Will You Go to Jail?

February 10, 2012

Have you ever been to jail?

I have not.  My impression is that it is not a fun place to be.

You’ve probably caught wind of the firestorm that started brewing this week.  Suddenly, it’s become apparent that under the President’s healthcare overhaul, every healthcare facility will have to provide contraceptive and abortion-inducing medications.  This of course, is seen as directly affecting Catholics, who have traditionally taught against artificial contraception.

I don’t think Christians have ever been in a position to go to jail for their beliefs in America, at least not in our lifetimes.  But a lot of Catholic bishops are saying they will go to jail rather than comply.

There have been a few people beating the drums for a long time, alerting us to the impending government interference on our religious liberty.  We usually call them “right wing nuts” or “Glenn Beck.”  And I have to say, I haven’t believed them.  But this sure looks eerie.

My question to all of you Catholics, Evangelicals, Democrats, Republicans, whatever you are: we’ve talked a pretty big game as long as we’ve had the freedom to do so.  Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?

Not Just a Catholic Issue

Just as abortion is not just a women’s rights issue, this is not just a Catholic rights issue.  There are plenty of Protestants who are standing with the Catholics, including Rick Warren, who stood in front of the country and gave the prayer at Obama’s inauguration.  That’s some guts.

Every once in a while, some story comes up about a local government messing with some church and we flippantly call that “persecution” because we don’t know what we are talking about.  But this issue is by far the largest, most blatant setup for Christians to be persecuted we have ever seen in this country.  It’s Catholics being set up against “women’s rights,” and only backwards thinking mysoginist pigs are against women’s rights.

Don’t be fooled.  This is not a Catholic issue.  So don’t go to church this Sunday and sing your praise music and think you’re off the hook.

Standing Up For Justice

I want to ask a question to you Christians.  When Obamacare was being debated, there were thousands of Christians blogging and writing about how this had to happen for the sake of “justice.”  Our country is full of disadvantaged, disenfranchised people who can’t afford health care and can’t advocate for themselves, and our Christian conscience demands that we provide them with this “basic human right.”

I wonder how many of you Christians who are constantly bragging about how much you care about social justice will shout half as loudly about this injustice.  Will you speak as forcefully in defense of justice for the unborn as you for those lacking medical care?  Will we circle around the Catholic hospitals with the same enthusiasm that we circle around Best Buy to get the new iPhone?

Not everyone will.  A prominent female Methodist tweeted that this is a great day for women’s healthcare.  I’ll just bite my tongue.

Throw Away the Key

To be honest with you, we should be ashamed of ourselves.  If this law sticks, and all the consequences come with it, and Christians start going to jail and healthcare facilities are taken over or shut down, we will be the architects of our own persecution.  We allowed this to happen.  We let ourselves be duped by “compassion,” (mixed with a heavy dose of selfishness) and we were so eager to make this happen, we didn’t even demand to know what we were getting into.

Most protests that don’t cost the participants anything don’t accomplish anything.  That’s why the “Occupy” hippies haven’t accomplished squat.  I guarantee, solving this injustice will require that we do something uncomfortable.  Some Christians will go to jail over this.

Will you be one of them?  Do you think that’s what it will come to?  Or is this all a great thing for women’s health care?

71 responses to Will You Go to Jail?

  1. Your last sentence is the correct one:

    “Or is this all a great thing for women’s health care?”

    Yes indeed it is. Thanks be to God!

    • This not healthcare. They ran a stake into the hart of the Constitution. Now that the door is opened, all liberties will be much more vigorously attacked on every front and will be done away with. It is happening much sooner than I thought.

    • I don’t know how you see this as a “great thing for women’s healthcare” when many are using it to SPECIFICALLY target unborn girls and kill off the next generation of women. Not to mention abortions and contraceptives harm the mother as well as the unborn.

  2. What about women who are about to be born? Who are in the infancy of their womanhood?

    How great is this for their health(care)?

    .

  3. Hang on a minute. I obviously missed something here. Since when is providing affordable birth control a bad thing? This is one reason why I’m not Catholic. More available birth control, less unwanted pregnancies. Bingo!

    • We are not talking about birth control, we are talking about abortion. Abortion should NEVER be a birth control option, whether in pill form, or by a knife and vacuum.

      “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” (Dr. Suess)

      “For you created my inmost being;
      you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
      I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
      your works are wonderful,
      I know that full well.
      My frame was not hidden from you
      when I was made in the secret place.
      When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
      your eyes saw my unformed body.
      ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME
      WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK OF LIFE
      BEFORE ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE.–Psalm 139:13-16

      These are the words God used to convince me that abortion is wrong. Abortion destroys God’s work.

      • By “pill form” I mean “The morning after pill”, not the standard contraceptive pills that people use to prevent pregnancy.

        Of course, The pill, though fairly effective at preventing pregnancies, is pretty ineffective at combatting STDs.

        • Except “the morning after pill” doesn’t induce abortion, either.

