Texans challenge health coverage of birth control, HPV vaccine and all things sex

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For about the 472nd time, a judge will hear a lawsuit brought by very angry conservatives over the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. A group of Texans are challenging the law’s requirement that health insurers cover preventive care on the grounds that it violates their religious freedom. If you’re wondering what health insurance has to do with religion, the answer is sex, especially non-procreative sex.

Plaintiffs, Texas residents and employers, claim that Obamacare violates their religious beliefs because they must purchase or provide health insurance that covers services such as Preparation to prevent HIV, STD testing and preventive care, including the HPV vaccine. They dislike these services for loathsome and bigoted reasons (see below) and are furious that they can’t buy health insurance plans that don’t require such coverage – as if health insurance were a kind of buffet where you can choose what you want!

The judge handling the case on Tuesday, Reed O’Connor, appointed by George W. Bush, has repeatedly ruled against Obamacare. The plaintiffs’ lawyer is none other than Jonathan Mitchellthe architect of Texas’ bounty hunter abortion ban and a rabid homophobe.

Scary, the case could end up affecting people at national scale: Policy said it “could determine whether insurance companies are allowed to deny coverage or charge exorbitant copayments for common preventative care in the future.” A analysis from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that a ruling for plaintiffs in Texas could threaten preventive care coverage for 168 million people who obtain their insurance through an employer or in the Obamacare marketplace.

So why are the plaintiffs so furious? Well, they’re in monogamous, heterosexual marriages and they don’t want their monthly health insurance premiums to “subsidize” care for other people’s sex lives. Here are some key passages from a November 2021 court deposit:

Plaintiffs Kelley, Starnes, and Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell also object on religious grounds to mandatory coverage of PrEP medications, contraception, HPV vaccine, and behavioral testing and counseling for STDs and drug use, as this cover facilitates and encourages homosexuality. behavior, drug use and sexual activity outside marriage between a man and a woman.

… Under the current scheme, everyone who buys health insurance will pay premiums that subsidize the provision of PrEP drugs, the HPV vaccine, and testing and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use. .

… The government cannot demonstrate that forcing private insurers to provide free PrEP drugs, the HPV vaccine, testing and behavioral counseling for STDs and drug use is such an important policy that can override objections to religious freedom. ”

The filing also indicates that certain FDA-approved birth control methods that Obamacare is required to cover”work as abortifacientswhich is false: pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. No method of birth control causes an abortion.

But like Mitchell wrote in the original complaint, the women don’t need contraception anyway, since they can just be single if they don’t want children:

Some women are understandably reluctant to rely on abstinence as a birth control strategy, but an unwillingness to practice abstinence does not create a medical condition that must be corrected with “preventative care.” Contraception and sterilization are simply devices that allow women who don’t want to get pregnant — but don’t want to abstain from having sex — to have sex while significantly reducing their risk of pregnancy. It is not “preventative care” of any kind.

The Texas lawsuit was filed in March 2020long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, but it shows that religious conservatives have many other targets. Yes, the conservatives are coming for birth controland also the LGBTQ rights live a healthy life and get married if they wish.

Since the case is filed in Texas, an appeal of any verdict would land in the lap of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same venue that upheld the Texas abortion ban last September. Next stop after that? The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority that has not considered an Obamacare challenge since the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I predict a big mess.


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