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Archive for the ‘health care’ Category

Contraception NOT a health issue?

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I’m a white male who has been complaining about the male-dominated discussion about birth control over the past weeks. But I’m still going to write about birth control and pregnancy. You can skip this if you want.


I don’t know who Conrad Black is. According to his Wikipedia entry, he is Canadian, is the Baron Black of Crossharbour, and was once the third largest newspaper magnate in the world, which coupled with his 80s movie villain picture doesn’t give me a favorable impression of the man. Anyway, he wrote an article titled Obama: Leviathan 2012 for the National Review, which included the following sentence, and I am aghast at such a statement:

“Birth control is not a health issue at all; pregnancy is not a disease or an illness and termination of it is not a cure to a medical problem.”

He is, of course, discussing President Obama’s tussle with the Catholic Church over paying for birth control and the “Pearl Harbor nature” of such a move. And that he takes the side he does is not controversial or alarming. We just disagree.

But in doing so, The Baron seeks to disassociate pregnancy and birth control and women’s issues, as they say, from real health problems, and portrays women fighting for these issues as nothing more than noisy, pestering “abortion tigresses” infringing on the rights of the the Bishops of the Catholic Church and undecided voters. This almost knocked me out of my chair. The idea that contraception and pregnancy, that reproductive issues in general, are not health issues is a  horrible, vile idea. And anyone who has seen the potential impacts of a pregnancy on a woman and still believes that pregnancy and birth control are not health issues should be ashamed of themselves.

It doesn’t matter what one thinks about free access to birth control, employer paid reproductive /abortion services, religious freedom vs. government mandates for birth control coverage, or anything on the that issue. Such things are not related to the question of HEALTH.  But to frame the argument that pregnancy and birth control, even abortion, are not health related is a fiction, and an incredibly dangerous one at that.

I found Conrad Black’s article in the National Review quite disgusting. Not the politics of it but the way he speaks about women and pregnancy. Maybe it’s because I’m young, and there’s just a generational difference on such matters. Maybe it’s because I work in non-profits, and he’s a Baron and wealthy newspaper magnate. Maybe it’s because I fail to understand the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t know. But when I read this, I see language that should make people very nervous:

By misrepresenting contraception as a health issue and hiding abortion behind it, and unleashing the feminist ravers as the shock troops against the religious denominations to shred the First Amendment, it will propose a giant step in the complete emasculation of any independent religious moral authority, or any institutional dissent from the absolute moral fiat of the federal state.

Ho. Ly. Shit. As Mrs. TRC pointed out, for Mr. Black these challenges from the wild and crazy women to the religious status quo are equivalent to becoming an effeminate, un-whole, castrated male.

Access to birth control is a health issue. And  pregnancy is not a disease, but is a dangerous health issue. All it takes is one rip in the condom, one failed birth control pill, and a woman’s life is in danger. The idea that pregnancy is just a happy-go-lucky process to bring smiling babies into the world is wrong. It’s a serious health issue. Preventing unwanted pregnancies is a serious health issue. And pretending otherwise does no one any good.


Written by Christopher ZF

February 24, 2012 at 16:40

God vs. Health Care Reform.

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Relative to: A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law based on its infringement on those who deny health care for the sake of God’s healing power.

This is very interesting. The most compelling argument yet that I have encountered against the mandate to buy health care in the US comes from a lawsuit put forth by the American Center for Law and Justice (Pat Roberstson founded). The suit argues on behalf of five individuals who can afford health care but do not purchase it because , as one plaintiff put it, “doing so would indicate they need ‘a backup plan and (are) not really sure whether God will, in fact, provide.'” Three plaintiffs in the suit uphold this notion of God alone as doctor. The two other plaintiffs believe in holistic medicine, and treatments often not covered by insurance in the first place. All five stated their intention to pay the fine rather than purchase mandated health care coverage, which is their right.

How can one argue with this? The Commerce Clause is pretty strong, and in my opinion will result in the health care law being upheld by the Supreme Court when it gets there, but only against terrestrial arguments such as interstate commerce, prior federal mandate requirements, etc. Not to mention, I believe the law has a lot of good in it, and when the nation finds out about the good it contains, they will be loathe to see it repealed. But these things can be argued. We can disagree about what is protected by the Commerce Clause.

But how can I argue against the right of an individual to deny the purchase of a service because they believe that God provides that service better? That I do not believe in such a God is of little consequence, I imagine. That if there were a God I would likely think s/he would tell these people, yes, I am healing you through the doctors I put on earth so if you have insurance that would be a lot cheaper, also doesn’t likely have much weight in such an argument.

Is there a way to overcome such a dispute? This is a sincere question, because I would like to know: where is the common ground here, when religion argues against federal policy? Framing constitutional arguments around a religious belief, well, muddies the waters. It is fascinating that such philosophical disputes make it to our court system, and that is a sign of something good. They also make good political and religious theater and provide bloggers and talking heads content for their nightly reading.

At the end of the day,  I think such arguments are  naive. This is not to question the faith of these individuals, but to challenge that, when, one day out of the blue, you have a loved one on the table, it might be a lot harder to say: do nothing, God will heal. As the judge in the case, Gladys Kessler, put it: “Individuals like plaintiffs who allege now that they will refuse medical services in the future may well find their way into the health care market when they face the reality of illness or injury.”

Written by Christopher ZF

February 23, 2011 at 00:08