Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On Contraception, The New Culture Wars Frontier

Contraception:  The new frontier in the culture wars!

Imagine!  To be able to write that in 2016.  But so it goes, and of course the contents of the battles are different from the past:  Sluttery is now in the forefront of the war and the preposterous idea that health insurance should pay for contraception as it pays for Viagra, say.

But so it goes.  An example:

Colorado House Democrats passed a bill Tuesday they say will clarify the Affordable Care Act and expand the kinds of birth control available to women without a co-pay.
The bill drew just one Republican vote, Kit Roupe of Colorado Springs, which gives it dim prospects as it moves from the Democratic-led House to the Senate, where the GOP holds a one-seat majority and the edge in committees to bottle it up.

Republicans argued that the bill might permit people to get abortifacients — drugs that cause an abortion instead of prevent a pregnancy — through Medicaid or employer-supported health plans.
Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican from Colorado Springs who is outspoken against abortion rights, said taxpayers and employers shouldn't have to pay for what they might find offensive.

Bolds are mine.

Mmm.  I find many things my taxes pay offensive.  Wars, for instance, and I'm glad that Rep. Klingenschmitt tells that I shouldn't pay for wars.  And about those employers paying for all that sluttery?  It's called gross remuneration, my friends, and employees have earned the money.  If we took that argument to its extreme, then wage-payers could determine what you spend your wages on, in general.

But all is not doom and gloom in this battle.  Irin Carmon writes about the happenings in the Supreme Court in the Little Sisters case.*  The Court has asked the two sides for more information on their positions.  In my opinion it is asking if there is anything, anything at all, that the Little Sisters would accept:

Tuesday’s order seems to follow up on a question Justice Elena Kagan asked at oral argument: ”Is there any accommodation that the government would offer that would in fact result in women employees of your clients, or students of your clients, getting health care as part of an employer-based plan or a student-based plan, getting contraceptive coverage? Is there any accommodation that would be acceptable?” 
 Or:  If filling in a form is too painful for you so that your employees can get contraceptive coverage in their health insurance, what might not be? 

* I believe that this is part of the Zubik v. Burwell case?

Ian Millhiser summarizes the core issue as follows:

Like Hobby Lobby, Zubik concerns federal rules intended to expand women’s access to birth control. Under these rules, most employers must include a wide range of treatments, from childhood immunizations to cancer screenings to contraception, in the health plan they offer employees. Hobby Lobby held that employers who object to birth control on religious grounds may refuse to offer health plans that cover such treatment.
Yet Hobby Lobby also strongly implied that the government could use an alternative method to foster access to birth control. Under this alternative, religious objectors may either comply with the birth control rules or fill out a two-page form that exempts them from having to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. In most cases, the objector’s insurance company will then work directly with the objector’s employees to provide them a separate, contraception-only health plan. This fill-out-the-form option is now being challenged in Zubik by religious employers who object to doing the small amount of paperwork they must complete in order to receive an exemption.
Thus, if the Zubik plaintiffs do not prevail, the overwhelming majority of women will receive birth control coverage — albeit through a fairly roundabout method. If these plaintiffs do prevail, on the other hand, that decision could have sweeping implications that stretch far beyond birth control.

See here how Ian views the recent asking for information in this context.