- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Someone should tell President Obama there’s no such thing as a free abortion pill. The White House is trying to douse a political wildfire sparked by an Obamacare mandate forcing religiously affiliated institutions to provide a full range of contraception measures for employees - including pills that induce abortions. Catholic and other religious leaders with principled objections cried foul, citing promises that they and their affiliates would be covered by a “conscience waiver” for any provisions of the law that created this kind of moral dilemma. On Friday Mr. Obama proposed a new rule whereby the onus would be on the insurance companies who cover the employees to reach out with cost-free contraceptives.

It was typical of the administration to make the proposed deal a giveaway program. Mr. Obama seems to be saying that if you don’t see who is paying for the abortion pills then no one is. “Religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services,” he said. But of course they will. Insurance companies may be required by law to provide these services at no cost to the recipient, but costs are still involved. Employers will still be directly subsidizing the birth control plan. It was a classic Obama compromise; he gets 100 percent of what he wants and the other side gets a lecture about fairness.

Mr. Obama accused his opponents of politicizing the issue, which is what he usually says when people object to his extravagant use of government power. His proposed new rule is a pure election-year ploy. The White House cannot afford to bend on this issue and risk alienating feminists. Obama campaign planners may even see it as a useful wedge issue to keep women voters in the Democratic column. Even though Mr. Obama announced his decision “as a citizen and as a Christian,” the White House is under no illusions that they will win the majority of votes of religiously observant Americans. According to Gallup weekly poll data, Americans who attend church weekly track 7 points below Mr. Obama’s average approval rating, while those who seldom or never attend church are 4 points above. In a contest between the believers and the feminists, the Christians are clearly expendable.

The new rule does not address the root of the problem, which is nationalized health care. Mr. Obama’s assumed power to dictate what types of coverage insurance companies must provide, and consequently what services employers must pay for, is what created this issue. Obscuring how religiously affiliated employers will have to support things they consider morally objectionable does not address the core principle. Mr. Obama still believes that the government has the power to force its will on religious institutions in the name of liberal dogma.

The fundamental issue is not health care, but freedom. America was founded in part as a haven for the exercise of religious liberty. A one-size-fits-all government mandated health care system necessarily will impinge on the rights of any religious denomination. No cleverly crafted, politically motivated tweaking of the rules will change that. Catholics will still be paying for abortion pills, like it or not.

The Washington Times

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