Contraception and Accurate Framing

Here is the supposed controversy on contraception:

Republicans and Mitt Romney think that whether you get contraception in your health plan should be up to your employer.

Democrats and Barack Obama think that whether you get contraception in your health plan should be up to you.

That’s what the whole alleged issue is about.

Here’s one more hypothetical: if Bob Jones University opened a restaurant and decided not to serve Blacks, should they be exempt from civil rights laws if they say that their religion requires it?  Republicans say yes, and Democrats say no.

And that’s really all you need to know.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

20 thoughts on “Contraception and Accurate Framing”

  1. you’re leaving out two groups. the first group you left out was the (probably largish) subset of republicans who think that whether you get a health plan at all should be up to no one but you. you’re also leaving out the subset of men who think contraception is more like a sex toy than a health care measure and wonder what the fuss is about. both groups are skewing the argument.

  2. It goes beyond that- they want the religious objection of an individual to determine whether the company has to comply, regardless of whether the company has a religious affiliation (reversing a 1997 law and involving any coverage at all, not just no copays). So the hypothetical is if a graduate of BJU opens a restaurant or buys a company and says his religion requires it, can he refuse to serve blacks or fire all black employees?

  3. I have never been given the slightest option in what my health plan covers. I think the second alternative would be more accurately, “Democrats and Barack Obama think that whether you get contraception in your health plan should be up to them.”

    1. true, 90% of health plans with a prescription drug benefit cover contraception. and all employer-provided plans are supposed to. that’s been true since 2000 when the eeoc ruled that they had to. if it was good enough for the bush administration, who never tried to overturn that ruling despite 8 years in charge of appointments to the eeoc i don’t see what difference it makes now unless it’s because a kenyan-socialist is in charge.

      to put that another way, your attempt to divert the conversation from the facts is noted but rejected.

    2. This would be accurate if they were trying to take it away from you, maybe. I’m not saying Zasloff’s characterization is perfect, but yours is just silly encouragement of the paranoids. Maybe something like “The Democrats think that part of providing health care is letting a woman control her fertility” – not “The Democrats want to decide whether you get up the duff”, as you put it.

      1. I phrased the framing carefully. If you don’t want to “get contraception from your health plan,” then you have a very easy way to avoid it: don’t go to doctor and get a prescription for contraception. Barack Obama and the Democrats think that that should be your choice; Mitt Romney and the Republicans think that that should be your employer’s choice. It’s really just that simple.

        1. Jonathan, you claim you phrased the framing carefully, then in the same paragraph you changed the framing and [perhaps] hoped we wouldn’t notice. First you wrote “get contraception in your health plan,” which means SamChevre’s reply was accurate and appropriate. Now you wrote “get contraception from your health plan,” which makes your “choice” contrast relevant.

  4. The exasperating thing here is, the whole argument should have been avoided. Instead of mandating that the employer must buy X type of insurance the law should be writen to forbid the insurance company from selling any policy that doesn’t cover X. It is six of one/ half dozen of the other and may be in fact what the law actually says. So why is it being handled so ham handedly?

    But the ham handedness goes all the way through. If The Democrats had started off with a Medicare public option and Obama had used his much vaunted oratory skill to sell, Sell, SELL IT. And told any blue dog or conservadem that it would be woe unto any fool to oppose this one signiture issue the damn thing would be law. But Obama had the silly notion that in the end we could all get along and after all we are all americans and want what is best. Yeah right.

    1. Why in the world would any of the Blue Dogs have felt threatened by this? Most of them come from districts where being able to say that they had fought against the president on such an issue would have *increased* their chances to win an election, not the other way around. You seem to be fundamentally confused about the inherent strength of party organizations in the American system. (Note that I say “inherent” strength for a reason; the Republicans have managed to show more party discipline over the last decade, but that’s for idiosyncratic reasons having to do with the ideological and financial bases being on the same page, which is not true of the Democrats.)

      Had Obama done what you say he should have done, all he would have ended up with was an embarrassing loss. You might feel better, but I still wouldn’t be able to get health insurance in 2014.

  5. Modern Republicans would stoutly deny that Bob Jones Restaurant should be allowed to deny service to blacks, even on a religious pretext. They love the black man, doncha know? Mexicans, however, are another thing entirely.

    1. I distinctly remember Ron Paul arguing exactly that: That any privately owned business (he cited restaurants) should be able to deny service to anyone for any reason.

      I personally think anyone should be allowed to build, stock and staff a restaurant and refuse entry to anyone to that establishment. It is when you apply for a permit for the privilege of selling food that you need to operate under rules determined by the elected representatives of the people. Things like sanitary food storage and preparation, safe conditions for staff and public, clean usable toilets, safe and adequate accomodation for traffic and parking, equal accomodation for all members of the public who through their representative government and good will make the opperation of a business possible and profitable, etc.
      And when an individual, a corporation or a church want to engage in the privilage of operating a school or hospital or even a carwash they must abide by the rules of civilized conduct just like the rest of us. Just as the Catholic Church has been doing in 28 states (paying for coverage that provides contraception) for as long as those laws have been on the books.
      I’m reminded of a scene in “Our Gang”:
      Spanky: LIVER? I hate liver.
      Dad : It’s what we got. You’re gonna eat it and you’re gonna like it.
      Snanky: I might hafta eat it but I don’t hafta like it.

      1. Ah, yes. Conservatives are obsessed with people’s private morals. Liberals are obsessed with people’s public morals. And both are quite willing to use the force of government to make people behave the way they like.

        1. allow me to rephrase your statement a trifle more accurately. conservatives are obsessed with the private morals of everyone except heterosexual males. liberals are obsessed with public health. both are willing to use the force of government to advance their agandas.

      2. “It is when you apply for a permit for the privilege of selling food”

        See, there’s a basic difference: Conservatives don’t regard engaging in commerce as a privilege which the government extends or denies at it’s whim. They view it as just as fundamental as any other right.

        I think the Obama administration has picked a larger fight than it realized going in, but I understand why they did this: The true statist can not tolerate alternative centers of power and legitimacy besides the state.

        1. Getting bogged down in a semantics debate is a bore with no end so let’s agree to disagree.

          My thought is that running a store front business, in particular one that prepares and sells food has some responsibilities that must be met. Fire inspection, food safty, safe walkways inside and out, signage that meets code, etc. And these are just the building. How about meeting pay roll, SS, unemployment insurance, keeping the books clean and on and on.

          Failure to do these things according to a lot of different laws will cause the business to be closed. If that doesn’t fall on the privilege side of the rights/privileges divide, well as I say, that debate would be too boring to waste the words.

          Life, Liberty, the Persuit of Happiness and Open a Burger Joint?

      3. I personally think anyone should be allowed to build, stock and staff a restaurant and refuse entry to anyone to that establishment.

        I can go along with this, so long as the proprietor also agrees not to use any public utilities, forswear taking any action in court to defend their legal rights and post signs saying that the police should not assist them in the case of a robbery.

        On the other hand, if the establishment wishes to participate in a market that is premised upon receiving public goods, then it should agree to treat all of its potential customers equally. If they wish to live in a libertarian paradise, then it is perfectly acceptable to make them go the whole way rather than taking half steps, but keeping the bits of Evil Socialism that they like.

  6. Remind me to never buy food from Brett Bellmore. You can never tell what he will put into it, since it is his “right” to do anything he wants with it. I prefer that the govt has something to say with the purity of food. So call me a “statist”.

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