war in Iraq, and possibly even choose to launch attacks against Iran's nuclear program. But at least I felt I could trust this guy to do so for reasons of pragmatic realism rather than crusading zealotry. It may be only a cosmetic change, but look at what it's accomplished: we've succeeded in restoring the legitimacy of America on the world stage and diminishing that of Russia, China and Iran. Bush could have done that too if he hadn't been....hell I don't know what he was doing, but he could have channeled Gerald Ford or Eisenhower without costing him any support from his base.

    Going back to contraception, I still see it as being between a choice between a larger amount of harm to patients and a considerably smaller amount of harm to the Catholic church. You said that Obama should have offered the compromise to begin with and perhaps that's true, but then I see that as a oversight rather than an overreach.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I don't have a problem with any of that. Debate is born from rationale disagreement. Except for your last sentence, that is, because I don't think you're acknowledging the big picture:

    Going back to contraception, I still see it as being between a choice between a larger amount of harm to patients and a considerably smaller amount of harm to the Catholic church. You said that Obama should have offered the compromise to begin with and perhaps that's true, but then I see that as a oversight rather than an overreach.

    Except the devil is in the details, so to speak.. What you're dismissing as an "oversight" has serious Constitutional issues. Honestly, all you have to do is reverse the focus of the action. What if there was a President who simply issued what amounted to an executive order which prohibited same sex couples from from receiving private health insurance? (or other example) Would you simply dismiss that as an honest oversight? Or would you immediately criticize it as an abuse of power and call for the order to be rescinded? What interest would the executive have in even meddling in what benefits private institutions offer their employees? That's the issue, if you agree that Obama (as head of the executive branch) has the power to force private institutions to engage in social engineering based on political leaning, then that approval sets a precedent for future Presidents to engage in the exact same thing, but it might come from a differing viewpoint.
  5. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    That's where you're wrong, Mr. 44. The problem with your hypotheticals is that they are BS. It's sort of like when Mitt Romney deflected a constitutional question about whether states could ban birth control. It isn't a realistic scenario. Obama had a legitemate policy goal that was generally applicable. It didn't single out anyone, so try and come up with something that actually happened.

    Now, a President taking us into a war based on false pretenses and questinable evidence? THAT is something to compare. It boggles my mind that you could put Bush even at the middle of the pack, even claim him "just one spot better" than the Clinton Presidency, when the depletion of our national treasure, the lost lives of our soldiers, and the financial collapse of 2008 are directly attributable to him!

    I can honestly say I have no personal issue with Bush, in fact I rather like him now (at least the public persona of him that makes me feel like I know him). But come on, his adminstration was a failure in many ways. The Bush Presidency almost defines the worst excesses of BOTH parties, he was a cut-taxes and spend big government big war hack.

    The fact is Mr. 44, you are just as biased and partisan as anyone else here. Not that I am finding fault with it, you got your team and values and since Bush and crew generally stood for what you believed in you gave him a pass, with Obama he does not stand for what you believe in so you take him to task.

    You are no different than those you criticized regarding Bush, its just now the shoe is on the other foot.
  6. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    OWM

    We can at least thank Mr44 for finally giving an answer, and a good one even if I don't fully agree, regarding Bush/Obama/Democrats/Republicans?

    Anyway, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. A lot of the hypotheticals rely on too many 'what ifs' and are based on theories that aren't likely to pan out, i.e. a President declaring that same-sex couples can't have private health insurance. So yes, it's better to not get sidetracked.


    Mr44

    Well, if someone is going to claim there are 'serious' Constitutional issues then it is up to them to present that argument, beyond just saying 'freedom of religion'. It's not like Obama declared martial law. Now that is a hypothetical. [face_beatup]
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That's where you're wrong, Mr. 44. The problem with your hypotheticals is that they are BS. It's sort of like when Mitt Romney deflected a constitutional question about whether states could ban birth control. It isn't a realistic scenario. Obama had a legitemate policy goal that was generally applicable. It didn't single out anyone, so try and come up with something that actually happened.

    But it still wouldn't matter. Sure, hypotheticals are just that, and I never pretended that they were anything other than tools for discussion. I can't predict the future, after all. But what you are still missing is that what you are calling a "legitimate policy goal," might not be so with someone else. If this was the case, then why did the executive back off so quickly after issuing the order? If 2 years ago you asked a member of the Catholic Church what they would think if the President forced them to provide birth control in violation of their faith, they would have probably answered that it wasn't a realistic scenario either. Why would the President pick on them and force them to do anything in the first place, right? But yet, here we are. Right smack dab in an actual policy debate.

    If you still think that the executive branch has a "legitimate policy goal" in decreeing that it can control what private businesses offer under private employment benefits and contracts absent of some exigency, then go ahead and pick something that may or may not happen in the future under this exact same authority. Some of the examples you might not even agree with, but after all, why would that matter?
  8. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I don't really read OWM as using "legitimate policy goal" to mean "something I agree with." Instead, recall his very earliest posts in this thread. There are certain things that the state has legally recognized power to control or issue edicts about. There are other realms of potential policy where it has no power to act. This was the point behind the whole discussion of a "compelling state interest." OWM is arguing (then as now) that many times your hypotheticals are about policies that no one would seriously argue the federal government has the power to enact. Whereas no one has really challenged their right to define a basic minimum package of items to be covered in a health insurance plan.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I don't really read OWM as using "legitimate policy goal" to mean "something I agree with."

    Seriously? Unless a person is taking a completely devil's advocate position, of course they're the same. You can't just say that you believe that Obama had a legitimate policy goal, and then, voila! Presto-changeo, it magically becomes so, while all other viewpoints cease to exist. Just switch the sentence around: "The Catholic Church had a legitimate policy goal in opposing this.." Which one trumps the other? Both are equally defensible, and both sides would outline items which supported their own view for the recipients to decide. It doesn't really matter anyway, because the original order was backed off off for the compromise policy.

    Pick anything that could be debated.. "I like the original Star Trek Motion Picture" vs "I hate the original Star Trek Motion Picture." or "I like music on vinyl" vs "I like digital music." or "summer is my favorite season" vs "winter is my favorite season." or "Han Solo shot first" vs....well, ok, Han shooting first is a rare example of a universal truth, but the other examples are opposing pairs that are just as valid to each other depending on who holds them.

    Besides that, I'd personally be mindful of debating an interpretation of OWM's posts in the third person. If OWM has a counter to something I posted, I have no doubt he'll let me know. Otherwise, only he knows what his own intent was.
  10. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Yes!! Mr. 44, the HATE is flowing in you now! I can FEEL your anger! Quick, grab your jedi weapon, strike down with it and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!!!!

    Ha ha, all kidding aside, it's nice after all these years to see you take the kid gloves off and put yourself out there and take a position! (Even if you are locking your s-foils on attack position)

    I think Jabba-wocky conveyed my feeling accurately, but Mr. 44 I definitely understand your argument with regards to the "legitemate policy goal." One government's neutral policy goal is another relgions substantial infringement on their free exercise thereof.

    These kinds of issues are not cut and dry in terms of constitutional law, it alwasy depends on the interpreter. I just think that Obama had a legitemate goal, to ensure all women had easy, convenient, and free access to health care. Given that the Bishops are not happy about this compromise suggests maybe Obama played this one right. He issued a blanket policy, they made their strongest "relgiouis freedom" argument, and he countered by going with a sensible compromise. If he offered the compromise out the gate, they likely still would have protested, but now at least Obama had the ability to "compromise."

    So while I seriously doubt Obama planend this from the beginning, it does appear that it played out in his favor, wouldn't you agree?
  11. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    The GOP is making a horrendous strategic error right now. The Obama campaign probably can't believe its luck (once again).

    The Republican Party is getting whipped left and right at the moment, from the payroll tax cut to the budget to foreign policy.
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I know it was a joke there OWM, but who am I supposed to be angry at? I assume that the dark side is the democratic party that I'm crossing over to? Did I post something that got me my honorary demmie political membership card?

    I think Jabba-wocky conveyed my feeling accurately, but Mr. 44 I definitely understand your argument with regards to the "legitemate policy goal." One government's neutral policy goal is another relgions substantial infringement on their free exercise thereof. These kinds of issues are not cut and dry in terms of constitutional law, it alwasy depends on the interpreter.

    Haven't I been promoting this exact same sentiment from the start? This wasn't JW's point.

    So while I seriously doubt Obama planend this from the beginning, it does appear that it played out in his favor, wouldn't you agree?

    I'm not so sure. I think to an extent you're sugar coating how things unfolded. Your account here is derivative of the "it was all a political ploy to trap Santorum" justification attempt that was mentioned above, which I don't think anyone believes was actually the point of this. The problem is it makes Obama look extremely arrogant, or in simpler terms, a big meanie. It's because in society, a compromise that is forced generally isn't viewed as a sincere one. If I lifted $20 from your wallet, and after you threatened to call the police, I gave you the money back so you'd just drop the whole thing, my "deal" is not an example of nobility on my part. It was a jerky thing to do in the first place. And I don't think you'd be happy to give me the money back as a reward because I offered the "compromise."

    I do have to hand to Obama for trying to draw the line in the sand on this, but it was a risk without many benefits. I think it's going to make him come off as a bully to everyone except his die hard base. As far as the long term consequences, I'm not sure. His actions certainly played into every conservative stereotype about him, because he did originally try for the quick win. As a member of the NRA, I get American Rifleman every month. (one of the official magazines of the organization) Next issue, I could see something along the lines of "Obama tried taking on religion, next step is going to be banning guns!!!" And while it might not be completely accurate, his actions do allow for an "ah-ha" moment. People are going to sit back and think "you know, Obama did try and attack religion...maybe guns are next..." If you know what I mean. Obama's own actions increased this perception because of the out of the blue way he handled this. One week, everything was fine, and the next week, BAM! He's trying to force the church to go against long held tenets without so much a dialog or warning, even if ultimately, he did give into the criticism.

  13. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Well, when Obama quits making dumb **** decisions, I'll throw some praise his way. Although it's been 3 years and I'm still waiting.

    You'll be gald to know that this part of Obama's healthcare plan, coercing people into buying health insurane, was actually a Republican idea. Most of us who voted for him wanted socialism (Have you ever had a friend steal $1 billion from you, and then steal another $1 billion? That was the Zeitgeist in 2008.), but we can't do that because of the poor, defenseless insurance companies. How can they offer a substandard product when the federal government covers everything you'll need? I mean, you can shave roughly $500 per live male birth off by simply not covering circumcision. (It costs about $1000, and about half of all boys born in the US this year will be circumcised.) Throw out vitamin pills for people who don't need them (These wastes of money were a huge part of Republican numbers on the cost of nationalized healthcare.) and you save another $10 per person every three months. Basically Republican numbers assumed we all wanted tummy tucks that the government would pay for. But what about those of us who have eight-packs?

    FWIW, oral contraceptives can also be used to treat hormonal issues.

    Ok, seriously, that's obviously a joke, but you already know that I didn't blindly support Bush. The strongest praise I gave Bush was that he was a mediocre President, which hardly qualifies as a stellar review. (although on the ranking, I placed him one place above Clinton in the middle of the pack.)

    You realize, of course, that he was talking about how wonderful a war would be for his political career in 1999.

    "OMG! Bush has "secret plans" to bring back the draft and invade Iran!!!"

    Secret plans? He was talking about it quite openly. Well, Iran. The draft, not so much. The draft was what killed Vietnam.

    "OMG! Bush is going to arrest people for having almanacs in their cars.."

    Well, there was the "libraries" part of the Patriot Act.

