By Grace-Marie Turner
ObamaCare violates American values down to our country’s very DNA.
A majority of Americans continue to oppose the health law because we understand that it is at odds with the fundamental principles and democratic processes of our country. We were aghast at the way the law was enacted two years ago — ignoring citizens who were marching in the streets and burning up the phone lines on Capitol Hill pleading with legislators to vote “no.”
We oppose its government-centric takeover of our health sector with its mandates on individuals to purchase government-approved health insurance, mandates on businesses to pay for insurance or pay huge fines, and the massive new government bureaucracy to centrally manage one-sixth of our economy.
The HHS anti-conscience mandate that has not taken effect is not an aberrant rule but is woven into the fabric of the law that is in conflict with the Constitution and with American values. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the federal regulation an “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”
But the Obama administration has determined that most employers and health plans now will have to provide “free” access to a long list of “preventive” health services, including sterilization procedures and contraceptives that can cause abortions. Citizens and businesses have become servants to the state.
The White House is trying to deflect opposition and frame this as a fight over the right to free birth-control pills. But we understand that this is really about the fundamental issue of the founding principles of this country and the meaning of the Constitution’s protection of our freedom. The real question is not whether women can have access to these products but whether health plans and employers can be compelled by the government to pay for them even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
When the law was being debated in Congress, the Obama administration repeatedly assured Catholic leaders that it would respect religious liberty in implementing ObamaCare. This mandate shows that the Obama administration has broken its promises and has no intention of reversing course.
The anti-conscience rule gives pro-life private employers and health plans the choice of violating their fundamental beliefs by paying for the offending products or dropping health insurance for their employees, in which case they are subject to steep fines.
Forty-three Catholic dioceses have filed twelve lawsuits challenging the anti-conscience mandate. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty also is representing a number of colleges and other religious institutions in suing the government over the mandate.
More than 2,500 pastors and evangelical leaders have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse the mandate.
As George Weigel has said, the anti-conscience rule is “a grotesque overreach by state power, one that threatens the entire fabric of civil society as well as the first of American liberties, religious freedom.”
We will not allow the First Amendment to be trampled and this battle will continue.
(Grace-Marie Turner is President of the Galen Institute in Alexandria, Virginia. She will discuss the federal health care law on September 21 at a conference co-sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute. This article was originally published by the Galen Institute and National Review Online.)