          • As we’ve discussed in the past, this depends on your definition of when life begins. If you believe that it begins at conception (i.e., fertilization of the egg), then not only does the morning after pill (potentially) cause abortion, but so does any hormonal birth control pill that contains progesterone and all IUDs. Medically (as you know, Abby, but not all others do), progesterone works by thickening the uterine lining, making it inhospitable to a pregnancy which is roughly 7-10 days post-conception that is attempting to implant into the uterus. All commercially-available birth control pills contain progesterone (some exclusively so, e.g., the “mini-pill”). My understanding is that the “morning after pill” is simply a mega dose of progesterone. IUDs work in a similar fashion (irritating the uterine lining to the point that it is inhospitable for a fertilized egg), except that they do almost nothing to prevent the egg from being fertilized in the first place. With “the pill” at least there is also estrogen which prevents ovulation and makes the path the sperm need to take more difficult to travel.

            If you believe that life begins at some point after conception (which is becoming less and less medically substantiated, imo), then there is some wiggle room when it comes to hormonal birth control and/or IUDs. If you believe that life begins at conception (i.e., fertilization), then hormonal birth control and IUDs cause abortion, at least some percentage of the time. For me, any possibility of killing my child, planned or otherwise, was not a risk I was willing to take.

            Also, chemical abortions induced by a substance that you willingly and voluntarily take (or by an object that you voluntarily place inside your body) should not be confused with miscarriage (i.e., the ending of a pregnancy due to no fault of your own). They are two different things. Please don’t compare the two. One is by choice (even if it’s a game of Russian Roulette). The other is not.

          • Abby: You are right. I double checked and I was thinking that RU-485 was the same thing as “the morning after” pill. I sit corrected. Thanks for fact-checking me.

            Here is a question you might be able to answer: Is there anyone checking the long term consequences of using “the morning after” pill if it is used as semi-regular contraception? And is anyone keeping track of how often it is being used by the same person?

      • I hate abortion, too. I just haven’t heard anything about the “morning after pill” in this bill.

        But then again, I tend to get all my info from NPR, and not Fox News.

    • My retort is: since when is it up to a healthcare provider to give us birth control? My wife and I had to provide our own. And there are plenty of people, Catholic and other who do natural family planning. That’s free.

    • You have a valid point.

      I guess the problem is using people’s tax money to support practices that they object to.

      This is one of the reasons that government ought to leave this stuff up to the private sector.

      Methinks.

  4. Well done propagating the myth that abortion-inducing drugs are covered under this policy. Just because Boehner says it, doesn’t make it the truth. . .he might be a tad biased ;) Here’s the FAQ from the whitehouse:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/02/01/health-reform-preventive-services-and-religious-institutions

  5. Woah, now, hold on there a minute–

    I’m a doctor. As such, I have no qualms whatever about oral contraceptives.

    Preventing unwanted pregnancies is a basic part of women’s health.

    Not only that, but OCP’s are used for a lot more than just birth control–plenty of women take them to deal with endometriosis, excessively heavy periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc.

    An insurance plan that doesn’t cover these medications is just like one that doesn’t cover Lipitor, in my book. It makes no logical sense at all.

    Having an insurance plan that covers these services is not going to “force” anyone into anything–doctors can still refuse to prescribe birth control if they want to. Women can choose not to use them if they want to (oh, gee, actually letting women make up their own minds about such things–what a concept!)

    I’m sorry, Matt, but I (respectfully) think you’re quite a bit off base, here.

    • I appreciate your thoughtful response, as usual, Abby. My wife and I used birth control for several years. But let’s consider a not so far fetched hypothetical: you are a doctor, who is supposed to know better than the patient what is good for them. But a patient wants a procedure done that you find is unethical and the government says you are not allowed to employ your conscience, thus you are not allowed to practice medicine as you see best. I just dont think this would be a big deal if doctors were still being given the choice.

    • Yes I understand, like giving free needles to drug addicts because they can not control themselves.
      You need to read it, Doctors will be required to perform abortions. They can refuse but will be fired or you will go to jail.

  6. The real issue here isn’t whether or not we should use contraception or whether “morning after” pills should or should not be made available. It has nothing to do with medicine.

    Rather, should the government be able to force believers to go against their conscience? If some hospitals and doctors believe it is sinful to do something–should the government (even the majority of citizens) be forcing them to go against those beliefs?

    I was under the impression that the US was founded to guarantee freedom in matters of conscience, so long as that freedom didn’t violate anyone else’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Apparently, that’s not true anymore.

    • I see the question more as “should a healthcare institution be allowed to provide substandard care to 50% of its patients because of its religious beliefs?”

      But that’s just me, I guess.

      • How do you define “substandard?” There are many disadvantages to our standards of care. If people don’t want Catholic healthcare, why can’t they go somewhere else?

        On another note, a religious group in the UK this week was barred from claiming that God can heal people. Same line of reasoning – people are not allowed to give “substandard” care based on religious beliefs.

      • What a stupid statement. Only in America.
        The religious hospitals around here are better than the unregenerate hospitals by far. The religious hospitals are nonprofit. They care for people, they do not care for $.

    • Leslie … “should the government be able to force believers to go against their conscience?”

      THIS is the point exactly!

      Whether you agree with the Catholic doctrine against birth control or not is irrelevant. What counts is that it is their belief, a doctrine of their faith. Being forced by the government to go against that belief is unconscionable and goes directly against the protections of the right to worship as we wish as enumerated in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

      We stand with them, or we may well be next. Think not? How about hate-crimes … in some places, simply stating one’s belief that gay sex is a sin is enough to be branded a hater or a bully. In other words, your thoughts can be considered a crime. How’s that grab you? It’s already happening around the world. A pastor in Great Britain was jailed for preaching about the sin of homosexual sex. There’s a post already here by Rev Django naming several incidents of Christian persecution around the world. Jail, beatings, death … it has happened and don’t ever say it can’t happen here.

