The NFL and Sandra Fluke – A Common Theme
The NFL Part. Last night in America, millions of sports fans watched as substitute NFL refs literally robbed the Green Bay Packers of a clear victory over the Seattle Seahawks. For those who missed this, in the last seconds of the game, the Seahawks’ quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone where it was intercepted by Green Bay, sealing the Green Bay 12-7 victory over Seattle. Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings caught and held onto the ball as the Seahawks’ apparent intended receiver Golden Tate tackled him. Refs on the field for no reason apparent to any viewer called that play a touchdown for the Seahawks, giving them a 14-12 victory.
Worse, after reviewing the play that every sentient viewer watched 10 times and each time could see was an unquestionable Green Bay interception and victory, the refs stood by the “ruling on the field,” and awarded the touchdown and game to the undeserving Seahawks.
The Theme. The theme that emerged from the NFL is that too often today there is simply no connection between reality and the decisions made or viewpoints held by those in charge. Decisions appear to emerge from an alternative universe unconnected with the real universe all of the rest of us can see.
The Sandra Fluke Part. Last night at SMU, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program presented Economics and Equality: How Obstacles to Women’s Health Care Access Affect Us All featuring Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student (now graduate) who testified before Democrats in Congress that she supported the government’s efforts to find a way to require insurers to provide her and all women access to cheap or free birth control. She estimated it costs her $3,000 annually for this care.
Fluke’s basic points in her SMU presentation were that access to birth control undergirds women’s ability to participate fully in society and enjoy equal employment and other opportunities, and that reproductive freedom policy should be based on facts not ideology. She was joined on the panel by a Planned Parenthood official, and two SMU professors, law professor Linda Eads who spoke eloquently and concisely about the constitutional issues involved, and Human Values professor Charles Curran, whose contribution I can recall was advocating for single-payer healthcare.
In the Q&A session that followed the panel presentation, Fluke answered questions in an alternative universe style worthy of the NFL refs.
Real Universe: An early questioner asked how Fluke could justify making others pay for her contraception, pointing out that when insurers are forced to provide coverage for some treatments or services without imposing a co-pay, deductible or any other charge to the person receiving the care, the insurer will necessarily spread the costs among others they insure. (This is a simple manifestation of the truism that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone always pays for stuff that someone else gets for free.)
Alternative Universe: Fluke’s alternative universe and very dismissive response was partially inaudible, but was basically that it was not true that insurers would pass along costs they incurred from giving out free stuff. (What laws of economics? What reason to think that insurers won’t just absorb those costs?) There IS a free lunch! Professor Eads at least chimed in later and acknowledged that this is a policy question like Social Security. We as a society can decide to share costs, and advocated voting as the means to remedy the situation of being asked to pay for things you don’t think you should have to subsidize.
Real Universe: Virginia Prodan, a lawyer educated in law once in Romania and later again at SMU, and who lived under repression imposed by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, spoke of the dangers of letting government control health care, and in general the dangers of surrendering more and more power to a growing central government. She spoke of the dangers to women and all people of capitulating their freedom to big government and to government’s control of health care.
Alternative Universe: Fluke’s answer was not only astoundingly alternative universe based, but also patronizing. She simply responded that Prodan was not correct, and condescendingly “encouraged” her to learn more about the fundamentals of the healthcare takeover law. Zero recognition by Fluke of the overarching societal issue recognized by many immigrants who fled countries where they lived under repressive big government and came to America for freedom, that we are slowly losing that freedom as we agree that government should provide us more free stuff, which means government controls us more and more. (What possible concerns could arise out of having healthcare be controlled by government? How could expanding government control ever be a problem? What was so bad about Romania under Ceausescu?)
Watch the YouTube here. The ignorance Fluke evidenced in her answer was cringe level embarrassing for her, but worse, made light of the very serious concern many Americans have about the future of the healthcare system and the quality of care government-run healthcare will provide.
Real Universe: Adryana Boyne, National Director of VOCES Action, challenged the point made by Planned Parenthood that abortion is safe and constitutes important healthcare for women. She asked the PP representative to acknowledge widely reported news stories that women have died after botched abortions performed in Planned Parenthood clinics, and that the entire discussion failed to even address the lives of unborn children, men and women, whose very survival seems irrelevant in the propping up of “reproductive freedom” over the lives of the innocent.
Alternative Universe: The PP official’s answer was that they promote policies based on data not ideology, and that they provide care based on statistically sound information. (Objection, non-responsive.) No acknowledgement of deaths in PP facilities. No acknowledgement of the existence of a moral question. (What universe? What set of facts? What touchdown? What baby?) Sandra Fluke chimed in to underscore the importance in her worldview of making policy based on science not ideology or spirituality. She is advocating reaching policy decisions about life itself without allowing for the weighing of the moral ramifications, and of the spiritual or religious-based thinking that values life, but looking at the question solely as a sterile statistical calculation.
One more thing. Several folks in the Q&A raised issues surrounding the morality of the existence/use of birth control itself. To be clear, I respect the right of Catholics and others to oppose birth control on a personal level and in their own lives, but I have no religious or other objection to it. Neither does either political party.
This however leads to the ultimate alternative universe issue: When Fluke was addressing Democrats in Congress, no one was arguing that birth control should be illegal, for anyone. The issues were: (1) should a Catholic institution that holds genuine moral, theological opposition to birth control be forced to cover it for those it insures despite First Amendment protections of religious freedom, and (2) should Congress force insurers to provide certain kinds of healthcare free of charge, in this case contraception and other feminine-related services and care, even though someone ultimately picks up the tab for this “free care.”
Yet to hear Fluke and her supporters tell the tale, someone out there is determined to take away her birth control. No such universe exists. The question of who pays for it and whether religious institutions should be compelled to provide coverage for something that violates their core tenets, are serious questions deserving of serious contemplation. The issue has evolved into a false hysteria over a non-existent attack, which diminishes the quality of serious public policy discussion.
Watch the video below to see additional testimonies: