In all the chatter about the South Carolina primary, you may have missed the ruling from HHS Secretary Sibelius, which amounts to telling many religious organizations that they now have one year to comply with mandates that deeply violate their religion. At issue is:

“Religious leaders had feared the worst from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her Department of Health and Human Services, which since September has been considering whether to exempt Catholic and other religious employers from a regulation mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including some that cause abortion.”

From this Washington Post column.

Don’t ignore this if you are not Catholic. Protestant and Jewish leaders have also expressed their alarm over the mandate.

The administration is exceptionally cynical about this. Reportedly, President Obama called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan to tell him the news personally. Dolan calls the ruling “literally unconscionable.”

Of course this is going to the courts. Belmont Abbey College is suing: an interview about this here.

Meawhile, whether the national news outlets pay much attention or not (and why would they, when there must be more Newt-Mitt spats to report on), today is the National March for Life in which many, many thousands will march in support of life. Excellent roundup from the Anchoress and a wonderful reflection here on the culture of life:

It’s teaching our children that we are people of life. It’s raising them to love those who are weak, to protect those who are vulnerable, to respect those who are different.

More links on the HHS ruling:
http://aclj.org/pro-life/new-assault-faith-based-organizations

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/01/obama-administrations-war-on-religious-liberty-we-have-one-year-to-comply/

  • http://bearingdrift.com Andrew Schwartz

    This is not just a “freedom of religion” issue–at least as we understand it. It is about the governing right to that, the freedom of conscience. In my opinion, it goes beyond forcing religious institutions to provide services they don’t believe in.

    Must an atheist, who equally to the Catholic believes that some forms of contraception are murder because of the evident signs of physical life (division of cells) and the imminent potentiality for sentience in the embryo, be forced to provide his employees the instrument of murder?

    Can they conscientiously object to providing–at a cost of their property–the methods and means to a controversial procedure that involves the extermination of a mitotic organism?

    We have laws that protect conscientious objectors to war. Many believe that any instrumentality used to extinguish the life–by whatever definition–of another, regardless of its declared legality (i.e., wartime), is unconscionable, and may justly be called murder. They are protected in their conscience, regardless of their religion, and cannot be forced to provide support or services to what they consider murder.

    Forcing an insurance company to have plans that cover these abortion-inducing methods is in itself a violation of the freedom of conscience. Forcing any employer to provide that coverage for its employees squares the injustice.

  • http://craigkilby.com Craig Kilby

    Jane, this is indeed alarming. Leaving the theological discussion of abortion aside, this is an egregious interference into matters of church and religion. I can’t resist saying that it has never mattered much in the past three decades that churches to interfere in politics while enjoying tax-emempt status. One thing we might agree upon is a separation of church and state. A big one.

  • Eric the 1/2 troll

    So if a certain sect believes that ALL medicine is wrong and only faith-based medicine will be paid for in their employer-based health insurance, the government should go ahead and approve of this plan as providing health insurance under the law?

    Fact, abortion is legal and often is medically necessary. Fact, sterilization (vasectomy and tubal ligation) is legal and often is medically necessary as well. If you want to be considered by the government to be providing health insurance to your employees (who you can’t BTW discriminate against based on religion – unless they are a minister) then you must provide coverage for those procedures the same government considers perfectly legal.