Thursday, March 8, 2012

No free lunch

The issue, which has been obscured by the Limbaugh controversy, is not the availability of contraception — which nobody has advocated outlawing, or even limiting — but the freedom of those with a conscientious objection to it not to be implicated in its provision. Rick Esenberg argues that there is another reason contraception should not be insured:
.... Insurance, properly understood, is a hedge against risk. You pay something now to be covered against an expense that is extraordinary and unpredictable.

You don't insure against routine and ordinary expenses. Our auto insurance, for example, doesn't pay for gas and oil changes. We don't purchase grocery insurance. To do so would not be to buy insurance, but to simply buy the right to have someone else pay our bills. Moreover, as the expenses that we "insure" in this way become more routine and ordinary, the cost of the "insurance" will come to approximate what we'd pay for the goods or services in the absence of insurance — perhaps a little more since we have to compensate the party who we have contracted to pay them for us. There is no free lunch.

Contraception is closer to grocery insurance than it is to insurance against, say, getting cancer or being in a car wreck. Most people will need it for a significant part of their lives and the cost is not high relative to the other goods and services we must obtain. Ms. Fluke's estimate of $1000/yr seems to be wildly overstated and there are, of course, alternatives to birth control pills that are extremely inexpensive if somewhat less desirable. Regardless of religious liberty objections, the case for insuring against the cost of birth control pills is weak. At best and even in the context of a student health plan, it is a transfer of wealth from students who are not sexually active to those who are. The "fairness" in that is not self evident. ....
Mollie Hemingway on how the press has managed to almost completely avoid reporting on the central issue:
By way of introducing what I want to talk about, let’s look at something I read on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page two days ago in “Bishop Dolan’s Liberty Letter: The Catholic Cardinal describes a chilling visit to the White House”:
The debate over the Obama Administration’s birth control mandate has been ingloriously fact-free, even more than usual. So amid demonstrably false claims about a plot to relegate women to the era of “Mad Men,” if not Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692, Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter on religious freedom deserves more readers.

“We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans,” the archbishop of New York wrote in a public epistle to Catholic bishops last Friday. It’s an eloquent and powerful document, though not one that received much of any media notice. “We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it,” he continues.
That this letter didn’t receive media notice is certainly true, even though it is defiant and accuses the White House of nothing less than asserting raw political power to achieve its goals. I mean, it’s juicy and salacious stuff, as far as these things go. But, you see, the media were too busy talking about really important things, like how to spin an unprecedented attack on religious liberty into something about Rush Limbaugh. Literally. And come on, what’s more important, the Constitution or talk radio? What’s more important, the way the White House treats religious liberty advocates or the way Rush Limbaugh treats abortion-rights activists? I think we all know the answer.

And so there was yet another media blackout of religious liberty activists. Today, I read a Religion News Service article headlined “White House insists contraception talks are on track.” Remember, it’s always about contraception, and never about abortifacients, sterilization, doctrine or religious liberty. .... [more]
Shark and Shepherd: Fluke and Limbaugh; Pills and Insurance, No such thing as free contraception » GetReligion