According to the CBN News website, a class action lawsuit has been filed against the Obama administration over the so-called “contraceptive mandate” or “birth control mandate,” a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that directs employers to offer insurance packages that cover the cost of contraceptive drugs. The suit has been filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of several Christian-based organizations that want to be classified as “religious employers” so they can take advantage of the legal exemption provided to those businesses. The plaintiffs allege that providing health benefits that cover this category of care is an infringement on their right to practice their religion by allowing free or discounted access to drugs that could prevent or prematurely end a pregnancy. This is not the first lawsuit filed over the mandate and likely won’t be the last, until we’re given a federal court precedent that will more clearly define who is exempt and who isn’t. Right now, the “religious employer” classification that allows exemption to contraceptive coverage provides too much of a gray area. Until that’s resolved, we’ll see more cases like this.
I’m really baffled. Of course I’m in favor of protecting First Amendment rights, specifically in regards to religion, but these cases seem to be more about political posturing and furthering the anti-Obamacare movement than anything else. In fact, some institutions that have sued in the past didn’t even realize that they were already offering this coverage before the mandate was created. So really, how important is this issue to these institutions? Are they drumming up complaints just because they’re on the other side of the aisle? Would this be as big of a problem if this were G.W. Bush’s health care program? Let’s look at the real issue here.
So these businesses are complaining that they will be forced to offer heath insurance packages to their employees that cover contraceptive care, something that is debatably against their religious beliefs. Specifically, Catholic institutions have complained the loudest, since Catholicism forbids birth control of any kind, yet surveys have shown that 98% of Catholic women ages 15 to 44 who have had sex have used some kind of birth control, and 82% of Catholics believe that using contraceptives is not morally wrong, despite their own religious affiliation. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a stance against blood transfusions. They’re not allowed. Yet somehow I’ve not heard of any legal action to remove the coverage of blood transfusions from health care plans offered by JW-based businesses. Again I ask, how vital is this issue?
It’s also important to make the distinction between offering heath coverage and mandating use. The ACA is simply telling employers that they must offer plans that cover birth control, should an individual decide that’s the route they want to take. The government is not telling people they have to use birth control. That choice still remains. If something is against your religion and you agree with the restriction, then don’t do it. Presto! That’s Freedom of Religion per the First Amendment. The Religious Right makes it seem as if Barack Obama himself is running through the streets tossing out birth control and administering IUDs against people’s will.
The contraceptive mandate issue is just another waste of court time and taxpayer money with no real-world effect. If the goal of the religious is to prevent people from using contraceptives by not covering them in their health plans, then they’re even more diluted than anyone thought. Birth control and Plan B will still be purchased by those who wish to use them, whether they’re covered by insurance or not. The numbers show that even Catholic followers agree that the stance of the Church is outdated and irrelevant in today’s society. Maybe the Catholic focus should be more centered around updating their doctrine rather than fighting for archaic uterus control. They hide behind the facade of a righteous duty to save lives of the unborn or yet to be fertilized. What about saving lives of the people that have been born already by providing them access to affordable health care? Studies have shown that birth control pills dramatically lower a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, but the Catholics aren’t talking about that because they never admit to any harm in their own doctrine. After all, isn’t the spread of AIDS in Africa partially attributed to Catholic missionaries preaching to converts about the evils of condoms? You won’t hear that from them. They try to convince us that condoms help spread AIDS. Two words: global irresponsibility.