Letter to the Editor:
I fully respect the Hahn family’s principled refusal to provide family planning coverage for its employees (March 19, 2014 op-ed), but I also sympathize with those employees who may not share the Hahns’ religious convictions. It could be argued the Hahns are persecuting, or attempting to persecute, these people for not sharing their beliefs.
This is a classic case of two rights in conflict. Who should prevail? An argument could be made that, despite Mitt Romney’s assertion, corporations are not people and the rights of individual employees should prevail over the policies of Conestoga Wood Specialties. Anthony Hahn and Rep. Joe Pitts, however, emphasize the owners’ right to run the their company according to their religious principles. For them, and no doubt many others, corporations are people, and people in power have the right to impose their values on their subordinates.
A certain hypocrisy is evident in the objections to providing reproductive coverage to employees through insurance: if the company’s owners feel so strongly about the issue, what do they think of a portion of an employee’s salary going for the same purpose? Would they withhold salary from anyone practicing birth control? If the answer is that the company should have no control over how an employee spends his/her money, could not the same reasoning apply to any insurance provided? Reproductive coverage is only a small part of the policy, and insurance in general is a good thing. Furthermore, why deny insurance to all employees, including those who may not use the objectionable provisions?
I think a possible solution has been proposed, although I have not heard much about it for some time. In this plan, the insurance companies would provide reproductive coverage, but not charge the insuring employer for the cost. What has happened to this proposal? Here Joseph Pitts, our elected representative, could provide an answer if he so chooses. Unfortunately, I fear he is more interested in criticizing the government whenever he can rather than working toward a solution that accommodates both parties.
In addition, Pitts’ assertion that the nationwide Affordable Care Act has a “dysfunctional and expensive government exchange” is outdated. The exchanges are helping many to get coverage better than they had before, and at less cost. Fact-checkers have pointed out that many of the ads attacking Obamacare are false, at that people complaining their premiums are going up haven’t actually gone to healthcare.gov. Perhaps the Hahns and their employees should actually take a look at what is offered in their area and what subsidies are available.
Providing insurance against illness and to promote health is surely within the spirit of Christianity. To say it should be denied to all employees in all cases in order to protect the controversial belief that potential human life from the moment of conception should prevail over the rights of people actually here strikes me as unChristian as well as a violation of individual rights.
Fortunately, however, it appears that some accommodation to both sides is available, as mentioned above. I urge the Hahn family—and Representative Pitts-- to explore them rather than to continue their fight to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.