Letters to the Editor

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BIRTH CONTROL: This is a modern nation, isn’t it?

Letter by Carla Sevenster, Tacoma on Feb. 24, 2012 at 11:14 am with 19 Comments »
February 24, 2012 1:01 pm

The national discourse on health insurance and birth control contains one fundamental misconception: Employer-paid health insurance is not a gift. It is part of a compensation package in exchange for an employee’s services, and there should be no strings attached.

The notion that an employer may dictate an employee’s religious choices by denying health care is downright distasteful. Employers basically have a monopoly on health insurance coverage, and most require that all employees be covered by the health insurance of the company’s choice in order to benefit from reduced group rates. Otherwise salaries would be higher.

An employer has no right to decide what employees do with their salary or whom they identify as beneficiary of their employer-paid life insurance. Birth control is a legal and accepted medical practice, and those who do not approve may abstain, but they may not abuse their power to enforce their religious beliefs on others.

The rest of the civilized world is looking on in utter disbelief and astonishment at a supposedly modern society that vilifies the Taliban and other regimes that suppress women’s rights, and then allows this nonsense.

Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. Absolutely right. I’m watching in amazement as the GOP front-runners race to radically alienate themselves from the vast majority of America. Somewhere over 90% of ALL American women use or have relied upon contraception. The vast majority of Catholic women do, too, according to what’s been reported. Its as if the GOP candidates went back in time to an early 17th century Puritan town, where witches and serpents and evil and brimstone and naughty, filthy sex should be punished not only by God, but by the bringing forth of a little bastard child! These guys are going to get creamed in the 2012 general election.

  2. “Birth control is a legal and accepted medical practice, and those who do not approve may abstain, but they may not abuse their power to enforce their religious beliefs on others.”

    Smoking cigarettes is a legal and traditionally American personal practice, yet employers can flat-out refuse to hire people based on the discriminatory demand that new-hires must be non-smokers, and require existing employees to quit smoking at work and in private away from work, or the employer can fire them.

    Okay, let me see; Apparently it’s NOT right if an an employer chooses to uphold his/their/its’ own religious beliefs, by simply choosing not to pay for something their employees can go ahead and get elsewhere. But, apparently is perfectly okay for an employer to openly discriminate against people and impose his/their/its’ oppressive anti-smoker beliefs on people who are doing nothing illegal by smoking cigarette, cigars and/or pipes.

    How is that fair?

    The employer who chooses to not pay for birth control, contraceptives and abortions when contracting for an employee health-care benefits plan has a lot more justification based on “religious” grounds, than the other employer has in refusing to pay for smoking related illness coverage and who also refuses to hire smokers. One is based on deep-rooted religious core beliefs, the other is just a greedy employer wanting to cut its own costs on health insurance by discrimination against its employees even during their non-work hours.

    EMPLOYER 1. The anti-smoking employer is saying YOU CANNOT SMOKE HERE AT WORK OR AT HOME OR ANYWHERE or, in the words of The Donald “Yer fired!”

    EMPLOYER 2. The religious employer who does not include BC, contraceptive, abortion coverage is only saying, “We don’t provide those benefits in your health-care package, but you can get them elsewhere, we have no problem wit that.” “Oh! And by the way, you CAN use the money we pay you for those things, because after we pay YOU your salary it is YOUR money, not ours, and you can do with it whatever you like.”

    Now tell me, which of those two employers seems nicer?

  3. old_benjamin says:

    You, Carla, are undoubtedly “pro-choice.” Exercise it, and choose to work for someone who chooses to pay for whatever your little hear desires. I don’t feel your pain.

  4. Muck – Do you realize that hormonal birth control is used in many cases to prevent/treat certain diseases and conditions that only affect women and not just for birth control? Treating these women’s conditions as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies reduces health care costs – good for both employee and employer. While smoking has a negative health effects and can increase health care costs. The question is why we would allow women to be treated differently or get less than men.

  5. afret, yes I do realize the other medical benefits of some birth control drugs. I have often cited them on other topics. In this case, however, I am just trying to point out the duplicity of a government that requires a religious based organization to violate its core religious beliefs in order to provide something that can easily be obtained elsewhere by other means, and the same government that allows any employer to discriminate against employees who are not breaking any laws.

  6. Pacman33 says:

    The question is why we would stoop to the level of our discordant president and use such divisive rhetoric.

    It only appears like you have nothing of substance say and you are frantically compensating …… like him.

    The question is what does afret have against women employers who feel it’s morally objectionable to provide and pay for contraception, Plan B and ella.

    Why so sexist?

  7. aislander says:

    This is a non-issue. Employers should be able to decide what compensation to offer Prospective employees should accept or reject the position based on the totality of factors in play, including health coverage.

    Now, let’s talk about issues that really matter: the economy and the size and scope of government….

  8. ReadNLearn says:

    So those foolish enough to develop unwanted pregnancies are the responsibility of employers? How about a bit of restraint or simply using any of the methods out there that don’t cost much? How about simply not having sex with people when you don’t want their children?

  9. @old benjamin-of course you don’t feel her pain. maybe its your penis that makes you unable to empathize with the debate? maybe people with a penis should stay out of the debate altogether. or maybe there shouldn’t be a debate and christians should practice their faith privately and keep it out of the rest of out faces.

  10. ReadNlearn: you should read, then learn. perhaps you have a broader understanding of the societal issues that contribute to unwanted pregnancies. My advice: don’t take birth control if you don’t want too.

  11. o_b Nothing quite like writing a patronizing statement “whatever your little hear[t] desires” to demonstrate just how you really stand on women’s issues.

  12. Cardinous says:

    Trying to draw a parallel between an employee’s right to heath care benefits and an employee’s right to smoke (and create 2nd hand smoke for others) is just about the worst example I’ve seen of justification for the Roman Catholic Church’s crusade to make all women under its employ to comply with its archaic belief system.

    Most employers would be smart enough to assist employees in avoiding unwanted pregnancies – especially those that so abhore abortion. Which is more efficient? Pills or maternity leave?

  13. I guess all those Hollywood movies that show smoking in bed after being smoking hot in bed has old_benjamin a little confused…..

  14. Again and again, there is no logical or constitutional reason that the religious convictions of an employer should limit my opportunity for employment or health care coverage in a position of non-religion duties compared to other applicants.

    The only reason this is in doubt is because the voices on the wrong side of this… constitutional debate… are professional propagandists (most of them practicing every Sunday morning), and the followers are blind to their bias towards their preferences over other people’s rights.

  15. applicants for a similar job elsewhere

  16. Again and again, there is no logical or constitutional reason that the ANTI-SMOKING convictions of an employer should limit my opportunity for employment.

    The only reason this is in doubt is because the voices on the wrong side of this… constitutional debate… are anti-smoker discriminatory bigots.

  17. Smoking is hazardous to the health of fellow employees. You don’t have a right to jeopardize others’ health.


    Only a child would debate from this premise.

  18. I highly recommend to ALL other legitimate posters on these blogs to completely ignore ImLarry, Cardinous and Anothermoniker who is the same person formerly known as ManuelMartini. It is totally pointless to engage in discussion with a person whose ONLY purpose here is to antagonize others.

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/02/22/afghan-culture-is-just-too-different/#comment-205985#storylink=cpy

  19. menopaws says:

    This writer made some important points in her letter. Either we are a modern society that recognizes the differences of our women, but still respects their equality, or we aren’t all that different from the religious zealots of the Taliban, who exercise strong control over women in their society. She makes a strong, well thought out argument for the dangers inherent in such control. We all need to recognize that equality and respect are important in any free society. I appreciate the points she made.

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