      Because it can. It already has. And it will continue to happen unless we, as the Church, rise up and say No More!

      First they came for the Catholics ….

      Oh … and the so-called compromise is nonsense. It merely shifts the cost burden from the employer to the insurance provider, and completely misses the point.

  7. Having worked in a pregnancy center (as a guy) and having a passion for social justice, I find myself seeing both sides of the coin. I love that America is finally fixing its bankrupt medical system. A few months ago, I was literally dying because I didn’t have health insurance. I finally received it through disability, but if I hadn’t, the law would’ve guaranteed that I could afford it in a couple of years.

    As for oral contraceptives – there’s a lot more to it than the fact that it induces abortions. That has been stated in previous comments, so I won’t beat that dead horse more than I need to.

  8. I am a Protestant who works at a Catholic school, and I fully understood what I was signing up for when I went to work there. I don’t think Catholic institutions should be forced to provide coverage for the same birth control that the Catholic church opposes.

    At the same time, many of the hospitals, universities, and charities that are upset about the HHS ruling accept federal funding. Just as I understood what I was signing up for when I went to work at a Catholic institution, they should understand what they’re signing up for when they accept federal money. That’s exactly why most churches, including Catholic churches, don’t accept money from the federal government. If they don’t want the government telling them what to do, they need to quit accepting that money right now.

    • Bravo, Margaret, you get it. Working for a Catholic institution is a voluntary choice. If someone really, really needs insurance coverage for birth control (or the morning after pill, or a vasectomy, which the new mandate also requires), they should choose to work somewhere else.

      The whole issue of government funding is one the Catholic Church will need to assess in the coming months. Perhaps cutting all ties to the Feds would be best. But the lack of that funding could cause a huge gap in the charitable and health services Catholic hospitals currently supply.

    • Except–even those institutions which do not accept federal funds (and there are some) have to abide by the mandate. Oops.

  9. I am surprised by the comments in favor of obamacare. I think Leslie sees the bigger picture; this is the liberal government imposing their pc on this nation. Next it will be that preaching the Bible view of homosexuality is a hate crime. This is big. Just as legalizing abortion created a new ethos about how we think of human life (who should live, who should die, the “quality” of life, etc) and lots of unintended consequences, so will this action. The liberals preach “separation” of church and state when it restricts the church, but where is the separation when it comes to the government intruding on the church????

    I am going political here: Obama is the worst president ever with the most liberal agenda ever and represents my greatest fear of government; elitists who think they know better then the rest of us and impose their superiority on us through law. There…I said it.

  10. Matt, thanks for writing this. I’m bothered by this, even though I’m Anglican and don’t have any moral qualms about contraception. I do feel this is a step closer to doing away with religious rights.

    I’ve been thinking about Margaret’s comment. It does seem like the best way to handle this would be to sever the government ties that bind them to this mess. But realistically, that would force hundreds of institutions to close. Many of them are horribly underfunded now. What would happen to these paitients? These students?

    But back to your point… Would I go to jail for my faith? Yes. But that is a painful answer to give. Thank you for getting me to do some real thinking…

  11. To Abby Normal’s point, 58% of women on oral contraceptives use it for reasons other than family planning.

    I was/am one of these people. When it came to my time of the month, I had cramps so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed. Taking a bc pill changed that. I work for a faith-based organization and am very glad that they didn’t refuse to cover this!

    http://act.drsforamerica.org/cms/thanks/contraception#.TzUzv8iAfGD

    • I am glad my wife and I had access to birth control, but I still don’t think that is the issue. People know what they are getting from a Catholic healthcare provider. If they don’t like it, go somewhere else. There are all kinds of practitioners of “alternative” medicine who provide what I consider “substandard” care. But as a healthcare customer, I have a choice to go to those doctors or not. The government shouldn’t tell them they have to practice standard western medicine.

  12. Matt, I keep thinking about this, and I think this is what bugs me the most about your post–

    What happened to all the talk of “unity”? You don’t even sound like the same guy that wrote the post from Wednesday, decrying the “division and polarity” among Christians.

    The fact is, Christianity is HUGE. In a faith that lays claim billions of believers, there are always going to be major differences. There will always be liberals, conservatives, feminists, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, libertarians, Obama supporters, Bush supporters, Romney supporters that are Christian. That fact is not going to go away.

    And yet, you’ve done a good job of getting us into the same situation that I commented about a couple days ago–now we’re going to have two polarized camps on this issue arguing back and forth, and in the end, nothing whatever will come of it. Everyone will get angry, there’ll be a bunch of misuses of the caps lock key, and no one’s mind will be changed. In the end, what’s the point?

    It’s great for generating blog hits, that’s for sure. I just don’t see that it’s great for accomplishing much else. And I have to admit that I’m pretty disappointed about it. I thought you were better than this.

    • Abby I think you’re missing the point. This whole story has nothing to do with birth control and everything to do with religious freedom. Take a look at this column from today’s Chicago Tribune which explains it LOT better than I could.
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0210-20120210,0,7630822.column

    • Abby – I disagree. I don’t think Matt was being sensational about this. This is a real topic that needs to be discussed. Sure people will argue, with caps lock and all. But others, such as myself, has already taken it upon myself to write all my congressmen and let my voice be heard. This thing needs to be repealed. This is a religious liberty issue. Matt is right, there are plenty of alternatives for people who don’t want “religious” healthcare, because this is more than just a Catholic thing.

