Sunday, March 30, 2014

How the Obama Administration Completely Contradicted Themselves in the Hobby Lobby Case

This afternoon, I listened to the last half of the oral arguments on C-SPAN from the Hobby Lobby case where the owners of Hobby Lobby are trying to be exempted from having to pay for abortion-inducing contraceptives (are we really at this point in America?)

Apologies to my siblings for stopping on the channel and watching it for a half hour, but there are two other TV's in the house.  

I wanted to share an observation about how the Obama Administration completely contradicted itself in a major way.  

In granting a false compromise a year or so ago, the Obama Administration said:

"We'll make the insurance companies buy the contraception so that companies who have objections won't feel bad." (paraphrasing)


Everyone who has taken Econ 101 knows that Obama's plan is the same thing as the employer paying for the contraceptive, but the Obama administration said, and this is really important: 

"By providing contraception, the insurance company will save money in the long run by reducing costs (presumably they are referring to their fantasy of "less unintended pregnancies - completely debunked by science) in the long haul and balancing out, so there would be no costs to the original employer." (paraphrasing)

Now...to this week's Supreme Court case.  Follow it closely:



JUSTICE BREYER: Then [Hobby Lobby’s lawyer] says there is a less restrictive way, and the less restrictive way is the government pays for [the contraception].  Says it wouldn't cost much...I want to hear your precise answer to that kind of argument.

(Obama lawyer) VERELLI: you're talking about a very open­ended increase in the cost to the government.  Now, we don't know how much that cost would be... I can't tell you what that ­­ what that increased cost is going to be, but it could be quite considerable.

JUSTICE ALITO: I was taken by your answer.  I thought it was the government's position that providing coverage for the full range of contraceptives and other devices and drugs that are covered here is actually financially neutral for an insurance company, that that reduces other costs that they would incur.  (can I get a boo-yah!)


Justice Breyer saves the day and changes the conversation, thus preventing Mr. Verelli from having to answer the question 


This is hugely important because it undermines one of the Obama Administration's largest contentions in the exemption debate.  When the Obama Admin is talking about insurance companies, paying for contraception supposedly saves that company money.  When it is the government who is paying for contraception, the government (who is in the insurance business) will lose a ton of money???

Putting aside the fact that of course it would be wrong for the government to provide contraception, the Obama administration still completely contradicted themselves in this case.

Busted

44 comments:

  1. The way I am reading this the government did not contradict themselves. Contraception is expensive, but the cost saving benefits of limiting pregnancy expenses may make it a cost neutral expense. By shifting the cost of contraception to the government while the company enjoys the benefits of saving the pregnancy/childcare related expenses does not make it cost neutral to the public. I believe this is what the lawyer meant when he used the phrase "open ended increase". Also, Plan B pill is a contraceptive, not abortifacient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, but the government IS in the insurance business with medicare and medicaid and so forth, so if "contraception reduces long term costs" then the government should be fine with paying for the contraceptives themselves. Of course we'll fight that too, but I thought Scalia made a great point in pointing this contradiction out, and it is too bad that the Obama Camp was saved from having to answer the question.

      Delete
    2. Your right, the government is in the insurance industry. Medicaid does cover contraception, so the government does cover it. Hobby lobby was arguing that the govt should cover only their contraception cost, while hobby lobby gets any cost saving benefits from the contraception. This is an open ended increase where the govt pays the cost and hobby lobby would get cost savings. There is not a contradiction.

      Delete
    3. Well then I wonder why the government's lawyer didn't point this out when Scalia asked the question?

      It is quite clear that if contraception really saves money in the long run, and the government is in the long run insurance business, then it wouldn't be an open ended burden to the government, but would actually be a "brilliant" way to "invest in the long term cost savings for the United States."

      Of course the Church and others, and unbiased science has proven, that contraception RAISES costs over time. I ask this sarcastically: "How could telling kids that there is a fool-proof method to prevent pregnancy (that fails 5-15% of the time)...how could that go wrong?"