    "OMG! US citizens are going to be rounded up and shipped off to Gitmo!"

    Actually happened.

    "OMG! Bush snuck in and switched all the copies of the Patriot Act, so Congress didn't know the actual version they were voting on..." <---that last one has always been a favorite of mine.

    Well, they had less than a day to review it. You realize, of course, that most of it is amendments to laws. Which means you have to have dozens of volumes of laws ready.

    I mean, really.... I'd bet we could fill volumes of posts examining the political realities of how the "Iraqi body count" was a paralyzing obsession in 2004, but didn't matter in 2008.

    McCain promised at least a hundred years of war. Which tells me Anonymous was on his campaign. Perhaps over nine thousand campaign advisers were Anonymous members. ;)

    Or why it didn't become very important to close Gitmo after 2009.

    You act like we're not angry at Obama for that. We are.

    Or how back in their inception, both the Patriot Act and the terrorism wiretapping laws were criticized as literal signs of the apocalypse, but when they were both renewed/expanded in 2011, they represented smart decisions that were rather pleasant.

    You keep using that word.

    Anybody else remember how The Phantom Menace was, according to Republicans, part of an anti-Bush conspiracy? I mean, it's not my favorite in the series, but a conspiracy?

    By the way, about Hersh, I have two words: [citation needed]
  14. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
  15. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    According to a poll I saw yesterday on Yahoo news, 62% of the public back the President on the contraceptive issue. The Catholic Church hierarchy are far out of touch with the public's mood. 62% also means a lot of Catholics are behind the president on this one.
  16. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    A poll I found said that 98 percent of all Catholic women have used contraception at some point in their lives. I think it's only the really extreme Catholics who oppose it. Otherwise, given that Catholicism is still the majority denomination in the US, we'd have a lot more families with 7-8 kids.
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    According to a poll I saw yesterday on Yahoo news, 62% of the public back the President on the contraceptive issue. The Catholic Church hierarchy are far out of touch with the public's mood. 62% also means a lot of Catholics are behind the president on this one.

    Ah, you mean THIS poll?

    YAHOO NEWS! Poll: Americans Divided Over Contraception Mandate
    By Devin Dwyer | ABC OTUS News ? Tue, Feb 14, 2012

    The American public is narrowly divided over an Obama administration mandate on contraception coverage in employer health plans that had initially applied to all religiously affiliated groups, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

    Among the 62 percent of Americans who have heard about the mandate, 48 percent said they support an exemption for religiously affiliated institutions if they object to the use of contraceptives, the survey found. 44 percent said the groups should be required to cover contraceptives like other employers. Opposition to the mandate without a broader exemption for those with moral objections is strongest among religious Americans, according to Pew. Fifty-five percent of Catholics who have heard at least a little about the issue favor an exemption, while 39 percent were opposed, the study found.


    So, of the 62% who are even aware of the issue, 48% percent side with giving the church and exemption, and 44% say they shouldn't be allowed to have one. It's pretty close, with 4% more favor granting the exemption. Among Catholics, 55% favor an exemption, 39% were opposed.
  18. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I would suspect he means either the New York Times/CBC Poll or one of the various ones published by PPP since this developed. All show a clear majority of all voters (and Catholics) supported Obama's position(s).
  19. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    I guess my problem in general is that there are women who need contraceptive medication for non-contraceptive reasons. Sandra Fluke, who was apparently denied the opportunity to testify in front of Congress today, appeared on The Ed Show, and talked about how a Georgetown student was denied contraceptive coverage and ultimately lost her ability to reproduce because she lost an ovary to a cyst that could have been prevented by contraceptive medicine. I'm sure there are million holes in the story, but it illustrates a valid point.

    Religious freedom is important, but it must be weighed against the Government's interest in making sure women have greater access to contraceptive medicine.

    I mean, it would be like if a church could prevent a women from getting a life saving operation because they don't believe in "modern medical science."

