Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;... First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Ever since he took office, many, including this humble reporter, have called Barack Obama audacious. His own book confirmed the diagnosis with the title Audacity of Hope. He walked into the Oval Office with an agenda in hand, and come hell or high water, he determined to accomplish it. And in his mind, that agenda would serve to profoundly transform a free and dynamic American society into an oppressive, stagnant, socialistic nightmare. And nothing would present an obstacle to that agenda, including the Constitution of the United States.
Now, despite promises to the contrary, HHS (Health and Human Services) under Kathleen Sebelius in the Obama administration ruled that all employers must provide insurance coverage for employees of particular items and procedures even if such coverage ran contrary to the teaching of their faith.
The rule issued by Sebelius forces nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization. These are listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing—regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage. This is a clear violation of religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Cardinal-designate, Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), and current archbishop of New York, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans….Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
He urged Catholics and the public to watch his video and then take action by contacting their representatives in Washington and protesting the ruling. The Obama administration had promised no federal funds would be used for abortions, yet this ruling ensures they will be. The Obama administration promised a conscience clause that would accommodate matters of faith, and yet, this ruling will override it. The exemption provided for “religious employers” is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year. Ironically not even Jesus and his disciples would have qualified.
The bishops are now urging Catholics and others who recognize and understand the value of life, to fight this unprecedented attack on conscience rights and religious liberty. Bishops all over the country have sent letters to their churches to be read at Masses this past weekend which urges all Catholics to pray and fast for a reversal of this ruling and to register their opposition with their elected representatives.
To correct the threats to religious liberty and rights of conscience posed by PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has been introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.” It is more important than ever that we urge Members of Congress to co-sponsor this measure and to pass it. If you value your liberty, stand with the bishops today.
Obama cannot continue to trample the Constitution without expecting pushback from some quarter. Catholics must stand with the bishops to oppose this ruling and Congress must pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. If not, Obama will have promoted himself to Emperor, and We the People will have lost all earthly recourse to protect our remaining rights.
Joan R. Neubauer, is an author, public speaker, and works as the Public Liaison Officer for the Davis Mountains Trans-Pecos Heritage Associationin Alpine, Texas.Commenting Policy
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