I admit that for me, it's galling to see Christians playing the game of claiming discrimination when challenged on their own discriminatory policies. It's usually about sex, whether about insurance covering contraception or gays in the military, but its always a confusion about whether they have a right for their bigotry to ground policy. When bigotry isn't the law of the land, they say they're being discriminated against, because their religious views aren't applied to all. But George Neumayr over at the American Spectator takes it to a new level. He rehearses all the usual pieties about how Christianity is under fire in a secularist state, and it looks to be the AmSpec boilerplate. But then when he moves to the contraceptive issue, he's got a surprising twist to his argument.
The sheer idiocy of the HHS mandate was illustrated recently by Senator Tom Harkin, who, in a comically desperate attempt to cast the absence of free contraceptives and abortifacients as a form of corporate oppression, said, "There are many women who take birth control pills, for example, because they have terrible menstrual cramps once a month, some of them almost incapacitated, can't work. I know of young women myself who, because of this, aren't able to work and be productive, and it's prescribed by their doctor." Harkin, apparently, can't rest until these women are back working on Obama's animal farm, having received, under the gaze of government, all the suitable injections to guarantee their productivity for years to come. Harkin's paternalism is so touching: What would women do without his monitoring of their ailments?
Holy cow. I mean, is Neumayer trying to miss the point? Just for the sake of making the whole thing clear, here's Harkin's argument: The point of the mandate is to ensure that people can live their lives even when they face health care challenges, and some health care challenges take the form of menstrual cramps. If we don't make medicine to address this part of the mandate, we leave these women out. We shouldn't leave them out, so we need to cover their medicine — which is a contraceptive. Now, for sure, having contraceptives covered by the mandate is also part of a larger human right to control your own destiny (by having control over when one has children), but Harkin's not making that argument. He's just talking about how people have debilitating problems, and resistance to covering contraceptives leaves them out. Simple, right?
Well, apparently not. Here's how I see the Neumayr reply. 1) He's claiming that the government is giving these people injections and thereby controlling (or monitoring) their reproductive lives, and 2) He's claiming that it's just about putting people to work. But this entirely misses the point. For sure, if government helps you get the care, there is a measure of control and monitoring in that, but that's more control for you, too, assuming that without the help, you won't have the meds at all! And the point about work is just silly, really. Harkin's using work as merely an example of productive life. He could just as well have said: read the Bible closely, or be a stay-at-home mother, or write for NRO. You can't do any of those things, either, if you've got debilitating cramps.
And animal farm? Sheesh. First off, how many readers at AmSpec got the Orwell reference? And second, of those who did, how many were only because they saw the movie?