intersection

the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Posts tagged "HHSmandate"

Who shares your values?

From Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress:

…How does this work? How does the illiberal language of the HHS Mandate — proposing unprecedented intrusion by the government into church matters — language that, pretty much all Catholics agreed in the first week could not stand, become codified in the next week with the approval of some of those same Catholics? Is this president’s word so trustworthy that it was enough for him to merely say he would change something he did not change and clearly has no intention of codifying?

Were some Catholics simply looking for a face-saving cover? Why, then? Because unity with their party was worth helping to set a bad precedent? What, specifically, in the codified language (or in Obama’s subsequent statement) has assuaged any conscience sufficiently to bring about an endorsement?

Much more importantly, with some Catholics now on board and making a variety of arguments supporting the administration, they are — intentionally or not — helping to distract people from the crux of the matter, which is simply this: when the CDC itself admits (as it did in 2009 [pdf]) that contraception is so widely available that fully 99% of women report using it at some point (so much so that, as Shea notes traces of birth control residue are found in our water supply), why did the administration find it necessary to even go where it went on the issue of contraception; why is it intruding on the churches own rights and abilities to own their conscience and define their missions?

That’s the question; it’s the ball we must keep our eyes on, and some are happy to get distracted, swing and miss.

It’s a political wedge issue, I get that, meant to divide and conquer, and the administration has clearly managed to do that, but this is also a genuinely bad precedent — so bad that I just cannot understand anyone’s willingness to support it, when this administration has demonstrated more than once that it means to put the churches in their places, and that their places are to be within the government’s mandates (hello Hosanna Tabor), or outside the public arena, altogether.

That anyone is willing to overlook the question of constitutionality for the sake of political expediency, I just don’t get….

Read it all.

From Ed Morrissey at HotAir:

And why is this mandate necessary in the first place?  Is there some great crisis of access to contraception and abortifacients among employed people that only employers can solve?  In my column for The Week, I look at the CDC’s in-depth survey of contraception use and find out that the question of access never even comes up as a barrier:

…Here’s a question few are asking: Why? Obama and his administration insist that women need better access to contraception and abortifacients, but few women have problems accessing them. The CDC reported in 2009 that contraception use wasn’t exactly lacking: “Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age: 99 percent of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime.” Of all the reasons for non-use of contraception in cases of unwanted pregnancy, lack of access doesn’t even make the CDC’s list…

The real problem in this issue isn’t access to contraception.  When 99% of women of reproductive age have accessed it without an employer mandate, access is as universal as it can get.  The real issues are religious liberty, as we have often discussed, and the more acute problem of ObamaCare itself.  This is not just some benign federal resource-sharing program designed to make it easier to find coverage; this is, as we repeatedly warned, a mechanism for the federal government to take control of the health-care industry and have unelected bureaucrats rule one-sixth of the American economy by diktat Repealing the mandate is the first step; repealing ObamaCare will be the only way to ensure that bureaucrats don’t have the power to do this again….

Read it all.

Surprised? I’m not. (Well, actually I am a little–that Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, didn’t respond to the pro-life emails as well). From LifeSiteNews.com:

After a person posing as a pro-choice leader thanked her for defending reproductive rights against the U.S. Catholic bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association thanked the individual and encouraged her group to take a proposed donation to CHA and instead use it to benefit a “poor woman” in CHA’s honor.

The pro-life activist behind the e-mail says Keehan didn’t respond to e-mails with an overt pro-life point of view sent from several e-mail addresses, but got a very different response when posing as a pro-choice leader praising her for defending birth control.

The individual sent a message from the fake pro-choice group “Riverside for Choice” on Sunday thanking Sr. Keehan for protecting access to birth control and for her “willingness to not be intimidated by people like the catholic [sic.] bishops who oppose choice in women’s health.”

“On behalf of all the women and men of Riverside for Choice I would like to thank you for protecting the rights of all women to have free access to essential health services including the contraceptives that allow us to control our own health and bodies,” the individual, posing as “Jenna Wagner” of “Riverside for Choice,” said in an e-mail exchange with Sr. Keehan forwarded to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). “Wagner” also requested information on how to send a donation to CHA.

“Thanks so much, it would please me if you would use the money for a poor woman in California,” was Sr. Keehan’s response the next day, signed “Keep praying, Sr Carol.”…

LSN asked why Riverside for Choice, which appears to specifically promote artificial birth control, was encouraged to spend funds in CHA’s honor. Sr. Keehan responded, “I asked them to use it for a woman who was poor, I did not ask them to use it for reproductive health.”

