Column: Mandate will force institutions to provide coverage they find immoral

Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

by Michael Schuttloffel

American presidents have in rare moments of national crisis laid claim to the use of constitutionally dubious “emergency powers.”

Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order authorizing the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. And while no emergency has been formally declared today, President Obama has nonetheless stretched the Constitution to the breaking point in response to what his administration apparently believes is a national crisis of access to contraception.

The access-to-contraception situation is so dire that the commander in chief — otherwise busy with Iran, Afghanistan, and the global economy — has taken it upon himself to intervene. On his order, all health care plans will be required to provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs for free: no co-pays, no deductibles. Countless religious institutions and individuals will be coerced by the federal government into providing their employees with health plans that include services they find deeply immoral.

This policy violates the very first protection of the First Amendment: that there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Yet the presidents of the United States — sworn to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, and on the record promising to protect the conscience rights of believers — has determined that the right to have your boss pay for your consequence-free sex trumps a 200-year tradition of religious freedom codified in the first line of the Bill of Rights.

But why, when people still have to pay the co-pay for their lifesaving cancer treatment, does the federal government decree free contraceptives? Because contraceptives are hard to come by?

Take, for example, the astronomical price of a month’s supply of oral contraceptives: It costs a whopping $9 at Walmart. For those whom this presents an insurmountable financial obstacle, there is always Planned Parenthood. Thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies, the nation’s largest abortion provider is able to flood the country with free contraceptives from sea to shining sea.

Free contraceptives are also widely available at college health centers. The New York City Health Department even has a “NYC Condom Finder” app for your smartphone that can help you locate the nearest free condom.

Having just celebrated Easter, Christians should have fresh in their minds the Gospel account of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Now, 2,000 years later, Americans of faith are being betrayed so that those unable to activate the free contraceptive app on their phone do not have to pay $9 a month — the price of a medium pizza.

The price of treachery, it seems, is not subject to inflation.

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