  13. Like Ashley, I was prescribed bc pills for medical reasons. At the time, I was 17, a freshman in college, and beyond broke. Interestingly, my pills weren’t covered by my insurance, so I had to cough up 30 bucks a month to get them. This was tough on my budget of near zilch, but I did it. Eventually, our insurance did change to include it and I only had to pay $3.

    Currently, I have great insurance. But it wont cover my eyeglasses. Just a mere reimbursement that doesn’t cover even half the total cost of the bill. So, like I did at 17, I put money aside for it. I I like it? Nope. But I must wear glasses to see. Period. Unless they’d foot the bill for LASIK but that ain’t close to happening, lol. My point? I don’t know of any insurance plans that guarantee everything will be covered even if it’s medically necessary. So to me the issue is more of a religious rights issue.

    Abby, I hope you continue to come here and comment. I like your counterpoints. As you note, we will disagree. Even Paul and Peter did. But it does prompt thought and greater consideration and is an opportunity for practice at disagreeing while maintaining respect for others.

  14. I have never been in favor of a government-controlled health care industry and wrote my views of it http://www.tandemingtroll.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-is-true-compassion.html.

    To use or not to use contraceptions (and I am not including abortion or “day-after” pills in this statement because it takes place after conception) is something between God and a the people who use them. I personally have had two reliable forms of contraception fail, so when my husband and I decided that our quiver was full at four, instead of consulting with God or even trusting Him to honor our wishes, we went for the surgical option. But even then, we only say that we are making it more difficult for God to bless us with kids because one of my brother-in-laws became a father five years after undergoing the surgical option. God made the phrase “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” a medical reality for him.

    Even having an abortion or taking “the day after pill” is something between God and the couple who have made the decision and God can forgive ALL sins, not just the “little” ones. I have seen the wounds caused by abortions that surface sometimes decades later. The reality is, that the wound festers like cancer until it is revealed and given to God who is the only One who can provide a healing balm. However, I would also say that there is always a scar that remains behind from the wound.

    I know that not everyone believes that life begins at conception, even Christians. Once again, that is not something I wish to add to the debate and I rely on God to prove which camp is right. However, medically, don’t doctors usually use heartbeat to determine time of death? Wouldn’t that be a good indicator of “time of life?” From what I have read, the heart is fully functional at eight weeks after conception, six weeks before the next period should start and four weeks maximum after a woman has realized that her period is totally AWOL. So about the time most women realize that they are pregnant, they have a second beating heart in their bodies, which is not their own. Abby, being a nurse, might have some other data about when the heart beats in a fetus/baby and I would acquiese to her knowledge since mine is limited.

    Should the government force medical institutions to provide abortions even if it goes against their conscience? No way! My question is whether the legal requirements are to tie government funding to the requirement to fund abortions or whether the government establishes a law that all hospitals are legally required to offer abortions. If the former is true, then I would call on God’s Church to set up medical buildings for the poor that give them medical treatment without requiring insurance, funded by those of us who have money to spare. This is what they did to begin with and maybe it is something God always wanted. If the latter is true, then I am indeed willing to go to jail, to protest what I perceive to be an unjust law. Maybe we should all start praying now that it won’t be necessary. “Savior, He can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save!”

    • Once again, Abby, my apologies for calling you a nurse rather than a doctor. I hadn’t read your comments before making mine. And replace “the morning after” with RU-485.

  15. As a Christian who never was a fan of Obamacare, because I was listening to Glenn Beck, ( :D ) I would be honored to share my jail cell next to Randy Alcorn.

  16. Yes, birth control pills should be readily available to women. They are a necessary medical component to many women’s health. (I too can attest to this from personal experience.)

    However requiring doctors and institutions to go against their faith to provide them doesn’t make sense to me, because there are so many options to women in this country. Requiring one segment of the population to go against their religious belief seems counter productive. (get it? Anyway…)

    It seems to me there is actually a way to accommodate both here in the land of the free. For example, I’m not thrilled with the motives, agenda, or intentions of the corporate operation know as Hooters. So, I don’t work there and I don’t eat there. I don’t think they are doing much for the promotion of women in our society, but others disagree. OK.

  17. Would I go to prison over this? Probably not. I’m an engineer, not a doctor (darn it, Jim!).

    (That was a Star Trek joke, but regardless, I don’t see Christians being thrown in jail en masse over this. I see doctors and nurses being fired. I see doctors and nurses being forced “underground” in order to practice medicine with a clear conscience. Talk about substandard care. “I’m sorry – I didn’t want to have a hand in killing babies, so now I have to practice medicine out of the trunk of my car instead of in a sanitary facility.” Hrmm….that sounds suspiciously like the “back-alley abortion” claim of the pro-choicers. Amazing how there are two sides to everything.)

    Do I think that “birth control” is a universal right that should be given to everyone from the government’s coffers? Absolutely not. There is one sure-fire way not to get pregnant and not to get a STD, and best of all, it’s free – don’t have sex. It’s apparently too much to ask people to take responsibility for their own actions, according to our government.