Sr. Keehan and CHA have become the fulcrum of the intensifying controversy regarding the Obama administration’s plan to require Catholic employers to pay for sterilizations, contraception, and abortifacient birth control drugs such as the “week-after” pill, Ella. The White House flaunted support from CHA on Friday when it announced an “accommodation” to the mandate that has since been soundly denounced by the U.S. bishops as inadequate. Media outlets then juxtaposed CHA’s name beside Planned Parenthood‘s to give the impression that the two sides of the debate agreed to the arrangement….

The sender of the e-mail, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews.com that the faux pro-choice e-mail address was used after other e-mails were ignored.

“I sent her numerous e-mails from a pro-life point of view and she did not respond, so I wondered if she would respond in a positive way to an e-mail from an abortion supporter and she sure did,” said the sender.

“I was most disturbed by her asking a clearly pro-abortion group to use their money for a ‘poor woman’ knowing a pro-abortion group would use it for abortion,” the sender said…

Read it all.

One way to figure out which side of an issue you should be on is to see who else is on that side. I learned this when living in California, the land of the ever-expanding propositional ballot. Those measures were often written to purposely confuse and confound the voter, so I would always check to see who wrote the proposition and who was for and against it.

So, let’s take a look at Pres. Obama’s so-called “compromise” on the HHS mandated “free” contraception coverage. Does this regulatory language presented to us on February 10 actually do what the White House said it would: remove the obligation from churches and religious institutions to provide and pay for birth control coverage, including contraception and abortifacients?

On the “for” side (Obama has given us something we can live with/something we like/we’re happy, very, very happy), we have:

  • NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, at least until 2003, when they chose to stop spelling out the acronym–gee, I wonder why? Just what you want, an organization that tries to hide what it is)
  • Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States
  • RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that uses religion as a fig leaf to cover up their abortion agenda and even presents as one of their ethical justifications the idea that abortion can be considered a self-defense measure)
  • CHA (Catholic Health Association, the useful idiots of the abortion coalition)
  • Liberal columnists like E.J. Dionne and Jon Meachem (and as a mark as to how low Time Magazine has fallen, the last time I checked, Meachem’s article had only seven comments)

On the “against” side (Obama continues to violate the First Amendment/this “compromise” was no compromise/this is insulting), we have:

Okay, time to pick your side; I know mine.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Americans United for Life joined forces with other pro-life legal organizations to file the leading pro-life amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration’s healthcare law, violates the Constitution by forcing Americans to pay for abortion.

AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest stated, “President Obama’s healthcare overhaul includes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that blatantly violates the conscience rights and First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans. Nowhere in the Constitution does it require Americans to violate their beliefs and pay for abortions.”…

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a clear abortion agenda hidden in the pages of the healthcare law through the controversy surrounding the abortion-inducing drug mandate,” said Dr.Yoest. “Forcing either companies or individuals to pay for abortion-inducing drugs against their consciences is a clear violation of the rights of individuals under the First Amendment. This case is further evidence that abortion is included throughout the healthcare law….

Read it all, and you can find the brief here.

From the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a response to Pres. Obama’s non-compromise:

President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has issued a requirement that all insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, cover free-of-charge certain so-called “contraceptives” that are actually much more than that. Some of the drugs and devices required to be covered will actually cause abortions. The required drugs include Ella and Plan B, which can destroy a developing human being prior to, or even after, implanting in the mother’s womb.

The government requirement also covers IUDs. These devices also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the mother’s womb. While some, including the Obama administration, call these contraceptives, they are abortifacients. When a developing human being is expelled by direct human action from the mother’s womb, that is taking a human life—an abortion.

We consider this callous requirement by the Obama administration to be a clear violation of our nation’s commitment to liberty of conscience and a flagrant violation of our constitutional protection to freedom of religion. For many people of faith, this requirement is abhorrent. It forces them to choose between their religious convictions about when human life begins and providing health care for themselves, their families, or their employees. Clearly, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects people from such trampling of their religious convictions….

Also, this outrageously narrow exemption will not protect people of faith in the general population who as a matter of religious conviction do not want to cover as part of their health insurance premiums drugs and devices that cause abortion. The Obama administration’s requirement is an affront to all people who are pro-life. On strictly pro-life grounds, people should not be required to violate their deeply held beliefs about abortion….

