2/10: Health care and religious institutions

Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The new federal rule requiring religious schools and hospitals to include birth control and other reproductive services in their health care coverage continues to draw headlines.

Today,  Atlanta’s Catholic archbishop writes about the government’s “dangerous interference” with religious groups, while a local  Baptist pastor says the law is “essential” and fundamentally fair.

What do you think?

32 comments Add your comment


February 9th, 2012
10:11 pm

It seems rather disingenuous to imply (or state) that failure to mandate contraception coverage will leave large numbers of women unable to obtain birth control. Low-cost (or free) contraceptives have been available for decades for those whose income is insufficient to purchase them at regular cost.

On the other hand, to require Americans to provide and financially support something to which they have religious objections tramples the very fabric of our First Amendment freedom. When we had an active military draft, even during World War II, we allowed Quakers, Mennonites, and other pacifist believers to avoid the draft or to participate as non-combatants. We do not demand that Kosher delicatessens serve pork. Only by a court order can a Jehovah’s Witness be required to receive a blood transfusion, and that generally applies only to minors when a court believes their lives to be in danger.

How, in the 21st Century, one branch of our government suddenly decided that free contraceptives and/or abortifacients were a consitutional mandate that overrides the First Amendment boggles the mind.

TC in Atlanta

February 9th, 2012
11:07 pm

rc – very well said! I concur!


February 9th, 2012
11:10 pm

Come November, all incumbent elected public office holders seeking reelection should be voted out.


February 9th, 2012
11:50 pm

One could view this as an economic issue and view religious institutions engaged in commerce, mostly schools and hospitals, seeking a competitive advantage in their health care costs. Even so, maybe best to let the market sort it out and see who gets the best doctors, nurses and teachers.

Just a thought experimant.


February 9th, 2012
11:51 pm


February 10th, 2012
12:00 am

It is amazing that the government continues to expand into every area of our private lives. The relationship that a religious organization has related to the reproductive health of their members should not be any of the governments business. We once fought a war for independence to stop a small group of royals from controlling our lives. Now, I fear we have self established American monarchs who think they know what is best for us “serfs”.


February 10th, 2012
7:28 am

You don’t like the rules then don’t take the federal dollars.

Ronnie Raygun

February 10th, 2012
7:29 am

Sorry, you can’t use religion as a fig leaf to break the law. Or can I start a religion that says I can’t allow southern baptists in my store? Would y’all be okay with that too?


February 10th, 2012
7:36 am

You realize that it’s already mandated in 28 states, right? You realize GA is one of those 28, right? (Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 33-24-59.6) You realize it’s been mandated here since 1999…right? Where has all this outrage been in all that time?



February 10th, 2012
8:21 am

At first glance, I thought this is more “nanny statism” and a very serious encroachment on individual liberty. However, the population, locally and globally is growing faster than the natural resources to substain it.
CO2 emissions are contributing to GLOBAL WARMING that once it reaches the “tipping point” the earth will just continue to heat up. This winter has been the warmest in decades. WATER, already in the shortest supply in decades will just continue to decrease.
Ofcourse, without liberty, it is a bleak future anyway.


February 10th, 2012
8:30 am

I once said seasons greetings to a coworker only to have her look at me as if I had just committed murder. Later another coworker pulled me aside and said the person is a Jehovah’s Witness. Do you see where I’m going with this? Why in the hell do we who are governed by secular laws have to walk on eggs shells to keep from offending someone’s religious consicience? Beleieve what you want, but do not force me to treat you special because of your precious beliefs.


February 10th, 2012
8:35 am

This is a case of idiology trumping the practicality. People…do what you want. Use contraception or don’t. No one is forcing those who want or don;t to use it or not to. It’s contraception – it’s NOT that controversial a subject. Everybody has an ideological viewpoint (and all sides are reinforced by today’s divisive politics for the sake of vote-getting and ad revenues), but let’s be practical. It’s not necesary to force your ideological viewpoint on others in order to be free to choose whats right for you. Who CARES if churches have to offer this option or if they are free not to. With world population at 7 billion people, a little contraception is a good idea even for those who are willing to place utterly blind faith before their own species long term survival.


February 10th, 2012
8:42 am

Why do millions of women allow old celibate child rapists to tell them what to do about birth control? Are they that truly mindless?

J.R. Cash

February 10th, 2012
8:50 am

This issue is much bigger than contraceptives — this is a First Amendment issue. Can the government mandate that a Religious Institution provide services fundamentally at odds with its value system? If so, then religious freedom begins to bleed in the United States. As a Protestant, I am in solidarity with the Roman Catholic Church even though I have no moral qualms with the underlying issue of contraceptives (”First they came for the trade unionists, etc . . .”). We may be in for a future where Priests and Pastors go to jail as prisoners of conscience . . .


February 10th, 2012
8:51 am

Anything the Catholic Church officially says about the morality of, say, people using birth control carries zero moral authority until they clean up the appalling moral mess in their own house.


