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Contraception Mandate Clarified To Accommodate Religious Groups, Obama Administration Announces February 1, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health, Religion, Women.
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Roger’s note: This makes my blood boil.  In his monumental work, “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins questions the way we tip toe around the prerogatives of the religious minded.  The notion of religious freedom means the right to worship (or NOT worship) as you please.  Religious freedom does not mean that one can hide behind his religious belief to opt out of legal and social obligations, in this case, the obligation to provide health benefits to women.  Remember that it was not that long ago the freeing the slaves was “morally objectionable” to established religion in the South.  Once again Obama is copping out to a powerful institution, in this case the Roman Catholic Bigoted Church.  Would that he would pay more attention to those of us who find torture, aggressive warfare that targets civilians, indefinite detention, destruction of the environment, destruction of our public education system, etc. etc. “morally objective” on human grounds.

 

lbassett@huffingtonpost.com

Posted: 02/01/2013 11:40 am EST | Updated: 02/01/2013 12:27 pm EST

religion bigot[1] 3239145902_f0b63a127e

Faced with nearly 50 lawsuits by employers with religious objections, the Obama administration announced on Friday new details of the contraception coverage rule that clarify which employers will be exempt from having to cover contraception costs for their employees.

The new rules announced on Friday eliminate some confusion over which organizations qualify for the exemption by requiring employers with religious objections to self-certify that they are non-profits with religion as a core part of their mission. Religiously affiliated organizations that choose to insure themselves would instruct their “third-party administrator” to provide coverage through separate individual health insurance policies so that they do not have to pay for services to which they morally object.

“Today, the administration is taking the next step in providing women across the nation with coverage of recommended preventive care at no cost, while respecting religious concerns,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, insurers and others to achieve these goals.”

The so-called “contraception mandate,” which went into effect on Aug. 1, 2012, requires most employers to cover birth control for their female employees at no additional cost. Houses of worship are exempt from the rule, and religiously affiliated organizations that are not churches, such as schools and hospitals, are allowed to opt out of directly paying for contraception coverage. The cost of coverage, in those cases, would be shifted to the insurer.

The accommodation for religious organizations did not satisfy all of them. As of Friday, there have been 48 lawsuits filed in federal court challenging the contraception mandate. Some for-profit companies that are not religiously affiliated, including the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby, sued the administration on the grounds that they are being denied their religious freedom by having to cover services to which they morally object. Judges have granted nine of those companies temporary relief from the rule as they pursue their claims in court.

Some non-profit religious organizations that self-insure, such as Catholic schools and dioceses, also filed lawsuits against the mandate, arguing that the accommodation does not apply to them because there is no third-party insurer to absorb the cost of coverage. The courts have largely dismissed those cases because non-profits with religious objections were given a one-year grace period to comply with the birth control coverage rule.

Reproductive rights advocates said on Friday that they are still pleased with the details of the contraception rule. “We look forward to examining and commenting on the proposed rule and helping ensure that, when it is implemented, the women who are affected will have simple and seamless access to contraceptive coverage without co-pays or added costs,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “It’s time for opponents of women’s reproductive choice to stop politicizing women’s health.”

The U.S. Catholic Church, one of the primary foes of the contraception mandate, remained mum on the changes.

“We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later,” said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The New York archdiocese is one of many dioceses that have sued the administration over the changes.

quit-squirming christianhypocracy

Obama’s woman problem December 8, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health, Women.
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Thursday, Dec 8, 2011 4:58 PM 22:37:36 EST, www.salon.com

The president shamefully uses his daughters to justify limiting the healthcare options of America’s young women

obama knows best

     (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Salon)

When will Barack Obama learn how to talk thoughtfully about women, women’s health and women’s rights?

Apparently, not today.

On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unexpectedly overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation that emergency contraception be sold on drugstore shelves and made available without a prescription to women under the age of 17. The move came as a surprise blow to healthcare and women’s rights activists, the kinds of people regularly counted as supporters of the Obama administration.

