So now the Administration has offered what they call a “compromise” on the HHS contraception and abortion mandate.
In their initial comment, the Bishops have said that they need to study the proposal, and are hoping that it is a first step towards a genuine resolution of this problem.
Of course, as I’ve noted before, the whole notion of “compromise” means that you actually consult with others and come to a mutually agreed-upon settlement. But the President apparently thinks that “spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option”. So, instead, we have yet another ukase from our rulers, dressed up in the guise of a “reasonable accommodation”.
But it is nothing of the kind.
There are no details available that would allow us to evaluate the actual content of the proposal. The Administration says that it will publish rules later today, and will defer some decisions until some time in the future. Instead, we have a press release plus lots of political spin, where all the usual suspects are trotted out to try to put out the political fires that the Administration has brought upon itself.
Given the lack of details, we can’t tell if the key questions have been addressed:
Given the Administration’s track record in this area, I personally expect that none of these questions will be answered in a way that is favorable to respect for human life and religious liberty.
Perhaps the most cynical part of the proposal is the economics. I cannot believe that anyone in the Administration is so naive about fundamental principles of economics that they think there is any such thing as a free lunch. And yet, they claim that individuals will be able to obtain services free of charge, without the religious employer paying for them, because the insurance company will have to foot the entire bill.
What, can insurance companies print money now, just as the government does, to cover deficits?
Don’t they understand that the insurance companies will just pass the costs of these “free” services on to the employers, other employees, doctors, and ultimately taxpayers? This is not that hard a concept. In the real world, religious employers and individuals will still be compelled to pay for offensive services like sterilizations and early abortions — but the Administration is asking us to look the other way and pretend that it’s not happening.
Since the Administration has shown no real interest in “compromise” in any meaningful sense, we may have reached a point where there is really no alternative. All people who care about religious freedom and the defense of human life should unite in pressing Congress to pass an authentic conscience protection bill (like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012). And we need to support either repeal or fundamental changes to the tainted tree that has borne this ugly fruit — the health care law as a whole.