Friday, March 2, 2012


Here I go again, using the “S” word to crank up my readership.

Tacky to be sure. But still, I can’t resist.

The Internet’s abuzz about the appearance of Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who was invited to testify before a Congressional committee on the need for free birth control among law school students.

Ms. Fluke told the committee that birth control pills cost female law students about $3,000 during their three year matriculation. They are already parting with roughly $140,000 in tuition, not to mention room and board, books, and other incidentals.

Ms. Fluke was speaking in favor of the mandate of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, requiring employer provided health insurance to include free birth control pills.

That mandate has been challenged by Catholic institutions and other religious organizations on the ground that it interferes with their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

President Obama called Sandra Fluke just before she was to be interviewed by Ed Schultz on MSNBC, telling her that her parents should be proud of her for standing up for women’s reproductive rights.

Of course, the Sebelius mandate has nothing to do with student health care plans. It only deals with employee health care plans.

Small detail. What the administration really wants is to cut off any talk about religious liberty and change the subject to women’s rights.

Indeed, most of the voices favoring the mandate clearly regard free birth control as a fundamental civil right, an entitlement, a birth right on par with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

After all, men can enjoy sex without getting pregnant, can’t they? What’s good for the gander should be good for the goose, n’est-ce pa?

I suppose it’s impossible to discuss the subject of religious liberty without the shrill, emotional diatribes that emanate from the minions of feminism.

But judges and law school professors like to change the facts of a case to see if a rule of law applies in a different frame of reference.

So let me try this:

Can the federal government require that a Catholic hospital cafeteria serve meat on Friday? Does it matter that a high percentage of Catholics regularly ignore the Church’s penitential rule?

Or can the Congress require a Jewish University to serve pork in its cafeteria? Does it matter that many of the students and faculty are not Jewish or belong to a progressive branch of Judaism which does not observe the traditional Kashrut?

Does it make a difference that such rules are enforced by fines and/or imprisonment? Or by loss of a subsidy paid to those who are willing to comply?

Can the law punish crimes by clergymen more severely than when committed by anyone else?

Can the Congress limit a clergyman’s First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech? Can it decree that certain subjects cannot be discussed or certain opinions be expressed from the pulpit?

Can the government take away the tax exemptions of religious organizations which preach against its mandates?

The culture wars are heating up. Unfortunately, there are lots of loose canons on the deck, like Rush Limbaugh, whose unbridled rhetoric makes rational discussion or debate well nigh impossible.

Unhappily, culture wars are fought in sound bites and tweets, with most of the fusillades coming from unmitigated self interest and prejudice.

Today’s hot button issues may or may not affect the outcome in November.

Either way, the hard questions will still need to be answered.


  1. I've copied/pasted some information, including a link, that I found on the Islamic Society of North America website.

    I will be very interested to see if the "Affordable Care Act" requires Muslims, who provide health insurance for their employees, to purchase insurance plans that pay for morning after pills, tubal ligations, etc. Like contraceptives they must be provided "free" by the insurance provider.

    I'm betting that an exemption will be slipped into the rules by HHS.

    If the goal of the new law is to provide "affordable care" I can tell you how it could be done with two very simple actions by the government. Simply open access to the multitude of health insurance plans available to civil service employees, and provide a health care "credit" ( think of the earned income credit ) to folks below a certain income level.

    4g: IMANA’s Position on Contraception and Abortion (Termination of Pregnancy) (7)


    Islam prohibits sex and conception out of wedlock. For married couples, contraception for several reasons, including health of the mother, social or economic reasons etc, is permitted. Abortion is “willful termination of pregnancy by artificial means (drugs, chemicals, mechanical or surgical before the age of viability 23 weeks) for any reason. Chemical or mechanical means to prevent the formation of zygote (fertilized ovum, which marks the beginning of human life) is not considered abortion. . We believe that life begins at conception and unless interrupted by disease or artificial means, the fertilized ovum will continue to grow and become a viable mature human being. Islam gives fetus the right to life. IMANA’s position on abortion can be classified in three categories:

    Elective abortion of a viable fetus in a healthy mother is considered a serious crime, equivalent to murder and is prohibited.
    Abortion may be permitted if continuation of pregnancy may cause the pregnant woman to die or cause serious deterioration of her health both medical and mental.
    The congenital conditions affecting fetus in which abortions may be sought and may be permitted are lethal malformations not compatible with extra uterine life such as bilateral renal aplasia, Trisomy 13, 18 and . But, even in these situations, it is preferable to do it before the 120 days of pregnancy. In non-lethal situations such as severe hydrocephaly, cervical spinal bifida, Down’s syndrome, it may be permissible before 120 days of pregnancy after consulting Islamic scholars and medical experts in the field.
    Pregnancy occurring because of rape, war crimes, incest may be a cause to seek abortion. In all cases, the recommendation should be made by a team of Islamic scholars and medical experts in the field.

    Similarly, contraceptive methods which can lead to abortion are not allowed. . Prohibition of infanticide is mentioned in following verses in Quran 17:31, 6:151, and 60:12.

    4j: Miscellaneous Issues

    a. Birth control methods between husband and wife:

    IMANA approves of all methods of contraception between husband and wife which are not harmful, are reversible and are not abortificient. Prophylactics, withdrawal methods or oral contraceptives are allowed. However permanent measures such as tubal ligation , vasectomy, morning after pill and certain forms of IUD are not permissible.

  2. "But judges and law school professors like to change the facts of a case to see if a rule of law applies in a different frame of reference." Let's try changing the frame of reference for an argument you report (but most likely do not support): "After all, men can enjoy sex without getting pregnant, can’t they? What’s good for the gander should be good for the goose, n’est-ce pa?"

    Here's my proposed different frame of reference: When sex results in a pregnancy, men incur, from the moment of conception, all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of being a parent.

    That "men can enjoy sex without getting pregnant" stuff completely abnegates the role that men have in creating a child, like women can accomplish this feat all on their own. I guess that's fine for men who don't want to get married or have families. But what about men who do? We already see far too many instances of laws and court rulings that deny men access to their children, wreak financial havoc upon them, and commit other paternal injustices that are only rarely, if ever, visited upon mothers.

    The repudiation of fathers' rights is borderline criminal, and a society that does not recognize, require, and respect the role of the FATHER from the moment of conception has little chance of effective reform.

    NOTE: Please excuse the way-tardy comment. I only discovered your blog today, and I am enjoying a long stroll through your archives. I doubt anyone will ever read this, but it is something I have wanted to say for some time, and I haven’t seen anyone else make this point anywhere else yet.

  3. Better late than never. Glad to hear from ou.