Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Gotta Be This Or That – Or Does It?

     One of the oldest truisms(?) about old age is, “Old age is the time when your broad mind and narrow waist change places.” While it may be true in some cases, for me it's more like, “Old age is the time when your broad mind and narrow waist get closer together.” My problem is that the older I get, the more I can see both sides of many controversies; as a result, I have trouble deciding which side I agree with.
     Two examples from this past week come to mind. The first is the Healthcare Act's requirement that all employers who offer health care insurance to their employees must include contraception costs for those who request it. At first reading this sounds OK to me; not surprisingly, the Catholic church disagrees, to the extent that many Catholic organizations are planning to discontinue coverage rather than comply.
     Because the Catholic church is not a government organization, it seems to me that Catholic institutions have the right to do what they please with their money.
     But what about non-catholic employees of those institutions, such as nurses aides and maintenance people in Catholic hospitals, teachers and others in parochial schools, and professors in Catholic colleges – why should they be denied the employer-paid coverage enjoyed by those who hold similar positions in non-catholic institutions? And because Catholic hospitals and colleges do receive government money for various purposes, should not the government have some say over how it is spent?
     I am sure the question will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court, and if it comes up before the current court, the church is almost a sure winner. But whichever way it is decided, I, along with many other people, will think it is partly right and partly wrong. So much for the wisdom of aging.
     The second recent example is the flap over the Komen Foundation's “off again on again” decision about contributing funds to the Planned Parenthood organization. Ostensibly because Planned Parenthood funds abortions, the Foundation first decided to cut off their funding for breast cancer examinations. Planned Parenthood does not do such examinations, but does refer clients to facilities that do, and also provides payment for women who cannot afford them. When the decision went viral over the internet, the Foundation reversed the decision.
     Again, I believe that as a private entity, the Foundation has the right to determine how its funds should be used. But as a matter of principle, cutting off funds for breast cancer examinations because of performing legal abortions sounds like extortion.
     The Foundation first claimed that it has a policy of not contributing to any organization that is under investigation. In this case, one Congressman is asking that a non-criminal investigation be conducted to assure that none of the funds provided to Planned Parenthood by the government are used for abortions. Not a Senate committee nor the FBI nor the IRS – just a request from one pro-life Congressman! Give me a break!
     I am quite sure this issue is not over, and again I am ambivalent toward it. It ain't easy getting old.
     My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

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