February 10th, 2012
9:16 am

The Catholic church is so out of touch on this issue. 98% of Catholic women use birth control. Why should they have to pay for it when others don’t. This is total BS.

Road Scholar

February 10th, 2012
9:41 am

Is the Catholic Church against the death penalty? Torture? Corporal punishment? (had my knuckles rapped by a nun as a child!)

How about child molestation and abuse? I think we know where they stand on that!

I wonder if an employee of a Catholic run organization would be fired for taking birth control? I mean , how could they work with “that” person?


February 10th, 2012
9:57 am

I am so happy that our government considers a pregnancy a disease, what a smart bunch they are… NOT!


February 10th, 2012
10:09 am

Georgia is dead last in financial security
By Craig Schneider

Georgians live closer to the financial edge than anyone else in the nation, and the danger extends beyond the poor to the middle class, according to a newly published in-depth analysis.

The study by the Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development ranked Georgia dead last in terms of the financial security of its residents, based on factors such as their high debt load, lack of savings and assets, and the prevalence of personal bankruptcies.

“This is not just people with a low-end job or people on unemployment,” said Kasey Wiedrich, a senior researcher for the nonprofit educational organization, which promotes economic opportunities for people with low incomes. “A lot of these families make a decent living, but they don’t have savings and they’re just getting by.”

The report reflected the devastating blows that have struck a state where unemployment exceeds the national average and major economic engines — real estate, banking and home construction — aren’t firing on all cylinders. The state ranked in the bottom fifth of states in several categories: poverty-level income (42nd in the country), bankruptcies (50th), poor credit (48th), overdue debt (48th), and households with neither a savings nor a checking account (49th).

Hey, who cares, as long as we have our mega churches and Eddie Longs and politicians trying to out faith each other- right?


February 10th, 2012
11:28 am

Get religion out of my government!


February 10th, 2012
11:36 am

Contraception is a choice and should be available in every medical insurance policy in this nations; just as the little blue pills the menu use. The “church” wants to compete in the marketplace for customers and their dollars, then they should have to abide by the same laws as everyone else.

We do not allow racial discrimination based on religion. We should not allow gender discrimination based on religion. Women, have for centuries been the victims of the “church’s” policy that has allowed rape, murder, torture, imprisonment, theft of personal property, the killing of women as witches or heretics, etc. Just because we don’t allow those activities anymore, is not a imposition on religion; we should not allow a religious afflication to dictate the type of medical care a women is allowed to receive.

What next, go to work for a boss who is a Jevoh’s witness and your blood transfusions are not allowed either on your medical insurance. Go to work for any number of doctors who are scientologist and don’t believe in the use of antibiotics, HIV drugs, transplants, etc and those things are going to be withheld also? Employers who try to dictate direct medical care via insurance coverage can find themselves liable for adverse events that occur in the employee’s medical lives.

But to allow a religious organization with such a bad history of mistreatment of women to dictate what thei drug coverage is going to be is folly. And, to allow this with the use of taxpayer dollars is unconstitutional as women would be subject to unfair and inequitable treament; not to mention having to pay the same insurance premiums as men, but not getting the services needed or desired.

This conscience clause is a ruse; where was the catholic church’s conscience when it allowed all of the child molestations to continue decade after decade. Where was the catholic church’s conscience when it transferred this pedophile priest from one parish to another unsuspecting parish? Where was the conscience clause when the bishops were shipped out the USA to avoid criminal procedings? Please, the conscience clause is being used to justify discrimination against women by an entity that is undeserving and corrupt at best.

The government of the USA is a secular entity and responsible to its citizens, and that includes women citizens. The laws of this land are for everyone; not religious entity should be allowed to discriminate against any citizen with the “blessings” of the government. And, if this entity is going to accept government money [in the form of Medicaide, Medicare, miliary benefits, grants, tuition and various taxbreaks], and also complete with the secular entities in the community, then is has to abide by the same laws as everyone else. It is my sincere hope that President Obama will continue to stand up for women and their rights to fair and equitable treatment irrespective of what a bunch of old celibate men want.


February 10th, 2012
11:48 am

The Southern Baptist Convention joined the Catholic Church in condemning the HHS mandate.
In fact, Richard Land of the SBC stated that if necessary “…we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail,…”.

This is not about contraception. It is whether the government can tell a church how to worship and prevent a religion from the “free exercise” of its beliefs.

The 1st Amendment is pretty simple: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof:”.

The Obama administration just lost a case on religion in a 9 to 0 verdict by the Supreme Court. The EEOC tried to tell the Lutheran Church who it must hire as ministers of the Church. 9 – 0 verdict.
Imagine Scalia, Thomas, Sotomayor and Kagan all agreeing 100%.

If this gets to the Supreme Court it will be the same.

That is why the Obama administration is backing off. The only question is how far they will back off?

Hillbilly D

February 10th, 2012
12:02 pm

For people who are supposed to be great communicators and have great political savvy, this sure is a ham-handed, tone deaf play that they’ve made. I reckon all politicians have a tendency to overstep their bounds.


