Friday, February 1, 2013

Bone Thrown

Wonkblog has posted news of a modification to the Obama Administration’s odious contraception mandate. (h/t Mark Shea.) My analysis of the Wonkblog report is below.
Under the policy proposed Friday, self-insured plans opting out of contraceptive coverage would notify the company that administers their health benefits. That third-party administrator would then be responsible for arranging “separate individual health insurance policies for contraceptive coverage from an issuer providing such polices.”
What are the details of this “notification” process? I suspect there may be cooperation with evil concerns, depending on how it works. My question is this: Does the notification boil down to checking a box that says “We oppose the contraception mandate and will not comply” or checking a box that says “We will not be providing contraception coverage. Please provide separate coverage for our employees.” Because if it’s the latter....
Insurers who create these plans for self-insured companies will receive an offset from the federal government: Lower fees to sell plans on the new health exchanges run by the Obama administration.
This is a real improvement over the prior “compromise.” Now, instead of using an accounting gimmick and passing on the cost of the “free” contraceptive coverage to the institutional clients, the cost of the “free” coverage will be borne by the taxpayer. As the Magisterium has determined that we may pay taxes even when the state is engaged in, e.g., unjust war, torture, drone bombings of innocent children, etc., I think it’s fair to assume that taxpayer support for the evil of contraception will be sufficiently remote cooperation with that evil to allow those of us able to avail ourselves of this new policy to sleep somewhat easier.
The Becket Fund, which represents most of the non-profits suing the White House over the mandate, said the new rule “does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans.” However the same statement noted the firm “continues to study what effect, if any, the Administration’s proposed rule has on the many lawsuits” involving Becket’s clients, including Catholic news organization EWTN, evangelical Wheaton College and Ave Maria University.
This is, of course, the key point. This looks like a *small* step in the right direction, but it’s parsecs from being close to enough. The real question, as Mr. Shea points out, is whether this is a sign of retreat, or a tactical concession designed to make the Administration look moderate so it can now begin to twist the knives into the Hobby Lobbies of the world in earnest.
Many women’s health groups quickly supported the new policy. “Today’s draft regulation affirms yet again the Obama administration’s commitment to fulfilling the full promise of its historic contraception policy,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said. “Thanks to this commitment, most American women will get birth-control coverage without extra expense. Increased access to birth control is a huge win for women and is necessary to prevent unintended pregnancy — a goal on which both pro-choice and anti-choice people ought to agree.”
Well, if the female reproductive system chemical and surgical self-mutilation advocates (ahem, “women’s health groups”) support this, then we can assume that the correct answer is “tactical concession.”

Side point: I’m willing to concede that in a pluralist secular society, contraception ought to be legal, for the same reasons narcotics ought to be–as I posted about recently. But my next instinctive move is to ask, since it is an evil vice–at least as much as narcotics–whether we ought to have high sin taxes on it–or *really* high sin taxes on it. The idea that the state would not only allow, but actively *fund* sin is a sad symptom of the depths of our decadence. I wonder if Ms. Hogue has any allies among advocates of legalizing prostitution who think the state ought to be funding–or forcing employers to fund--that, too. Y’know, “health advocates.” Sheesh.

“Today, the Administration issued proposed regulations regarding the HHS mandate. We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later,” [Cardinal] Dolan said in a midday statement Friday.
Fair enough. I shall await the guidance of the bishops before finalizing an opinion on this. As always, there is a Magisterium–and it ain’t me.

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