CONTRACEPTIVE CARE It boils down to rights: employer vs. employee
In its Dec. 1 editorial opposing exemptions from the contraceptive mandate for for-profit businesses under the Affordable Care Act, the Editorial Board argues that the employer’s beliefs would be held as more valuable than the employee’s (“Religion as a sword in the ACA debate”). But this, even if it were true, is beside the point. For it is not a question about evaluating beliefs, but about forcing people to act against their beliefs. We can respect someone’s freedom of conscience even when disagreeing with his or her beliefs. In a later argument, the editorial states that because health care is part of an employee’s compensation, it makes no difference whether the employer provides it in the company health plan or the employees purchase it themselves. But there is a difference. In the first case, the employer must provide what he believes to be immoral. In the second case, it is the employee’s choice.
The editorial also expresses concern that this exemption might lead to further exemptions. But I think the greater danger is that denying the exemption will lead to something much worse: The erosion of the rights of religion against government impositions.
Richard Berquist, St. Paul
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Picture this scenario: You’re driving and obeying all traffic laws, when suddenly someone runs a stop sign and T-bones your car, leaving you severely injured and in trauma. The good news: An ambulance arrives quickly and soon you are stabilized and will recover. The bad news: Your employer is headed by a Jehovah’s Witness and, due to a Supreme Court ruling, does not have to provide insurance covering blood transfusions since Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions. While the religious freedom aspects of the ACA have focused on contraceptives, there are other medical procedures that various religious orders object to, including blood transfusions, organ transplants and vaccines. This is a dangerously slippery slope. Do we really want corporations dictating their religious beliefs to their employees?
PETER HALL, Edina
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What is at stake here is a person’s right to choose not to pay for something that he or she finds morally objectionable. Do we forfeit our right to conscience when we incorporate a business? Business owners Stuart Lind and Tom Janas are not preventing employees from using contraception. How could they? What they are very reasonably saying is that knowingly paying for contraceptives violates their religious beliefs.
CATHERINE Walker, Minneapolis
Focus on criminals as the anniversary nears
A Dec. 1 letter writer reflected on the upcoming anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy and asked that we “think upon those stolen children when you carry your handguns about your daily business.” Her comment highlights an uninformed perception of legal permit holders.
Minnesota crime reports show only three out of nearly 160,000 permit holders were involved in a firearm homicide over the past 10 years. In that same time frame, nearly 1,000 murders were committed — overwhelmingly by chronic criminals. Legal permit carriers aren’t the problem. I suggest we think about keeping criminals off the streets.
KEVIN VICK, Lakeville
Vikings showed true colors in U negotiations
The power of the Minnesota Vikings organization is simply breathtaking. The Nov. 30 front-page headline, “Vikings deal to play at U was a tough bargain,” misconstrued the story, which was a classic account of bullying.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.