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Are These Inalienable Rights Really Self-Evident?

The Declaration of Independence speaks of Inalienable Rights. What are these rights, and how do we know these rights are inalienable?

The Declaration of Independence severed the relationship of colonies to the colonizer.   Although this is not the document upon which the nation’s government is established (that’s the U.S. Constitution), it sets in place a vision for how the emerging nation would see itself.  In laying out this vision, Thomas Jefferson, a Deist and a religious skeptic, drew upon political ideals that had been in circulation for nearly a century, ideals that drew inspiration from a number of sources, including John Locke.   Locke and his contemporaries believed in the importance of Reason, and believed Truth was self-evident, if only we would open our eyes to it.  Locke’s vision influenced political ideas, but also religious ones, as is seen in the writings of the Founders of my denomination, a faith tradition born on what was then the American Frontier not long after the establishment of a new nation on American soil.

Jefferson wrote these words that are known to many Americans, and oft quoted in recent years by many who see in this document a blueprint for small government.  My interest isn’t so much that argument as the question of what inalienable rights are truly self evident.  Consider this statement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Jefferson goes on to discuss how a government might be formed that could enact and uphold these unalienable rights, though the debate as to the formation of this government would have to wait to after the end of the Revolution and a trial form of government under the Articles of Confederation that failed miserably.  From there the Constitution was formed, but not without controversy.  My point today isn’t that conversation, but rather what truths are self-evident.

Let’s start with the question of equality.  Jefferson declared that all men were created equal, but as enacted and as understood at that time – this didn’t include women nor did it include African Americans (most of whom were slaves) nor did it include Native Americans.  In fact, it really didn’t include many men, except those who owned property.  So how self-evident was this ideal of equality?

Then come the specific unalienable rights with which we have been endowed by the Creator – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  What is the nature of these rights, for as laid out here, they seem rather ambiguous.  When you read the rest of the text the claims made against the Crown you find reference to questions of taxation, representation, protection, and the like.  I find it interesting that no claims are made about religious freedom.  The signers of that document apparently were comfortable with the arrangements of the day, even though many faith traditions were treated as second class citizens under the existing establishments.   So, if we are to bring this statement into the present, what should it say to us?  What rights are unalienable?  What does equality look like? 

Since that document was written our understanding of equality has expanded considerably.   Women now have the right to vote, as do African Americans and other minority groups.   There is much more religious freedom than was envisioned at the time.   But we’re still figuring this out.  For instance, are gays and lesbians equal before the law? 

And regarding this question of pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, I hear a lot of speech-making about the need to get government out of our lives.  I find it ironic that many of the same people who are demanding that the government stay out of our lives (usually meaning economic and environmental regulations), are seeking to pass laws that prohibit gays and lesbians from getting married.  If marriage makes a person happy, and if happiness is a self-evident right, then how can the government prohibit gay marriage?   One might go even further and ask why is it that the government is in the business of determining what marriage in the 21st century looks like?  Perhaps government has an interest in this, but is it self-evident?

I’ll throw another issue into the hopper for discussion.  I have friends who are pushing for decriminalization/legalization of marijuana.  If they find happiness in smoking marijuana, and their decision to do so has no negative impact on society (in fact a legal but regulated marijuana industry might lower crime rates and solve the budget deficit), why is government preventing them from engaging this freedom?

I’m not taking a position on either of these issues at this point, though I do have my own beliefs.  What I want to do is ask the question – in the 21st century what God-given rights are truly self-evident?  And how do we determine what is right and what is not?  Back in the 18th century appeal was made to Reason, which many believed was a gift of God to humanity.  Many still believe that our ability to think, to reason, is a gift of God, and that we can know something about what we should be doing through attending to Reason – but is it self-evident?  And is what is self-evident in one generation self-evident to another?  It appears that 18th century American Revolutionaries didn’t think that the equality and rights they were fighting for applied to the slaves or to Native Americans, or even to women. 

So how should we proceed, especially when we’re not all in agreement as to what is truly self-evident?   If we appeal, as the Declaration of Independence does to the Creator, to the Supreme Judge, and Divine Providence, whose understanding of this reality should prevail?  Or is this a contested space that requires a great deal of humility on our part? 