      Delete
    4. The govt lawyer didn't correct Alito because Breyer changed the subject, remember. I'm not arguing if contraception ultimately saves money or not, the research is too mixed. I just wanted to point out that there is no contradiction the way I was reading the argument.

      Delete
  2. Progressives will say ANYTHING to get what they want. For decades the baby killer crowd has used the "saving government and society money" argument to push abortion and contraceptives. Now when someone suggest that they put their money where their mouth is, the Progressives balk - all of a sudden the only "cost savings" is for businesses. This is so typical of Progressives, they love taking the property of others to fund their "causes"; especially those who don't support their "causes".

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw a great idea for a bumper sticker: How can someone's reproductive system be simultaneously 0% my business and 100% my financial responsibility?

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you think highly of Hobby Lobby, I read this from Mother Jones:

    The owners of Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft supply chain, were so offended by the idea of having to include emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices in their health insurance plans that they sued the Obama administration and took the case all the way up to the Supreme Court. But Mother Jones reported on Tuesday that the company’s retirement plan has invested millions of dollars in the manufacturers of emergency contraception and drugs used to induce abortions.

    Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) employee retirement plan holds $73 million in mutual funds that invest in multiple pharmaceutical companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and abortion-inducing medications.

    The companies Hobby Lobby invests in include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes the Plan B morning-after pill and ParaGard, a copper IUD, as well as Pfizer, the maker of the abortion-inducing drugs Cytotec and Prostin E2. Hobby Lobby’s mutual funds also invest in two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in their health care policies.

    Hobby Lobby’s attorneys argue that the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in their health plans infringes on the company’s right to exercise religious freedom because the company’s owners believe that emergency contraception and IUDs are actually forms of abortion. Medical studies have debunked this claim.

    Mother Jones reported that all nine of the mutual funds Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan holds include investments that clash with the owners’ religious beliefs about abortion.

    Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy! Gotta love them hippocrates eh Fr. Hollowell?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone who really believes this case has anything to do with religious freedom or pro life beliefs is extremely naive. This issue is only about the ACA and hobby lobby not wishing to provide all employees health insurance. It makes a mockery of religious freedom.

      Delete
    2. Hobby Lobby is only protesting having to pay for "contraception" that causes abortion - it causes an embryo to not implant, thus killing a child that has been conceived.

      Secondly, in the Catholic Church, we have what are called various degrees of cooperation with evil. It is virtually impossible to be completely disentangled from the culture of death any more, but there is certainly a difference between buying abortion inducing contraceptive pills and paying into a 401k for an employee. Here's an article from the federalist on this issue that I think is really well done: http://thefederalist.com/2014/04/02/hobby-lobbys-critics-have-no-idea-how-investments-work/

      Delete
  5. The way that emergency contraception such as Plan B works is by delaying ovulation and also thickening cervical mucus. An embryo never exists with plan b, so there us no abortion. When doing an honest comparison, plan b is much more like the rhythm method than an actual abortion. I've wondered why there has been such a fuss made about plan b given how it actually works. I think that it's because Plan B is ultimately controlled by women, and the rhythm method is ultimately controlled by men, and large scale patriarchal hierarchy such as the Catholic Church just cannot deal with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's just not true. Preventing implantation is the dirty little secret of emergency contraceptives, whether emergency or regular. Here's a great video about how it got taken out of our medical literature in our country (how sad!) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvWFJ7ExbTY

      Here's an article that rebuts the claim that "Plan B doesn't cause abortions" - http://www.lifesitenews.com/blog/is-it-true-the-morning-after-pill-does-not-cause-abortions

      Delete
    2. That's is not Plan B's primary mechanism of action. By your standards ibuprofen is a abortion pill.

      Delete
    3. Not their primary mechanism of action? So since causing an abortion is the third line of defense for plan b, it's off the hook for causing abortions because it only happens some of the time? Russian roulette only kills people one in six times, is it okay?

