Contraception and the Constitution (or, another post I never thought I would have to write)

Now I am not trying to be a dick here, or anything (wordplay) but I think it is important to actually discuss the current ‘debate’ over birth control, the Catholic Crutch (no typos here), and the U.S. Constitution.  First, let us look at the relevant text.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” and then it continues on with several more things that nobody seems to care nearly as much about the protection of.  Notice that there is nothing there about not paying any taxes, seriously, nothing.  That has been based on various questionable court decisions and bizarre tax code regulations that, if correctly enforced, would cause a lot of churches to actually lose their tax exemptions.  However, I am not here to talk about whether or not churches should pay taxes (they should) but rather whether or not insurance providers should be required to provide birth control to their plan purchasers.  Which seems like a really stupid question, because it is.  First, if a Catholic chooses to buy birth control, let us be clear that it is their decision, they are exercising their religious freedom in this situation; it is not an infringement of the right of the church to keep them from doing so.  The First Amendment was not written to protect the rights of churches from the desires of their followers, but to prevent a situation similar to what England had gone through with both the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

From a certain court-established viewpoint, one which I do not necessarily agree with, I can understand the objection to the contraception decision in its previous state, in which the religious organisation (not church, churches were already directly exempt) was required to pay the cost of the contraceptive care.  However, in the revised plan, if the religious organisation may choose not to pay for it, in which case the cost must be covered by the insurance company.  Which, to most people in touch with reality, seems like a perfectly reasonable agreement between a forward thinking government and a religion bound up in ancient conventions (although not specifically encoded to reference birth control in 1965) that were, and still are, intended for the purpose of expanding a certain notoriously greedy theocracy’s population and therefore (very directly, both in olden times and now) financial assets.  Same as multiple marriages and kids for Mormons; more Mormons = more money for the Mormon leadership.  But I digress. At issue here is whether or not this arrangement violated any constitutional right: to which I can only say that there is no remotely factual interpretation of the above mentioned amendment that can be interpreted to conflict with this. A strict constitutionalist would argue that, as it clearly not only applies to all religious organisations indiscriminately but does not directly require them to take any action at all, there can be no conflict there. A more adaptive ‘living constitution’ argument would reason that the intentions of the founders were not to enable religious leaders to force their beliefs on the employees of their hospitals and charitable organisations to adhere to their belief structure; but quite rather to prevent that type of thing. This is without taking into account that many of these groups receive huge amounts of federal funding; and whether or not that gives the government a right to say how they spend it (it does).
If you really want to know why this argument is is being given any kind of credibility at all, what really needs to be examined is the giant piles of cash the congressmen who are so incensed, particularly Darrell Issa, receive from the health insurance companies each year. These piles are huge, and can be seen in the voting records of those in question, which unilaterally favor deregulation and oppose requiring health insurance companies to cover anything they don’t want to, or God Forbid offer services for free. In short, the Catholic leaders are really just a political tool of the corporate wing of the republican party to continue to expand their bottom lines at the expense of the taxpayers. So, basically, business as usual.

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