Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Obamacare regulation tramples on religious freedom


"What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values," President Obama said last week in his State of the Union address. "We have to reclaim them," he continued. If only he practiced what he preached. Just four days earlier, he made a mockery of one of America's most sacred constitutional principles, the right of every individual to freedom of religious belief and practice without interference from government. On Jan. 20, Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's secretary of health and human services, issued new regulations under Obamacare that require employers, including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and churches, to include coverage of contraception and abortifacients like the morning-after pill, in their employee health insurance plans.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It's not clear which part of "no law" Obama and Sebelius missed, but that is exactly what the new HHS regulation does because it forces millions of American Catholics and evangelical Protestants who object to abortion to support practices that violate their most deeply held religious beliefs.

When the Obama administration announced last summer that the Obamacare mandate would likely include this coverage requirement, a number of religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, requested exemptions. HHS granted an exemption in the regulation announced last week, but it is laughably narrow and brief. Churches do not have to provide the coverage to their clergy, but they must for all other church employees. The regulation thus makes all members of the church contribute to the provision of something alien to their religious faith and practice. Sebelius also granted them an extra year to come into compliance.

Read more at the Washington Examiner

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