Friday, February 10, 2012

What About the Freedom of Non-Catholics, Mike Spina?

In a column in the 1/31/12 NJ Star-Ledger, “Health care ruling an attack on Catholicism,” Mike Spina urges President Obama to retract a January 20th, 2012 “Department of Health and Human Services … ruling that [would require that], under the Affordable Care Act, virtually all employers must offer sterilization and contraceptive services free of charge in their employees’ health insurance plans by Aug. 1, 2013. The ruling would also cover abortifacients, or drugs that induce abortion.” This would violate Catholic teaching, says Mr. Spina, therefor the ruling should be rescinded. Spina writes:

Why is this ruling so dangerous? The religious objection is obvious to Catholics. Providing these services would be tantamount to asking Catholic institutions to be complicit in the prevention of life or in the possible murder of a human being, albeit one still in the mother’s womb. That is the equivalent of asking Catholic institutions to renounce their religious beliefs. For Catholics and the Catholic church [sic], this is the line drawn in the sand, the line that cannot be crossed.

I am a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama and might do so again. But this ruling must be changed to allow exemptions for all religious institutions, not just houses of worship. Employees at Catholic institutions were not forced to take jobs with their employers, nor are they forced to stay in employment. They have a choice to seek employment elsewhere. Catholic institutions should not be forced to contradict their religious beliefs.

So what can be done?

First, Obama must order his HHS secretary to retract this ruling in order to maintain the current exemption for not just houses of worship, but for all religiously affiliated institutions. Call or write the White House and ask the president to do this. Do the same thing with your congressman and senators.

Freedom must be fought for or it is easily lost.

This ruling is a good lesson in the fragile, interlocking nature of freedom: how rights violations in one area lead to rights violations in another. There are multiple lessons here.

First, the fact that some government bureaucrat can assault so basic a right as freedom of religion and conscience through a simple rule-making process illustrates that ObamaCare is totalitarian in essence.

Second, when we granted government the power to violate the rights of private citizens to make their own decisions on healthcare and health insurance, we granted the government the power to violate all rights.

Third, the mantra that under ObamaCare we could keep our current health insurance if we are satisfied with it is exposed as the lie that it always was. We are now under the dictatorial rule of HHS, which under ObamaCare can arbitrarily alter or abolish any health plan it doesn’t like.

Fourth, the denial that ObamaCare is a complete takeover of American medicine is exposed as the lie that it always was. In fact, those 2000+ pages are chock full of authorizations for federal bureaucratic regulatory powers over every aspect of medicine and, as can now be seen, beyond. ObamaCare is socialism through the back door. It is fascism.

Mr. Spina is right about the ruling. The government has no right to impose insurance mandates on unwilling Catholic Institutions. But neither does the government have the right to impose any mandates on any American, for the same reasons given here, and those Catholics now complaining about this ruling should ask themselves: Do you support other aspects of the bill? Other mandates such as the ban on pre-existing conditions, the individual mandate, or any other coercive rights-violating aspects of ObamaCare? If yes, then what right have you to complain.

But I would go further. Spina states that “Catholic institutions should not be forced to contradict their religious beliefs.” Fair enough. But I ask why should anyone be forced to contradict his or her fundamental beliefs, religious or secular? I believe that government-forced redistribution of wealth is immoral, that same-sex couples have a right to a marriage contract, that women have a right to end a pregnancy. Yet the Catholic Church supports rights-violating welfare state programs, legal bans on abortion and contraception, and denying gays basic legal marital rights.

Like the Catholic leadership, Spina apparently supports ObamaCare, as he says “The Affordable Care Act did many good things, primarily making health insurance affordable and available to those who might not otherwise be able to purchase it.” Except that now, it has turned around to bite him. Well, what has the HHS ruling done, if not make health insurance “available to those who might not otherwise be able to purchase it” – insurance for such healthcare services as “sterilization and contraceptive services, … abortifacients, or drugs that induce abortion?” Does Spina support expanded healthcare, or not? Yes, just not that healthcare. Employees at Catholic institutions “have a choice to seek employment elsewhere?” But the same can be said of employees anywhere, so why shouldn’t all employers be granted exemptions in their insurance plans based upon their beliefs regarding what should or should not be covered? Because only religious beliefs should be protected? Of course, that freedom to opt out would shatter the power that ObamaCare was designed to grant government bureaucrats; the same ObamaCare that Spina supported and the same bureaucrats that Catholic institutions are now a victim of. The hypocrisy is thick.

President Obama just announced a "tweaking" of the rule, to shift the financial cost of the mandate to the insurance companies. This "compromise" would still require birth control coverage for women employees at Catholic institutions, however. It remains to be seen if that will placate the Church. But the fundamental issue remains. For Catholics who advocate the violations of property or any other rights, or seek to impose their religious views on others, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for you. The chickens are now flocking home to roost in ways too numerous to recount.

Yes, Mr. Spina, “Freedom must be fought for or it is easily lost.” So true: So start fighting, Mike Spina. Start fighting for free market healthcare. That “line drawn in the sand, the line that cannot be crossed?” – that line between freedom and tyranny is not just for Catholics. It’s for everyone. And either everyone is protected, or no one is. That much is clear.

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