Today, Obama doubled down on his disregard for the concerns of these groups, claiming that while Sebelius made her decision without his counsel, he agreed with it. Obama pooh-poohed the findings of the FDA, which had concluded that Plan B pills posed no medical hazard and supported Sebelius’ official argument, citing a lack of confidence that “a 10-year-old or 11-year-old going to a drugstore would be able to, alongside bubble gum or batteries, be able to buy a medication that potentially if not used properly can have an adverse effect.” The logic expressed today by the president, and yesterday by Sebelius, is ludicrous: Medicines like Tylenol – which have been proven to have adverse effects in high doses – are available by the truckload on drugstore shelves, at prices far cheaper than the $30 to $50 it would cost a preteen to purchase just one dose of Plan B, let alone go wild with it.

But part of what was most disturbing about Obama’s statement was his reliance on language that reveals his paternalistic approach to women and their health.

“As the father of two daughters,” Obama told reporters, “I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.”

First of all, the president was not talking about “various rules.” He was supporting a very specific rule, one that prevents young women from easily obtaining a drug that can help them control their reproductive lives, at an age when their economic, educational, familial and professional futures are perhaps most at risk of being derailed by an unplanned pregnancy. “As the father of two daughters,” Obama might want to reconsider his position on preventing young women from being able to exercise this form of responsibility over their own bodies and lives.

But as an American, I think it is important for my president not to turn to paternalistic claptrap and enfeebling references to the imagined ineptitude and irresponsibility of his daughters – and young women around the country – to justify a curtailment of access to medically safe contraceptives. The notion that in aggressively conscribing women’s abilities to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancy Obama is just laying down some Olde Fashioned Dad Sense diminishes an issue of gender equality, sexual health and medical access. Recasting this debate as an episode of “Father Knows Best” reaffirms hoary attitudes about young women and sex that had their repressive heyday in the era whence that program sprang.

A question of who should be allowed access to a safe form of contraception is at its root a question of how badly we want to, or believe that we can, police young women’s sexuality. When Obama is talking about his daughters, we know he’s not really basing his opinion on an anxiety that they might suffer the adverse effects of drinking a whole jug of Pepto-Bismol or swallowing 50 Advil, things that any 11-year-old who walks into a CVS with a wad of cash could theoretically do. When he says that he wants to “apply common sense” to questions of young women’s access to emergency contraception, he is telegraphing his discomfort with the idea of young women’s sexual agency, or more simply, with the idea of them having sex lives at all. This discomfort might be  comprehensible from an emotional, parental point of view. But these are not familial discussions; this is a public-health policy debate, and at a time when “16 and Pregnant” airs on MTV, the fact that a daddy feels funny about his little girls becoming grown-ups has no place in a discussion of healthcare options for America’s young women. It is also nearly impossible to imagine a similar use of language or logic to justify a ban of condom sales.

Moreover, Obama’s invocation of his role as a father is an insult to the commitments and priorities of those on the other side of this issue. Are we to believe that those who support the increased availability of emergency contraception do not have daughters? That if they do, they care less about those daughters than Barack Obama does about his? And that if they do not, they cannot possibly know better than a father of daughters what is best for young women? Why should we be asked to believe that Obama’s paternity imbues him with more moral authority on the subject of women’s health and reproductive lives than the investments of doctors, researchers and advocates who – regardless of their parental status – have dedicated their lives to working on behalf of increased reproductive health options. This line of argument is no better than the Mama Grizzly argument developed by Sarah Palin during 2010′s midterm elections, in which she asserted that her band of super-conservative mothers were qualified for office because “moms just know when there’s something wrong.”

Barack Obama has long had a tin ear for language that has anything to do with women and even more specifically with women’s rights. While on the campaign trail for president in 2008, he waved off a female reporter who asked a question about the future of the auto industry, referring to her diminutively as “sweetie.” The same year, attempting to play both sides on the issue of reproductive freedom, he gave an interview with a religious magazine in which he asserted his support for states’ restrictions on late-term abortions as long as there was an exception for the health of the mother, but added that he didn’t “think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother.” Attempting to recover from that line and reassert his pro-choice bona fides, Obama later clarified that of course he believed in a medical exemption for “serious clinical mental health diseases,” just not when seeking a late-term abortion is “a matter of feeling blue,” perpetuating a wildly irresponsible vision of the rare and difficult late-term abortion as a moody impulse-buy.