The Obama administration’s brazen determination to force all Americans to pay for abortions is an affront to our nation’s core commitment to liberty of conscience. A person who is not free to follow the dictates of his or her moral conscience is not free. Government has no authority to dictate compliance on matters that do such violence to the consciences of a vast segment of the population. The Obama administration has declared war on religion and freedom of conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedoms.

Read it all.

From the USCCBlog:

1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”

2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.

3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption….

4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.

5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”

6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.

Check it out.

Okay, people, here it is, read it below: Obama’s great “compromise” on the HHS contraception/abortifacient rules, all decked out in government-ese. Where is Joe Wilson when you need him?

Because from the rules to be published in the Federal Register come February 15, we learn this:

  • Pregnancy is a disease, a “preventable” disease.
  • This “compromise” changes nothing: religious institutions opposed to chemical birth control (including abortifacients) will still, one way or another, be paying for this coverage.
  • Women really are the weaker sex, since apparently we are incapable of functioning without government help.
  • The woman who finds herself with an “unintended pregnancy” is a threat not only to herself, but to society at large.

From the Office of the Federal Register, the final rules for the HHS “Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventive Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” that will appear in the February 15 Federal Register

(And, don’t forget, sixty days from February 15, these rules go into effect by order of the federal government.)

First, the Summary from page 1:

SUMMARY: These regulations finalize, without change, interim final regulations authorizing the exemption of group health plans and group health insurance coverage sponsored by certain religious employers from having to cover certain preventive health services under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

And now the Overview (from pages 8-14):

III. Overview of the Final Regulations

In response to these comments, the Departments carefully considered whether to eliminate the religious employer exemption or to adopt an alternative definition of religious employer, including whether the exemption should be extended to a broader set of religiously affiliated
sponsors of group health plans and group health insurance coverage. For the reasons discussed below, the Departments are adopting the definition in the amended interim final regulations for purposes of these final regulations while also creating a temporary enforcement safe harbor, discussed below.

Think about this: HHS actually carefully considered whether to toss the First Amendment (which they’ve done anyway with their so-called “compromise”). And they’ve only created a “temporary enforcement safe harbor.” Changes they are a-coming

During the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments plan to develop and propose changes to these final regulations that would meet two goals – providing contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing to individuals who want it and accommodating non-exempted, non-profit organizations’ religious objections to covering contraceptive services as also discussed below.

PHS Act section 2713 reflects a determination by Congress that coverage of recommended preventive services by non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers without cost sharing is necessary to achieve basic health care coverage for more Americans. Individuals are more likely to use preventive services if they do not have to satisfy cost sharing requirements (such as a copayment, coinsurance, or a deductible).

Well, of course, you might be more apt to use something given to you for free. Then again, having spent your own money for something usually makes you more conscientious about it. So it’s a toss-up, but let’s have the federal government mandate that private companies (insurers) give something away at no cost to the receiver, because the Obama administration has shown themselves to be such wizs at economics.

Use of preventive services results in a healthier population and reduces health care costs by helping individuals avoid preventable conditions

Pregnancy, the new disease…

and receive treatment earlier. Further, Congress, by amending the Affordable Care Act during the Senate debate to ensure that recommended preventive services for women are covered adequately by non-grandfathered group health plans and group health insurance coverage, recognized that women have unique health care needs and burdens. Such needs include contraceptive services.

They’re right, it is such a burden being a woman, what with being able to create life and all. We need help, we can’t do it ourselves! Please, give us free stuff because we’re helpless otherwise.

As documented in a report of the Institute of Medicine, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women, Closing the Gaps,” women experiencing an unintended pregnancy may not immediately be aware that they are pregnant, and thus delay prenatal care. They also may not be as motivated to discontinue behaviors that pose pregnancy-related risks (e.g., smoking, consumption of alcohol). Studies show a greater risk of preterm birth and low birth weight among unintended pregnancies compared with pregnancies that were planned….

OMG, I think the government has just said that unplanned pregnancies truly are anathema to our nation. Women with “unintended pregnancies” are the new smokers, to be avoided at all costs, frowned upon by society, and offered remedial help (aka abortifacients) if they are unhappy with their pregnant state. Just say no…to pregnancy.

The religious employer exemption in the final regulations does not undermine the overall benefits described above. A group health plan (and health insurance coverage provided in connection with such a plan) qualifies for the exemption if, among other qualifications, the plan is established and maintained by an employer that primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.