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Bob Cornwall March 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Ed, just to be clear, the definition of marriage as we have it today -- one man and one woman -- is not universal nor is it ancient. In Jewish society by the first century it was standard practice, but polygamy was prominent earlier -- consider Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon. It certainly isn't universal for there are a variety of marriage practices around the world to this day. So, my point earlier still stands -- how is this self evident?
Marybeth McCormick March 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
This is an example of the public's inreasing response to the growing facist nature of state and federal politics. The State attorney general refuses to respect the will of the people and are unlawfully prosecuting, wasting even more money and restricting liberty. 63% of of voters intended to allow medical uses of marijuana. This is our response. The pendulum has reached its zenith, now watch it swing back. I'm not very political usually. I haven't even signed the Schnider recall petition. http://troy.patch.com/articles/big-week-for-marijuana-in-michigan I love this poll! Would you sign a petition to place marijuana legalization on Michigan's November ballot? Yes. The medicinal use law is too vague and confusing. 823 (87%) No. Legalization is a bad idea 102 (10%) Undecided 18 (1%) Total votes: 943 http://troy.patch.com/articles/big-week-for-marijuana-in-michigan
Marybeth McCormick March 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I forgot I was on Marybeth's computer (DavidMc) I don't want anyone to think she's the bad speller of the house.
Bob Cornwall March 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM
It's good to see that I have engendered quite a conversation. In making my point I'm not advocating an "anything goes" pursuit of pleasure. What I'm asking is that we take seriously the intent, but also the context of the original statements. Dale suggests that pursuit of happiness is doing the right and moral thing. John Locke would put it differently -- he would suggest that it is doing that which accords with reason, that which accords to us the greater good (and thus lays aside the pursuit of instant gratification). But let us recognize that even as our understandings of slavery have changed, and our views of the role of women have changed, so are our views of homosexuality. Could Jefferson have envisioned gay marriage? No, probably not, but did he envision giving women the right to vote? No evidence of that either. When we read documents like the Declaration or the Constitution we must refrain from baptizing their context and making it the gold standard. I simply do not want to go back to the way things were done in 1776. I know African Americans don't, neither do women, nor Native Americans, nor those outside the established religious faiths. Times have changed, and that affects how we read and apply our founding documents.
Ed Lambert March 20, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Ms Gault, if you don't want to change the definition of marriage--which is what you are seeking--then I'd have to ask what it is you do want? I've noted that the concept of heterosexual marriage has been with us before we had the written word. I've noted the possible consequences of redefining marriage. You stated that you want marriage redefined. Thus, you have told us what you want. Where am I off base in stating that this is what you want?
Ed Lambert March 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Rev. Cornwall, yes there has been polygamy. It has always involved heterosexual unions, not homosexual. Likewise with polyandry. This much is clear: Any society that we've ever discovered had heterosexual unions as the basis for their society and their family structure. It is the only arrangement possible because "family" presumes a father and a mother. On another note, I acknowledge that I can be something of a "hothead" when in the thick of cultural and political issues. I will continue to work at tempering statements and replies.
Ed Lambert March 20, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Yes, Dave, I believe in "live and let live." The issue of sexual orientation is far from being understood. I would agree that, in general, people do not make a conscious choice regarding orientation. Nor do we know enough to make blanket statements that people can change or cannot change their orientation. That has nothing to do, however, with the nature of marriage, which is primarily meant for procreating the species and raising the offspring procreated.
Calan March 21, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Ed, First, let me clarify, the intent of my statement was the Gov. and SOCIETY take turns leading and pushing, not religion. Religion is a part of society not the be all end all of society. Society has pushed issues such as women's suffrage while ultimately it was government that stepped in to abolish slavery. When a person advocates law based on their specific religious dogma or ideology, regardless of how narrow or broad, they advocate the dilution of freedom for those with different ideology. When you speak of civil marriage as needing to be defined by absolutes of your religion then you do more then suggest that religious freedom applies only to your religion. Same sex relationships and marriage actually have been around for eons as well-Many, if not most cultures at all points of history have had some form of same sex relationships and/or same sex marriage. "Obamacare" is def. an interesting example, since some form of universal health care was one of the things Obama campaigned on--arn't you denouncing the recall of Mayor Daniel's because she shouldn't be criticized or recalled because she voted against the transit center, since she campaigned as being against it? Thats very interesting in deed, defend the Mayor, but the Obama some how wronged you and the rest of the country? Hmmm! As for the GOP, Pelosi and Obamacare--Ted Kennedy introduced 15 different bills for universal health care over the almost 50 years he was a senator... -cont'd-->
Ed Lambert March 21, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Dave, how do we know that the decrease in homicides is directly attributable to repeal of prohibition?
