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« Wheaton College Sues Over "Preventative Services" Mandate When The Hospitals of Chicago Close, What's Next? »

Op-Ed Wed Jul 18 2012

Op-Ed: Wheaton's Suit is Righteous

Today Wheaton College became the first Evangelical organization to join Catholics in filing suit over the HHS contraception mandate. At particular issue is the mandate's requirement that institutions provide their employees with access to contraceptive drugs, such as the "morning after" or "week after" pill. While these drugs do not terminate pregnancies once the egg is implanted, Catholics and some Evangelicals argue that preventing implantation is tantamount to abortion, making these pills abortifacients. While Catholics and Evangelical positions do not completely match on all aspects of contraception (views vary widely throughout Protestant denominations), they do agree on one thing — they want to right to have a position at all.

The Obama Administration has attempted to compromise by requiring that the insurance companies fund these drugs rather than the religious institution, but this is still unacceptable from a religious perspective. These insurance plans are not offered directly to the consumer from the insurance company. They are offered by the insurance company to the religious institution, and then from the institution to their employees. These institutions are still being forced to make something available that they believe is forbidden according to their religious principles, even if they may be seen as acting as a proxy. The government is, in effect, forcing these institutions into hypocrisy; "we disagree with this behavior, but we are going to provide everything you need to participate in it."

I realize that, from a non-religious perspective, the woman's right to choose is extremely important. No one is trying to invalidate that. Contrary to anything Rush Limbaugh has ever said, we can all exist in the same space. In order for that to happen, however, the non-religious must recognize that the faithful should also have a right to choose which moral behaviors they can endorse. In forcing these religious institutions to offer a product that directly contradicts their moral teachings, the contraception mandate is rescinding the foundational American right to religious freedom.

If insurance companies are going to pay for it anyway, why not just make these drugs freely available at any hospital, health clinic, or pharmacy and send the bill to insurance companies? These companies are getting a literally captive market from the Affordable Care Act, it isn't asking much for them to cover this small cost. At least that provides these religious institutions with a minuscule opportunity to stand for their moral teachings by saying that their plan doesn't cover these drugs even though they are readily available for free anywhere else.

Wheaton College's decision to stand for its convictions and join Catholics in the fight against the HHS mandate is a bold statement in support of freedom of religion and choice, and will likely encourage others within the evangelical fold to speak out against a violent government overreach. As an alumnus, I support Wheaton's decision and hope that the Obama Administration will take these lawsuits seriously and find a solution that will protect everyone.

~*~

Former Gapers Block staffer Conor McCarthy is a graduate of Wheaton College. He loves everything about Chicago except, of course, the unGodly winters. He founded, edits and writes for The Talking Mirror, an online humor and satire publication. He currently lives in Texas.

 

Disgusted / July 19, 2012 9:07 AM

Conor repeats the same lie as every right wing one: the school isn't being forced. Students are paying for insurance, health choices are legally private and personal - there's a ton of law and case law behind that. Thus students are free to choose whatever options the insurance offers and while middlemen may make financial deals they can't deny coverage based on religious beliefs.

This dishonest, ignorant essay is an embarrassment to Gaper's block. Under McCarthy's logic, if a college decided that cancer medicine was a violation of god's will, they could demand that an insurance company refuse to cover it.

That would actually be an awesome scam get students to pay for coverage which provides nothing on religious grounds.

Contraception isn't mentioned in the Bible. Slavery, not eating shellfish, not wearing blended cloth and hundreds of other literal laws are, yet I don't see Wheaton college banning slacks. Why not? None of these theocrats who seek to dictate behavior to others follow everything the bible says. They aren't acting out of faith, they're cherry picking and rewriting scripture to suit their own agenda. By my view, that makes them heretics. Freedom of religion is not absolute it means freedom to practice religion within the boundaries of society. If the practice of your religion involves interfering in other peoples lives, that's not covered. It's also not being religious, it's being theocratic. McCarthy's argument is essentially advocating for the Taliban.

America's founding principles, both implicit and explicitly, were about freedom from the religion of others as well.

Religious freedom doesn't include dominion over other people's bodies and choices. If you want that, go live in a theocratic dictatorship. This is America; everyone gets the same rights and limitations. I'm glad that Conor doesn't live in Chicago anymore, it's sad he doesn't understand Democracy.

MTDutch101 / July 19, 2012 2:15 PM

While I agree with a lot of the points that Disgusted raises above, I also think that trying to force Catholic institutions to cover something that is clearly against their doctrine is a bit silly. Let them have an exemption based on their religious beliefs, and let the market sort it out from there. As I see it, you have several options at that point. If you are a "believer" with the same doctrinal structure, you're on board with their stance on birth control, so no problem. If you are not, you have choices, such as paying for the excluded care yourself, or simply making different choices about working for or attending Wheaton College. For the federal government to waste time trying to force this position on religious institution seems an odd windmill to tilt at, in my mind.

Disgusted / July 19, 2012 4:14 PM

Okay first: THE PLAN DOES NOT REQUIRE INSTITUTIONS TO PAY FOR BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE. THE USER PAYS THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR IT DIRECTLY AND SEPARATELY.

Anyone who says this is about Wheaton having to pay for birth control is LYING. Last time I checked, false witness is a sin.

Second: "If you are not, you have choices, such as paying for the excluded care yourself, or simply making different choices about working for or attending Wheaton College."

Current economic conditions do not permit people to change jobs or schools easily, giving Wheaton
extra leverage to discriminate. Moreover, individual care is more expensive, even under reform.

This is discrimination, legally and morally. Interfering in someone's life to deny them choices and subject them to extra financial burdens is discriminating against them.

The religious freedom Wheaton is defending is actually the opposite. It's about imposing totalitarian beliefs upon the bodies of students and employees.

This isn't Christian, just misogynist and irrational prudery. As Conor admits the idea contraception is abortion is scientifically false, a lie. This is about preventing people from having sex without getting pregnant.

Such attempts to control another person's body violates the core concepts of America legally and morally.

If Wheaton college wants to be a theocratic totalitarian locale, perhaps it should go elsewhere.

If you believe people should to exert control over private body autonomy, then say so. Don't pretend it's about freedom, faith, the market or America.

Even churches they limited in what sort of controls they can place on attendees. The "market" has already spoken back when a secular government and society was created. If you want to live by a personal religious creed, that's fine, but with rare exceptions you don't get to impose it on anyone else.

C.L. Ball / August 7, 2012 1:30 PM

McCarthy raises a fair point: even if a religious institution is not paying for health care that it finds morally repugnant, it is still providing the policy for its employees. If the relationship between the insured and the insurer was truly independent, then it would not matter whether the person was an employee or not.

However, a religious organization has chosen to enter the healthcare market by virtue of its role as an employer. Religious organizations could contract out their work and avoid the employment-based healthcare regulations.

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