    So I think it is a good compromise here, because the Church won't have to directly pay for contraception coverage, but women still get covered. This issue seems to now be turning against the GOP. Rick Santorum I believe supports the notion that the government has the power to ban contraception, yet this idea was "crazy talk" according to Mitt Romney. So the longer this drags out I think it may end up helping the Dems.

    Now I also don't think it was a good move to deny any women from testifying before Congress, the press and the Dems have had a field day with it, giving the hearings more negative GOP coverage than they otherwise would have ever gotten.
  20. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    This is kind of already the case with Jehovas Witnesses and blood tranfusions, although that is more a case of the inability of the government or the courts to compel a person (excluding minors) to receive a blood transfusion because of their religious convictions rather than the inabvility to provide the blood transfusion. But certainly the church condemns blood transfusions and urges the faithful to choose death over a blood transfusion which they believe condemns their immortal soul or some other nonsense.

    Perhaps, for Jehova's Witnesses any coverage which includes blood transfusions will be similarly rejected.

    This is true, but the test is whether the government has implemented the least restrictive means of pursuing that compelling goverment interest, at least where the RFRA applies.

  21. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    2 things here, OWM..In the first case, I think your scale is off:

    I mean, it would be like if a church could prevent a women from getting a life saving operation because they don't believe in "modern medical science."

    This wasn't close to the original situation. Didn't you have prior criticism about using hypothetical examples that hadn't happened? Nothing "life threatening" was ever involved, and no access was ever prevented. So your analogy would be more accurate to say that it would be like if the Catholic Church refused to provide its employees with free cable TV as an employee benefit, and then equating that to a case of censorship, when all the employees have to do is go buy whichever cable they want on their own.

    So I think it is a good compromise here, because the Church won't have to directly pay for contraception coverage, but women still get covered. This issue seems to now be turning against the GOP. Rick Santorum I believe supports the notion that the government has the power to ban contraception, yet this idea was "crazy talk" according to Mitt Romney.

    Yeah, and I already agreed about the compromise. I don't know if you think that I agree with Santorum, but this is a time where I wish you didn't characterize things in such and either/or manner. I don't disagree with Obama simply because he's a democrat, and suddenly agree with Santorum because he's a republican. I wouldn't agree with a ban on birth control anymore than I agree with an order which forces people to provide it, because they're both extreme ends of the issue. Just allow people to do what they want. If someone wants to go get it, have at it. If someone else doesn't want to, that's fine as well.

    But see, this is where I also don't agree with the spin in some of the points you make. Because according to your own standards, if Santorum wants to ban birth control and another compromise is reached, he should be the one who gets credit for making it possible. Because on one hand you can't say "if Obama didn't issue the original restriction in the first place, there wouldn't even be a compromise," and put a positive spin on it. (which is rather circular logic to me) Remember? If I didn't steal your wallet, then I wouldn't be able to give you back the $20 I took from it.... But then criticize Santorum for calling for something just as restrictive on the opposite side, and putting a negative spin on it. Both Obama's original decree, and Santorum's personal viewpoint are just as far-reaching to the respective parties involved.


  22. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    So, the religious freedom of Catholic institutions (EWTN or Catholic Charities) is justified on the basis of an opinion poll? In that case, then perhaps the passage of Proposition 8 via referendum should stand as well.

    You can't have it both ways.
  23. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    [face_laugh] That sounds like a real "gotcha" on the surface.

    But stating how certain subjects are in line or not with majority public backing is merely an observation.

    100% of my co-workers wish they had Presidents' Day off. Observation, not a call to boycott the working day, you know.
  24. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The point Lady Sami seems to be making with that post is that the church hierarchy appears to be out of touch with public consensus, that is all. That's hardly surprising given that the Catholic Church hierarchy is led by Ratzinger.
  25. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    I'm a 'she.' And it was the other poll, CBS News/New York Times.

    The religious freedom of any group is trumped when they try to force what they believe on those who don't believe the same way. Freedom to believe also implies the freedom NOT to believe.

    And, yes, it was meant as just an observation.