The Obama administration now touts it as “free preventive services” but was clearer about its purpose when the Health and Human Services (HHS) first announced the final rule implementing “Obamacare” in January.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained that the “final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception.” FDA-approved “contraceptives” include abortion drugs like Plan B, ella, and others.
The mandate, as it went into effect last week, forces all employers which provide health insurance for their employees to pay for and provide insurance coverage for these abortion drugs regardless of their religious beliefs.
There are two exceptions to the implementation of this rule that the Obama Administration has benevolently bestowed upon people of faith, each of which also violate our religious liberty.
First, the HHS mandate exempts “churches” from this requirement. Of course the Obama administration has taken it upon itself to define what exactly a church is –very narrowly. A church, to Obama, is not what people of faith understand it to be. It is not “The Church” in the broader sense of the world as the Apostle Paul described the body of Christ. No, the Obama administration has basically limited the church to the four wall of the church building, a “house of worship.”
So the “churches” exemption to the abortion-pill mandate does not apply to religious institutions that feed the homeless, minster to the poor, care for the sick, look after orphans, or train up future generations from a biblically based worldview. Each one of these is a specific biblical command to live out our Christian faith and its principles mirrored by many other religions, but not under the government’s concept of religion.
Religiously affiliated hospitals, adoption agencies, homeless shelters, schools, and many other ministries will now be forced to violate their deeply held religious beliefs – that they should not fund, support, or promote abortion-related drugs.
The fact alone that the Obama administration has issued its definition of what counts as a church, a “religious employer,” in the most limited way is an outrage. Religious liberty that is confined to the narrowly defined terms of the government is not liberty at all.
The second exception is even worse. The so-called “religious accommodation” that the Obama administration promised to implement, but has yet to actually finalize, is nothing but a slap in the face to people of faith. First of all, the term “accommodation” is insulting in and of itself. Religious liberty should be celebrated by our government, as it is guaranteed by our Constitution, not merely accommodated.
Further, the framework of the “accommodation” violates religious liberty. Religious institutions have been given an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to figure out how they are going to violate their faith – as if somehow delaying the forced violation of one’s religious beliefs makes it better.
As for the “accommodation” itself, which still remains unfinalized, it changes nothing. Religiously affiliated employers still must pay for insurance coverage that covers abortion pills. The only change was an accounting gimmick aimed at pacifying the religious crowd. It didn’t work. A majority of Americans still oppose the HHS mandate.
It is clear that even these exceptions and “accommodations” do not protect religious liberty.
For everyone else, the HHS mandate is now in effect. If you own a business that provides health insurance for your employees, you must pay for them to have abortion pill coverage, plain and simple.
Our client is a Christian business owner who merely wishes to follow the scriptural mandate, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” over Obama’s mandate. His company’s mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” And his company’s values statement proclaims, “Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.” Consistent with those values, he, like many Americans, opposes the requirement that he provide abortion pills for his employees.
When the government starts dictating what our values and religious beliefs must be, religious liberty is violated, and it is critical that the American people continue to stand up. While religious liberty is being violated for many today, whoever is president, and in turn HHS secretary, a year from now will determine whether this violation continues.
Litigation will continue for years to come over the abortion pill mandate, but as Mitt Romney has made clear, “If I am elected president … on day one I will eliminate the Obama administration rule that compels religious institutions to violate the tenets of their own faith.”