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February 04, 2013

The Problem With The ObamaCare Birth Control Regulation

It ultimately comes down to the freedom to live out one’s religious beliefs free from government coercion. These regulations fail to respect that right, the requirements of the First Amendment notwithstanding.

First, there is the issue of whether or not the new “exemption” really is an exemption.

[T]he new rule improves on the old in that it applies to more employers than just a few monastic orders. It would exempt many nonprofit religious employers -- such as dioceses, charities and universities -- that have moral objections to the practice of sterilizing human beings and to the use of contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to frustrate one of the chief purposes of marriage, which they hold dear as a sacrament.

Even so, there are still legitimate doubts about whether the revised mandate exempts these institutions in a meaningful way, or whether it merely obscures in several layers of bureaucracy exactly who is paying for what.

Let’s be honest – the insurance companies are figuring the cost of sterilization, contraception and abortion into the cost of the insurance that the employer is paying for, so the claim that it is free is really disingenuous. What we are seeing here is simply a bookkeeping game – and the religious groups objecting know that and so are not likely to stop their fight against the coverage.

But beyond that, there is the issue of individual religious believers operating a business.

And more importantly, even assuming that those doubts are unfounded, the new rule maintains the same misguided and un-American assumption as the old one -- that religion is primarily about churches and not about people. Even under the new rule, private citizens who own and run their own businesses can be forbidden by the federal government to operate them according to the tenets of their faith.

Now some argue that it is inappropriate for an employer to “impose his religion on his employees”. Yet allowing private employers to forgo that coverage does not allow for such an imposition. After all, the employee is still free to obtain those medical services – just not to impose his or her religion upon the employer by requiring the employer to pay for it. When government requires such insurance coverage, it is the very sort of imposition of religion that the First Amendment (which restricts government actions, not private ones) explicitly rejects.

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What the Obama Regime has said here is that one has a choice between operating a business and living out one’s faith with integrity. But this is a choice that the First Amendment would seem to forbid the government requiring of Americans of faith. And while the financial cost may be minimal to the business owner, the eternal cost of materially cooperating with that which one believes to be intrinsically evil is significantly higher and measured in terms of an eternity of fire and brimstone. Dare I suggest that this is not significantly different from the choice faced by early Christians -- burn a little incense to the emperor or face the lions in the arena?

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