      Delete
    4. No, Plan B does not cause abortion. There is a decicive amount of evidence that shows that it works as explained above. That is why these medications are only effective for a few days. Here is a good article explaning the issue:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/health/research/morning-after-pills-dont-block-implantation-science-suggests.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      Delete
    5. The article I posted above mentions your article by name in refuting it. Did you read it? I read yours? Did you watch the video above about how there has been a conspiracy to cover up the "implantation prevention" mechanism of the pill? I'll watch whatever video you want me to watch from your side of the debate if you watch the one I shared with you.

      Delete
    6. I did not realize they were referring to the same article, so I apologize for that. I did read your article, but dismissed it quickly due to numerous flaws. As far as the youtube video goes, I don’t listen to conspiracy theories. I will read any scientific study with real doctors that you wish to share. First and foremost, there was no studies mentioned that refuted the NYT piece. They only mentioned unnamed “scientists”, which is always very fishy. They spoke theoretically and never backed up their opinions with any sort of papers or facts. 2nd of all, it basically dismissed the NYT piece simple because it was the NYT (because, of course, Life Site News is the news source all should turn to for unbiased, reliable information). Lastly, it is clear that their argument is mainly a religious argument, and I have a major issue for someone to make up a lie to cover up for their poor theology. The vast majority of evidence shows that Plan B effects ovulation.
      Mechanism of action of emergency contraception. Gemzell-Danielsson. Contraception. 2010;82(5):404.

      Delete
    7. 1) so Life Site News has nothing true, but the New York Times does?
      2) Of course plan B affects ovulation, but what ELSE does it affect?

      Delete
    8. So Fr. Hollowell, are you pro-life or are you pro-birth? Btw, Life Site News is COMPLETELY biased. One of these days, they will shut down and that will be time to celebrate.

      Delete
    9. Please elaborate on your question.

      Also, since you "all-capsed" completely, I guess that settles it. Lifesitenews IS completely biased and the New York Times, MSNBC etc. are agenda-free

      Delete
    10. 1. I never said Life Site News says nothing true. I found it troubling that their bullet point #1 on why the NYT article was incorrect was simply because it was the NYT. I also found it ironic that such an obviously biased organization would make that a central argument.
      2. The only other thing plan b affects is cervical mucus formation. Here is the abstract from the study I cited:

      A major barrier to the widespread acceptability and use of emergency contraception (EC) are concerns regarding the mechanisms of action of EC methods. Today, levonorgestrel (LNG) in a single dose of 1.5 mg taken within 120 h of an unprotected intercourse is the most widely used EC method worldwide. It has been demonstrated that LNG-EC acts through an effect on follicular development to delay or inhibit ovulation but has no effect once luteinizing hormone has started to increase. Thereafter, LNG-EC cannot prevent ovulation and it does not prevent fertilization or affect the human fallopian tube. LNG-EC has no effect on endometrial development or function. In an in vitro model, it was demonstrated that LNG did not interfere with blastocyst function or implantation

      Plan B does not affect implantation. That is why is only effective for several days and does not have a higher success rate. Think about it, if it were an “abortion pill” wouldn’t it work more often? I could give a list of studies that show the same thing. If you do not agree please provide a scientific reference and I would be happy to read it. If you cannot, and your entire argument centers around a huge “what if”, do NOT call plan b an abortion pill because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Delete
    11. I've never cared for the label "pro-life" because it is vague enough to allow mischief-makers to muddy the truth. Often we hear the silly formula of, "If you were REALLY pro-life, you would support [insert some government entitlement program of dubious value and relation]." There is nothing wrong with "anti-abortion" because it is specific and doesn't permit shell games. Consider the abolitionists. They didn't mess around with euphemisms like "pro-freedom" because they didn't want fog around the evil of slavery. Not that proslavery types didn't try. Read some of their pamphlets and you will see a similarity between their cry of, "If you were REALLY against slavery, you would give me fair market-value for my slaves and free them yourselves" and the canard we hear from abortionists, "If you were really pro-life, you would adopt as many as you can."

      Delete
    12. Well, it's a very simple question. If all you want is a child born, but not concentrate on whether that child is going to be fed, educated, housed, clothed, etc...then you are pro-birth. If you want the child born and fed, clothed, sheltered, educated, etc....then you are pro-life.