So much for exempting religious institutions like hospitals, charities, etc. The government is pushing religious institutions out of the public square by limiting this insurance exemption to entities that primarily employ persons of the same faith. No one is stopping anyone employed by a Catholic hospital, for example, from going out and buying their own contraception or insurance provision to cover those costs, but that’s not good enough for the government.

As such, the employees of employers availing themselves of the exemption would be less likely to use contraceptives even if contraceptives were covered under their health plans.

A broader exemption, as urged by some commenters, would lead to more employees having to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services, thus making it less likely that they would use contraceptives, which would undermine the benefits described above.

Because, don’t forget, pregnancy is a disease.

And women are the weaker sex and are incapable of taking control of their own reproductive decisions, so the government must step in.

Employers that do not primarily employ employees who share the religious tenets of the organization are more likely to employ individuals who have no religious objection to the use of contraceptive services and therefore are more likely to use contraceptives. Including these employers within the scope of the exemption would subject their employees to the religious views of the employer, limiting access to contraceptives, and thereby inhibiting the use of contraceptive services and the benefits of preventive care….

Because, repeat after me: Pregnancy. Is. A. Disease.

And HHS is wrong–access is not limited by giving those institutions an exemption. Any female employee can go to their doctor and get a prescription with no limits whatsoever. (And, to be honest with you, it’s no business at all of the government to determine whether or not an employee shares the “religious tenets” of their employer or not.)

With respect to certain non-exempted, non-profit organizations with religious objections to covering contraceptive services whose group health plans are not grandfathered health plans, guidance is being issued contemporaneous with these final regulations that provides a one-year safe harbor from enforcement by the Departments.

In other words, to quote Archbishop Dolan, “we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments will work with stakeholders to develop alternative ways of providing contraceptive coverage without cost sharing with respect to non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to such coverage.

You know, I just don’t believe them, and you shouldn’t either. There is little to no interest in working with faith communities on how to deal with this because HHS needs to make sure everyone knows that they, and they alone, make the rules.

Specifically, the Departments plan to initiate a rulemaking to require issuers to offer insurance without contraception coverage to such an employer (or plan sponsor) and simultaneously to offer contraceptive coverage directly to the employer’s plan participants (and their beneficiaries) who desire it, with no cost-sharing. Under this approach, the Departments will also require that, in this circumstance, there be no charge for the contraceptive coverage….

Because we all know that the pharmaceutical companies will make the contraceptives for free, the packaging companies will package them for free, the truck drivers will transport them for free nationwide, and the doctors will prescribe them for free. Because that’s how it works in the minds of those who have no idea of the marketplace. In reality, of course, the employer continues to pay for the coverage through increased premiums for everyone (because nothing is free).

The Departments intend to develop policies to achieve the same goals for self-insured group health plans sponsored by non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage.

Um-humm…I don’t believe that either.

A future rulemaking would be informed by the existing practices of some issuers and religious organizations in the 28 States where contraception coverage requirements already exist, including Hawaii.

Why in the world would you call out Hawaii by name, except for the fact that you’re going to use them as a model?

There, State health insurance law requires issuers to offer plan participants in group health plans sponsored by religious employers that are exempt from the State contraception coverage requirement the option to purchase this coverage in a way that religious employers are not obligated to fund it. It is our understanding that, in practice, rather than charging employees a separate fee, some issuers in Hawaii offer this coverage to plan participants at no charge.

And we’ve already gone over the fact that that is a false statement: the insurance company will pass the costs on to everyone through increased premiums, so the religious employers will still be required to pay for coverage they consider morally evil.

The Departments will work with stakeholders to propose and finalize this policy before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor….

I’m sure they will, just like they did before the rules were finalized this time.

Because sometimes, the headline is just too good to pass up. From the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Here’s a conundrum: The White House wants to impose its birth-control ideology on all Americans, including those for whom sponsoring or subsidizing such services violates their moral conscience. The White House also wants to avoid a political backlash from this blow to religious freedom. These goals are irreconcilable.

So you almost have to admire the absurdity of the new plan President Obama floated yesterday: The government will now write a rule that says the best things in life are “free,” including contraception. Thus a political mandate will be compounded by an uneconomic one—in other words, behold the soul of ObamaCare….

Under the new rule, which the White House stresses is “an accommodation” and not a compromise, nonprofit religious organizations won’t have to directly cover birth control and can opt out. But the insurers they hire to cover their employees can’t opt out. If that sounds like a distinction without a difference, odds are you’re a rational person….