February 10th, 2012
5:36 pm

In 1928 my father cast his first vote for Herbert Hoover because he did not want the Pope dictating policy to Americans I thought that was a silly notion. When John Kennedy ran for president he assured us that he would not use church doctrine to formulate his policies nor would he take his orders from Rome I believed him. Now, however, I am rethinking my attitude. It appears that the Vatican, through the Catholic bishops, is destroying the implicit agreement that allows non-Catholics to vote for Catholics, secure in the knowledge that we would not be forced to accept their dogma. . If they are successful in this endeavor I shall never vote for a Catholic again.

This regulation is part of labor law. The Catholic Church has interests in businesses other than schools, hospitals and soup kitchens. The Church once owned a girdle factory in northern New Hampshire.The exemption covers the areas where only Catholics are bound to be employed. If employees in other businesses owned by the Church are not covered by the same laws as everyone else it is their religious beliefs that are being violated, not the Vatican’s. The hallowed First Amendment does not allow one religion to dictate to all the others.

But the most disgusting thing about this whole brouhaha is the Republican spin being placed on it by right wing radio and TV. They misstate the facts and blare their specious conclusions ad nauseum. I’m beginning to think this could be a clever move by the Obama administration to lure them into opposing contraception thereby alienating most women voters.


February 10th, 2012
6:29 pm

Sex, contraception, abortion, addiction. As a nation we exhibit great confusion and duplicity about these things. Until we get them sorted out, safer to have no laws at all regarding them. Otherwise, enormous injustices, multiplied many times many, will ensue.

Michael H. Smith

February 10th, 2012
6:49 pm


The morning after pill is contraception that aborts life. Don’t try to force me to pay for contraception that aborts life. That may be your choice but it is not mine. You and others like you can pay for your own abortions.



Michael H. Smith

February 10th, 2012
7:02 pm

jconservative@ This is not about contraception.

If it were strictly about contraception and didn’t include the morning after pill or other abortion drugs or abortions of any kind I wouldn’t object but until these morning after drugs and or abortion procedures are prohibited in the law I vehemently oppose one penny of my money paying for these things by what ever government means are use to extract it. (Precluding my pre-ROE v WADE positions of course.)


February 10th, 2012
8:02 pm

The President certainly likes to spend other’s money on his image.

Road Scholar

February 11th, 2012
8:38 am

Good. Those against contraception can pay higher healthcare premiums. Also, if you can get this through your minds, is that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY IT OR USE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the reality of what is going on. Not having to buy something you don’t want….now that is oppression! Or, is the Catholic church going to check on their employees about their lifestyle and medicine use?

And I just love what the Repub candidates, esp Newt, are saying about KNOWING what President Obama is thinking and will do in his entire second term. Listen Bubbas…we are learning what the candidates are going to do and everytime they open their mouth, which makes them less electable. Oh, and Newt, while you are at predicting the future…I need just 6 good numbers to win the lottery.


February 11th, 2012
9:26 am

Churches want to get into politics and influence government as to what should and shouldn’t be done. But, now they moan and whine that government is trying to influence them? Oh, my heart aches for them (NOT!). Be careful what you wish for. The entire reason for the 1st Amendment edict of “religious freedom” is to not only protect the government from religious bias, but also protect the religious from government meddling. You can’t be political without accepting the consequences. The Catholic Church and the SBC have made their beds, with extra pillows even, in the political realm. Now shut up and sit down, you’re getting the consequences.


February 11th, 2012
10:33 am

This isn’t a women’s rights issue, it’s an issue of the government (obama) telling a religion that they have to do something that they are fundamentally opposed to. Period. This is an election year. EVERYTHING obama does is an attempt to improve his chance of getting re-elected. God help us if he does….

Michael H. Smith

February 11th, 2012
1:35 pm

This isn’t a one issue fight just over “the prevention of conception” those devices and or drugs are already available at health departments (publicly funded) and other charitable sources (privately and publicly funded)

Those who believe insurance companies are going to provide anything – pills or services – for free are DELUSIONAL IDIOTS. Not only will churches be forced to pay for services they object to for religiuos reasons, others who for reasons of moral conscience will also be forced to pay for not only birth PREVENTION drugs(which are already available free of cost to recipients) but so-called morning after pills which are ABORTION drugs that many of us object to paying for through the costs of “increased insurance premiums” as a result of this tyrant obumer’s fascist act on private sector insurance companies and against our rights of religion and or conscience.

We who have objections for the various reasons of religious convictions or moral conscience have every right to make those objections known (as often as we choose) and protest to keep government from forcing us to violate our convictions or conscience by funding things that we find morally unconscionable or unacceptable; and to YOU who tell us to shut up sit down or don’t be JUDGMENTAL, YOU can shut up sit down and stick your judgmental crap where it hurts!

Though I disagree with the Catholic Church on their dogma in regards to the prevention of conception and absolute prohibitions on all abortions for any reasons, I stand firmly with their rights of religious freedom to have those convictions and have them respected and protected from the police powers of government.
I offer the same support to those who object for reasons of moral conscience separate from any religions.