[caption id=”attachment_4142” align=”alignright” width=”225”] Photo of a condom vending machine in Shanghai by Augapfel.[/caption] I have to admit to being a little torn over the contraceptive mandate.
On one hand, I believe contraceptives are critical for the health and economic security of both women and families. I also believe that family planning is something that ought to be decided by the families in question and not left up to religious leaders or legislators.
On the other hand, I have a strong belief in religious freedom. Requiring employers to pay for health care that violates their religious mandates just doesn’t seem right.
On the third hand, these employers are making decisions for employees who might not have any other good alternatives. If religious leaders and legislators should not be making your family planning decisions, what should give your boss the right?
The contraceptive mandate is a place where three powerful concerns meet. Religious liberty, personal liberty, and the public interest are at conflict. But this is a conundrum that we’ve created for ourselves by asking private companies to do the government’s job. If our health care was socialized instead of private, we could discuss covering birth control in a public and democratic forum rather than relying on the values and moral codes of business owners.
People would (probably) still be funding birth control against their will through taxes, but the responsibility of making a direct decision for or against birth control for other people will have been removed from them. And Christians, at least, gain plausible deniability through Matthew 22:15-22.
The employer mandate for health insurance was put in place to avoid creating a socialized system where the government would handle these issues directly. But health care is a need and something the government has a strong interest in, so government is going to have to heavily regulate how and what health care is provided no matter who is doing the work. So if employers fill the need, they are going to have to fill the need no matter what moral objections they may have.
The best way to solve this moral conundrum is to fix it so the employers don’t have to be involved at all.