Leave it to the federal government to issue an 80-page document that could have been summed up in two words: nothing’s changed. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had tipped off news outlets that it was set to offer an olive branch to religious groups on its abortion, contraception, and sterilization mandate.
The compromise, HHS promised, would alleviate the concerns of organizations like Catholic Charities, hospitals, or colleges who are forced to provide life-destroying drugs against their will–or pay the price.
Turns out, the “new” HHS guidelines are virtually identical to the old ones, with a very slight change in how the accounting is done for pills or procedures that faith-based groups object to.
As most of us expected, HHS did not expand the exemptions for the mandate beyond churches, meaning that religious nonprofits like FRC and companies like Hobby Lobby would still have to choose between their principles and their prosperity. Essentially, the Obama administration is suggesting that religious groups still pay for the “health care” they oppose, but they do so through a third-party.
But even though the money is passed through an intermediary, religious organizations are still paying insurance companies to turn around and provide their employees’ abortion drugs. In other words, owners or employers would still be the paid gatekeepers for pills and services that violate their consciences. The President’s idea would just hide the coverage in the plan, an accounting gimmick that doesn’t change the bottom line for faith-based groups. Instead, it’s a fig leaf of accommodation that does nothing to alter the President’s underlying discrimination against religious organizations.
Under this new rule, the Obama administration is still picking and choosing who can exercise their faith. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the many legal groups fighting the mandate in court, insists that it will keep suing until every American can enjoy the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.
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“The First Amendment [does not] say ‘for religious entities only,'” Alan Sears said.
That might explain why the President’s mandate continues to lose in court. Of the 14 cases heard so far, 10 of the 14 have been decided in freedom’s favor. But until Congress or the courts correct this problem for everyone, institutions will still have to choose between civil disobedience coupled with large fines–or violating their faith.
LifeNews Note: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.