One point I find interesting about the controversy over the conflict between Catholic institutions and White House, over reproductive health coverage, is that the entire issue could have been avoided with a single-payer system.
Four years ago the centrist position on universal healthcare was, more or less, coalescing around a corporatist system, which is what we eventually received – matching more closely the centrist Republican model than the centrist Democratic one. Now that we have it, we are running head long into the easily foreseeable problem of what happens when an institution’s/corporation’s values conflict with the values of the general public.
The main argument being made by Rome, and allies, is that of religious freedom, freedom of conscience and so on, which is much smarter than arguing on moral grounds. In reality, if it argument were framed in terms of providing coverage for contraception and sterilization to employees, outrage would evaporate fairly quickly, given that 96% of Catholics contracept and near 90% think it is none of their Church’s business.
It is interesting how the whole “institutions as persons” argument is making its way in here – the institution’s moral conscience is violated by forcing it to provide dogmatically forbidden health coverage to its employees. So, is it the right of the capital holder to enforce its values upon its workers? I think it is possible for a freedom of religion argument to be made in opposition to the one currently being made. It is the workers’ freedom of religion to determine what form of healthcare is morally permissible, even if it is in opposition to the dogma of the religion they formally belong too. Despite the argument being made about forcing a “person” to purchase a product they morally object too, Catholic institutions, in reality, pay extra to not include reproductive care. Pregnancy and childbirth is, after all, quite a bit more expensive for the insurance company than a prescription for some fashion of birth control or sterilization. So, the argument can then become whether or not the conscience of a fictitious “person” can impose a denial of coverage on other (real) persons for near ubiquitously used medical procedures and prescriptions. What then when other institutions decide that coverage of immunizations or procedures involving blood transfusions are morally objectionable?
In the end, if our society is going to make the decision that healthcare is a human right by law, which I believe it should be, then it really needs to be distributed via the State. As it is now, I dislike either outcome – public values trumping mainstream religious values, or institution’s values trumping worker’s rights.