The Obamacare birth control mandate now lies in tatters after President Trump announced new exemptions so broad that it is now basically unenforceable.
Why he didn’t do this on his first day in office I don’t know. It should not have taken the new president nine months to deep-six this blatant violation of the First Amendment. But better late than never, I suppose.
Not that this fight is over. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the next Democratic president will reinstate the mandate. It will surely rear its ugly head again if we don’t put a stake through the heart of this un-American diktat. The logical solution seems to be a full repeal of Obamacare but apparently Republicans—who represent a majority in both houses of Congress!—can’t close that deal. Pathetic.
Predictably, anti-theist groups are up in arms over the decision. This isn’t about birth control for them, you see, it’s about bringing religious people to heel. The goal is to sweep believers to the margins of society by forcing them to either bend a knee to the almighty state or give up their livelihoods. Their endgame is to render the Constitution’s free exercise clause a dead letter.
As usual, the anti-theist groups have spun freedom on its head in order to portray liberation as oppression and vice versa. “Preserving religious freedom does not mean expanding the right to impose beliefs on others,” said Larry T. Decker of the Secular Coalition. “It means ensuring that all Americans have the right to make medical decisions without interference from anyone else’s religious or moral beliefs.”
It takes a certain chutzpah to demand that your employer cover a raft of birth control methods while simultaneously insisting that he doesn’t have a say in your “medical decisions.” If Larry Decker and the organization he speaks for don’t want their bosses in their bedrooms I would suggest that they pay for their own damned birth control. That’s kind of the way it used to work before 2012, which wasn’t exactly the dark ages.
Until Trump’s most recent executive order the cost of birth control was borne entirely by the employer. The whole point of the mandate was to ensure that women received birth control “with no out-of-pocket costs.” The insurance company certainly wasn’t picking up the tab so that means that the employer paid for the whole thing.
This was not a case of politicians playing Santa Claus and giving away money from the public treasury, as they so often do. This was much worse. This was politicians demanding that someone else pay out of their own pocket for other people’s freebies. Doesn’t the person having his wallet lifted have the right to raise his voice in protest? Well, no. According to the Left, that would be imposing his morality on others.
The only person being imposed upon by the Obamacare contraceptive mandate was the employer. Before it came into existence, all parties—the employee, the employer, and the insurance carrier—were frech to do as they wished. Many employers did cover birth control but it was their prerogative. Insurance companies were free to offer or not offer birth control. Employees were free to find another job or pay out of pocket. Rumor has it that a month’s worth of birth control pills costs nine whole dollars at Target! That’s pretty steep, I know.
Whenever crybaby liberals can’t impose upon other people they claim that someone else is imposing upon them. For their benefit, I will provide a handy how-to guide for identifying who is imposing upon whom.
It’s pretty simple. Every time a law is passed, consider what is being prohibited or mandated. Then look at whom the law is incumbent upon. That’s the person who can rightly claim an imposition. That does not mean that that imposition is always unwarranted but it does indicate whose liberty is being abridged. It’s sometimes necessary to think this through because liberals so often portray the one imposing as the one being imposed upon.
The Obamacare birth control mandate is an excellent example. Mandates, by definition, force people to act against their will. Some religious employers oppose all forms of birth control, some oppose only those that dislodge a fertilized egg, and some have no problem at all providing birth control for married couples but don’t feel comfortable subsidizing the sex lives of their unmarried employees. The birth control mandate forced all of these employers to shut up and financially support what they considered immoral. All of the coercive force here was exerted on the employers.
With the stroke of his pen, President Trump made that coercive force disappear. Now no one is imposing on anyone! Pretty cool, huh?
Liberals intuitively understand this, I believe, even if they pretend they don’t. It’s in our American DNA to put a libertarian frame around our arguments: “I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t impose on me!” That formulation loses all meaning when the word “impose” is twisted to mean its exact opposite. What liberals really mean is “I don’t care what you do as long as I can continue to impose upon you!”
If this construct were somehow turned against them they would surely understand that this isn’t a “live-and-let-live” attitude. For example, if someone were forcing them to pay for their employees’ guns they would say “Not on my dime!”—and they would be right.
The contraceptive mandate’s poster girl, Sandra Fluke, offers a real life illustration. In 2012, Fluke testified before Congress about the difficulties of going through Georgetown law school without access to free (to her) birth control which was not covered by the university’s health care plan. Did she not know before matriculating that Georgetown is at least nominally Catholic? Apparently, she did know. According to a Washington Post article—which is not, as far as I can tell, an editorial though it reads like one—Fluke researched the school’s health plan before attending. “I decided I was absolutely not willing to compromise the quality of my education in exchange for my health care,” said Fluke.
By “health care,” she didn’t mean real health care. She wasn’t asking for anything that would prevent or treat illness or injury. What she meant was that she was unwilling to compromise the quality of her education in exchange for her sex life.
But Fluke was still completely free to get her freak on. That was not the issue. She could have a) bought her own birth control pills (which, again, cost about nine dollars for a month supply at Target) or b) chosen a different university. But that would have required her to make choices. She wanted it all and she wanted someone else to pay for it—in this case, the Catholic Church and its members. That makes her a very entitled brat.
Let’s stop and ask ourselves who is imposing upon whom here. This woman could have gotten her pills elsewhere—and presumably did. Even so, she expected the government to shove its way into Georgetown, overrule Catholic doctrine, and force them to fund her sexcapades. For five years, that is exactly what the government did. The imposition here was entirely one-sided.
Naturally, government coercion is occasionally necessary. All laws impose on someone and I’m not completely opposed to that; only an anarchist would be. Freedom should be abundant but it shouldn’t be unlimited. Even so, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bamboozled about who is being imposed upon in a given scenario. If the government is telling me that I have to shell out my money to buy someone else’s birth control—or guns, private school tuition, whatever—the government is imposing upon me. If the government stops forcing me to shell out my money, that does not mean that I am now imposing upon the person who is accustomed to getting free stuff at my expense. It means that the imposition has ended.
The end of the birth control mandate—if this really is the end—is a national blessing. It does not mean that anyone is cramming his morality down anyone else’s throat. Quite the opposite. We are freer and better country without it.