Insurance companies won’t be making donations. Drug makers will still charge for the pill. Doctors will still bill for reproductive treatment. The reality, as with all mandated benefits, is that these costs will be borne eventually via higher premiums. The balloon may be squeezed differently over time, and insurers may amortize the cost differently over time, but eventually prices will find an equilibrium. Notre Dame will still pay for birth control, even if it is nominally carried by a third-party corporation.

This cut-out may appease a few of the Administration’s critics, especially on the Catholic left—but only if they want to be deceived again, having lobbied for the Affordable Care Act that created the problem in the first place….

We couldn’t recall any spirit of conciliation when the birth-control mandate was finalized in January, so we went back and checked the transcript of that call with senior Administration officials. Sure enough, back then they said that the rule “reflects careful consideration of the rights of religious organizations” and that a one-year grace period “really just gives those organizations some additional time to sort out how they will be adjusting their plans.”

A journalist asked, “Just to be clear, so it’s giving them a year to comply rather than giving them a year to in any way change how they feel or the Administration to change how it feels.” Another senior official: “That is correct. It gives them a year to comply.”…

There is simply no precedent for the government ordering private companies to offer a product for free, even if they recoup the costs indirectly….

The larger tragedy is that none of them objected to government health care, which will always take choices away from individuals and arrogate them to an infallible higher power in Washington. Who was it again who claimed that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan?

Read it all.

A look at how the news media is framing the health care contraceptive debate, from J.E. Dyer at HotAir:

On retrieving my paper copy of the Wall Street Journal this morning, I saw the discouraging headline: Obama Retreats on Contraception

My first thought was, “Surely the Journal knows better than this. Why would they headline this story as if Obama had, in fact, backed off on the mandate? What are they, USA Today?”

The headline doesn’t reflect reality.

…Obama has merely shifted the basis for the mandate.  The insurance companies – I use that term loosely – will be required to provide “free” contraception services to the insured who work for Catholic employers.  This means that the premiums paid by Catholic employers will fund contraception services.  And the overall mandate to purchase the insurance will continue.

If the federal government can step in and arbitrarily require a company to provide things for “free” that were previously elective, premium-based services, then it is no longer an insurance company.  We are not buying insurance from it; we are simply participating in a mandatory government program whose features can be changed at any time, regardless of what we or the “insurers” want.  There is no contract.  There are only the one-sided decisions of bureaucrats and future presidents.

This Obama move is the opposite of a retreat.  It’s a decision to reveal the future to us, and to insist on remaining on course for it….

The president’s people say he has changed his mind on the contraception mandate; in the shallowest of political terms, that can be seen as a “retreat”; and no care is taken to frame the overriding reality that Catholic employers will be required to pay for “insurance” programs that distribute contraception to their employees.

That is not a change of heart, it’s a significant broadening of the state’s control, undertaken at the drop of a hat – and we have a huge mainstream media apparatus that simply does not frame what’s going on in realistic terms.  The clear implications of the Obama decision were widely discussed across the conservative blogosphere yesterday, and even on some MSM opinion pages.  But in their news reporting, the MSM characterized what had happened – falsely – as a retreat by the president.

Are they idiots?  Are they all “in the tank” for Obama?  It may feel good to excoriate them in these terms, but I see it differently in the case of at least some of the MSM….

Read it all.

From Ed Morrissey at HotAir (remember Captain’s Quarters?):

After a long day of supposed “accommodation” and discussion, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops took a close look at the supposed adjustment of the HHS mandate yesterday.  Their conclusion?  It represents no change at all, and the bishops will press for a “legislative solution” to Barack Obama’s mandate

They note that the overall mandate is “unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern,” and that they “cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.” But it’s that question that animates their activism, and it’s not just the fact that these religious organizations will end up paying for these products and services either directly or indirectly — which we’ll address momentarily.  The mandate forces these organizations to facilitate the use of products and services that violate their religious doctrine, under penalty of government force.  It’s exactly the type of government threat from which the First Amendment was written to protect religious practice — and that included the practice of religion outside of worship spaces….

[W]hat we do know is that costs will rise immediately as insurers have to pay for the contraceptives and abortifacients for which they will get no cost-sharing from the women who use them.  When those costs go up in the short term, so will premiums.  If the long-term savings that HHS predicts do come to pass, all it will do will be to avoid premium hikes far down the road, but the initial impact will force insurers to raise premiums to cover these costs — and that means the religious organizations that have to pay more to cover the costs of the mandate.  So yes indeed, they will have to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients despite the shell game announced by the White House yesterday….

Read it all.