HHS tells religious believers to go to hell. The public notices.
Wall Street Journal
The political furor over [Alleged] President Obama's birth-control mandate continues to grow, even among those for whom contraception poses no moral qualms, and one needn't be a theologian to understand why. The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty.
***In late January the Health and Human Services Department required almost all insurance plans to cover contraceptive and sterilization methods, including the morning-after pill. The decision came after passionate lobbying by religious groups and liberals from the likes of Planned Parenthood, amid government promises of compromise.
In the end, Planned Parenthood won. HHS chose to draw the rule's conscience exceptions for "religious employers" so narrowly that they will not be extended to religious charities, universities, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other institutions that oppose contraception as a matter of religious belief.
The Affordable Care Act itself is ambiguous about what counts as a religious organization that deserves conscience protection. Like so much else in the rushed bill, this was left to administrative discretion. What the law does cement is the principle that the government will decide for everyone what "health care" must mean. The entire thrust of ObamaCare is to standardize benefits and how they must be paid for and provided, regardless of individual choices or ethical convictions.
To take a small example: The HHS rule prohibits out-of-pocket costs for birth control, simply because Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's regulators believe no woman should have to pay anything for it. To take a larger example: The Obama Administration's legal defense of the mandate to buy insurance or else pay a penalty is that the mere fact of being alive gives the government the right to regulate all Americans at every point in their lives. Practicing this kind of compulsion is routine and noncontroversial within Ms. Sebelius's ministry. That may explain why her staff didn't notice that the birth-control rule abridges the First Amendment's protections for religious freedom. Then again, maybe HHS thought the public had become inured to such edicts, which have arrived every few weeks since the Affordable Care Act passed.
Bad call. The decision has roused the Catholic bishops from their health-care naivete, but they've been joined by people of all faiths and even no faith, as it becomes clear that their own deepest moral beliefs may be thrown over eventually.
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