Sunday, February 26, 2012

Health is not a moral issue

I am proud to call Missouri my home. I’ve lived here practically my entire life. Yet it seems that at nearly every turn, our state’s leaders are all too happy to paint a black eye on the state and embarrass us in front of the rest of the nation.

No one is worse than Senator Roy Blunt. Recently, Blunt made headlines by attempting to push an amendment to the Affordable Care Act through Congress that would allow any employer to refuse coverage to employees for any health service if the employer morally objects to it.

This came in response to a federal regulation that requires employers and insurers to provide contraception to employees as part of their health care plans. Even though contraception is a legitimate and useful part of preventative health care (such as preventing the formation of ovarian cysts, for example), leaders in the Catholic community insisted that making such treatment available amounted to “the rape of the soul.”

The Obama administration devised a practical compromise. If a religious employer morally objected to providing contraception as part of a health care plan for its employees, it would be exempted from the requirement. Employees could still obtain free contraception, however, directly from the insurer who administered the employer’s health care plan. Everyone wins – employees retain access to the best health-care options available, and religious zealots don’t have to have their souls raped (whatever that means).

But this wasn’t enough for the moral crusaders of the Christian community. This is where Blunt entered the picture and attempted to allow any employer to impose their moral beliefs on their employees and deny them their right to health care.

This is not meant to be an attack on religious people. After all, 98% of Catholic women (according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute) have used some form of birth control during their lifetimes, even though such practice is expressly forbidden by the Catholic church. However, this is an attack against those who falsely insist that their “religious liberty” is being denied if they cannot impose their morality on those who follow their own moral codes. Who are they to define morality for the rest of us?

For example, let’s say I’m an employer and I provide health insurance to my employees. I consider it immoral that people binge eat or gorge themselves on junk food to the point that they develop diabetes, so I refuse to cover any form of diabetes testing or treatment to my employees. Of course this is downright asinine and incredibly callous, but I insist that this is my “moral right.” Is that any dumber than refusing to cover contraception because I don’t believe in premarital sex, or refusing HIV screenings because I think homosexuality is a sin?

Remember, Blunt is attempting to allow any employer to refuse any treatment for any condition, if it presents a moral qualm. His legislation would allow employers to wage war against diabetics, homosexuals, 98% of all Catholic women – essentially anyone deemed not to live up to their moral standards.

This is perhaps the most mean-spirited endeavor the Republican Party has ever undertaken. Even as they shrill that President Obama engages in “class warfare,” Blunt and his followers are all too happy to divide America into the moral and immoral. Apparently only the former group is entitled to full health care coverage.

Again, I have nothing against religious people who wish to live by a moral code devised by desert-dwellers who lived 5,000 years ago and knew nothing of modern science or medicine. As Americans, they are entitled to this right. But this right begins and ends with their own bodies. The moral crusaders of this country have no right to impose their antiquated beliefs on those who define their morality differently than they.

We should all have a right to the best health care available in this country. Not just Christians, not just moral people – every American. Blunt, on the other hand, believes that the rights of those who invoke their religion to impose their narrow-mindedness are more important than the health of everyone. His behavior is cruel, inhumane, and an embarrassment to the state of Missouri and our entire nation.


  1. The repubs are unrelenting in injecting their religion into the political arena. The more they speak of these beliefs, the deeper the hole they dig for themselves. South Dakota actully had a bill on the table to allow murder for abortion doctors. It failed miserably but that's the mindset we're up against,they think they are speaking for the majority which is an illusion. The more they debate the more optimistic I become. Santorum would bomb Iran as his first order of business.

  2. Totally agree on the optimism part. I actually just got an email today from the Obama campaign asking why I haven't contributed any money to them. I honestly don't find it necessary when the Repubs are already dumbing themselves into a guaranteed loss this year.

  3. I get them everyday, I sent $10 but the requests are unrelenting. Since I live at below poverty level, I've done more than the average income level. What do you think about an Obama+Hillary as VP ticket? I think it would be unbeatable.

  4. Nathan, I got the same email asking me why I didn't contribute. So I wrote them a few paragraphs saying that I was a college student and that due to economic conditions I was unable to contribute and would not be contributing. Basically, I said, I am poor. Leave me alone. I'll donate if I can, but it is most likely that I won't. Shit, we all have bills. Might have been cynical of me- but is the Administration really grasping how hard up Americans are? Especially students- who look forward to budgeting to repay their mortgage, I mean, degrees until we die.

  5. It'd be nice to see Hillary as VP, but ultimately unnecessary. Changing VPs would be taken as a sign of weakness by the GOP, and there are plenty of mouth-frothers still out there who would become re-energized by the chance to vote against another Clinton. I'd rather wait for her to run for Prez in 2016.

  6. Well it may be unessessary if the repubs continue to commit hari-kari, but she's not getting any younger, and it would be another first for the U.S.and she's well qualified. It's time for the good ol' boys to hang it up.

    The progressive Observer has left the building, when you don't get herded into G+, you're restricted to only use one G product, that's another story:)


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