It's unfortunate that I have to do this, but I need to preface this by saying that I'm pro-choice, and if I had a company that could afford to do so, I would offer health care coverage that would cover birth control (although not abortions). That being said, I think it's absolutely wrong for the government to force a church to provide health coverage that covers birth control, in most cases. The difference in my reasoning, though, is that it has nothing to do with religion.
It's not that I don't respect the religious argument. I do. It's long been a part of our legal system to give exceptions to strongly held beliefs, as I think it should be. A good example that comes to mind are conscientious objectors during war time.
It's just that I don't think the religious argument is at all necessary here. What it really comes down to here is, I don't think that the government should be able to tell an employer that they have to cover elective procedures or treatments.
Like a majority of the country, I do not agree with the individual mandate. But, also like the majority of the country, I agree with much of the rest of the healthcare bill (I refuse to call it Obamacare) passed a couple years ago. Among the parts I do agree with are the places that make it so employers who can afford to are required to help their employees acquire health insurance. This is a long overdue reform. It's ridiculous that we have allowed our healthcare system to get so rotten that tens of thousands of people see their financial lives torn apart each year because of medical cost-induced bankruptcy.
But there is a fundamental difference between requiring employers to help their employees get health insurance that covers necessary medical procedures needed to keep them alive and healthy, and elective procedures.
To be clear, when birth control is deemed the best treatment available for a medical ailment (for example, I understand this is the case with some forms of hormonal imbalance), or emergency contraceptives in the case of a rape, then I think no employer—not even a church or otherwise religious institution—should be able to get in between a doctor and their patient. The same logic holds for me in the very rare situations where a pregnancy is deemed a threat to the life of the mother, in which case only the mother, spouse, or medical guardian should have any say at all in the matter.
There is no right to birth control, abortions, or any other form of elective treatment, any more than anyone has a right to stop someone from procuring such treatments should they choose to do so. But having the freedom to go out and procure either does not, in any way, shape, or form, imply that they then have the right to demand someone else pay for it.
This is where President Obama and the Democrats go horribly wrong. I'm not going to put words in their mouths—here's how the president described his reasoning:
Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.
Preventive care is his reason. Think about that for a second. While you're letting that sink in, I'll let the administration speak for itself again. This is what Obama administration's own Healthcare.gov defines preventive care:
Under the Affordable Care Act, you and your family may be eligible for some important preventive services—which can help you avoid illness and improve your health...
Pregnancy is not a disease, nor is it unhealthy. Barring cases like I previously mentioned, it's absolutely normal and healthy, and avoiding it is nothing but a personal choice. As I said above, if a doctor believes that birth control, or an abortion, is medically necessary because of a medical reason, or emergency contraception in the case of a rape, then nobody should be able to stand between them and the choice of their patient. But saying that anyone has a right to elective treatments is the height of liberal entitlement. This last point was illustrated nicely in a recent post by Michelle Goldberg, over at The Daily Beast, who said:
...make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination.
I can't even bring myself to call this stupid logic. There is no logic to this at all, which isn't exactly unusual coming from Goldberg, in saying that it is somehow discrimination to not cover an elective medical service...because it only is used by women.
Nonetheless, I sat down and tried to come up with some similar treatments for men, just to be fair. The closest thing I can think of that would apply to men would be the male equivalent to getting their tubes tied, and these male contraceptive pills that are apparently coming to market soon. The exact same utter lack of logic is required here to justify why the government should pay for this as well. If men want to get a vasectomy, then more power to them—their body, their decision. But their choice to do so does not create a mandate for other people, much less taxpayers, to pay for it.
Pregnancy is not a disease, and it's... mind boggling to me that I even have to say that.
I know there are a lot of people out there that feel differently, but it is quite natural and healthy. It's beyond ridiculous to claim that birth control should be classified as preventive care, and even more absurd to claim that it is discrimination to not give elective medical services away because they only apply to one gender. The government shouldn't pay for that little blue pill some guys need from time to time, for vasectomies, or any of these male contraceptives that are coming to market. As with so much else on the Left, they mistake a right, meaning nobody should be allowed to stop someone from doing something, with a right to be given. The Right grossly overuses this term when attacking the Left, but in this case it is spot on.