On second anniversary of ObamaCare, law endangers charities and jobs

On second anniversary of ObamaCare, law endangers charities and jobs

March 23rd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Today is the second anniversary of the signing into law of ObamaCare. But that's no cause for celebration.

Of recent concern is the controversy over the ObamaCare rule that religiously affiliated schools, hospitals and charities must offer employees health insurance that furnishes birth control. Lost in that debate is the threat that the mandate poses to the very existence of many of those valuable organizations.

Democrats in Washington are seeking to frame the issue as one of religious groups -- particularly Catholic ones -- trying to deny women access to contraception.

But that is dishonest.

Religiously affiliated organizations that object to the birth control mandate are not preventing employees from purchasing contraception. They are, rather, upholding their right under the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty not to be forced to furnish contraception in violation of their conscience and their long-taught and deeply held beliefs.

Requiring them to participate in an activity that makes them undermine their teachings directly conflicts with the principle of freedom of religion.

It also gravely endangers many of the religious charities that do important and effective work on behalf of the poor and downtrodden in our society, and it threatens the jobs of the many employees of those charities.

As we noted previously, officials in the Catholic Church have made it as plain as they can to the Obama administration that forcing Catholic-affiliated institutions to embrace policies they consider immoral will put them in an impossible bind.

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, notes that under ObamaCare's contraception mandate, those organizations will have four bad choices: End their connection to the church; pay massive yearly fines for refusing to pay for insurance that covers contraception; sell the organization to a secular group or local government; or simply shut down.

Severing the organizations' ties to the church would destroy the faith-based component that in many cases is exactly what makes the charities so effective. The huge fines for not providing coverage could bankrupt many organizations. And shutting down would deny the public the services that the worthwhile charities offer -- as well as the employment they provide to many people.

What good will it do employees of religiously affiliated charities to have contraception covered in their employer-based health plans if the charities close and they have no job?

Those are things the Obama administration should have thought about before imposing unconstitutional rules on religious charities, schools and hospitals.

There are no two ways about it: Those rules should be rescinded so that religious institutions can continue to provide their vital services without violating their beliefs or their conscience.