    And yes, hormones are used to help women with issues other than just pregnancy prevention. That doesn’t mean that a doctor who thinks that abortion is far from “medically necessary” in most cases should be required to perform them or risk losing his/her job.

    It’s also not just the Catholics anymore either. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has also spoken out against this. Granted, Baptists for the most part have gotten out of the hospital business, but they still recognize this for what it is – yet another encroachment on our religious liberty.

  18. I’m with you, Matt, why can’t people go to another hospital to get bc? Why does the government have to force individuals to violate their conscience? I’ve joined in the chorus at times proclaiming how pro-life is ironic if you’re pro-war and pro-gun, but it seems the term pro-choice isn’t much better. Both seem tragically selective.

  19. “Most protests that don’t cost the participants anything don’t accomplish anything.” –That’s a post in itself.

    Honestly, I don’t know what Obama was thinking with this one. He’ll lose a big portion of the Catholic vote if he doesn’t reverse his position. And isn’t that his motivation for everything? Staying in power? Or maybe I’m just jaded…

  20. Wish I had weighed in earlier. They wanted mandated health care from a pro-abortion candidate, what the hell did they expect? They wanted more services for the poor and now we are broke.

    Persecution will come because most Americans have never read the Constitution, and they think somehow the separation of church an state is a law when it’s not.

    I am not ready to give my life for empty religion. All I can say, “So you want to call yourself a Christian?”

    It is coming, and going to jail is nothing compared to what will eventually happen.

    You didn’t want godly men and woman in office because Christianity wasn’t popular, you get to live like Daniel and Nehemiah and Ester.

    My life is not my own, not only am I willing to go to jail for my faith, but I will give my life. That is what I signed up for, not some namby pamby worship music and a dorky Sunday sermon.

  21. It’s all very interesting but in my opinion it all boils down to choice. I don’t think anything like this (or much of anything at all) should be forced up people by a government, especially such a debated issue as this.
    I don’t believe that abortion and, to go off topic, homosexuality, illegal drugs, et cetera should be legal in the sense that the government allows it or the sense that you must supply a service pertaining to it (such as this abortion issue). But I do believe they should be legal based on my belief that people should be allowed to make their own decisions. I don’t agree with abortion but, honestly, it’s a personal decision. Why should I worry about whether someone can legally get an abortion when I got my own problems? Why should I worry about whether someone can be gay when they’re gonna be gay anyways? God never made the Jewish people do anything. He created laws but they could, and did, turn their backs on them.
    So, yes, I disagree with this new healthcare law because it forces people to provide abortions. Not because of the abortion itself.

    • To throw another wrench in there. There are a lot of personal decisions that do not affect anyone else – homosexuality, for example. In such cases, I’m a libertarian. But what if someone’s “personal” choices do affect us? Do millions of abortions have an effect on our economy? We’re going to have a huge number of baby boomers retiring and fewer and fewer workers to support them. (Some would say that crime was improved because of abortion, so maybe we should be encouraging abortions?)

      • I don’t agree that abortion is a good way to control crime. I’ve actually never heard of that concept before. Crime is a result of choice which has roots in something else. The divorce rate is insane today and kids grow up with a missing parent in the “hood.” The only family they got is themselves. When you let kids in control, it hits the fan (similar to “Lord of the Flies”).

        I think abortion is invading a person’s rights. Adoption should be made easier and abortion harder. Not some kind of government adoption thing, but make it easy for the community to reach out and figure out the adoption.

        Libertarians believe in getting rid of Social Security and all that. It’s not like we’re gonna get it anyways. If they change it now the old people would be screwed, but hey, it might be good way for families to have to support each other.

        I know I got off topic there.

  22. Now that I’ve got a minute to respond, I’m going to try to do it as one big post, since there were so many people adressing me (please bear with me if I go to far afield.)

    First off, it now looks like Obama’s reversing his position on this whole thing anyway, as reported here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/10/obama-change-contraception-rules-backlash?newsfeed=true

    …so maybe some of you guys can quit panicking a little.

    Although, honestly, I can’t say I’m a bit suprised–this is an election year, after all. With all the folks that already cry “socialism” every time he opens his mouth, I’m suprised he’s been able to accomplish anything at all.

    Oh well, at the way things are going, President Santorum will probably do away with anything resembling “religious persecution” in a year or two anyway. But I digress.

    Matt: “But a patient wants a procedure done that you find is unethical and the government says you are not allowed to employ your conscience, thus you are not allowed to practice medicine as you see best. ”

    —–You seem to be operating under the “Star Trek” model of medicine–all doctors know everything about every field of medicine and know how to do every procedure there is. Doctors that are opposed to abortion already have a way to assert their objection to the practice-**they don’t learn how to do abortions.**
    The government can’t “force” me to perform an abortion any more than they can “force” me to take out your appendix. I’ve not been trained in it, so it’s simply not something I can do.

    Matt & Leslie: I read the article, but I’m not sure how it applies to this situation, particularly since I’m not sure about what regulations the UK places on advertisements. That’s probably an issue I’d have to address seperately.

    Matt again: “People know what they are getting from a Catholic healthcare provider. If they don’t like it, go somewhere else. There are all kinds of practitioners of “alternative” medicine who provide what I consider “substandard” care. But as a healthcare customer, I have a choice to go to those doctors or not. The government shouldn’t tell them they have to practice standard western medicine.”