Today also isn’t the first time he’s used references to members of his family to make a larger offensive point about women. Back in 2009, when charges that his officially female-friendly administration included some boys’ club tendencies hit the front of the New York Times, Obama dismissed the claims as “bunk.” Reporter Mark Leibovich noted at the time that the president “often points out that he is surrounded by strong females at home,” an argument that not only mimics an old saw about how being henpecked by women is equivalent to respecting them, but reflects a dynamic as old as patriarchal power itself and sidesteps the question of how strong females are treated at work. In 2010, while appearing on “The View,” Obama made a creaky Take-My-Wife-Please joke about how he wanted to appear on “a show that Michelle actually watched” as opposed to the news shows she usually flips past. The joke being that his missus, the one he met when she mentored him at a high-powered law firm, just doesn’t have a head for news delivered by anyone other than Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

It should no longer come as a surprise that the president of the United States is, on perhaps an unconscious level, an old-school patriarch. What’s startling is the degree to which Obama seems not to have learned from any of his past gaffes, how no one seems to have told him – or told him in a way that he’s absorbed – that the best way to address a question of women’s health and rights is probably not by making it about his role as a father.

This might be an especially valuable chat to have with the president as he moves into 2012 and toward an election in which he is going to be relying on the support of people he has just managed to anger, offend and speak down to — women. The least he could do is learn to address them with respect.

Rebecca Traister
Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women” (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.More Rebecca Traister

U.S. apologizes to Guatemala for infecting prisoners with syphilis October 2, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Guatemala, Health, Human Rights, Latin America.
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(Roger’s note: an apology without compensation, SOP for the US.  I beg to differ with the article’s conclusion.  To the Obama government, nor any of its predecessors, it really does not matter how they treat other countries except when it suits their geopolitical interests.  By their own admission dozens of experimental abuses were carried on during this period.  Imagine the pain and suffering to indefensible innocents.  Today’s experimental abuses involve, among other things, using unmanned missiles to terrorize civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Interesting to note that the abuses were easier to carry off in Guatemala because of the control that the United Fruit Company had over the local government (and when that government was democratically replaced by a popular one, the CIA overthrew it).  Again, SOP for US foreign policy vis-à-vis Latin America, the intimate relationship between corporate needs and government policy.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the author of the hollow apology towards Guatemala, is the same one who, along with her husband gave aid and comfort to the illegal coup in Honduras and couldn’t wait to embrace the illegitimate de facto government of Porfirio Lobo.  Americans whine: why do they hate us?  I ask you what is the real difference between the grotesque and barbaric experiments the US government carried out in Alabama, Guatemala and dozens of other places and those carried out oin the name of science by the Nazis in Germany.)

Toronto Star, October 2, 2010

By Olivia Ward Foreign Affairs Reporter

It was a reality that mimicked a horror film: Guatemalan prisoners coerced to have sex with prostitutes who were infected with syphilis. Prostitutes who were healthy smeared with the bacteria. Mentally ill inmates inoculated with syphilis.

It was not a deadly biowar experiment, but an American-backed attempt to test whether newly discovered penicillin could prevent the sexually transmitted disease. And it took place in deeply impoverished Guatemala between 1946 and 1948 without the consent of the experiment’s 696 victims.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a startling apology to Guatemala, saying that “although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health.”

In another chilling admission, Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes for Health, told reporters that the Guatemalan experiments were among dozens of abuses by Washington over years of loose standards.

The government “could identify more than 40 other studies where intentional infection was carried out with what we would now consider completely inadequate consent, in the United States,” he said.

The Guatemala experiment — in which subjects were treated with penicillin after attempts to infect them — was uncovered by Wellesley College medical historian Susan Reverby, whose earlier research on an infamous experiment on 500 poor African-American men near Tuskegee, Ala. won a public apology from President Bill Clinton.

The same U.S. Public Health Service researcher, Dr. John Cutler, took part in both experiments.

