In the past couple of weeks, a national debate has intensified regarding a ruling made in January by the Department of Health and Human Services that mandated all employers provide free access to contraception for female workers.
On January 20, the DHHS ruled that nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, would be provided an additional year to comply with the new law.
After a couple of weeks of debate and complaints coming primarily from Catholics and the U.S. Conference of Bishops, President Barack Obama made an accommodation for Catholic-affiliated organizations to not be forced to pay for contraception offered under their employees’ health care plans.
While President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew says the policy is set, Catholic leaders are still not happy with the decision.
Their unsettledness on the issue and an open door of other religious scenarios only prove once again that government should be looking for more ways to protect our rights than to enforce their own will on its citizens.
While some may argue that Catholics are “behind the times” when it comes to their beliefs on contraception, their arguments don’t hold any water at all. The point is that all religions and their beliefs are protected by the First Amendment and this law attacks those rights yet the government officials don’t seem to care.
The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
By trying to force the Catholics’ hands on the issue, the government prohibits believers in their exercise of their beliefs.
Some Catholic organizations self-insure and spend their own money for treatment. What if a nonprofit business owner has strong Catholic convictions? Why isn’t he exempt from the mandate as well due to his religious right?
If the door is open to attacking religious freedom on this issue, then what is next?
My hope is folks on both sides of the political aisle can get past the politics of this issue and refocus on how to keep our religious liberty at full strength. If they can’t, this one decision could open a Pandora’s box of more similar decisions in future years.
Many veterans since the founding of our country have given their lives to protect our freedoms. This is why Americans need to speak up, even in an election cycle, to make sure our liberties remain untouched and unchanged.