February 5, 2013
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Yes, it’s only a pill. (Phillipe Huguen/Getty Images)

It’s another great day for reproduction fans in the PostScript bunker, where today we examine the mirror image of yesterday’s discussion. While yesterday publicly Catholic columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. declared an acceptable peace treaty in the War over Religious Employers Subsidizing Coverage for Birth Control (WRESCBC) and the commenters signaled their willingness to fight on, guerrilla-style, today Catholicism expert columnist Michael Gerson declares the WRESCBC IS NOT over, and the supposed terms of peace Versaillesish (in another, sadder reflection of yesterday, PostScript is disappointed to note she is not the first person to write Versaillesish. Sailles.) Oddly enough, commenters today still want to fight the war some more, presumably until someone wins, let’s say Thursday.

The most disturbing part so far has been the implicit notion that somehow PostScript’s employer approves of all the depraved ways she currently uses her health insurance, such as stockpiling nitroglycerin for the apocalypse. PostScript is very disappointed in her employer.

The debate covers two thorny issues. Whether an institution — a benefits department, say — can have religious conviction; and if your employer-provided health insurance is yours or your employer’s. Let’s try and work these questions out for good before they become irrelevant on Thursday.

mbcullen says this conflict is symptomatic of our health-care system and won’t be resolved with this ruling:

Not many people can afford to go outside their employer’s health insurance plan. Which is why it is silly that employers get to dictate the health coverage of their employees. Single payer is the solution.

cprdcnats says employer benefits often support political/social causes:

For years we’ve been hearing liberals demand businesses care about more than the bottom line. And a great many businesses have followed up by promoting their own values. For example, environmentally conscious businesses have provided benefits to their employees for use on public transit (but not driving, because that would go against the values they’re promoting.) Or consider the fitness conscious businesses have provided benefits to their employees for use on gym memberships (but not fast food, because that would go against the values they’re promoting.)
But apparently liberals can’t tolerate these businesses who have values and care about more than the bottom line.

edallan says it’s essentially already been decided by the courts:

To the best of my knowledge, religious organizations that don’t believe in insurance are NOT exempt from making the employer contributions to Social Security for employees who do not belong to the same faith group.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/455/252
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/rulings/oasi/45/SSR82-44-oasi-45.html
So in the case of developing a “work-around” for contraception, the Obama Administration has gone a lot farther than the Supreme Court, apparently, unanimously decided over twenty years ago.

drbilllemoine has an example even already involving public money and private religion:

Just like federal dollars follow parochial students for transportation in Everson v Board of Education of Topeka, federal healthcare must follow employees in Catholic-oriented organizations and businesses. No church-state prohibition can deny a woman the healthcare she is guaranteed by the Constitution. She must have access to ‘pursue happiness’ and not be oppressed by legal rule of her healthcare by her Catholic employer. Very simple–one woman, one citizen with guaranteed healthcare option.

JosephGAnthony characterizes religious organizations as benefiting mightily from tax policies to the point that you could call it federal subsidy, which by the Catholic Church’s own argument would give the government a say in what the money funds:

An individual’s right to contraceptive coverage is not forfeited simply because she or he works for a government-subsidized institution—hospital, charity, etc. Obama has given those institutions a face-saving way to be “pure”. Just as the church can pontificate about birth control and Catholic women can go about the business of living in a real world, controlling, as best they can, the number of children they conceive.

Dliodoir says the reverse. Churches do so much public good–essentially saving the taxpayers money for welfare, Medicaid, etc., that they have earned the right not to be forced to pay for what they don’t use and/or don’t condone:

The Catholic Church is the largest provider of health care, educational and other charitable services in the country after the government and the vast majority of the beneficiaries of their charity are not Catholic. Every day these people do good work for others, they serve others and help others because of it.

And sjq294 argues that there’s a moral way out of the problem already for the Church:

Obamacare does not force an employer to offer health care coverage. The employer may opt out and will likely pay a penalty. Thus religious organizations uncomfortable with the rules regarding contraception can decide not to offer health care coverage and pay the tax penalty. The employees can get coverage through the health insurance exchanges and each employee can decide the morals of using contraception. Morally the employers should pay the difference between the tax penalty and the savings by not offering health care coverage as increased employee wages, of course.

And then, muses PostScript, the money from the fines can be put into welfare and Medicaid, so that the government can pay for its own mandates and not rely on moral-strings-attached charities for the services it wants its people to have. There, we solved it! And it’s not even Thursday yet.