Editor’s Note: A great first public post
The past few weeks there has been a lot of news regarding President Obama’s contraception mandate, which required all employers, including the Catholic Church, to provide free contraception, including abortifacient drugs, to all employees through their health coverage. There was no attempt to protect individual conscience rights or religious liberty in the President’s mandate.
The Christian response was definitive, with Catholics and Protestants alike promising to defy the mandate and even go to jail if necessary. Bishops urged the faithful to oppose the President, and even some of his most faithful supporters spoke out against him. On Friday, the President responded with an “accommodation” that he declared solved the problem. The Catholic Church, and all Christians, had better be satisfied, by executive decree.
The problem is that his “accommodation” is a joke, nothing more than an exercise in semantic gymnastics. In essence it says that religious employers can offer health insurance coverage that does not include contraception or abortifacients but that the insurance company that provides the plan must cover these items for free.
Obviously the result of this adjustment, practically speaking, is that nothing changes. It is a manufactured way for certain institutions to separate themselves from the coverage that they would be providing. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for Christians to abandon their principles while saving face. If the President thinks the Church will jump at the chance, he is sadly mistaken.
Why does this “accommodation” do nothing to protect conscience and religious liberty? Imagine this hypothetical conversation:
“Where did you get your contraception? Was it expensive?”
“Not at all, my insurance covered it completely.”
“Wow, you work at a Catholic school. I’m surprised they cover that.”
“Oh, they don’t. It’s my insurance company that covers it.”
“Where did you get the insurance policy?”
“My job provides it.”
Obviously, you don’t have to connect too many dots to say that the Catholic institution provided free access to contraception and abortion. How again does that protect the liberty of the Church, which considers these things objectively evil? And since the insurance company passes the cost of its services to those who pay the premiums, the Church pays for its employees to have access to free contraception and abortifacients.
The President would have to be pretty arrogant if he expects the gratitude of the Church for this concession. Sadly, there have been plenty of people who have already applauded him for his flexibility. And of course it allows the media to portray him as quite reasonable, and the Church as stubborn and rigid, unwilling to accept a “reasonable compromise.”
Politically shrewd, perhaps, but morally bankrupt. We can’t fall for it. And we can’t let down our guard or stifle our outrage. If we do, we will not only lose this battle, but more violent ones will be on the way.
Consider one of the Mr. Obama’s justifications for his mandate – it is cheaper to contracept than to have a child. Financially there is an interest. (I wonder if he’s ever explored what the financial benefits of chastity are.) With his thinking, it won’t be too far a leap to make the same argument for abortion in general. He clearly considers it a “women’s health” issue, as though pregnancy were a disease. And considering how much campaign money he gets from the abortion lobby, the temptation will only get stronger.
But why stop there? Euthanasia is cheaper than treating any serious condition. Why shouldn’t we all pay to kill the sick, disabled and elderly? Think of the long-term savings.
When our government at the highest level doesn’t understand the most basic concepts of human dignity, can measure human beings in terms of dollars and cents, and shows no regard for conscience and religious liberty, there is no evil that should be beyond our imagination.
Now is the time for all Christians to speak more loudly than ever. We must make clear that we have no intention of accepting this insulting “accommodation,” and we are duty-bound to use our energy and resources to ensure, as Psalm 109:8 says, “that his days are few and that others replace him.”