Latest HHS mandate on Obamacare changes nothing

Changes to the abortion funding mandate are cosmetic only. Religious liberty still at risk Photo: Protest at Texas state capitol - Tom Perna

COLOARDO SPRINGS, Co., February 3, 2013 — Health and Human Services on Friday released a new rule regarding the Obamacare mandate that requires employers to provide access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures at no cost to their employees. The ruling expands the definition of institutions that could qualify for a “religious employer exemption,” but does nothing to fundamentally alter the mandate itself.

The mandate still forces individuals and organizations, including churches and church-related institutions, to fund abortion and contraception as part of all insurance plans.

The administration’s stand treats abortion as just another means of birth control. Contraception fails? Have a free abortion instead. From the perspective of the secular progressive, it’s a win-win situation. The woman who has conceived by accident rids herself of the unwanted “tissue mass” at no cost to herself. The insurance company wins, too, in the words of the ruling, because they “would experience lower costs from improvements in women’s health and fewer childbirths.”

Fewer childbirths equals population control, popular with progressives since Margaret Sanger and the founding of Planned Parenthood.

But if one looks at the effects on all groups in society, there are losers. The biggest losers are those individuals who have moral and religious objections to abortion on demand—especially because they are being forced to pay for it.

Having taken a great leap forward by creating this policy, the administration is taking baby steps backwards only reluctantly and only when forced. The first step was to hide the cost so that religious institutions could provide insurance without actually seeing that they were paying for abortion.

This religious “accommodation” does not satisfy the dictates of conscience. It is merely a money-laundering scheme, as Grace-Marie Turner describes in the National Review. The fact that church-related institutions are now covered changes nothing.

It does not help the family-owned Hobby-Lobby. Nor does it help Denver-based Hercules Industries, which last July at least got an injunction in federal court to stop enforcement of the controversial mandate.

Nor does it help individuals: Wrangling over which organizations would be “exempt” obscures the fact that all individuals are required to carry insurance which includes mandatory free abortion and contraception coverage.

In commenting on the Hercules Industries ruling, Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said “The question is whether the government is going to tell people they have to abandon their faith in order to run a family business.”

Indeed, that statement is part of the larger question: Does the government have the right to tell people they have to abandon their faith. There is no “in order to” involved because according to the Supreme Court we don’t have a choice about participating in the government health care program.

The issue is moral imperative versus government mandate.

The First Amendment makes it clear that the federal government has no right to tamper with our individual religious practice—in exactly the same way that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is an individual one. The same applies to the entire Bill of Rights.

Furthermore, the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that our rights precede the formation of government—that’s why the federal government has no authority to restrict them.

Secular progressives, however, do not view our rights as either natural or individual. They view rights as something granted by government and as something belonging to the collective, not the individual. They allow us to practice our religion on Sunday mornings in church, but seek to deny us the right to practice it all week in our businesses.

We are not the Borg.

Unfortunately, this collectivist philosophy which seeks to consign religious practice to a narrow, personal sphere is not without precedent. A 1945 Office of Strategic Services (OSS) report called The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches, describes how the National Socialists progressively reduced the scope and influence of Christian practice in the public square.

Nazi Germany, of course, is not the United States. We have a Constitution that protects our religious freedom; Germany, ever since unification in 1871, has had a national church. The purpose of the First Amendment is not to protect the state from the church; it is to protect the church from the state.

This is the line which the HHS mandate crosses: The mandate requires that all Americans, regardless of religious conviction, fund abortion and contraception. It does so under the cover of the law: a proposed rule pursuant to implementing a law that was challenged and found constitutional by the Supreme Court.

The OSS report was prepared for the Nuremberg war crimes trials. It helped establish the persecution of the church as one phase of a wider and largely political program involving the use of law to subvert the rule of law.

Is the HHS mandate just? Are Americans of faith obliged to follow it? Are they instead obliged to resist it?

These are serious questions that demand serious thought and serious action. Our religious freedom is ours by natural right and no one can take it away without our consent.

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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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