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“Do It Our Way Or Else” Is Not A “Balance.”

There are times when we really feel sorry for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. After all, he appears to be intelligent and yet at the same time as Press Secretary, he has to defend some of the dumbest things from the Obama administration. Then again, he took the job knowing there would be times when he had to pay the fiddler for the lack of intelligent dance songs Obama often tries to play.

Case in point is the administration’s decision to demand religious institutions cover medical procedures and health items which are against the religious institution’s beliefs.

Last week Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced religious institutions will have one year to comply with regulations under the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare) which require health insurance to include contraception and the so called “morning after pill,” which many believe is a abortion pill.

Contraception and abortions are long held by many religious institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church to be against the teachings of the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church has been clear on the matter. To them, contraception and abortion are contrary to their faith.

In making the announcement, Sebelius said:

“I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

We fail to see any “balance” between the government demanding a religion go against its beliefs in violation of the First Amendment to comply with an arbitrary rule for “health care” which is no where to be found in the Constitution.

This past Sunday, in response to Sebelius’ and Obama’s announcement, letters such as this one from Bishop Alexander K. Sample were read to Catholic congregations around the country:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot–we will not–comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

On Tuesday, in the White House’s press briefing, Jay Carney was asked about the controversy:

Q Second topic — the Catholic Church. It was a pretty extraordinary situation on Sunday in parishes all across the country, individual priests were reading letters from their bishops in that particular parish that were pretty much denouncing the Obama administration about these provisions dealing with contraception, Catholic hospitals and whatnot in connection with the Affordable Care Act. I guess my question would be, how does the administration justify having the federal government institute a law that basically forces people to violate their religious beliefs?

MR. CARNEY: Well, that misrepresents actually what the —

Q How so?

MR. CARNEY: — decision about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act —

Q How does that misrepresent —

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me — let me — let me answer. The decision was made, as we have said in the past and Secretary Sebelius has said, after very careful consideration, and the administration believes that this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.

It’s important — to go to your point — that this approach does not signal any change at all in the administration’s policy on conscience protections. The President and this administration have previously expressed strong support for existing conscience protections, including those relating to health care providers. That support continues.

I also would just note that our robust partnerships with the Catholic Church and other communities of faith will continue. The administration has provided over $2 billion to Catholic organizations over the past three years in addition to numerous nonfinancial partnerships that promote healthy communities and serve the common good.

Q The bishops are saying just the opposite. They’re saying that basically if somebody is working in a Catholic hospital and they don’t cover contraception for their employees, that they’re in violation of federal law. So I don’t understand how you’re saying that there are still conscience protections. They would violate the law, wouldn’t they?

MR. CARNEY: Well, this does not direct an individual to do anything, first of all. The new guidelines require most private health plans to cover preventive services, including contraception, for women without charging a copay, coinsurance or deductible.

The guidelines were recommended by the nonpartisan, independent Institute of Medicine. The administration also released a proposed regulation that allows nonprofit, religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.

After reviewing comments from the public, the administration announced that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception.

And I would just note that we will work with religious groups during a transitional period to discuss their concerns. But this decision was made after careful consideration by Secretary Sebelius, and we believe that the proposal strikes the appropriate balance between religious beliefs on the one hand and the need to increase access to important preventive services for women.

Q Last thing on this. E.J. Dionne, though — I mean, a lot of Republicans have attacked — but a Democrat who’s Catholic, E.J. Dionne, wrote in The Washington Post yesterday that the President, in his words, “utterly botched this policy.” And he said he, “threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus.” So despite everything you just read, you have Democratic Catholics saying that that’s not true.

MR. CARNEY: The idea that there are people who disagree — well, Ed, all you’re pointing out is that there are people who disagree with the decision. We understand that not everyone agrees with it. All I can tell you is it was made after very careful consideration based on the need to balance those two issues and that the necessity to provide access to preventive services for women was an important consideration.