Ed Lambert March 21, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Marybeth, you have to admit that there is intentional misuse of the medicinal marijuana law. I'm not sure you can accuse the AG of ignoring the will of the people.
Calan March 21, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Hillary Clinton, to much criticism, picked up health care reform as her project as first lady. the Democratic Party Made Health Care reform a party plank. Obama campaigned on it. For decades the GOP had the opportunity to talk about it, engage in it, debate it, compromise on it, yet somehow, today they act like it was a shock or a surprise that it passed. In all of those years, I can't think of one meaningful way the GOP put forth a proposal for reform? With all due respect, I disagree whole heartedly that the recent HHS mandates and the AHCA are in any way infringing any person's religious freedom-- I would also argue allowing all people equal access to health care, birth control and medical services does not prevent any person from self determination, regardless of how many pages the regulations take up. In fact, empowering people with better access to health care options improves lives in general. Now maybe if your idea of religious freedom is outlawing all birth control for the country and creating a vatican run state, then I may concede the point. Thru-out our history as a nation, religious ideology has been used to justify and influence laws supporting slavery and segregation; supporting bans on inter-racial marriage, consumption of alcohol (and other things), and same sex marriage; and deterring equality and equal access. The Blunt Amendment (which was introduced for the benefit of 1 creed) is one example of religion trying to meddle with law.
Ed Lambert March 21, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Rev. Cornwall, Agreed there have been and will continue to be changes in attitudes regarding cultural values and attitudes. We know that slavery was part of the great compromise that was necessary if the colonies were to form a union at all. I point out, however, that there was no prohibition in the Constitution as written against woman suffrage. The XIX Amendment was written to invalidate state laws that did prohibit suffrage. Certainly, attitudes regarding gays have changed, but that does not mean that the general position regarding the nature of marriage has changed. What I note above are important distinctions that are easily overlooked and not even acknowledged by those in the vanguard of radical change. One more point in reference to Jefferson the Deist: Deists do acknowledge the existence of some higher power, something beyond us and greater than ourselves. The Founders were absolutely clear about one other point as well: that government is subservient to the people. We've not seen any of that on the federal level since late January '08.
Calan March 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
After a recent "Political Rally" otherwise known as Mass my cousin, his wife and I had a lengthy debate about Sabelius and the recent HHS mandates and the idea that she should be excommunicated. I paused and realized I have a lot of political discussions (always passionate, sometimes heated) with my cousin and his wife about hot button issues--abortion, birth control, same sex marriage, prayer in school, health care reform, abstinence only education, etc., and how there should be laws to protect, promote or ban such things...the funny thing is, they only ever bring up these issues after Mass--connection? I go back to my earlier statement, government should be legislating to the least restrictive side of things. If you don't believe in same sex marriage then don't marry someone of the same gender. you don't believe in birth control, don't use it. you think that drinking alcohol is a sin, don't drink a glass of wine. you think marijuana is bad, don't smoke it. tattoo's are bad, don't get one... the list can go on and on, but at the end of the day, the government should be less about limiting and more about enabling. For me, those inalienable rights, and self evidence come thru absolute religious freedom and absolute religious freedom can only come when laws and government are absolutely free of religious ideology and influence.