      Let's say that you have an 18 year-old woman who is five months pregnant. She comes to you saying she is homeless, has no money, doesn't have a darn thing. She wants to keep her baby, but due to the financial bind she is in, needs help. Big time. She just got done talking to Cecile Richards and Cecile offered to pay for an abortion. However, she wants to see if there are any pro-life people that can help. So she comes to you and your parish. Would you and your parish be so kind as to "adopt" this young lady to make sure she not only has her baby, but provide a financial means to ensure that the child is sheltered, clothed, fed, educated, etc...? Would your parish be willing to take up a second collection every weekend Mass to ensure this? Or would you tell her to "give it up" for adoption so you wouldn't have to deal with a problem like this? Finally, take a poll of all your parishioners next time you are giving a homily on pro-life issues. Ask them to raise their hands if they are "pro-life." I'm sure everybody in the audience would put their hand up. Then ask them to raise their hands to see how many of them would willing to have more money taken out of their paychecks(in the form of taxes) every year to ensure that children born from very poor single mothers are fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. I'll let you guess the number of hands that would fly up on that one.

      As for Life Site News goes; I never said that MSNBC and the New York Times were agenda free. They are just as bad as Life Site News.

      Delete
    13. Sorry, but that's just dumb. No one does more to house, clothe, feed, or provide medicine for people around the world than the Catholic Church. Ask any atheist who knows anything, and they'll be able to tell you who helps more people around the world than all other governments and charities... it's the Catholic Church. Proudly pro-birth and pro-life for over 2,000 years

      Delete
    14. And what does hardening cervical mucus do...it prevents IMPLANTATION. I can't believe a priest has to explain to people the mechanisms of the pill and plan B

      Delete
    15. Cervical mucus doesn't "harden", it thickens. And, it has nothing to do with implantation, just pregnancy prevention. I think I've discovered your problem.

      Delete
    16. Well, I think that's a dumb answer and you seemed to have sidestepped the question I asked you. Would you and your parish "adopt" this young lady? Forget about sending her to available Catholic Charities so you won't have to deal with her anymore. I'm talking about you and your congregation. I've heard of priests shelling out money from their own pockets to assist the needy. He didn't send them to any charity outfit.

      Delete
    17. Yes, any child is welcome to be dropped of at our parish for adoption. Cardinal Dolan put out a similar note a few years ago - any child could be dropped off at his rectory and he would see to their adoption or adopt them himself. In third world countries, priests will adopt children all the time because they have nowhere else to go. Here in the U.S. it isn't standard to have a priest adopt a child, because it isn't needed. If there were no one else, though, who we could place the child with, then yes, absolutely, I would adopt the child.

      Delete
    18. "harden" vs. "thicken"...I think I've discovered your problem too

      Delete
    19. It's not passing middle school biology.

      When you said that cervical mucus affected implantation I thought it was another silly sarcastic statement at first, but you were serious. Anyone who feels it's appropriate to lecture people regarding contraceptive use should at least have basic knowledge regarding reproductive biology.

      I'll say it again. Plan B does not cause abortion. I'm still waiting on your evidence to the contrary.

      Delete
    20. Fr. John Hollowell, M.D.

      Delete
    21. yeah, because you need to be an M.D. to understand that doing something to prevent implantation of a child causes the child to be aborted

      Delete
    22. Fr. Hollowell, An embryo implants in the endometrium in the uterus, not the cervix. Plan B only effects follicular development and ovulation, and to a much lesser extent cervical mucus formation. Cervical mucus has no role in implantation, only to help or hinder sperm passage into the uterus and fallopian tubes depending on the viscosity of the mucus. Sorry if those details are upsetting and that's why you never learned about the female reproductive system, but for someone who is very involved in the pro-life movement and contraception I’m sure you can take it.

      I understand that you disagree with this based on the notion that there is some wider government conspiracy to cover up Plan B’s role in implantation (but for some odd reason they don’t see fit to cover up copper IUDs impact on implantation). Assuming that Plan B only has an effect on ovulation and does not cause abortions, is there any theological reason to deny a woman the Plan B pill following a rape in hopes to possibly prevent a pregnancy?

