Fortnight for Freedom Issue #10: The High Personal Costs of President Obama’s “Free” Birth Control.

by Richard M. Doerflinger

(This was written before the implementation of the now infamous HHS Mandate.)

On July 21, the health news site Natural Society. . . featured these breaking news headlines: “Newer Birth Control Pill Linked to Higher Risk of Blood Clots”; “Birth Control Increases Risk of Contracting, Transmitting HIV”; and finally, “Medical Panel Pushes for Free Birth Control for Women.”

Hmm, one might ask, who was on this medical panel? Dr. Kevorkian? But no, it was the Institute of Medicine, advising the Department of Health and Human Services on “preventive services for women” to mandate in virtually all private health plans under the new health care reform act.

HHS says it delegated this task to the IOM so people would see the outcome as based on “science” rather than politics. But IOM’s report seems based less on science than on the ideology of authors who share Planned Parenthood’s view of sex and procreation, several of whom have served on the boards of PP affiliates and other pro-abortion organizations. The report says enhanced access to contraception will reduce abortions, though there is ample evidence against that claim (PDF).

In fact, the panel recommends that health plans must cover all drugs approved by the FDA as prescription contraceptives – including the newly approved “emergency contraceptive” called Ella, which like RU-486 can cause an abortion weeks into pregnancy. When asked about a conscience exemption for those who have a moral or religious objection to this, an IOM spokesperson said it wasn’t her panel’s job to take account of other people’s personal “feelings.” Many fear HHS will take the same approach.

Secular news media – Time, U.S. News, USA Today, L.A. Times – obediently repeated the panel’s public relations message that it is offering “free” birth control for women. That message is nonsense. Currently women who want birth control coverage pay for it through their premiums, and sometimes also have a co-pay or out-of-pocket expense. Under the new mandate they will still pay for it, but the cost will be buried in the overall premium – and everyone else, including churches and other religious employers as well as individual Catholics, will be forced to pay for it in their premiums too, so payments coerced from those who object will make birth control coverage a bit cheaper for those who want it.

And what about the “cost” in women’s lives from those blood clots and cases of AIDS? Researchers have known about both problems for years. In 2005, for example, a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control noted: “The positive link between pill use and HIV infection was… supported by a meta-analysis of 28 studies, including seven prospective studies.” Most American women haven’t been told this. Ironically, other “preventive services” recommended by the IOM include screening for sexually transmitted diseases. But why would you mandate something that can cause what the other services on your list seek to prevent?

The other big “cost,” of course, is the cost to freedom of religion and respect for conscience. Though not alone in its view, the Catholic Church has long been prophetic and counter-cultural in warning that artificial contraception and sterilization do not enhance women’s well-being. No American, of course, is required by law to believe that teaching. But should the government, in the name of all Americans, now coerce even the Church’s institutions into acting on the opposite view — when the evidence supporting its message is stronger than ever?

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Seen on the web: Cocktail napkin math on the estimated cost of the abuse scandal.

Cocktail napkin math follows. Your results may vary.

Largest US diocese (LA)

$660 million paid to settle 100s of cases.

227 million paid by insurance.

60 million from religious orders by agreement.

123 million expected from litigation against religious orders not part of the deal.

The diocese was left to pay $250 million out of its own coffers. That covers cases going back many years.

4.7 million Catholics in L.A.
31% average weekly attendance.

c 1.5 million Saturday/Sunday attendees per week.

Avg donation $5 per week.
Average haul overall $7.5 million/weekly
$390 million per year.

64% of the total collection plate haul for one year would cover 40-50 years of abuse settlements.

But the church has bank accounts, investments and significant real estate holdings that they have been liquidating. The church and parishes also pick up a lot of money from non-collection plate donations: wills and bequests, a variety of fund raising operations, large direct donations and even private grants. So the amount coming out the collection plate would be far less than 64%, even if one year of collections was used to pay the entire settlement spanning decades.

They’re in a cash crunch, but they don’t need to confiscate the collections. Most of the money from the collection basket still goes to parish operating costs.

Link

Corporate president explains, “Why I’m Not Hiring.”

Meet Sally (not her real name; details changed to preserve privacy).

Sally is a terrific employee, and she happens to be the median person in terms of base pay among the 83 people at my little company in New Jersey, where we provide audio systems for use in educational, commercial and industrial settings.

She’s been with us for over 15 years. She’s a high school graduate with some specialized training.

She makes $59,000 a year—on paper. In reality, she makes only $44,000 a year because $15,000 is taken from her thanks to various deductions and taxes, all of which form the steep, sad slope between gross and net pay.

Read more. (It gets pretty ugly!)

Old School Values

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 Old School Values.

April 2, 2008

My old Catholic elementary school has been struggling, and that’s not good for anybody. St. Germaine School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will merge with another Catholic school because of declining enrollment at both schools. St. Germaine’s enrollment dropped from 172 students just six years ago to 86 this year.

Sister Dale McDonald, Director of Public Policy and Education Research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told me that declining enrollment is a national trend. Though there is some growth in the South and the West, Catholic schools are shutting down at the rate of more than 100 per year.

Why? Catholic families are having fewer children. Costs have gone up — health care, teacher salaries, liability insurance — driving tuitions up. And Catholic families aren’t as attached to their parishes as families were when I was a kid.

For more on the subject of modern Catholic schools, click here.