Ed Lambert March 21, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Calan, I do not think government and society take turns leading and pushing, at least not if we're following the Constitution, which places the people in charge throught their elected representatives. We had Congress pass DOMA to define marriage. Congress knew that the people, by and large, wanted this. By the way, the bill passed with majorities in both political parties. Congress passed Obamacare with barely enough votes in the House, all Democrats, without even reading the bill. Since the contents of the bill have become public, a large majority of that public does not want this bill, and the public gave the House over to the GOP in 2010 as part of that protest. No, the people (society) lead, not government. That's a conservative view not endorsed by liberals, especially that branch of liberalism known as socialism or totalitarianism, which is the controlling branch in the Dem party today. At this point "religion" is not making demands on the state--the birth control issue being the current example. Rather, religion is attempted to maintain its Constitutional rights. Obama and the rest of the left do not like the Constitutiion. Who knew! Apples and oranges, Calan, regarding Obama and Daniels. Obama is not being recalled. I wouldn't support an attempt to impeach him even if the GOP had the votes to do it. The inattentive voters elected this would-be dictator. Perhaps they'll pay more attention come November.
Bob Cornwall March 21, 2012 at 03:58 PM
This conversation has gotten long and involved and probably requires another blog posting to restart and redirect. On the issue of how state and society interact. It's complicated. The Constitution laid out patterns and foundations, but it could not foresee every issue or development. We are not the same country as we were in the 1780s. Thus, this idea of a strict constitutionalism makes little sense. If you apply the Constitution to 21st century issues, without taking either context into consideration you will misapply the constitution. Did the Constitution envision a national health care system? No, but I don't think we want to return to 18th century understandings of how medicine should be practiced or delivered. As for DOMA. Yes, it was passed with bipartisan support -- nearly 20 years ago. But since then things have changed. If you look at most polling numbers a growing number of Americans are supportive of gay marriage. It has passed the 50% marker, and among younger adults it's upwards of 70% and growing. So, the government will adjust. But society has been pushed. In the south segregation didn't end because white southerners woke up one day and decided that blacks were their equals. No, segregation ended because the government intervened, beginning with the courts -- this includes laws prohibiting interracial marriages. The same arguments were used to support this ban as are being used today w/ regard to gay marriage.
Calan March 22, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Ed, I am going to reply to you down here because I want to add to what Mr. Cornwall has written above. It is not apples & oranges, it is hypocrisy to defend one politician on the grounds that they did what they campaigned for and were "elected to do" and turn around and blast another who also did what they campaigned for and were "elected to do". Plain & simple. And for the record, my opinion & thoughts on Daniel's, her performance & the recall movement have absolutely nothing to do with the transit center. 2 facts about the birth control mandate from the beginning -- 1) ALL churches were exempted from the mandate, 2) the mandate requires absolutely no one to use birth control. Contraception & women's health issues should be between a Dr. & Patient. Mandating that women have equal access to those services thru insurance with out a co-pay does not infringe on anyones freedom or religion. Insurance, I might add, that on average cost American employees over $2000 a year. If we both paid in $2000 for insurance, should either of our coverage have exclusions based completely on someone else's religious ideology? Absolutely NOT! The Catholic Church is 100% making demands of the government on this issue. Btw, Kaiser Family Foundation Poll on ACA: March 2012 - Favorable Opinion of ACA 41% Unfavorable Opinion of ACA 40% 2 Year avg. puts unfavorable ahead by about the 3-4 point margin of error. Neither side has a majority in that poll.
John Mc. March 22, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I am working on that.
Ed Lambert March 22, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Dave, I think both of us are doing our parts to further the conversation. Maintaining the traditional definition of marriage does not deny freedom to anybody. There is no "control" here of any sort. No, I would not accept Sharia law in our country even if it were 100% Muslim. As long as we are living under the Constitution as written and amended, we cannot tolerate Sharia law beyond its current applicability under that same Constitution. I suspect there are elements in Sharia law that are comparable to local ordinances and state laws as permitted by the Constitution. An example from a creed I'm familiar with, the Catholic Church: The Church requires its adherents to meet certain criteria for a marriage to be solemnized by it. Those who wish not to accept those criteria or "rules" are free to go elsewhere to marry. Each state has laws governing marriage, and Catholics whose marriages have been annulled or declared invalid from the start must still obtain a legal divorce before entering a marriage within the Church. If Sharia law has analogous requirements regarding a marriage if it is to be recognized by Islam, the same situation would apply as it does for Catholics--i.e., Islam might maintain that a husband saying three times to his spouse "I divorce thee" becomes divorced. The state would require that its legal requirments for divorce must also be followed.
