Clergy, theologians, university presidents, and others have issued an open letter to all Americans on religious freedom. The letter calls the HHS mandate a “coercive policy” that would force citizens to violate their faiths. The letter asks the HHS to expand conscience protections to any organization or citizen who has moral or religious objections to providing the required “services,” contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Will this letter accomplish anything? I doubt it. Though well-intentioned, the letter simply restates what people have been saying for 18 months now. The HHS mandate violates religious freedom, the government has no right to determine who or what type of organization or activity or person enjoys religious freedom, and this administration is violating the Bill of Rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We got all that–but the administration continues to spit in the face of people of faith. What will we do about it?
The administration isn’t budging one inch on this matter, and will not voluntarily do so, because the HHS mandate is a policy based on ideology. To back down would betray the core constituency of this administration–Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.
This issue might be solved in the courts. Given the mixed judgments at the appellate court level, the issue will probably be taken up by the Supreme Court. But, looking at the latest string of decisions against marriage, I’m not so sure that the Supreme Court will not find some “emanation” from a “penumbra” of the Constitution which establishes a right to free contraception and abortion drugs for every American.
The issue could be solved with the repeal of Obamacare as a whole. Obamacare is on a wobbly foundation, especially with the administration single-handedly overturning the action of the legislature in delaying the employer mandate. Obamacare won’t be repealed until both houses of Congress and the President are from a party not beholden to Planned Parenthood.
The real question that we face, I think, is what will people do when their organization must comply with the HHS mandate or face crippling fines? Who will continue to fight when the crunch comes? Which for-profit business is willing to pay the fines? What bishop is willing to allow his Catholic Charities to drown under the weight of fines and penalties? Which Catholic university will cut back faculty salaries or sports or new dorms to pay the fines? We will see soon enough–who will give in, buy contraceptives, and mumble “it was the only way to keep our charitable operations going?” The Archdiocese of New York, for example, pays for contraceptives for some workers. From their own press release:
However, ArchCare had no other option but to pay into the fund which administers the union members’ benefits “under protest” to continue to offer insurance to its union workers and remain in the health care field in New York.
The times are going to get even more interesting–on August 1st, the HHS mandate goes into effect for those non-profit employers with a religious objection who were given a one-year safe harbor from mandate enforcement.
Will we see peaceful civil disobedience? Or acquiescence?