Americans are ineffectively debating President Obama’s contraceptive-fueled war on the Little Sisters of the Poor almost purely on religious-liberty grounds. While freedom of worship is a cornerstone of the American way, invoking religious freedom tends to electrify conservatives more than liberals.
This case also should be discussed in terms that energize the left: The Little Sisters clutch the short end of the income-inequality stick. There is no economic justice in their abuse from Mr. Obama and the dapper despots at Eric Holder Jr.’s Justice Department.
This is the haves hammering the have-nots. Literally.
“The Little Sisters do their work for free,” says Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents these nuns. “They are not paid salaries,” he adds. “Each Little Sister takes a vow of poverty. They don’t personally own anything.”
Rather than concentrate fully on the destitute senior citizens whom they have served since 1888, the Little Sisters are distracted by Team Obama’s insistence that they genuflect before Obamacare’s mandate to provide free contraceptives to all fertile women, regardless of income. As serious Catholics, the sisters oppose birth control, especially in their own health plan.
If they resist, Mr. Obama would slam the sisters with crippling fines of $100 per day per employee. This totals $36,500 annually each. With 60 workers, for instance, the Little Sisters of Denver could be fined $2.2 million — one-third of their budget — unless they permitted Christian Brothers Services to cover contraceptives for these staffers.
“If the Little Sisters pay these fines, that money would not go to help elderly people who are dying and can’t care for themselves,” says Mr. Blomberg. “Instead, these funds would go to the IRS.”
He also notes that Obamacare lets HIV-medication prices increase. “There are no restrictions on co-pays for HIV drugs. Indeed, plans do not have to cover them. But contraceptives must be covered and totally free,” Mr. Blomberg says. “You can die under the Affordable Care Act because you cannot afford your HIV medications, but birth control has to be gratis.”
This outrageous policy assumes that women should get contraceptives for nothing, even when they can afford them, as most women did until Mr. Obama decided to give them away, like perfume samples. Even worse, the president insists that the cost of these freebies should be borne, at least partially, by people who believe, wrongly or rightly, that contraception is evil.
The poster girl for this crusade is Sandra Fluke, the feminist lawyer who screamed for free birth control in 2012, while studying law at Georgetown University. If Miss Fluke earns the median private-sector starting salary for that school’s graduates, Mr. Obama should explain why nuns who earn nothing annually should face millions in fines, unless they accept a scheme that lets a woman who makes $160,000 enjoy birth control for nothing.
This is uglier than a gargoyle.
“Women at all income levels use the pill,” says Dr. Lawrence B. Finer, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute. “But pill use is more common among higher-income women than among lower-income women.” Birth-control pills are the most popular female contraceptive.
Contraceptives are neither rare, nor expensive. Virtually every pharmacy is brimming with them. Plan B, a “morning-after” pill that may induce abortion, is available in college vending machines. Goodrx.com offers one-month supplies of 21 different oral contraceptives under $25. Who knew? Women arranged pregnancy-free sex pre-Obama.
Mr. Obama is a spectacularly powerful man who flexes his gargantuan political muscles so he can have his way with comparatively powerless females.
Mr. Obama should unhand the Little Sisters of the Poor so they can spread their love. Meanwhile, women should acquire contraceptives just as Mr. Obama expects men to obtain condoms — with their own money.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.