Ed Lambert March 22, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Rev. Cornwall, we are supposed to be a nation guided by law. The supreme law in this country IS our Constitution, which has a process built in for amending it. To say that strict constitutionalism is a misapplication of the Constitution itself is not even logical or rational. It seems that you are arguing from what I'll call the Algore premise: that the Constitution is a "living, breathing document." That is utter rubbish because in essence this premise is saying "Words mean what I want them to mean." The Constitution did not envision a national healthcare system and it is quite evident that most people agree with that. Understanding medicine has nothing to do with the matter. Frau Sebelius is demonstrating with her rules that government does not understand medicine either. What socialists in government understand is CONTROL. The analogy of slavery to marriage is not an analogy at all. Marriage by definition requires a male and a female of the age of consent. The preservation of a society is not possible under any other kind of union. If what you claim is true about the country's support for gay marriage, then it is a quick step to repealing DOMA, no? I'll bet that won't happen.
Ed Lambert March 22, 2012 at 02:27 AM
It remains apples and oranges. Here's why: Blasting Obama for what he has done is not the same thing as impeaching and convicting him. If you recall, Obama campaigned on the slick slogan of "Hope and Change." Point out where he ever revealed one single detail of Obamacare that was actually passed without any debate and without having been read. I'm here to read your report. Some serious errors regarding your 2nd point. The issue does not center on requiring individuals to use birth control. It centers on the matter of the taxpayers and businesses being forced to pay for a service. Why do you think it is our duty to provide birth control to anybody? That is the socialist view of government, that government determine what anybody must buy. You are right: contraception is a matter between the woman and her doctor. Nobody else! The only demand the Catholic Church is making is that government remain out of the matter. What do you think the polling results would be if this question were asked: Should we expect anybody other than the user to pay for birth control? By the way, I enjoy Maine lobster. It is a "burden" for me to pay for it. The taxpayers should pay for it because I have a "right" to it. As for Kaiser's poll: the internals of their polls might be very revealing, just as the internals of most ABC-NYT polls are revealing. We'll get the details--but only from alternative media sources. What does that tell you?
Calan March 22, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Nope, still hypocrisy and def. not apples and oranges. He campaigned that he would push for health care reform, he pushed for health care reform, congress enacted health care reform. You chastised a republican for supporting the recall of Daniel's on grounds that he could not justify a recall because she campaigned against the transit center and she voted against it. Its the same. It has nothing to do with the method of checks and balance--be it a congressional repeal, court striking down or a repeal petition. As for the Birth Control Mandate--A Business may provide health care to an employee at no cost to the employee as a benefit, that is true, BUT, and it is a big but, BENEFITS are in fact COMPENSATION for my work just as my wages are a compensation for my work. Regardless of what % my contribution is to my insurance vs. my employers contribution, that coverage is 100% my coverage, not my employers, not my co-workers. When my insurance covers a service, co-pay or no co-pay it comes from MY coverage. Mandating specific services as being available to all and/or at no co-pay is not a socialist view any more then mandating every new car must have air bags is socialist, as I am still the one buying the insurance thru my compensation for work. Obama did compromise and allow the exemption of churches to also apply to church affiliated entities as well, but that just wasn't enough for the Catholic Church, they continue to push to end the mandate all together.
Calan March 22, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Because at the end of the day, their goals are self serving. So if the insurance coverage is mine, then why should the catholic church care what services I obtain with it. Why is it any of their business? I like many American's work 40-50 hours a week to have that coverage. When I interview prospective employees, the questions they pose are always about health care coverage, why?because if they are going to work for me, they want to know they are getting fair compensation, and right-wrong-or-indifferent, insurance is part of that compensation. But then I would think that a man who puts eating Main Lobster up for comparison to women's health care services and options really just doesn't get it! As for the Kaiser polling, I actually consider them to have been very neutral on the whole issue. They have been polling every month, asking questions about many aspects of the ACA and then report the results. I see them looking at all sides of the issue. They def. convey the overall dislike of the individual mandate, but they also show that overall opposition to the law is not as much as some would like the world to believe.
