With the number of flaps that are going on in our country today, I am beginning to more fully understand the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” I suppose it’s time for me to weigh in on the present controversy regarding Obamacare and the requirement that insurance policies provide first dollar coverage for contraceptive services, even if the medical insurance plan’s sponsoring employer is a religious organization that believes contraception is morally wrong. The primary religious institution here in the United States that believes contraception is wrong, of course, is the Roman Catholic Church. That has been a long-standing belief and teaching of the Church, and is entitled to respect, if not agreement, especially from the government. While I was raised in the Catholic Church, I personally disagree with the teaching. It does not appear to have any sound Scriptural or rational moral basis, other than a continued tradition over several centuries. And it has never been declared as an infallible dogma, which means it could change at some time, and presently leaves some room for individual conscience to make a judgment as to whether or not its use is appropriate, and, personally, moral.
Nevertheless, in our country, church and state are and should be separate. That separation works both ways. Recall that the Constitution provides that “Congress [i.e., the federal government] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. In the last four or five decades, the establishment clause has received quite a bit of attention in the courts, the media, and among the general public. The free exercise clause somewhat less so. But they are both equally important. The government may not sponsor religion; that much is clear. But it must also not burden religion. By providing that institutions that are owned and operated by religious organizations for eleemosynary purposes such as feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and so forth must pay for, directly or indirectly, provide contraceptive services as part of a medical insurance plan for their employees, when those services are contrary to morality as those institutions see it, is obviously burdening religion. It is, and remains, contrary to the letter and spirit of our Constitutional system of governance. (Yes, my gauche friends, that pesky Constitution again.)
Of course, the root cause of this conflict is the flawed premise of Obamacare itself. That is, that everyone is mandated under that law to have medical “insurance” policies, and those must provide payment for medical services mandated by bureaucrats employed by a federal executive department. I put “insurance” in quotes because medical policies are not insurance, they are a method of paying for goods and services by third parties, usually as part of a compensation plan. Such a scheme is bound to bring about conflicts in a society such as ours which extols diversity of thought, opinion, and notions of personal freedom. It is established law that our government cannot do something unpleasant to a woman who seeks contraceptives, or even an abortion, because it is her judgment that is appropriate in her circumstances. It should also follow that one who believes it is immoral for her to do so should not have pay for it, directly or indirectly.
For more on this issue see: “The Real Trouble with the Birth-Control Mandate” by University of Chicago Professor John H. Cochrane http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=14093