In Alabama the men were already suffering from syphilis, but scientists merely studied them under the pretence of treating them for “bad blood,” even after penicillin was a known cure. During the 40-year study, beginning in 1932, many of the men died, their wives became infected and children were born with congenital syphilis.

Leaked reports brought the experiment to a halt, and sparked higher standards and closer monitoring of human medical research.

On Friday, Clinton and Sibelius said that the government was launching two investigations into the Guatemala case, including a review by a high-level presidential commission to ensure current medical research met “rigorous ethical standards.”

The hundreds of Guatemalans used in the U.S. study are either very elderly or dead by now, though their photos in research files are silent testimony to their participation. The question of compensation for their relatives is still unanswered. And, Reverby said, the experiments brought no apparent advances in medical science.

Her research in the study’s records found that in spite of penicillin treatment, “not everyone was probably cured” of syphilis after they had been infected. And she said, “what’s interesting about it is (the scientists) knew the study had an unethical edge.”

In fact, the experiment was moved to the small Central American country because the American team could work there with greater freedom, with the co-operation of a government that was promised badly needed medical aid in return. It was not clear whether senior American politicians were aware of the experiments.

Guatemala was an easy target for unbridled research, Reverby said, because the American-owned United Fruit Company controlled much of the country. Washington later helped to overthrow Guatemala’s elected government, and backed the brutal dictatorships that replaced it.

Now, said Reverby, the Obama government has shown it wants to draw a line under that dark history.

“It believes that how we treat other countries does matter.”

Obama to Single Payer Advocates: Drop Dead March 4, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health.
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23 Corporate Crime Reporter 10, March 3, 2009

http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com

President Obama’s White House made crystal clear this week: a Canadian-style, Medicare-for-all, single payer health insurance system is off the table.

Obama doesn’t even want to discuss it.

Take the case of Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan).

Conyers is the leading advocate for single payer health insurance in Congress.

Last week, Conyers attended a Congressional Black Caucus meeting with President Obama at the White House.

During the meeting, Congressman Conyers, sponsor of the single payer bill in the House (HR 676), asked President Obama for an invite to the President’s Marchy 5 health care summit at the White House.

Conyers said he would bring along with him two doctors – Dr. Marcia Angell and Dr. Quentin Young – to represent the majority of physicians in the United States who favor single payer.

Obama would have none of it.

This week, by e-mail, Conyers heard back from the White House – no invite.

Why not?

Well, believe it or not, the Obama White House is under the thumb of the health insurance industry.

Obama has become the industry’s chief enforcer of its key demand: single payer health insurance is off the table.

Earlier this week, Obama named his health reform leadership team – Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Single payer advocates were not happy.

Since leaving Medicare, DeParle cashed in as a director at major for profit health care corporations, including Medco Health Solutions, Cerner, Boston Scientific, DaVita, and Triad Hospitals.

Now, what does the health insurance industry make of the Sebelius/DeParle team?

Here is Karen Ignagni, president of the lead health insurance lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans:

“Today the President is putting in place a team that is ready on day one to provide the leadership necessary to achieve health care reform. Governor Sebelius is the right person to move the President’s health care agenda forward. She is a proven leader with extensive knowledge of health care issues and a long history of working effectively across the political aisle. As a former CMS administrator, Nancy-Ann DeParle brings considerable experience and a strong track record working on all of the health care issues facing the nation.”

Karen sounds really upset, right?

Dr. David Himmelstein is a founder and spokesperson for Physicians for a National Health Program.

Himmelstein’s take – Obama is caving to the insurance industry.

“The President once acknowledged that single payer reform was the best option, but now he’s caving in to corporate healthcare interests and completely shutting out advocates of single payer reform,” Himmelstein said. “The majority of Americans favor single payer, and it’s the most popular reform option among doctors and health economists, but no single payer supporter has been invited to participate in the administration’s health care summit. Meanwhile, he’s appointed as his health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, a woman who has made her living advising health care investors and sits on the board of many for-profit firms that have made billions from Medicare. Her appointment – and the invitation list to the healthcare summit – is a clear signal that the administration plans to propose a corporate-friendly health reform that has no chance of actually solving our health care crisis.”

Obama to single payer advocates: drop dead.

 

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