Obama's phony 'compromise' on religious liberty, health care

Obama's phony 'compromise' on religious liberty, health care

February 14th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius leave the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington after the president announced the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

It was appalling when the Obama administration ordered religiously affiliated organizations to furnish their workers with medical insurance plans that cover contraceptives - even if those plans violate the teachings of the organizations. The order violated the beliefs and the religious liberty of many Catholic charities, hospitals and schools which oppose the use of contraception.

Whatever your views on birth control, the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion makes it clear that church-affiliated organizations cannot be compelled to undermine their own teachings.

The order drew such fierce protest from freedom-loving Americans - Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and non-Catholics - that the administration announced late last week it would alter its rule to accommodate the beliefs of religious charities, hospitals and so forth.

Unfortunately, that solved nothing. The charities and other groups will still in effect be forced to provide insurance plans that cover contraception, even though that violates their principles.

Here is how The Associated Press reported on the supposed "compromise": "Employers affiliated with a religion will not have to provide birth control coverage if it offends their beliefs. However, the insurers that cover their workers will be required to offer birth control directly to women working for the religious employer, and do so free of charge."

In other words, when a religious charity or hospital secures an insurance plan for its employees, the insurer will have to provide contraception. And because contraception is not "free," the insurers sooner or later will "figure out how to pass on the cost," the AP noted. To whom are they likely to wind up passing on that cost? To the religiously affiliated employers!

Even if the employers do not end up having to pay the cost themselves, they still, by law, will have to offer health coverage that includes contraception - which is at the very core of their religious and First Amendment objections to the new rule.

The alleged "accommodation" of charities', schools' and hospitals' religious beliefs is nothing but a shell game. Those institutions will still be forced to violate their beliefs under ObamaCare.

The president should completely withdraw any order that would require religious organizations to provide medical insurance plans that offer services that undermine their fundamental teachings.