      Delete
    23. so it is your position that Plan B does nothing to lessen the chances of an "embryo" (a person as we Catholics refer to "it") implanting?

      Delete
    24. Yes, I've said so many times in this comment section. It strictly prevents pregnancy, so a child is never conceived. Do you have scientific evidence to the contrary? Also, due to the fact that there is no abortion with Plan B, does the Catholic Church believe in a woman's right to defend herself after a rape with pregnancy prevention medications.

      Delete
    25. http://www.lozierinstitute.org/emergencycontraceptives/

      to your question about rape - At the end of February, the Catholic bishops of Germany released a statement saying that women who are victims of rape should receive care at Catholic hospitals in Germany as a matter of course and that “this can include the administration of a ‘morning-after pill’ to the extent that is has a preventative and not an abortifacient effect.” They stated clearly that medications “that cause the death of an embryo still may not be used.”

      Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/does-emergency-contraception-cause-early-abortions/#ixzz2yrposzG4

      Delete
    26. I’ve read the article you posted, and I found several major issues. This article mainly uses 2 studies and 1 review for its argument, so I’ll briefly address each:
      1. For the main argument against Plan B Willis cites Noe et al. Willis summarizes that Plan B must be a arbortifacient due to the assumption that it is impossible to get pregnant following unprotected intercourse 2 days before ovulation, which is plainly untrue. They then conclude that Plan B must affect implantation following ovulation because Plan B does not inhibit ovulation. Noe says it best in the abstract and conclusion:
      “For the 148 women who had sexual intercourse during the fertile days, the overall accumulated probability of pregnancy was 24.7, while altogether 8 pregnancies were observed. Thus, the overall contraceptive efficacy of LNG-EC was 68%. Among the 103 women who took LNG-EC before ovulation (days −5 to −1), 16 pregnancies were expected and no pregnancy occurred (p<.0001). Among the 45 women who took LNG-EC on the day of ovulation (day 0) or thereafter, 8 pregnancies occurred and 8.7 were expected (p=1.00). These findings are incompatible with the inhibition of implantation by LNG-EC in women. The same cases were also analyzed using the presumptive menstrual cycle data, and important discrepancies were detected between the two methods.”
      “The efficacy of LNG-EC has been overestimated in studies using presumptive menstrual cycle data. Our results confirm previous similar studies and demonstrate that LNG-EC does not prevent embryo implantation and therefore cannot be labeled as abortifacient.”
      This study supports my argument, so thanks.
      2. The second article they look at is not a study but a review by Peck and Velez. They looked at Plan B’s possible role in implantation and used studies that monitored implantation effects after mega doses of Plan B. They found that after these mega doses, or several doses of Plan B in a menstrual cycle there MAYBE an effect on implantation. Well, someone could take a mega dose of Tylenol and miscarry (and kill themselves), but no one would call Tylenol an arbortifacient. This is not an honest comparison, in fact it seems desperate. Peck and Velez also make the same mistake in assumption with the Noe study. In fact, it seems that Willis totally ripped her article from the Peck and Velez paper.
      3. This one is a throw away because it again makes the same assumption that if Plan B does not prevent ovulation it must inhibit implantation, it only compares plan B to other medications and never discusses Plan B and implantation. There is no discussion of the possible follicular changes that Plan B may cause, or the role in disrupting the timing of ovulation. None of the studies that determine that Plan B does not have an impact on implantation ever deny there is ovulation.
      There was also another study that she basically dismisses due to small sample size and poor methodology, but never states what the issue exactly is.
      Long post, sorry, but this article does not support your position.

      Delete
    27. I have passed your concerns on to an MD. I will post her answers when she has time to read through it all. It will be a one time thing. After I post her answers, the combox will be closed.

      As a Catholic, this question ultimately doesn't matter to me beyond how it affects someone else's plea for religious freedom. For us, ALL mechanisms of contraception are gravely immoral, accept, of course as noted above, if there is a pill that can ONLY prevent fertilization in the case of rape. Everyone I've talked to says no pill exists.

