The state of politics in the 21st century has led most Americans to expect both sides of the aisle to use the government shutdown as a political pawn. But the Obama Administration has taken it a step farther, using the shutdown as a means to further advance its agenda of trampling the rights of conscientious business owners and entrepreneurs.
To be clear, front and center in the budget shutdown struggle was the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” And front and center in Obamacare are mandates that violate the First Amendment Freedom of Conscience of Americans who do not want to support an abortion agenda.
The regulatory mandate implementing this provision requires that nearly all private health insurance plans fully cover, without co-pay, all drugs and devices labeled by the Food and Drug Administration as “contraception.” This includes so-called “emergency contraception,” which can have the effect of preventing implantation of an already-developing human embryo, ending a life. More than 70 cases have been filed challenging this Mandate because it forces employers to provide insurance coverage for life-ending drugs and devices—without regard to the employers’ consciences or religious beliefs.
Prior to the October 1 shutdown, the Obama Administration was actively defending its coercive Mandate. But immediately after the government shut down, attorneys in the Department of Justice began filing motions in many of the ongoing cases, requesting that the cases be stayed in light of the government shutdown.
The reasoning: DOJ attorneys and employees cannot work on the cases. They are prohibited during the shutdown from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances. Those limited circumstances—which supposedly do not apply here—include “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” 31 U.S.C. § 1342.
Let that sink in for a moment. According to the Administration, these HHS mandate cases, in which employers are challenging a mandate that requires them to provide coverage for life-ending drugs, do not amount to a situation involving the safety of human life.
Further, the proper determination of the role of religious liberties and the freedom of conscience in regard to the HHS Mandate is not a priority for this Administration, much less an “emergency.” The Founding Fathers would likely beg to differ with any stance de-prioritizing the freedom of conscience. Of course, the Administration’s actions should be expected, because the Administration is on the wrong side of this issue, using the ACA to advance its abortion-driven agenda.
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The irony here—and an example of the Administration wanting to have its cake and eat it too—is that the ACA plods ahead. The government was not staying the HHS mandate during the shutdown. So what we have is an Administration that denigrates freedom of conscience, claiming that litigation seeking to protect religious liberties (and human life) is not an essential government function, but pushes forward with the most massive expansion of government support for abortion and of government interference in citizens’ lives that this nation has ever seen.
We can only expect the government to continue with its anti-life, anti-conscience priorities now that the shutdown has, at least temporarily, ended. What we really need next is not a shutdown of the entire government but a shutdown of this administration and its anti-life priorities.