MIAMI BEACH — Friday, June 8, was a day of spectacular nationwide rallies organized to protest the Obamacare HHS Mandate that requires religious employers to provide abortion, sterilization, and contraception coverage as part of their employees’ health insurance. An exemption is granted for entities engaged entirely in the practice or teaching of religion such as a church or synagogue. Christian or Jewish schools, universities or hospitals, cannot qualify for the exemption because they teach secular studies or provide medical care, activities the government does not deem as religion-qua-religion.
As of late Sunday, June 10, most of the tallies had come in to the organizers from the various locales, for a total of at least 64,000 confirmed participants. Here in South Florida, there were three venues within a 50-mile range: Miami, Fort Lauderale, and West Palm Beach. They were scheduled back-to-back, because Archbishop Wenski was a featured speaker at each event. Miami was first at 10:30 a.m.
They approached me to be the “Jewish speaker” at the Miami location after being turned down by several pro-Obama rabbis. This is a classic example of the short-sightedness that leads to being blindsided. Right now, these not-very-religious Jews have fallen behind the Democrat party and the liberal elites in accepting their views on sterilization, abortion, and contraception ahead of the Torah for which their ancestors lived and died.
In brief, Jewish law forbids sterilization not only for humans but also for animals. A traditional Jew cannot have his dog or cat spayed and he certainly may not have a vasectomy. The procreative organs are sacred as God’s instruments of maintaining Creation and humanity may not interfere in the process. Abortion is permitted to save the life of the mother, even to save her from losing one organ or from going insane. Contraception is permitted after a couple have produced at least one son and one daughter, or where the mother’s physical or mental health is endangered.
However, only Orthodox Jews take the trouble to keep these laws, which is a shocking story in its own right. It is one thing to say that I reject traditional dietary requirements but it is astonishing that people have the audacity to endorse behavior their tradition defined as murderous.
But putting all that aside, even if those Conservative and Reform rabbis did not feel their ox was being gored by this mandate, their role as religious leaders demanded a more visionary response. Surely they would want the Catholics marching alongside them if some Jewish practice they treasured — circumcision perhaps — were being outlawed. They did not rise to the occasion and so it fell to me as a public intellectual to represent the Jewish view.
I was the third scheduled speaker after Archbishop Wenski and Doctor Grazie Christie. The Archbishop addressed the issue of the First Amendment right to follow one’s religion and one’s conscience. He pointed out that the mandate took two egregious steps in attacking that freedom. First of all, it forced religious institutions to act in violation of their ethical beliefs. Second, it took the outrageous step of defining what constitutes a religious institution.
He mentioned during his talk that the Obama administration had misled Cardinal Dolan during the runup to the Obamacare vote. It was all I could do to keep from sighing out loud. These pages were full of columns at that time begging Cardinal Dolan not to be snookered. Unfortunately, clerics too often project their own gentleness and integrity onto the creeps who face them across the negotiating table.
Doctor Christie delivered a beautiful refutation of the Democrat propaganda claiming that the mandate is pro-woman and pro-science. As a woman and a scientist, she objected to those characterizations. She was blistering in her point-by-point presentation, particularly when she said: “A child is not a disease, it’s a blessing. I know that to be true because I have five blessings at home.”
Then my turn came and my readers surely know already what I have to say. But if you want to hear me saying it, there is always YouTube.