      All contraception for me is gravely immoral. I will post her responses, and then, after that, if you're still sure that Plan B doesn't cause abortion, then you can let Hobby Lobby know that one of the pills on the list of coverage that they object to, is, by Hobby Lobby's standards, good to go.

      Delete
    28. Why do I have a feeling it will be Dr Peck? If so, I'm interested in her response, but given her extreme bias to the subject will be hesitant to be persuaded. I hope it will be someone more neutral addressing this issue especially since you will shut down the discussion, not sure why but your blog your rules. As far as contacting Hobby Lobby and telling them the truth about Plan B there is no need 'cause they know. They are making a mockery of the 1st Amendment to support their business model, pure and simple. My proof is their hypocrisy.

      Delete
  6. Sorry to butt in, but I wonder if we are missing the forest for the trees: Contraception is evil. It desecrates the marital bond, offends against chastity, and is a menace to public morals. And this is true even with contraceptives without abortifacient properties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scott, if that is your religious belief, great don’t use plan b. The start of this discussion centered on Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy. Before the ACA required contraceptive coverage, hobby lobby covered contraceptives. They sued the govt under the false guise of Christian, pro-life ideals and one of the major issues they had was a medication that is actually a contraceptive, not an “abortion pill”. This is an important distinction and not only with the hobby lobby case. Remember, Plan B is an emergency contraceptive. It is a medication that prevents pregnancy. These pills were developed primarily to give to a woman after an act or rape or incest to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, not to be used on a regular basis. It may prevent an abortion! That is important distinction and worthy of discussion.

      Delete
    2. A friend of mine wrote the following I find reasonable:


      Second, and far more importantly, I think it’s important to hold that if we believe in religious freedom at all, that religious freedom is not predicated on the consistency of the person seeking to assert his religious freedom. Let’s think for a moment about what the idea of religious freedom is. I’d argue that it means that as a political society we believe that there is a value to not forcing people to violate their claimed religious/moral convictions, even if that means the rest of society having to incur some degree of inconvenience or inconsistency. (So, for example, the Amish requested and received an exemption to the Social Security system when it was instituted, because they believed that relying on a state run retirement plan violated the solidarity required of their communities.) As such, it seems to me that the granting of the leeway for religious freedom is very much dependent on what the believer claims is required by his beliefs — not what outside observers think may be reasonable. Thus, the issue of whether Gallicho thinks it is consistent of the owners of Hobby Lobby to want to purchase health coverage that does not cover emergency contraception, while having standard mutual funds available in their company matched 401(k), really doesn’t come into play. The key point is that the owners themselves assert that it would be a violation of their religious principles to purchase the health coverage in question.

      One can imagine some interesting reverse examples of this. For instance, suppose that at some point in the future an “Ownership Society Retirement Act” is put in place, which requires all companies to offer a 401(k) with a minimum amount of matching, and specified certain index funds such as the S&P 500 which should be available in all such plans. Commonweal announces that they object to being forced to offer a retirement program which includes investments in petroleum companies and arms manufacturers. Should people who don’t like the folks at Commonweal get to veto their claim by digging up some way in which Commonweal relies for its existence on the military and the conventional energy sector?

      I would argue: No. Frankly, moral scruples can often look a bit odd to those who do not share them. I don’t pretend to understand why the Amish are okay with some uses of modern technology and not okay with others, but I do think that it’s important to not force them to violate the moral scruples which they say they have. Similarly, regardless of whether one thinks that Hobby Lobby ought to also change the investments available in their 401(k), I think that their religious objections to offering coverage for the morning after pill on their company health plan should be respected.


      Delete
    3. Scott, so if my employer was a scientologist I could not have chemo if I needed it? What if I was not a scientologist? There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently. It basically argued that since the ACA was ruled a tax, it cannot be seen as a violation of religious freedom. The example they gave were Quakers, but your Amish example would also work. Since the Amish are pacifists they can avoid fighting in a war, but they cannot be exempt from paying taxes that fund said war.

      BTW, Plan B is not against the Green's religion since they covered contraception prior to the ACA. They just don't want to follow the law.

      Delete