    —-First of all, there are parts of the country, small towns and such, where a Catholic provider may be “the only game in town”–both in terms of employment and getting care So, “going somewhere else” or “working somewhere else” may not always be a viable option.
    —-Secondly, I believe that if they’re going to take government money, then, yes, the government should be able to tell them to practice standard western medicine.
    Sure, there are lots of practitioners that provide “substandard” care–they just don’t accept government money. If the government can allow for a “religious exemption” in the case of birth control, where else is a “religious exemption” allowable?
    Let me put it this way–would you be okay with your tax dollars funding a Jehovah’s Witness facility that banned blood transfusions? How about a Scientologist-run facility that didn’t provide psychiatric care?
    To me, that’s the real rub here–no one’s going to send a bunch of jackbooted thugs to a Catholic hospital to make the doctors perform abortions at gunpoint. It’s just that government money comes with strings attached–if you don’t like the strings, don’t take the money.

    Pat & BrianB: Well, I respectfully disagree that this is a religious liberty issue, for the reasons I outlined above. There’s no reason why a Catholic hospital, doctor, whatever can’t operate any way they want–just don’t take government money.

    Alisha: I’m not going anywere. It’s going to take a heckuva lot more to get rid of me :)

    Tandemingtroll: I’m a doctor, not a nurse (no offense taken, though, I get mistaken for a nurse all the time at work–it goes along with be female and “young looking”).
    It’s been a while since OB/embryology, but I think you’re right about 8 weeks being the onset of a definable heartbeat, as I recall.
    My take on abortion is this, however–it’s an evil, but it’s a necessary evil. I’m not going to debate anyone over when “life” as we know it begins–I don’t think we can really know. However, what I DO know, it that there will always be situations where an abortion will be medically necessary. No one wants to think about those situations–oh, sure, I always hear about lip service being paid to “making exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger”. But I worry that that “exception” is rapidly in danger of being eroded.

    Melissa: “There is one sure-fire way not to get pregnant and not to get a STD, and best of all, it’s free – don’t have sex. It’s apparently too much to ask people to take responsibility for their own actions, according to our government.”

    —I used to think that way, too–and then I became a doctor.

    I’m an HIV specialist, so I’ve seen my fair share of STD’s and the like. And you know what? ***People are not going to stop having sex.****
    And here’s another thing–***The people that have nice, married, heterosexual, church-approved sex still get STDs.***

    I suppose I could tell all my patients that they made their proverbial bed and now they have to lie in it. But I’ll leave the finger-wagging to other folks–God knows there’s no shortage of that.

    This is not in issue of “people not taking responsibility”–people will screw up. They will always screw up, in ways that hurt their bodies and ways that don’t. Is treating lung cancer caused by smoking “rewarding irresponsibility”? How about heart disease caused by obesity?

    Oh, and birth control pills do NOT cause abortions. Plan B/”morning after” pills do NOT cause abortions. I don’t know how to make that more plain.

    And then there’s all the Obamacare haters (I can’t even remember which anymore)–

    Government is too intrusive and shouldn’t be involved in healthcare. I get that. But will someone PLEASE tell me what viable alternative we have now?

    Here’s an example: I took care of this guy last year. He was hardly a deadbeat–he worked in construction, didn’t “sponge” off of anybody. His company didn’t provide health insurance. So the guy (and actually, this is pretty typical “guy” behavior) never went to a doctor, but still thought his was taking pretty good care of himself.

    Well, this guy suddenly finds himself in the ICU in septic shock with a massive deep neck space infection. It turns out that he had diabetes that had gone undiagnosed all this time, and he had a bad tooth that got infected, the abscess spread into his neck. It nearly killed him. However, after a stint on a ventilator, tons of antibiotics, and multiple rounds of plastic surgery, he managed to survive.

    However, this guy got hit with a *massive* medical bill. There was no possible way for him to pay it. And it’s not like he’d be heading right back to work to pay that off.

    I’m not sure what he ended up doing–I think the hospital had to eat the bulk of the cost, but he still had to file for bankruptcy, I heard.

    So, can any of you guys tell me what he should’ve done?

    Oh sure, he should’ve “taken responsibility for himself” and found himself a free clinic so his diabetes could’ve been diagnosed before all this happened. Right.

    Well, you know what, guys, hospitals are chock-full of “shoulda-coulda-woulda” stories like this one right now. Medical care is not a “free market” type of commodity–when you need it, you need it, there’s no putting it off or “shopping around” around for the lowest price.

    If a government-sponsored “backup plan” that would keep guys like my patient from being bankrupted by medical bills is such a gawdawful heinous thing, I’d really like to hear some alternatives.

    There, I’m done. Sorry to ramble on so long, but this has really been ticking me off today, largely because I feel like a lot of you guys are reacting without thinking.

    There’s this tendency to react with these knee-jerk emotional responses wherever religion is concerned, and I think that it’s only getting worse. What’s more, I think that the guys in power, on both sides of the aisle, are banking on this. They don’t want an informed constituency, they want a rabble that they can whip up whenever they need to. The same thing happened with Sara Palin and her blasted “death panels”.

    People have to start using the brains that God gave them, or we’re really in trouble.

    • Yeah, I know-tl;dr.

      Sorry again–just had a lot on my mind today.

    • If I’m wrong about the medical facts, please correct me.

