The Obama administration's refusal to grant religiously affiliated institutions a waiver from Obamacare provisions requiring that they provide employees with health insurance covering contraception, the "morning after" pill, and sterilization procedures is an unconstitutional assault on one of this nation's most precious liberties.
But the debate over freedom of religion masks another critically important implication of the final rule approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen `Sebelius.
That issue is found in the language used by defenders of the indefensible rule. From White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: "We are committed… to ensuring that women have access to contraception without paying any extra costs, no matter where they work." Politico quotes a Democratic operative who says that it is extreme to "limit access to birth control because you work at a diocese-run nursing home." And Senator Barbara ("Don't call me Ma'am") Boxer trying, as usual, to sound threatening: "We support the right of women in this country to have access to birth control through their insurance policies, and anybody who stands in the way is going to have to deal with us and our friends."
Three separate far-left voices, one word repeated three times: "Access"
These radical social engineers don't actually mean "access," which, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, means "freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something." After all, nobody believes that birth control pills, which Planned Parenthood says are available for "about $15-$50 each month," would somehow be out of reach of many American women if not for a government insurance mandate. At least two types of birth control pills are available at Target pharmacies for $9 for a 28-day supply. Now that's access.
No, they don't mean access to birth control. They mean free birth control, as in paid for by taxpayers other than the person whose sex life requires such protection.
This is not about access at all. It's about the left-wing trying to ingrain government so deeply in support of birth control and related reproductive health issues that conservatives, or simply those who oppose the state's involvement in such personal parts of our lives, will never be able to extricate these drugs and services from the tendrils of federal funding. If you thought the outcry against the Komen Foundation for thinking about cutting out grants to Planned Parenthood was severe, imagine what you'd hear about "women-hating" Republicans if Congress ever tries to allow citizens and employers the option to choose health insurance policies that don't cover (or require a co-pay to cover) birth control, once people have come to see those pills as free.
Heaven forbid, if you'll pardon the pun, Americans from having such freedom. After all, we're clearly too stupid and too busy clinging to our bibles and guns to make a rational decision about something which the average woman has access to for $200 a year.
The left's trying to impose their morality on the nation through the force of government is as antithetical to our nation's Founding Principles as anything a libertarian or liberal would oppose in conservative Republican's social policy prescriptions. Those who find Republicans' social issues positions unpalatable, who cry "theocracy!" at a politician's mention of faith, must awaken to the fact that the Obama administration's actions regarding mandatory birth control coverage differs only in degree, but not of kind, from exactly the sort of sectarian tyranny that led to this nation's creation.
This goes far beyond abortion, birth control, or Americans' sex lives. Put aside for a moment that we're talking about a religiously-tinged issue here, and focus on the left's use of the word "access."
Progressives have always been masters at redefining words. Due to them a "progressive" tax code means one that punishes success and throttles economic growth. For them, "justice" means stealing from someone who earned something and giving it to someone who didn't. Thanks to them "balance" means ever-expanding government, "extreme" means having religious convictions, "diversity" means everyone except heterosexual Caucasians, and "voter suppression" means having to show a photo ID at the ballot.
When "access" is redefined to mean "paid for by taxpayers," when something that is not provided at no cost is redefined as inaccessible, we have reached a dangerous tipping point in our century-long march toward being an "Entitlement Society" in which people expect government to provide everything for everyone for free. Or at least everyone outside the "one percent" or whatever group the government at the time decides to bleed in order to buy the votes of the demanding, entitled majority.
This is not just a financial issue. It's not just that "free" birth control or "free" anything else actually costs somebody something. It's not just that calling it "free" will inevitably lead to higher health insurance costs or larger government budget deficits.
It is also a fundamental moral issue for our nation, a nation that more than any in the history of the human race was founded on a principle of self-reliance by all those capable of it.
It may be "just" birth control pills or "just" $10 or $20 a month. It may even be that most health insurance policies already cover birth control, and that many states require such. That is all irrelevant. The Obama/Sebelius rule, by redefining "access" to mean "paid for by others," is -- in addition to being an unconstitutional assault on religious liberty and federal intrusion into our personal lives -- a cannon aimed at the very soul of our nation.
Mr. Kaminsky is a pro-choice Jewish libertarian.