I arrive at the same conclusions as White Coat Underground. Female contraception is important and should be covered as part of basic health care. However – importantly – this is not because I feel that any political opinions with irreconcilable differences are somehow inherently invalid. WCU discounting the legitimacy of opposed political arguments seems far too over-zealous, to the point of actually being inaccurate.
The political is odd, in that it seems patently fringe . . . If the argument is, ‘don’t use my taxes for stuff I don’t like,’ then what they really are saying is, ‘taxation is illegitimate.’
No doubt some people really feel that way, but at a more moderate level, that argument is actually perfectly valid. The essential point of any representative government is that we agree to pool our resources for expenditures we cannot individually meet. The US goes further and allows people to designate where their tax dollars go. There is nothing “fringe” about someone accustomed to this wanting their money going to uses they approve of. WCU would probably not object to someone protesting that their tax dollars, in the Kissinger years, went to funding some third-world dictator; the core idea that we are on some level responsible for what our tax dollars do is the same. We must allow that conservatives as well as liberals may feel guilt over what their dollars do.
If the Church, through one of its institutions in the US decides to provide health insurance (a morally laudable practice) they cannot discriminate based on sex. That’s against the law, and not morally laudable. If they are truly serious about removing all hints of support for contraception, they must eliminate all insurance coverage.
Discrimination “on the basis of sex” uses “sex” in the meaning of the biological component of gender (gender encompassing various cultural aspects.) It does not literally mean on the basis of having sex, but I suspect WCU knows this and is being deliberately obtuse.
Treatment has never been all-or-none, and any implication that it must be is ludicrous. Would we say that a Jehovah’s Witness who refuses a blood transplant should be denied other forms of medical care, because he is making things difficult by choosing not to engage in treatment that his religious authorities have deemed blasphemous? No? Would we understand if a Jehovah’s Witness church declines to have a fundraiser for blood transfusions? Then why is it morally permissible for them to pick and choose treatments on religious grounds, but not the Catholic church? Further, if withholding service at any time is bad, why is it morally acceptable for observant Jews who are doctors to avoid working on Saturdays? Cultural and religious nuances have always existed. They certainly make things a lot harder on those providing care, but unless you are wildly at odds with the medical establishment, you probably try your best to accommodate those with religious views even if those views are incomprehensible to you.
Again, with another example: suppose a friend of mine goes to a hospital for a minor burn he got while we were grilling burgers. I feel bad because it was my grill, and pay for the bill. Suppose it is discovered at the hospital that he also has some major issues threatening to kill him, and he needs emergency surgery. I decline to pay for that. Is it reasonable to expect that if I pay for some of his treatments, I must pay for all of them?
I understand, of course, that if a provider is the only provider in the area (or the only one available), then they ought to be compelled to provide the full gamut of medical services – anything else would constitute a de facto abrogation of the patient’s right to choose. If a health care provider is the only available provider of coverage, the same standard should apply. But in a city where dozens of alternatives exist, why is it an issue if one place chooses not to provide certain medical services?
For that matter, is it in any way unethical or illegal to only provide some medical services because you don’t have the machines or trained personnel needed for others? I have read accounts by physicians who were not able to go through with things like emergency thoracotomy surgeries for knife wounds, because they were not trained specialists in chest surgery. As no one else was available in time, the patient died in at least one of these cases. Yet despite that, this was not considered unethical or illegal. Can we not consider the religious “inability” of certain people to do things along similar grounds?
Political convictions aside, there are many practical reasons to prescribe hormones that have little to do with actual contraception, and it is the myopic conflation of the two that is the biggest threat to informed public discussion here. (Ideological mud-slinging is perhaps a close second.) I suggest that the public is poorly educated about medicine and equates all uses of birth control pills with birth control, as the flap about contraception in the UK shows. (I assume that the UK public is not substantially less educated than the American public on this topic, and will be delighted to be proven wrong.)
WCU’s medical authority is clear, but I fail to see that the reductionist interpretation of opposing views presented is anything but deliberately putting words in their mouths. Personally, I’m all for basic health care including reproductive health care because not everyone lives in a city with access to lots of different providers, and because many women need reproductive health care for basic life concerns like ovarian cysts, very irregular periods that could threaten their health, and so forth. I’m certainly not for it because I can’t see the legitimacy of people arguing they should have some say over where their money goes.