      If my facts are correct, then please read the rest of what I’ve said each time we’ve had this conversation. Specifically, that my terminology only applies to those who claim to believe that life begins at conception.

      For those who believe that life begins at conception, anything that purposefully prevents the successful implantation of a fertilized egg is abortion (which I define as the taking of an unborn life – again, correct me if I’m wrong). Progesterone, when taken in large doses (as with hormonal birth control) prevents implantation. IUDs prevent implantation. If life begins at conception (which occurs 7-10 days _PRIOR_ to implantation), then hormonal birth control takes the life of unborn babies. That’s abortion. IUDs take the life of unborn babies. That’s abortion. _IF_YOU_BELIEVE_THAT_LIFE_BEGINS_AT_CONCEPTION_.

      • My apologies for not replying above–I missed your post while I was writing that horribly long screed of mine up there.

        In answer to your question, yes, hormonal birth control can prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo.

        Here’s the package insert for Plan B/the morning after pill: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/021045s011lbl.pdf

        And the one for Ortho-Tri Cyclen: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/021690lbl.pdf

        However, not everyone defines pregnancy as beginning upon fertilization. ACOG famously does not (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/08/2/gr080207.html), I’ve heard that the AMA and the British Medical Society do not either, but I’m unable to find citations for that right now (and I really need to get to work.)

        And here’s a blastocyst, which is the stage at which implantation occurs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blastocyst
        I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “baby”, but that’s just me.

        The issues with your definition of conception are these:
        -how do you account for spontaneous “non-implantation” of an embryo (which occurs in sexually active women on a regular basis whether they take OCPs or not–and can actually be increased by “non-drug-induced” things like breastfeeding)?

        -how do you account for women who need to take OCP’s for reasons other than birth control? As I understand it, they’re pretty much standard therapy for PCOS, for example–do you advocate letting these conditions go untreated?

        Sorry if I’m rehashing old territory too much.

      • Sorry–I missed your post earlier while I was writing that big diatribe of mine last evening (again, I’m really really sorry about the length).

        Then I wrote a response to you this morning which has now disappeared for some reason. (Which I don’t understand–have I been banned now?)

        I gotta work now but I’ll try to recreate it later if I can.

        • As for the definition of what is and isn’t a “baby,” well, I wouldn’t go by what it looks like, personally, I would instead define a baby human as a very young human. From the moment of conception, that single cell’s DNA is fully human. Every time it divides, it is still fully human. It is never a fish or a bird or any other animal (or vegetable or mineral). It is a human from the moment the sperm enters the egg. Does it look like a “baby?” No. But a tadpole doesn’t look much like a frog either and yet I doubt that anyone would say that it wasn’t.

          And the difference between a miscarriage and a baby failing to implant due to hormones that the mother purposefully and voluntarily took (and/or the IUD that she voluntarily had inserted) is the purposefulness of it. The miscarriage that I had four months ago, a baby that I didn’t even know I was carrying until it was all over, a baby that was completely unplanned…that baby died through no fault of mine or anyone else’s. When a woman knowingly takes something which would cause her unborn child (however young) to die, it’s abortion. There is a very large difference between the two. Death is a part of life. It’s a really sucky part of life, but it happens to all of us. Natty (meaning “Gift of God”) just met death sooner than most, through no fault of anyone’s. Death which is caused by another human being is another matter entirely.

          As for PCOS, endometriosis, etc., all I can do is speculate on what I would do were I in that situation. And the answer is, I don’t know. I’d be fine with it were I unmarried (and therefore not having sex, so no chance of fertilization). Married? I just don’t know. I’m glad I’ve not been put in that situation (or the situation where we really did have to choose between the life of the unborn and my life).

          • Melissa–

            First off, I’m sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I’ve had family members dealing miscarriages and infertility and it can cause a lot of pain.

            What I was trying to drive at is that I take issue with seeing birth control as a “black and white” issue. You yourself couldn’t figure out what you would do if you needed OCPs for medical reasons–so why make that decision for someone else?

            And this doesn’t even get into other uses for oral contraception–Plan B is routinely offered in ER’s after rape, for example. I’ve also seen some parents of girls with mental disabilities put them on Depo-Provera shots not only to regulate their periods but to prevent a pregnancy should something really horrible happen.

            Personally, I wish I didn’t live in a world where women get raped. I wish I didn’t live in a world where mentally handicapped girls get taken advantage of. I wish I didn’t live in a world where 9-year-old girls wind up pregnant. But that’s the world we’re stuck with right now. And for that reason, I’ll probably always consider myself pro-choice.

          • Won’t let me “reply” anymore, so Abby, this is for you.

            When have I said anything about deciding for anyone else?

            All we (who are opposed to this measure) are asking for here is the freedom to decide for ourselves without the government insisting that we provide a service that we see as unethical. We want the freedom of _choice_. Ironic, isn’t it?

            And when have I said it is black & white? I think the information I’ve shared makes it even less black & white than it was before for a lot of people who said “abortion bad, birth control good.”

            I _do_ want people to know what the drugs that they take actually do to their bodies (and potentially the body of a child they carry), but then again, I’m an engineer. I’ve always been a fan of knowledge. “The truth will set you free.”

            Concerning rape, etc. I’m not in any way belittling the plight of those who are attacked, but I just don’t see how killing a completely innocent baby changes the situation of those affected. I know I’m in the minority, even among pro-lifers on that one. Again…I’m not saying that the law should change…I’m saying how I would act in that situation.

