By Judie Brown
After countless months of protestations and lawsuits related to Obama’s contraceptive mandate, a “compromise” has been issued. Yet has anything really changed because of this compromise or will employers still be forced to violate their consciences when it comes to insurance plans? Today’s commentary addresses this and explains why we cannot put hope into this new plan.
The latest action from the Obama administration is but another sleight of hand designed to ignore the objections of those who have expressed concerns about providing insurance coverage to employees for birth control services while claiming that quite the opposite is true.
On February 1, the Obama administration announced a “compromise” on the contraceptive mandate that is really no compromise at all. The new policy “would allow for employees to enroll in a health-care plan that did not include contraceptive coverage. However, all employees would then also be enrolled in a separate policy, carried by a 3rd-party provider, that would cover contraceptives at no additional cost.”
The compromise is allegedly designed to respond to objections raised by entities like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Christian companies like Hobby Lobby. However, this so-called revision does nothing but further muddy the waters by requiring that the same employer that does not cover birth control in the larger benefit package make available a separate individual policy for employees who want free birth control coverage.
Pure and simple Obama gobbledygook. Nothing really changes.
Lest anyone honestly think otherwise, note that the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue, applauded the compromise saying, “Today’s draft regulation affirms yet again the Obama administration’s commitment to fulfilling the full promise of its historic contraception policy. . . . Thanks to this commitment, most American women will get birth-control coverage without extra expense. Increased access to birth control is a huge win for women and is necessary to prevent unintended pregnancy—a goal on which both pro-choice and anti-choice people ought to agree.”
Alternatively, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, said that no official statement would be forthcoming until the proposal received further study by USCCB legal scholars.
But attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which numbers Hobby Lobby among its clients, expressed extreme disappointment immediately because the proposal will not protect religious liberty for private companies and may set the stage for further compromising religious institutions like the USCCB.
Family Research Council’s Anna Higgins, J.D., echoed this sentiment explaining that, in essence, the current policy of the Obama administration remains intact. She points out the obvious:
“Regardless of whether insurance companies or third party administrators use their dollars for an employee’s free abortifacients and contraceptives, the provision of these drugs and devices still necessarily depends on the religious employer’s health insurance plan. They remain the gateway for drugs and services to which they object. Therefore, the HHS mandate still violates the Religious Freedom Act, and the Weldon conscience amendment which bans HHS from engaging in precisely this type of discrimination.”
American Life League executive director Paul Rondeau, in his Washington Times column, defined the crux of the problem with this bogus compromise,
President Obama uses the phrase “freedom of worship,” a phrase that many religious groups and legal scholars say demonstrates that Obama believes religious “freedom” extends only as far as the four inside walls of places of worship. The First Amendment protects exactly the opposite: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”
This ideology is demonstrated by the administration’s egregious argument in court that private business owners and employees have no right to conduct business according to their faith-based conscience.
The fix is in. Either people of faith protest this egregious abuse of power or we can expect more and more of our freedoms to be jeopardized by the president.
Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.