Religious Freedom After Measure 3

Measure 3 was defeated with some ease on Tuesday.  As KVLY reported, a significant reason had to do with the $1 million of antagonistic ads from Planned Parenthood.  I also think a factor was the (surprising to me) objections of the ELCA.  The ELCA supported an earlier effort to call for our State Department to place pressure on Turkey’s government to help both the Ecumenical Patriarch and all religious minorities in Turkey.  I posted on that a while back.  So, the ELCA is hardly against religious freedom.

It seems to me that what happened was a perfect storm of slippery slope arguments that tumbled headlong into scare tactic red herring arguments combined with a lot of people not taking the time to research the measure or the issue.  The government already has a well established track record of a “compelling interest” in preventing abuse (whether child or abuse), even over allegedly religious reasons for doing so.  I must admit that I am saddened to see so many failed to realize this.  It really would only take a little thought and time but in our society today, we are overly pressed for time and so taking the time to think through something like this will be difficult for many.

Hopefully, dialogue can come out of this, so that people on both sides can work through some hang ups and this can be given another shot.  No one on either side wants women and children abused.  Nothing in this measure would have closed down anything at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fargo.  Instead, I suspect Planned Parenthood either did this to support political allies or did this because there is a long-range hope to be able to force Roman Catholic hospitals in the state (like St. Alexis in Bismarck) to offer certain insurance coverages or even “emergency” abortions.  Perhaps there is another factor or factors I am not considering but if I’m right, I’m doubly disappointed because 1) a religiously affiliated entity should have some religious protection concerning what practices are allowable for it–with other practices being offered elsewhere and 2) those of us wanting better religious freedom protection were sacrificed on an anti-anti-contraception altar.

8 thoughts on “Religious Freedom After Measure 3

  1. “Instead, I suspect Planned Parenthood either did this to support political allies or did this because there is a long-range hope to be able to force Roman Catholic hospitals in the state (like St. Alexis in Bismarck) to offer certain insurance coverages or even “emergency” abortions. ”

    Or perhaps it’s because of the fear that in such a rural environment, the administration could deny doctors or pharmacists at their hospitals from providing essential care to those that depend on them such as birth control (medication which often has other uses than contraception) and leave these people without the ability to obtain their legally and medically acceptable treatment.

    While I and everyone I know absolutely supports the rights of churches and individuals to operate and believe in whatever ways they see fit (so long as it does not harm others), when these individuals or organizers delve into other ventures such as public services (e.g. hospitals) they have a civic requirement to provide for their patrons. This means looking out for the best interests of the patron, even if that action conflicts with one’s personal beliefs. It should not be the right of a doctor or pharmacist (much less an administrator) to deny a legal and beneficial treatment when the patient has no means to obtain that treatment through an equally accessible means as referred by the objecting doctor.

    Of course, I’m at a loss as to how the Catholic church so strongly objects to health insurance that provides coverage for contraception. Is it on the grounds that they are somehow complicit, then, in allowing individuals to use contraception? Then isn’t it also unacceptable that the Catholic church provides financial compensation to its employees? I mean, just think of how many women out there working for the Catholic church are using their wage/salary to purchase contraception.

    • Andrew,
      Thank you for your comment! Perhaps this is a beginning to the kind of dialogue that needs to happen on this issue. I’m pressed for time, so I have to truncate, here, but I would disagree with those who think contraceptive services are unavailable in ND if all conservative religious folks quit doing the morning after pill or whatever they quit doing. There are plenty of pharmacists. That’s one issue.

      Another you raised was “why”? I think you’re right with the concern for complicity. There is a marked difference between paying for the pill or morning after pill out of one’s own pocket versus paying someone and then they, on their own time and conscious, do so. The one involves us paying directly. The other involves someone else doing that on their own.

      Of course, the Orthodox Church isn’t in full agreement with the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re close. Moscow’s 2000 social statement made allowance for any non-abortificiant contraceptive. So, close.

      A third issue is whether religious freedom is a fundamental right (a right that allows me to not participate in certain activities). I think it is. We allow it to be so with respect to conscientious objectors. I don’t share their view, but I do believe they should have the right to refrain. If we say otherwise, we are saying a gov’t can compel the moral dictates of a religion. Outside of basic humanitarian concerns, like abuse, I don’t think the gov’t should be doing that.

      • Hi Rev. Herbel,

        Thanks for the response. I wanted to make two points regarding your comments.

        “The one involves us paying directly. The other involves someone else doing that on their own.”

        But your example does not reflect reality. As it stands, insurers are required to cover contraceptives – not the employer.

        “A third issue is whether religious freedom is a fundamental right (a right that allows me to not participate in certain activities). I think it is. We allow ”

        I agree entirely! But there’s a huge difference, here, between forcing an individual to violate their religious beliefs and requiring an organization to respect the rights of others. No one has ever, and no one will ever, require an individual to take birth control (at least under American law). It should not be the right of an organization to deny other their right to choose whether they take birth control. And that is a significant problem in places like North Dakota. It’s a predominately rural state and that makes accessing health care difficult. If one’s only local hospital or pharmacy denies them their right to obtain contraception, it can have serious consequences.

        We must be careful when considering the individual liberties of those carrying sincerely held religious beliefs versus the desire of an individual wanting to push those beliefs on others.

        • Quickly, I’m afraid, as I need to hit the door:
          (1) The “accommodation” of insurers seems to me to be a shell-game. The employer would still have to pay for it and that is the basis of the objection. Whether you make the religious institution (school, church affiliated coffee shop, hospital, etc.) pay for the service directly, or make it pay for the insurance that covers it, you’re still making that institution pay for it.

          (2) Regarding contraception, it may be important here to remember that there is no legal right to contraception whenever and from where ever you want it. Likewise, it’s not a “right” for me to go to a pharmacist or clinic and demand whatever treatment I want.

  2. i’m stunned. nd made the national news for being “mush brain” for voting to keep the property tax when nd has 1 and 1/2 BILLION is excess money….and that accessment
    certainly fits for nd population who foolishly listened to the baby butchers who had a million dollars to blow on despicable ads.

    WHERE do people think they got that blood money? the nd media who greased there palms with that blood money needs to be ashamed. was it the nd old timers who rolled over for this evil, or was it the new crop of voting population that has just moved in from around the nation that did this despicable voting?

    • I think people both native and new to the state voted against Measure 3. The Western ND ELCA diocese’s statement was disheartening. I’ll post on that soon. In the end, it was a combination of different kinds of voters who voted against it.

  3. People in Planned Parenthood seem to me to have strongly held religious beliefs that they are not killing anyone and an abortion and birth control should be available to all.

    Measure 3 would require the state to not discriminate against their beliefs and thus provide them with tax money to run their services from the state of ND, just as the Catholic Charities and Lutheran Charities get money now.

    Seems to me many pushing for religious freedom only want it when it agrees with what they themselves believe.

    • Marv, again, I’m glad you’re commenting here. It’s difficult for me to follow your comment, here, though. Measure 3 would not have shut down the abortion clinic in Fargo. Nor would it have taken contraception away as a service from people. I’m not able to tell why you seem to think it would (if I’m reading your comment correctly). Nor would Measure 3 have taken funding away from anything the state has already granted.

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