Hints of Things to Come with Public Healthcare

An interesting find by Joseph Bottum. Belmont Abbey College, an institution sponsored by Catholic monks, opted to remove provisions for abortion, contraception, and sterilization from the healthcare plan that it offered employees, as it must do as an institution run by believing Catholics. The matter will end up in court, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chimed in with this specious ruling:

Now, after a complaint was filed by eight faculty members, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that Belmont Abbey is discriminating against women: “By denying prescription contraception drugs, Respondent is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women.” Should the college and the faculty members who filed the complaint not be able to reach an acceptable settlement, the EEOC can file a lawsuit against the college in federal court.

Apart from setting an apparent precedent that any medical procedure relevant to only one gender must be covered on the grounds that the other gender isn’t affected by lack of coverage, the ruling contrasts explicitly with North Carolina law. An unelected federal board, in other words, is attempting to assert its authority above elected representatives at the state level.
This is one of those topics on which we must remind the ruling political faction that they will not always rule (no matter how confident “progressives” are that things will always move in their direction). Removed from all ideological specifics, the size and reach of the ever-growing federal bureaucracy cannot be otherwise than a suppressant of freedom.

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12 years ago

Um . . . how does the EEOC come to the conclusion that “men are not affected” by the women’s inability to obtain birth control pills?
Such prescriptions have utility only for women who are involved in sexual relations with men, right?

12 years ago

The EEOC is not known for thinking things through.
The EEOC is a well known dumping ground where politician deposit the most pretentious, gas-baggiest of their supporters in hopes of never seeing them again.
From my experience with the EEOC, the typical EEOC commissioner has a resume padded with level level govt’l administrative jobs lasting no more than 2 years each; weighs 230 or above; breathes strictly through his / her mouth; wears clothes two sizes too small; and is unable to pronounce or use any polysyllable word correctly.

12 years ago

Honestly, why work for a Catholic institution if you are not Catholic? As a non-Catholic, I have no problem with birth control or sterilization. As a non-Catholic I would also not choose to work for a Catholic institution because I feel that Catholics have the right to run their own organizations according to their rules. If this were a public institution, I would take issue with the policy, but the fact of the matter is that it is not a public institution. This is an example of the government trying to get involved with religious matters. This is also why I agree with separating religion from politics.

12 years ago

North Carolina law says that if an employer offers a health insurance plan with prescription coverage, it must include prescription contraceptives. There is an exemption for religious employers, but three criteria must be met:
The employer must be a non-profit organization.
The inculcation of religious values must be a primary purpose of the organization.
The majority of employees must be of the same religion as the employer.
The religious employer exemption does not apply if contraceptives are prescribed for uses besides birth control.
It doubtful that Belmont Abbey meets all three criteria, but but we’ll never know, since a 2007 NC Supreme Court decision, Harris v. Matthews, has led the NC Department of Insurance to decide that it cannot decide on issues of religious doctrine, exemptions, etcetera, of which contraception is apparently one. So for the NC legislature, it is back to the drawing board.
The EEOC decision against Belmont Abbey flows pretty logically from their previously stated (Dec 14, 2000) position applying the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and ‘pregnancy related conditions’ to prescription benefit plans. The Catholic Charity Decisions in California and New York, applying slightly broader state contraceptive equity laws, were against the Catholic Charities 6-1 and 6-0 (with one abstention). The US Supreme Court refused to review the decisions.

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