By Dave Andrusko
We are now in Day Five of the bogus Obama Mandate retooling and aftermath saga, and clearly opposition is mounting.
At you read in Part Three (“NRLC Urges Senate to Adopt Blunt Amendment”), National Right to Life has thrown its support solidly behind the Blunt amendment to the pending transportation bill. Taken directly from the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” the text would amend ObamaCare “to prevent the imposition of regulatory mandates that violate the religious or moral convictions of those who purchase or provide health insurance.”
In Part Three, you read the no-nonsense comments of Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in an interview with the Associated Press. The context was Obama’s original mandate compelling Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to paying for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception and Friday’s “compromise” which was not compromise but doubletalk.
Although Dolan apparently did not mention the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act by name in the interview, he did say the Bishops would be working hard to legislatively guarantee freedom of religion in this area. Dolan also told the AP that while “I want to take him at his word,” Dolan does “’have to say it’s getting harder and harder,’ to believe Obama’s claim to prioritize religious freedom issues given the latest controversy.”
The NRLC letter to the Senate is important not only for its support of the amendment but also for the background it provides about the warnings NRLC made while ObamaCare was pending in the Senate: that in accordion-like fashion, the “preventive health services” provision would expand the power of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate coverage of ANY medical service, including abortions, merely by adding the service to a fluid list.
On January 20 Obama’s HHS decreed that all FDA-approved birth control methods be considered a preventive health service. If the twisted logic flies, why not mandate abortion coverage?
After all just as expanded use of birth control supposedly will save any health plan money, HHS could order health plans to cover elective abortions on the same basis–that the plans would save the much higher cost of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby.
The debate over the mandate is a classic “teachable moment.” The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol made a very astute observation, which is very much in line with what NRLC warned:
“This regulation isn’t some kind of weird bug in the software of Obamacare. It’s not a clumsy overreach by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius or even by President Obama himself. The regulation isn’t a bug or an overreach at all. It’s a feature. It’s a feature that follows directly from the very structure, from the heart, of Obamacare.”
This can be emphasized strongly enough.
One other vitally important consideration that helps people grasp how wholly insincere Obama’s sham “compromise” actually is. If you read stories in Obama-friendly places such as the New York Times and the Huffington Post and Salon, you realize Friday’s “accommodation” was not for the Catholic Church, other religious denomination, religious organizations, or anyone else whose moral/religious scruples were deeply offended by the mandate. (Which, parenthetically, is why the revision was never intended to meet any of their concerns.)
Rather the audience was those on the religious left who had provided ObamaCare with the cover it needed to scrape by in 2010. As Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times wrote,
“Rather, the fight was for Sister Carol Keehan — head of an influential Catholic hospital group, who had supported President Obama’s health care law — and Catholic allies of the White House seen as the religious left. Sister Keehan had told the White House that the new rule, part of the health care law, went too far.”
But what does “too far” mean? It meant that there was no plausible way to spin the mandate into anything other than what it was: an invasion by government bureaucracy into previously sacrosanct territory protected by the First Amendment.
However all that was needed was a few meaningless bookkeeping proposals, plenty of assurances by Obama and his friends in the media that he had met critics half-way, and presto chango (as Ross Douthat of the Times wrote) Obama was “winning back the Catholics who wanted to be won back.”
But providing those already in Obama’s camp with “plausible deniability” does nothing to address the core problem: an Administration with a tin ear for religious liberty and an active hostility to the bedrock American principle of a government limited by the Constitution.
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