Ed Lambert March 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Calan, you still have not made an arguement: "So if the insurance coverage is mine, then why should the catholic church care what services I obtain with it. Why is it any of their business? The quarrel is not about one using benefits in a healthcare plan, it is about requiring any insurer to provide birth control coverage. Since when, by the way, is birth control a part of "health care"? The same people who advocate abortion on demand also call it a "women's health issue." What you FREELY offer employees is your business. That is quite different from a government MANDATE that you do so. Get it? Nope. That flies in the face of your own utopian view of the world, I suspect. It will not take much Googling for you to discover the weaknesses and the agenda in Kaiser polling projects. You are not interested in those details, though, because they do not further the liberal/socialist view of society. "They def. convey the overall dislike of the individual mandate, but they also show that overall opposition to the law is not as much as some would like the world to believe." Really? Well over 60% of the public wants ACA repealed completely, and at least one poll shows that 40% of Democrat voters want this as well. My Maine lobster vs birth control coverage analogy remains accurate because both presume that there is a "right" to a specific good or service here. Only drawn butter with my lobster, please.
Calan March 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Ed, Lets see--tubal ligation, vasectomies, and various IUD's are some of the birth control methods requiring a medical procedure, usually outpatient. "The Pill," Depo-Provera Shots, patches, NuvaRing and even diaphragmes are some of the less invasive methods that only require a gyno. exam and a Dr.'s prescription, tho Depo shot requires you go to the Dr.'s office to get the shot. So here is my take, and I may just be crazy, but if you have to have a procedure done by a Dr. or have a Dr. look up your who-ha so they can write you a prescription, and you have to have that prescription to obtain those forms of birth control, IT IS HEALTH CARE. Eating Main Lobster, not a health care issue. Comparing eating it to a mandate that provides birth control, mammograms, pap smears, etc. at no co-pay is still a bad analogy. Here's a 2/27/12 Gallop Poll for you: If elected, should a republican president repeal AHA- 47% Yes, 44% No. Was passing ACA a Good Thing? 45% Good, 44% Bad. So 2 Polls now, 2 sources, similar findings, no majority, difference in opinion with in margin of error. And unlike you, I have no problems citing the source. You can throw out a number, you can say the people doing the polling have an agenda all you want, but at the end of the day, both are considered legitimate polling organizations that are cited by both sides of the argument. I have watched their polls teeter both directions in the past 2 years which def. shows a clear split, imo.
Calan March 24, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Utopian world view--that makes me laugh-- When I hear people like you talk about socialism, laws and madates, I think, you know what, why not, lets end all these things in the US--maybe for a day, a week, a month, an experiment and see what happens. Fire protection, now thats a socialist program--and you know in South Fulton TN you have to subscribe to fire protection @$75/year if you live outside the city and want fire protection, or they just watch your house burn as they did to Vicky Bell who did not pay the $75 last year. Liability insurance for car drivers, there's something that cuts in to my Lobster Budget, seriously, it unfairly requires me to pay for something that only benefits others, right? OSHA--do we really need safe work environments--afterall its just a bunch of mandates that go against a business owners common sense, profit, and religious ideology/beliefs, right? Ed, your opting out of Social Security and Medicare--I mean really, you could never accept a socialist check or service, right? Public education--I say let every parent PAY for private school, that would certain cut down taxes ALOT--and really, isn't education for snobs anyway, eh Santorum. And you know, now that I think about it, I think public school also goes against many religious ideologies, maybe you should champion that exemption too. Seriously tho, there are always going to be laws, regulations and mandates that go against my personal feelings and yours.
Ed Lambert March 24, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Calan, you forgot the poll that says 60-some percent of the public wants SCOTUS to scuttle the requirement that people buy anything in Obamacare. Yes, tubal ligation, vasectomies (I know 'bout that), etc. are medical procedures. That does not mean that anyone is Constitutionally required to pay for someone's procedure. If one has an insurance program that provides these, it is because the person has FREELY BOUGHT the insurance or a corporate entity has done so. There is no Constitutional requirement that either party do so. Birth control procedures, ordinarily, are NOT a matter of health; they are a matter of convenience. No one suffers a health issue IPSO FACTO not being "birth controlled." It seems to me you are confusing healthcare with convenience. If you want to pursue the "right" to having sex, then I'll have to bring up medical conditions and procedures that eliminate the possibility for one to have sex. What then? It is utopian to think government can provide for everyone's desires, especially when they are confused with needs. No co-pay for anything? Well, nothing's free, so the cost is going to be covered somewhere. Why do you think individuals have no financial responsibility regarding their own well-being? My having the new iPad will be good for my well-being, so I should get that free, too. What is disputed is that government can force any ONE or any ENTITY to provide any healthcare coverage. Let's keep this going. We both learn.
