The Obama Administration chose the eve of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision to promulgate final rules for its healthcare law that will violate the consciences of millions of Americans—and cost the lives of untold others.
On Jan. 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced church-affiliated institutions must provide health insurance coverage for free contraceptives, sterilization and the abortion pill, despite religious convictions to the contrary.
The final decision came after the Obama Administration’s six-month evaluation of religious liberty concerns raised by a wide array of religious organizations about the regulation. Sebelius granted a one-year window for covered religious organizations to comply with the mandate.
In a statement, Sebelius called the one-year reprieve the “appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventative services.”
Rather than balance, it’s more like, “justice delayed is justice denied”—a truth to which the Obama Administration should be especially attuned.
Churches and other places of worship are exempt from the mandate, but religiously oriented non-profits, like hospitals and charities, are not.
This is not an issue just for Catholics. I can disagree with my Catholic friends about the ethics of non-abortifacient contraceptives and still appreciate and defend their religious freedom to object to such practices. Additionally, some evangelicals have ethical concerns about non-abortifacient birth control.
Further, even evangelical religious employers should not be forced to offer such coverage, especially since the definition of contraception includes devices and actions intended to destroy already conceived human lives.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission was among the wide array of religious organizations objecting to the conscience-denying mandate.
In a letter to the Obama Administration, ERLC President Richard Land warned that without a broader exception “religious organizations will be forced to choose between their consciences and their social work.”
Land predicted “many” groups will “choose to terminate” social services rather than “provide contraceptives that would violate their sincerely held beliefs. Such an outcome would be devastating.”
The “birth control” mandate follows a disturbing pattern of the Obama Administration in trampling religious liberty in pursuit of its radical social agenda.
Last year, the federal government ended a contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for its work against human trafficking—in spite of high praise for its work—because of the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion.
Despite the horrendous rule issued by Sebelius, there’s reason to hope the Supreme Court may see the matter differently when it—as it most certainly will eventually—adjudicates the matter.
Earlier this month in a sweeping, unanimous decision, the high court affirmed a wide definition of the “ministerial exception” in a closely watched case. Just as in that case all nine justices found that teachers in a Christian school had to be considered as equivalent of ministers for the purposes of employment and therefore subject to the doctrinal convictions of their employer, the Supreme Court should find religiously affiliated healthcare providers should receive protections against violating their conscience concerning deeply held religious convictions about contraceptives, sterilization and abortion.
It should not be lost on pro-life citizens that this onerous rule was announced just three days before the 38th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand. As pro-lifers around the nation gather to mark that grisly anniversary, the Obama Administration provided one more reminder of on whose side it stands.
Clearly, the timing of the regulation’s announcement was intended to win favor with the abortion lobby and Democratic leaders, while simultaneously further wounding the consciences of those of us who cherish the sanctity of human life, starting in the womb.
In a perverse way, however, the timing could be helpful, as it is a vivid reminder of public policy offspring wrought by Roe. The decision of nine men (7-2) dramatically changed the course of American history, resulting in the loss of more than 54 million boys and girls, with the high court’s sanction.
So much for the notion that what happens in Washington doesn’t really matter to everyday Americans.
The Obama healthcare religious liberty violation is also a reminder—especially this year—elections have consequences. Those persons who win elections—especially for president—have enormous influence over public policy, which in turn impacts the daily lives of every American, whether they realize it or not.
If it’s true that elections matter, a parallel truth is that every, single vote cast by citizens matters. If you doubt that, consider what Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum might say about the results of the Iowa Republican Caucuses. While Romney initially was declared the winner by just eight votes, a few weeks later the outcome was reversed, resulting in a Santorum win by a mere 34 votes.
Indeed, every single vote mattered in this case. It took only the swing of 20 votes for victory to pass from Romney to Santorum (even as belatedly as it was).
The Obama Administration’s decision on the conscience-denying healthcare regulations should invigorate pro-life Floridians who vote in the Republican primary and cause them to evaluate carefully their options when they cast their ballot Jan. 31 (if they haven’t already done so via absentee or early voting).
Extraordinarily critical issues are at play in the 2012 presidential contest. Since elections have consequences, Christians should take with extreme seriousness their civic and biblical duty to vote.
After all, some day your conscience may be in peril along with the lives of unborn children.
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Copyright © 2013 Florida Baptist Witness
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