Q What about the constitutional right to freedom of religion? Is that still —

MR. CARNEY: I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here, but I would refer you to others to discuss that. That’s not — I understand that there’s controversy and we understand that and we will continue to work with religious groups to discuss their concerns. But on the other side of this was the important need to provide access to women to the preventive services that they require.

And the thing you just read to me was a political observation. This was a policy based on the merits.

Q Jay, if I could follow up on that —

MR. CARNEY: No, let me — let me move around here.

Q The bishop of Phoenix said Catholics shouldn’t comply with this law. Will there be any consequences for not —

MR. CARNEY: I’m the wrong guy to ask.

Once again we see the mantra of “an appropriate balance” from Carney.

There are times when the government can demand a religious person go against their religious wishes. Those instances always involve cases were the rights of one person violate the rights of another. In cases such as that, courts and the government must strike an “appropriate balance” between existing rights. The right to freedom of religion and the exercise of that religion is clearly stated in the Constitution. On the other hand, there is no stated right to health care.

Here, the administration is trying to say First Amendment freedom of religion rights need to be balanced with law where no one’s rights are in jeopardy.

You can see how Carney stumbles and realizes what he is saying. He has to cast the Catholic Church and those of faith in a bad light in order to support his boss.

You almost have to pity the guy.

The bottom line here is that if the Obama regulations go forward, religious institutions will be forced to either cover procedures and practices against their religious beliefs or pay a fine so others can provide the same procedures and practices which are against their religious beliefs. Either way, the religious institutions are going to be forced to do something against their faith and beliefs.

To show the fallacy of this, Thom Lambert from Truth on the Market writes this “thought experiment:”

It’s late January 2016. Newt Gingrich is President. The House of Representatives is solidly Republican, and there’s a slight Republican majority in the Senate. Because Republicans lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) remains on the books. (The reconciliation process, which allowed the law to be enacted without supermajority support in the Senate, could not be used to repeal the law.) The Act continues to require employer-provided insurance to provide full coverage for all preventive care measures.

Secretary Rick Santorum of the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that conversion therapy for gay males will help prevent all sorts of costly health problems. HIV and related health problems, it seems, are extremely costly to treat and are far more common among gay men than among straight men. HHS has determined that the most modern conversion therapies can cheaply and successfully alter sexual orientation or, at a minimum, reduce homosexual impulses so that they can be managed by homosexually oriented patients who would prefer not to engage in homosexual activity.

President Gingrich and Secretary Santorum have therefore mandated that employer-provided health insurance policies cover gay conversion therapies. Claiming to be sensitive to the concerns of gay groups, they have included a narrow exemption for employers who don’t employ or serve significant numbers of straight people. In reality, though, none of the major gay and lesbian advocacy groups (e.g., the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD) or publishing organizations (e.g., The Advocate, OUT Magazine) could qualify for this exemption because all employ a great many gay-affirming straight people and include outreach to heterosexuals as one of their objectives.

Lambert then asks the question:

Can you imagine the howls from the New York Times, the television networks, and basically every other political commentator in America? Andrew Sullivan might just explode. And rightly so. Forcing gay groups to pay for a procedure that so deeply offends their core principles would be beyond the pale in a liberal society that respects personal conscience and the right of individuals to associate in groups that share their values – a right that can exist only if groups are allowed to express those values and, to the extent they aren’t hurting others, order their affairs according to them.

(We suggest you read the rest of the article and analysis as well.)

Lambert does a good job in addressing the social issues as well as some Constitutional issues, but the 500 pound gorilla in the room is still the First Amendment. Lambert’s article strikes out at the non-religious issues of this so called “balance” the administration is claiming. When you put the First Amendment on the scale along with the social issues, there can be no doubt as to the lack of thought and Constitutionality of this rule.

The administration is basically saying “you have to do it our way.” That is not a balance. Not even close. It is never a balance when the government intrudes upon, steps on and obliterates the legal rights of people.

Yet Carney has to try and defend that very thing.

You almost feel sorry for him.

Nah.



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