Calan March 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM
In my opinion however, I feel the order of things should be the best interest of the people at large first, & the feelings of a religious organization or its ideology should be secondary. Something to ponder, Ed, each day you & I subsidize religious organizations all across our country because of their various tax exemptions. Can you imagine how property taxes would go down if Church's were required to pay their fair share? Now, for me, I am fine with them having tax exemptions if they work for the greater good of the community. For me tho, thier opposition of this mandate goes against the greater good of the community. Btw, the one voice that has been completely absent from the national discussion of the mandate-Insurance Companies-I wonder why that is, or is it that they agree with Sebilius that better access to birth control will reduce their costs with fewer pregnancies? I know it has really gotten off on a tangent from the original Post, & I apologize for that. I still feel very strongly that in order for each of use to have inalienable rights and be able to determine our own futures, laws should be to least restrictive and various groups and religions need to understand that it is unfair and wrong for them to apply their narrow view to the population at large. Giving people the opportunity is not the same as limiting the opportunity and the Church tries too hard to limit opportunities. A mandate removing a co-pay does not limit or restrict.
Calan March 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM
The constitution does not require liability insurance for car drivers either, but the government requires that every car driver have liability insurance and further the government mandates what is considered the minimum requirement for that insurance. The government mandating that all health care insurance provide mammograms, pap smears, birth control and a few other health services at no co-pay, or changing pre-existing condition clauses or other items as being part of the basic level of coverage for all health insurance plans is certainly no different. Ultimately, I do think it will come down to the SCOTUS to determine if the personal mandate of the ACA is constitutional. My feeling is based on precedents of inter state commerce and others it will be upheld. I also think that based on the precedents of conscientious objectors and sep. of church and state that any challenge to the recent HHS mandates will fail. But then if a Blunt Amendment style law was to pass then it would be a whole new round of opposition I think, and in turn could open a whole new can of worms going back to conscientious objector issues on taxes. I think that if it comes down to Military Budget vs. HHS Mandates, the military budget will win out with conservatives, and they would drop opposition to the HHS mandate in a heart beat.
Ed Lambert March 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Calan, keep in mind the distinction between the federal government and the sovereign states regarding liability insurance. The US Constitution leaves such details up to the states. Tenth Amendment. Likewise, healthcare. Yes, the misuse of the "Commerce" clause in the Constitution has been going on for decades. This is the first time, however, that socialists are demanding that the clause be used to require an entity to buy something. That's what the fight's all about. I agree that the military budget must pay its fair share to reduce the debt and deficits. Income tax is now part of the Constitution. People are free to leave the country for another place to live if they dispute the tax That, or pass another amendment. HHS mandates can be overturned even by this president. Regulations are not part of ACA; they are instruments to carry out ACA. The present HHS mandates are exactly what the Socialist-in-Chief wants, as does his oh-so-Catholic Sebelius.
Ed Lambert March 24, 2012 at 03:59 PM
"I feel the order of things should be the best interest of the people at large first, & the feelings of a religious organization or its ideology should be secondary." - Calan Is it in the best interest of society to force it to accept a program that it does not want, especially since there is no Constitutional requirement for it? The entire debate is about this very "best interest," Calan. The ideology of a religious organization is not secondary. First Amendment. I don't think there's a Constitutional argument for freeing religious bodies' property from taxes. Certainly there's a strong case to be made for taxing everything but the actual worship space. However, this is a STATE issue, not a FEDERAL matter. Perhaps insurance companies are being heard. In any event, companies do not provide anything for free; it's being paid by someone. "Laws should be least restrictive." Agreed! So why is government meddling in private individuals' and companies' business? No religious body is attempting to force its "narrow view" on anyone else. It is attempting to exercise its First Amendment right. Birth control is no different from the presumption about every other "right" to purchase a good or service. One must allocate funds according to a priority. Is a new car at the top of the list? Is cable tv further down the list? Choose when you decide where to spend your money. Birth control is not "healthcare." Neither is abortion-on-a-whim.

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