THE Catholic Church in the United States has been the loudest voice protesting the Obama administration's demand that insurers offer contraception to women at no cost. But Catholics aren't the only ones offended by this awful rule, as evidenced by a lawsuit filed by the founder of Hobby Lobby.
CEO David Green, an evangelical Christian, seeks to block the federal government from forcing his family owned company, which is self-insured, to pay for contraception.
As Green explained Wednesday, his family is being made to choose between following the law or following its religious beliefs, which are entwined in the management of its Hobby Lobby and Mardel stores. The stores are closed on Sundays. Hobby Lobby employs full-time chaplains to minister to workers and the family strongly backs Christian ministries.
“We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate,” Green said.
Nor should he have to. But the Obama administration showed with this rule that it doesn't give a hoot about religious liberty. Instead it cares more about the feelings of abortion-rights advocates.
The rule is part of Obamacare, and offers yet another example of how misguided the legislation is. The administration first announced the mandate in January. It originally required faith-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and charities to offer free contraception and abortifacients as part of the health insurance coverage.
That elicited a storm of protest from Catholics and leaders of other faiths across the country. In February, the administration tweaked the mandate to make insurance companies, not the religious employer, offer contraception free of charge. However, the change is no help to self-insured companies such as Hobby Lobby.
The attorney representing Hobby Lobby said the Greens don't oppose all forms of birth control, only such emergency contraception as the morning-after pill. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to avoid the hefty penalties that will be leveled against those who don't comply with the rule. The Greens are also going to bat in their lawsuit for “other individuals and organizations that object on religious grounds to providing insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs and devices, and related education and counseling.”
The National Women's Law Center takes issue with Green. An attorney for the group wondered, if the Hobby Lobby challenge succeeded, what would keep a company from choosing not to cover vaccines on religious grounds. But people may already opt out of mandatory vaccinations for children on religious or other grounds. Yet a company can't opt out of free abortion pills?
The law center and similar groups love choice, but only when those choices fit their agenda. A woman choosing to have an abortion? Super. A company choosing not to assist in that process? Can't have that.
“The Obama administration's battle with the Catholic Church over contraceptive services is symbolic and important,” The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger wrote Thursday. “The tradition of religious independence, which even liberal Catholics thought legitimate, has no standing with the do-the-right-thing politics of the Democratic left. Kathleen Sebelius to American Catholics: Get out of our way.”
But Catholic bishops aren't budging, and now they have a powerful ally in David Green. Commenting on Green's legal challenge, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the administration overstepped its bounds with the contraception mandate “and I think they're going to lose in a court case. And I'm glad he (Green) did it.”
Amen to that.