The Obama administration’s mandate for employers to pay for coverage of potentially abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization, does not just affect churches, religious groups, and health care institutions; it affects virtually all health care plans and all employers, across the board and across the country.
We at Priests for Life are opposing this mandate as employers, not as a religious group. Religious freedom is not a right just of religious groups; it’s a right of every American. Moreover, religious freedom is often reduced simply to freedom of worship, and this seems to be a mistake of the Obama administration. Freedom of worship means you can go to whatever church you want on Sunday. But religious freedom is not just freedom of worship; it is also freedom of conscience, which means that every day of the week, you should be able to do everything you do in a way that is consistent with your religious and moral convictions.
Moreover, the “religious exemption” for this mandate is so narrow that we have been informed by legal counsel that we do not even qualify for it. Not every organization run by a priest is the kind of “church-affiliated” organization envisioned by this exemption. Moreover, the exemption says that you have to primarily employ and serve people of your own faith. But the church’s mission -- and ours as well -- is by definition directed to the whole world.
When the announcement was made last month that the government was neither changing the rule nor expanding the exemption for those who object, but rather merely giving a year’s extension to those who qualify for the exemption, we knew we had to act immediately.
For our corporation, which employs some 60 people, this mandate goes into effect for us this August of 2012, not next year. It is particularly ironic that an organization like ours should face this mandate, because not only are the practices of contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization against our moral beliefs, but the very mission of our organization is to protect human life from every form of abortion. In other words, the mandate would force us to pay for and facilitate the very practice that we are trying to eradicate.
Moreover, we don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to “adapt” to the rule. The rule is unjust. You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.
That’s why we’re launching a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration to block the enforcement of this mandate on us; moreover, it is our hope that the determination will be that the rule is unconstitutional, and therefore cannot be enforced on anyone.
| Feb 9, 2012 4:22 PM