Pathetic is a very strong derogatory word, but I think it’s apt when looking at Kathleen Sebelius’ defense for the Obama administration’s recent mandate that all employers must purchase insurance that provides their employees with birth control, sterilization and morning-after pills. A fisking is in order (all hyperlinks in original omitted):
One of the key benefits of the 2010 health care law is that many preventive services are now free for most Americans with insurance. Vaccinations for children, cancer screenings for adults and wellness visits for seniors are all now covered in most plans with no expensive co-pays or deductibles. So is the full range of preventive health services recommended for women by the highly respected Institute of Medicine, including contraception.
[Don't you love that concept of "free"? In fact, nothing's free. It's simply that the plan shifts the cost from employee to employer -- so that the employer has less money for salaries, other benefits, new job creation, facility maintenance, etc. But it's all good in Obama-land. I also like the way that the only one of the "full range of preventive health services recommended for women" that Sebelius names is the fairly non-controversial "contraception." To those who haven't been paying attention to the details, the message is clear: all those conservatives are getting their knickers into a twist for nothing.]
Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their lives. And we have a large body of medical evidence showing it has significant benefits for their health, as well as the health of their children. But birth control can also be quite expensive, costing an average of $600 a year, which puts it out of reach for many women whose health plans don’t cover it.
[Again, in a marvel of sleight of hand, Sebelius is pretending that this whole uproar is about nothing more than contraception. As a matter of law, deceit includes misrepresentation through omission. This is deceitful. Also, note that careful language, to the effect that "birth control can also be quite expensive." Aside from the fact that those are wiggle words, she's doing the same thing that Babs Boxer did, which is to try to cast this as an economic issue, when it is, in fact, a much deeper one: the morality and Constitutionality of forcing religious institutions to subsidize a doctrinally offensive practice.]
The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control.
[Is that all she's got? The fact that for some people birth control can cost $600 per year is her entire "public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception" is her justification for a vast cost-shifting program that requires practically every employer in America to subsidize insurance that covers women in the workforce between age 16 and menopause? Remember, this "clear" case will cost employers a bundle, a cost that will inevitably be shared out to old people, infertile people, gay people, celibate people, etc. How nice of Sebelius, secure in her own lack of logic, to recognize that her little economic scenario might offend core religious beliefs. Fear not, though. She's got an answer for those offended people.]
That’s why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations.
[We covered this often, so I won't go on at length. The exemption is so narrow that it pretty much covers only the smallest of churches, the one staffed by two nuns and a priest, all three of whom do the janitorial and grounds maintenance work too.]
In choosing this exemption, we looked first at state laws already in place across the country. Of the 28 states that currently require contraception to be covered by insurance, eight have no religious exemption at all.
[This one really steamed me. Someone in the Obama administration forgot to read the Constitution. You see, states have broader rights vis a vis individuals than does the Federal government. This makes sense because (a) the feds have more coercive power than the states and (b) it's easier to relocate from a state you don't like, than to be forced to emigrate from a country that's oppressing you. If Alabama is too rough, go to California. If the Obama government is coming after you, though, it's a lot harder to find a safe haven.]
The religious exemption in the administration’s rule is the same as the exemption in Oregon, New York and California.
[See comments above.]
It’s important to note that our rule has no effect on the longstanding conscience clause protections for providers, which allow a Catholic doctor, for example, to refuse to write a prescription for contraception. Nor does it affect an individual woman’s freedom to decide not to use birth control. And the president and this administration continue to support existing conscience protections.
[Again, sleight of hand. What doctors can or cannot do is not the issue. The issue is that faith-based organizations are being forced by the federal government to subsidize a product that offends core doctrinal beliefs. If that isn't a violation of the First Amendment, I don't know what is.]
This is not an easy issue. But by carving out an exemption for religious organizations based on policies already in place, we are working to strike the right balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing women’s access to critical preventive health services.
[To which I have a last word: Feh!]
To its credit, USA Today, which hosted Sebelius’ advocacy piece, openly disagrees with her — and provides a link to its opposition right in the body of her dishonest little essay.