According to Senators Barbara Boxer, Jeanne Shaheen, and Patty Murray, the Catholic Church is the real bully in the fight over whether religious employers must include coverage for contraception in the insurance policies they offer their employees. In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the three responded to, in their words, the “aggressive and misleading campaign” against this new Obamacare mandate. They wrote:
Those now attacking the new health-coverage requirement claim that it is an assault on religious liberty, but the opposite is true. Religious freedom means that Catholic women who want to follow their church’s doctrine can do so, avoiding the use of contraception in any form. But the millions of American women who choose to use contraception should not be forced to follow religious doctrine, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.
The three Senators seem to believe that as long as the government doesn’t force Catholic women to use birth control and the morning after pill, religious liberty is protected. They also believe that in praying to the Almighty One (not that Almighty One) for permission not to pay for a medical intervention that offends their deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs, Catholic officials are trying to force women to follow their religious doctrine.
That’s ridiculous, and it shows how desperate the defenders of President Obama’s intrusion on individual conscience have become. In a world in which religious employers were exempt from paying for a measure that violates their sacred beliefs, any woman who didn’t share those beliefs would be perfectly free to obtain birth control. The Catholic Church, after all, doesn’t have the power to overrule Griswold v. Connecticut.
By contrast, in the world of Mr. Obama’s contraception mandate, Catholic officials who choose to follow their consciences by refusing to subsidize interventions that violate their religious beliefs may ultimately be thrown in jail. That, Honorable Senators, is a full-frontal assault on religious liberty.
[More on the deeply misguided contraception mandate here.]