The Return of Elise

Those of you who have been anxiously awaiting Elise's return from exile will find that she is up and running again.  She has a simple solution to the current debate about contraception:  Catholics should stop providing charity.

There is a sense in which that solves the problem, but it doesn't, really.  The problem isn't even employer-sponsored health insurance, although that is part of the problem.  Moving it to the government doesn't relieve anyone who pays taxes of material support for abortion.  That's why there are always debates about taxpayer support for abortions.

What really would work is for everyone who takes the provision of contraception and abortion to be a sacred duty to provide them on a charitable basis.  Just as the Catholics are providing hospital care to the poor, you too can give your money and time away.  If it is really that important to you, there are plenty of people out there right now who would be only too happy to accept your donation.

Then everyone who wants to obtain these things can obtain them; and everyone who wants to support them can support them; and no one is forced to violate his or her conscience over it.

The first step is to accept that some people really do believe that abortion is a moral horror, and that it isn't right to make them participate in it.

If you can't accept that, well, Elise has another good point  that might convince you instead.


Cass said...

I've stayed away from this issue because I don't have time to do it justice, but I will say this: I have a problem with saying that anything a religious organization does is "religion".

I can see lots of things churches might decide to do that in my mind are not essential to the free exercise of religion and thus do not deserve special protection under the 1st Amendment.

Mind you, I am also not convinced by the Obama administration's remarkable assertion that contraception falls under the rubric of preventative medicine and thus should be free. I don't think ANY medical care should be free and I *really* don't see how birth control qualifies even if you accept the dubious premise that preventative care ought to be free (which I don't).

So I'm torn on this one. I find neither side of the debate particularly convincing.

Grim said...

I think I can agree with everything you said. The problem with protecting every activity of the church is twofold: the one you cite, but also, the fact that individual lay Catholics may be private-sector employers. They shouldn't be forced to violate their conscience either.

If we had a requirement that birth control be provided "at cost," as we discussed earlier, then the cost is wholly borne by the individual choosing to use the stuff. That doesn't seem like an imposition on anyone to me. Like you, I don't see any reason why it should be free.

Alternatively, if it is important to someone that everyone have access to free birth control, private charity seems like a good way of achieving that goal. Everyone is free to give money to Planned Parenthood if they wish to do so, for example. If there are enough people who really believe this is important, it ought to be an achievable goal through private action. Using taxes means forcing people to pay in who have serious disagreements of conscience; there is no similar problem with private charitable donations.

Either way you get to a situation in which everyone's conscience is respected; in the latter case, you also get to universal access to free birth control, if that's important to you (as it is not to me, nor I gather to you).

Grim said...

By the way, it looks like donations to Planned Parenthood (like donations to the Church) are tax-deductible; if this is really important to people, though, why not make donations to either group targeted to health-care-provision efforts into tax credits? Then there's not even an additional cost to those who feel strongly about helping the poor -- helping them achieve either health or contraception, as the case may be.