It is bad for policy, bad for liberty, and today the Senate faces a crucial vote.
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But someone has to pay. The only question is who.
Insurance coverage is not “free.” Premiums must rise to cover expanded benefits. Female employees will pay more if their insurance is paying more.
Of course, the mandate also requires the impotent, infertile, gays, sexually inactive, sexually less active, and those opposed to contraception to pay for those who use contraception, especially in abundance. Why should the former be forced to subsidize the latter? Why is this wealth transfer a new national imperative and “right”?
The president declared: “Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her health. Period.” Quite true. But the way to do that is for women to pay for their own health care and decide what they want their health insurance to cover.
Sen. Murray complained that exempting religious employers would put “employers smack between women and their health care and politics between women and their health care.” But she is one of the strongest supporters of turning medical decisions over to Washington, which directly puts “politics between women and their health care.”
Putting Uncle Sam in charge of health care is precisely how not to leave women in control of their own medical destinies. Observed Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), “The very essence of the healthcare law is that the government is going to tell you what your healthcare is going to be.” Washington is filled with interest groups and their lobbyists, not individual patients and their advocates. There is no reason to believe that Uncle Sam will act in the interests of “women,” whatever that is.
In short, the contraception mandate is bad public policy. But it also poses a serious threat to individual liberty and freedom of conscience.
Although a minority Christian position, opposition to contraception is deeply rooted in Catholicism and shared by some fundamentalist Protestants. Many more religious people find abortion abhorrent, though they differ in their view of the “morning-after” pill. To force them to fund such procedures would make them violate some of their most important beliefs.
Alas, for many liberal moderns, it is hard to imagine a legitimate objection to abortion and impossible to respect opposition to contraception or sterilization. These are the people Barack Obama referred to in 2006: “There are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical.”
There are places where even sincere religious faith must give way. Do you believe that a god commands child sacrifice? Too bad. You can’t violate the rights of others in the name of religion.
In most cases, however, it is the government that should back off. Demanding that people violate their most sacred commitments ensures social conflict. Unless the interest is genuinely important, it makes little sense for the government to impose its will. Ordering every American to subsidize contraception does not qualify. In this case the simple state of liberty benefits everyone. You want it, you pay for it. You don’t want it, you don’t pay for it.
But now the government says no to choice. It doesn’t matter what you want. Washington will decide for every American. Only small religious operations serving members of the same faith community will be exempt. Even Jesus’ ministry — he healed people who did not follow him — would not qualify for an exemption.
The mandate has the greatest impact on the Catholic Church, both because it covers contraception and because of the Church’s many related institutions, including adoptive and welfare services, nursing homes, charities, and universities. But the rule affects Protestants too, both through churches which self-insure and para-church activities.
This has led to threats of civil disobedience. Said Richard Land, president of the southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious liberty Commission: “We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail.” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church opined that “I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do.”
Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and Timothy George of Samford University called this rule “the greatest threat to religious freedom in our lifetime. They even deployed German minister Martin Niemöller’s famous poem: “First they same for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists … Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online