Op-Ed: Why isn't the media asking these questions about insurance SNAFU?

Posted Feb 10, 2012 by Bill Schmalfeldt
I must admit to a bit of frustration. I'm perplexed that none of the professional journalists, pundits and opinion makers are asking some simple questions that occurred to me the moment this Catholic/Insurance SNAFU popped up.
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We'll get to those questions in a second, but bear with me a moment.
Yes. Of course. The video that accompanies this op-ed is ridiculous. No way would the Catholic Church ever decide that "cancer is God's Will" and that treating it is a mortal sin. No way would the Catholic Church ever deny its employees the right to purchase health care insurance that covers cancer, right?
Because the rules of the Catholic Church are eternal and can never change, right?
Like eating meat on Friday. Used to be you would go to hell for that. Not any more. But that's a different story, right? That's not the Church just up and changing an eternal rule. Right? And if you are Catholic, remember when you were forbidden from eating for three hours before taking Communion? Another eternal rule, out the window. Like touching the Eucharist. You couldn't do that unless you were ordained. Now they let anyone touch it. Another eternal rule. Right.
So no way would the Church ever change a rule like one that makes birth control immoral when it's perfectly OK to interfere with the will of God by getting your cancer treated. Right? Right?
For the purposes of discussion, let's stipulate that Catholic employers have a moral problem with providing their employees -- Catholic and otherwise -- with health insurance coverage that would pay for contraception. OK. I get that.
But is it really an intrusion into a person's right to worship as he chooses under the First Amendment to require that all companies provide health insurance that covers all of a woman's health care concerns?
OK, you say that it is. Let's run with that. And let's throw in your argument that this isn't even really an issue of religion, but an issue of government getting involved in people's personal lives and intimate decisions.
OK. First question.
One's benefit package is considered as part of one's total compensation package. Would you support a Jewish hospital telling its employees -- Jewish and otherwise -- that they are forbidden to use any of the money they are paid by that hospital to purchase non-Kosher food? Would you support a Muslim charity telling its employees -- Muslim or otherwise -- that they can't spend a dime of their salary on non-Halal food?
Same difference. You are supporting telling an employee of a Catholic Church-owned employer that he or she is not free to use their health care benefit to purchase family planning services that are legal, safe, and used by a large majority of Catholics, but are forbidden by the Church. You are telling the Church that they are within their rights to deny their employees that level of care. They can use that part of their compensation that pays for their health insurance, but they can't use it to buy something that the Church deems non-Kosher, non-Halal, not-in-line with the Church's official teaching.
Next question.
How do you feel about the children of adherents to religions such as the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses who deny their children potentially life-saving health care services because these services run afoul of their religious beliefs? Your answer can not include any reference to the children being children. Parents have the ultimate authority, up to a limit, to decide such issues for their children.
Do you support the government intervening in the case of, say, a child with leukemia who could be saved by a bone marrow transplant when these religions forbid it?
If you do, then how is that interference by the government in the personal, religious decisions of a family more egregious than telling the Catholic Church they have to provide health care that offers family-planning care to the women who work for them?
Nobody is asking these questions. I would say "I wonder why," but I already know the answer.
You say the government has no business interfering into the personal faith-based decisions of people. What about two men or two women who want to marry? You say you are against legalizing gay marriage. How is that less egregious than telling Catholics they have to provide reproductive health services to their female employees? Is not forbidding two people who love each other from getting married not "interfering" in their personal, faith-based decisions? And don't tell me that it violates your faith when gay people get married. It only violates your faith if YOU marry a gay person against your religious beliefs. It does nothing to you on a personal level when gay people get married.
You say the government has no business butting into the personal lives of individuals. But you support making abortion illegal. Is that not a personal, faith-based decision on the part of the individual? If someone has an abortion, that doesn't affect you. Nobody is making you have an abortion. So, how is the government telling women they no longer have access to safe, legal abortions acceptable while telling an employer they have to provide basic health insurance that covers all a woman's health needs is not?
Or, are you saying that there is a level of interference in the legal, safe, personal faith-based decisions of individuals that you find acceptable? And where is the line? When a decision made by an individual doesn't affect you in the slightest, how are you harmed by allowing it to happen?
So... to sum up... how can you be in favor of keeping gay marriage illegal in some states, of outlawing abortions, of taking a child against the will of his parents and forcing life-saving health care treatments against the parents' religious beliefs and not be in favor of employees of a Catholic hospital having full health care coverage provided?
How can you say you would not support allowing a Jewish or Muslim organization to forbid its employees to spend their salaries on non-Kosher and non-Halal food when such purchases would violate the faith of the employer, but you would support the right of a Catholic Church-owned business to tell the women who work for it that they have to pay for family planning care out of their own pockets since that aspect of health care is against Catholic dogma?
In other words, how can you be such a hypocrite and still sleep at night?