            Also, you should look up Jason Lovins of the Jason Lovins Band to hear a story about the results of a rape of a mentally handicapped person.

            And thank you for your kind words. I’ve said for a long time now that I wanted God to be in control of my life (including my reproduction, although my husband’s not quite there with me on that one). Despite our best (barrier) efforts, God was in control and I conceived. And through no fault of anyone’s, little Natty died. God was in control then too. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. I can be sad (and I am), but I can’t really complain.

          • Also, I could be wrong on this, but I’m pretty sure that breastfeed prevents ovulation, not implantation.

        • Abby, I would like to invite you to watch the video embedded on the web site below. It’s about 30 minutes long, so please set aside the time to watch it. Please answer for yourself the questions it poses. It will change your life.

          http://180movie.com/

    • Thank you Abby, complete and clear. Important facts and experience. Thanks for sharing all of this.

  23. What happened to the good ole days.. when the government stayed out of our business and let us live out our lives. It’s the role of the government to protect its citizens, not control them.

  24. I have no comment regarding whether or not certain denominations should be allowed to force their religious beliefs on their employees. I don’t work for Jehovas’ Witnesses so I can get blood transfusions, I don’t work for Christians Scientists so I can take medication, and I don’t work for a Catholic charity so my lovely wife has plenty of access to pre-pregnancy birth control.

    However I must take strong issue with your introduction.
    “I don’t think Christians have ever been in a position to go to jail for their beliefs in America, at least not in our lifetimes.”
    This is wrong, wrong, wrong. This demonstrates precisely how much time you have spent in the actual trenches.

    Many of us have gone to jail for standing up for our beliefs. Jesuit priest John Dear has been to jail, what? 70 times now? And he’s not yet fifty years old. My seminary friends were jailed for their front-line solidarity with striking hotel maids in Chicago and every year dozens of Bible-believing Christians go to jail for protesting the satanic, God-hating policies of the School of the Americas.

    You are welcome to google any of these things. It is so disparaging to read, on an otherwise sensible blog, of a young Christian who is so completely out of touch with God’s work in the world. I will pray for you – I will pray that God introduces you to many Christians who have sat in jail for their beliefs. I will pray that I am not the first.
    Until the Whole World Hears,
    A Fellow Lover of God

    • Unfortunately, getting involved with the SOA protests and other “liberal” causes is going to get you lumped in with “the ‘Occupy’ hippies [who] haven’t accomplished squat” in some evangelical circles.

  25. Matt, unfortunately this kind of thing is going to become more and more common in America because of people like Abby (for example). The rights of Christians mean nothing to those people and they’re in positions where they’re able to use the force of government to discriminate against Christians and their beliefs.

    You don’t have to go far to see people doing all they can to twist situations to try and hide the fact they love the government infringing on a Christian’s religious liberty.

    It’s just like the way people talk about a “woman’s right to choose.” They cut it off there because if they stated the full truth…a “woman’s right to kill their baby” then they would have less people supporting them. If they keep talking that it’s somehow a “women’s rights” issue rather than what it really is…the murder of a baby…then people will just eventually go along with it.

    There are studies all over the world about how repeating a message will get people to believe it even if it’s not true. We’re at the point in America those who despise Christians and their beliefs have enough power in the media and government to spread their agenda. It only goes downhill from here because America hasn’t been a Christian nation for quite a while.

    • “People like Abby”

      You mean people that post on blogs?
      Episcopalians?
      Star Trek fans?
      Near-sighted women between the ages of 30 and 35?

      I’m not sure what “position of power” I’m in that allows me to “use the force of government”, other than voting. Which is the same right you have, believe it or not.

      Sorry, but reducing folks that disagree with you (many of whom might actually be your friends and neighbors) to some kind of vast, faceless hoard does nothing for your credibility.

  26. Late to this game (ah life)–
    Would I go to jail? yep.
    Do I want to? nope
    Should I have to? nope
    Is conscience worth that? yep
    Is this is a Catholic issue? nope, we’re just loudmouths for religious liberty these days, making up for lost time :)
    Will this affect me, being forced to break conscience when I teach theology at a Catholic university? yep
    will it affect my family? yep
    do I hate this? yep
    Is the “accommodation” an improvement? maybe, but it still forces us to break religious conscience

    Fun times ahead. I appreciate your post, Matt. I want to like Obama. But I can’t believe he just threw religious liberty under a bus for a $10 pack of condoms.

  27. Christians will go to jail

    March 1st, 2012

    After defeating the freedom of conscience bill (Blunt Amendment) yesterday.

    Senator Debbie Stabenow: Christians must violate their conscience or go to jail.

    Senator Harry Reed: Will they comply? We estimate, only a few will not.

    President Obama: Constitutional protection to freedom of religion is gone. They have freedom of conscience, no more.

    Senator Rick Santorum: Our forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms.

    Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi: So!

    Congressman Ron Paul: A person who is not free to follow the dictates of his or her moral conscience is not free.

    Senator Carl Levin: Finally, with the stroke of a pen, Christians are now criminals.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein: We had to get the Christians out of the way first.

    A Clerk: For the first time in my life, I am afraid of our Government and what’s next.

    Not a Christian? No problem, they will get to you next.