The Administration has once again announced yet another attempt to square a circle, and they have once again failed. And so, we now have new regulations on the HHS mandate — the requirement that employer health insurance policies cover abortifacient drugs, sterilization, and contraception.
The objections of the Church to this violation of our rights are well known, and were asserted yet again by Cardinal Dolan on behalf of the U.S. Bishops.
The Administration and its allies, on the other hand, continue to assert that they have already satisfied all objections, and, in effect that religious people and organizations should just sit down, be quiet, and obey.
Not so fast. The new regulations — just like the old ones — are a fraud and a violation of fundamental rights.
Consider the alleged “exemption” and “accommodation” for some religious employers.
The “exemption” would certainly grant protection to many religious organizations, but nobody knows how many, or how few. The key provision in the regulation refers to an obscure part of the Internal Revenue Code that is not exactly written in clear and self-evident prose. Nobody knows how, in the end, the IRS will interpret and apply that provision. Does anyone trust them to do so in an even-handed way?
The “accommodation” is even more problematic. Every religious non-profit that objects to the mandate knows that when they offer their staff health insurance, they will also be providing them the objectionable products and services. It is true that they won’t have to list the offensive things in their plan booklet, but they know that they’re covered in any event — and that the employer will be paying for them. As a moral matter, that’s really no different from directly and explicitly providing for the coverage in the insurance plan.
The “accommodation” is basically asking religious non-profits to accept a lie and pretend that it is the truth.
The new regulations offer no help whatsoever to for-profit businesses. They will be coerced into providing, promoting, and paying for morally offensive things. Nothing is changed for them in the fundamental injustice of the HHS mandate, and their many lawsuits against the mandate will go forward.
The heart of the matter ultimately doesn’t depend on specifics of these very complex regulations. We have a situation where the government is forcing people to cooperate in immoral activities, either directly or under a transparent fig leaf of lies.
There is a core of liberty that is inherent in the nature of the human person, into which the government may not intrude without becoming a tyranny. One such area is the natural right of individuals and institutions to be free from government coercion of their consciences. One would have thought that this was made clear on July 4, 1776, and that the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials would serve as ample reminders of those principles.
Apparently the lesson has been forgotten in our nation’s capital.