Discussion: The Supreme Court’s Wishful Thinking On Contraceptives And Religious Freedom

Why are we paying these justices? They are supposed to DECIDE.

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Just goes to show that magical thinking isn’t dead. The little sisters really think that they put themselves at moral jeopardy because their expression of a moral objection will set off a series of events that will marginally facilitate other people’s making moral choices they object to. It’s a cheap and debased vision of morality.


“Is it hypothetically possible that the government will continue to refuse take ‘yes’ for an answer, even though many, many options are available to it and will continue to fight this even though it is easy to accommodate the Little Sisters?” said Stephanie Barclay, legal counsel for the Becket Fund, which represented Little Sisters of the Poor in one of the consolidated cases.

What, pray tell, have the litigants said “yes” to (that, theoretically, the feds keep refusing), and please detail something other than “protect our religious right.”

… but the problem is the federal government itself offers contraceptive-only plans,” Barclay said, referring to plans offered through Medicaid. (Stephanie Barclay)

Details? And, if these plans exist, do they offer the full range of reproductive health that is required by the ACA mandates for private health insurance plans? (I doubt it because, as you know, the federal government is prohibited from paying for abortions in all but a few instances).


A “contraceptives only” insurance plan is not insurance. It’s a buying club. Insurance works by spreading risk over a pool of policy holders, most of whom won’t be making a claim. The only people purchasing a “contraceptives only” policy would be people who are currently using contraceptives.

If you wrecked your car every year, the premium for a collision insurance policy would be equal to the book value of your car, plus a profit margin for the insurance company. Such a deal!


Certainly there have been interesting statements from the government about the fact that they try to claim that these plans don’t exist, but the problem is the federal government itself offers contraceptive-only plans,” Barclay said, referring to plans offered through Medicaid. “When these cases are sent back to the court of appeals, and the courts really look at the facts on the ground, that’s going to be a tough claim for the government to keep making.”

No. These plans are not ‘contraceptive’ only. This is health care coverage that includes a myriad of reproductive health services like pap smears, tubal ligations, colonoscopies, breast exams and treatment for STDs. She’s lying through her teeth. Medicaid covers people like most health insurance, but women are able to sign up for special programs that take care of reproductive health. It’s directly contradictory to the purpose of the ACA to have this in private insurance because insurance is not supposed to include a gender surcharge on services required by women only (like pregnancy).


Dear Little Sisters, Thank you for reaffirming my decision to stop going to a Catholic church. I hope you are happy that you are turning off millions of women and the next potential generation of Catholics in favor of a doctrine that at least 90% of Catholics don’t obey anyway.


Apparently, activist justices require four disciples to support their master. Until a replacement is found or recruited, they must remain dormant.


This is contraceptive control not birth control the RWNJs in this country want to completely control a women’s right of making her own reproductive decisions. If to get pregnant, when to get pregnant, how often to get pregnant. The RWNJs know they cannot have millions of women of child bearing age making those kinds of decisions without oversight. This is the RWNJs that contain some members that think rape and incest is not an excuse to abort a fetus of rape and incest. Or that think women should be subjugated by their husbands. These RWNJs men (mostly) are living in the 1800’s. They want women barefoot, pregnant, and in the fields tending the crops. Scalia was obviously a pivotal ring leader.


I know the answer will be “complicated” are the conservative Justices actually saying contraceptives should be treated like abortion with a myriad of laws?? women shoud face this issue head on no no to contraceptives?? wows


I agree and this should be made exactly what it is by the Media conservative disapprove of contraceptives including the catholic church!

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And this is why a) So many people can breathe a sigh of relief that Scalia is still dead and b) the republicans will almost certainly filibuster whoever Hillary Clinton nominates next spring.

Nobody wanted a 4-4 decision, because that would have left the law officially different in different jurisdictions (and at least some of the religious nutbars do business in more than one jurisdiction, so try sorting that out). And they’re hoping it will come back when there’s a full court and they can get a 5-4 decision or 6-3 instead.

Meanwhile, I like the fact that filing a lawsuit against the requirement – which definitively informs the government of the plaintiffs’ religious opposition to offering birth control – is OK, but merely signing a piece of paper doing the same thing is not.


I don’t think we should read too much in to this order. I think Roberts will take any excuse to kick a split decision back to lower courts, so that the Court will hopefully have a full complement when the case comes back.

There could be one interesting approach to solving the problem. Have the government create a universal contraceptives plan, that everyone gets automatically. Take that part of the coverage away from everybody’s plans. Then add coverage for tubal ligation, hysterectomies and vasectomies. Then pre- and post-natal care. Then universal pediatric care.

It would be really, really funny to use conservative opposition to birth control to back-door a single payer system.


I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble with the term RWNJs. Are they Right-Wing New Jerseyites?

With the fortuitous departure of Justice Scalia from the Court, this case could not be resolved, and as another contributor mentions, a 4-4 result would have left the issue in its current state of “intractability.” It’s better, I think, that Ginsberg and Sotomayer got their dig in regarding the inability of the conservative justices to get past their religious opposition to contraception. We can hope for a decision based on the law and not Catholic doctrine next time this comes to the Court after Mrs. Clinton names a new justice.

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I wonder how many aborted fetus’s are buried around the convents of the world?

In the sand, up their ass…whatever.

Conservatives like these judges and Ann Lotts really want to see people that don’t believe exactly what they believe suffer slow painful lives until death takes them to an eternity of even more pain and suffering. This is why I think they really don’t like abortion. The people never get to experience life and pain and maybe miss suffering for eternity while christians look on down from heaven.

You are right. She is lying.

Medicaid doesn’t have policies. It has benefits. “Family planning” is one of the mandatory benefits of Medicaid. The governments (plural, because the states run Medicaid design and run the programs within the rules and standards established by the Federal government) do not offer “contraceptive-only plans”.

The Federal government considers family planning an extremely important benefit. It reimburses states at a higher (90%) rate for family planning services than for other services. The government also requires that the benefits be provided without patient cost sharing. States also are allowed to use Medicaid funds to offer family-planning benefits to people who don’t qualify for full Medicaid benefits if the states can show the Federal government that the extension of the benefits to a larger population will not increase overall costs to Medicaid; the added cost of the program must be covered by savings that result from the program.

I believe that this extension of family-planning benefits serves both as the basis for and the rebuttal to the claim that “contraceptive-only plans” exist. It is, of course, inaccurate to use “contraceptives” and “family planning services” interchangeably, but let’s keep it simple and use “contraceptives” in place of “family planning services” for the moment.

The Federal government allows some people to receive only “contraceptives” from Medicaid. The government allows this, because the cost of those “contraceptives” to Medicaid are offset by resultant savings to Medicaid. It is the linking of costs and savings within Medicaid that makes the “contraceptives”-only benefits possible, yet, according to the TPM article, it is the linking that The Little Sisters and the other challengers object to: Those supporting the challengers say it’s the government that’s being stubborn, and that the flashpoint for them is that the government is using the infrastructure of the insurers who contract with the employers to provide the coverage. Without the link, there is no “contraceptives-only” coverage.

I hope The Little Sisters understand that they routinely generate sales tax revenue that California uses to provide contraceptives through the state’s Medicaid program. You won’t purify yourselves by winning this legal battle. Sleep well, sisters.

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Good article Tierney Sneed. Srsly.

What I’d like to see TPM do is investigate whether, like Hobby Lobby, LSoP was already offering contraceptive coverage before PPACA passed, but dropped it in order to claim a religious liberty violation? How many of the co-plaintiffs already had contraceptive coverage before they decided signing a form was too much to bear?

The Googles is coming up empty for me on this question.