In a religious freedom/liberty conflict among religious
employers, employees, and students, who wins?
2012: More misinformation & disinformation
sources. A Family Research
comment about religious freedom:
Misinformation and disinformation about the HHS birth control medication mandate (Cont'd):
Other religious and social conservative news sources propagate the same error: that emergency contraception causes abortions:
- Speak Up - Church:
- The HHS mandates requires "health care plans to pay for abortion inducing drugs, ..." 1 or
- "Many church ministries and para-church organizations will be required to provide things like abortion-inducing drugs to their employees – even if it conflicts with the religious beliefs and teachings of the ministry." 1
- The Baptist Press:
- "The contraceptives covered under the guidelines include drugs that can cause abortions." 2
- Cybercast News Service (CNS):
- "... all FDA-approved contraceptives include emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and Ella (Ulipristal), which do in fact cause the death of human embryos." 3
- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):
- "The drugs that Americans would be forced to subsidize under the new rule include Ella, which was approved by the FDA as an 'emergency contraceptive' but can act like the abortion drug RU-486. It can abort an established pregnancy weeks after conception. The pro-life majority of Americans – Catholics and others – would be outraged to learn that their premiums must be used for this purpose." 4
- Life News "... is an independent news agency devoted to reporting news that affects the pro-life community." 5 They discussed a number of reactions by social and religious conservatives, commenting on a submission to HHS by the Susan B. Anthony List and Charlotte Lozier Institute. Life News wrote:
- "In the comment, the pro-life groups request that HHS either rescind or amend the portion of the mandate that requires insurance coverage for contraception so that the mandate no longer compels the inclusion of abortifacient drugs and measures. If that portion must remain, the pro-life groups insist that the Administration broaden the current accommodation of conscience rights to include all entities and individuals with ethical and moral, and not just religious, objections."
" 'Forcing pro-life organizations to be directly responsible for providing insurance programs which cover abortion-inducing drugs is an assault on conscience regardless of religion,' said Dannenfelser. 'Coverage for abortion-inducing drugs such as ella [sic] is not preventative women’s healthcare. This intrusion on rights of conscience by the Obama Administration claiming concern for ‘women’s rights or human rights’ puts dangerous ideology over [religious] liberty'."
" 'Not only does the Administration’s so called ‘accommodation’ for religious entities not go far enough to protect religious liberty, it does not address the conscience protections needed by non-religious groups actively working to uphold the right to life,' added Donovan. 'In order to maintain the moral coherence of our missions, we refuse to purchase insurance or otherwise participate in any insurance plan that includes coverage for interventions or procedures that destroy or otherwise imperil innocent human beings. The idea that we, or our insurers, are not really paying for these procedures because of the ‘cost-savings’ of abortifacients is repugnant in the first place'." 6
- The editors of the National Review wrote:
- "This day — [2012-]August 1 — is a dark one for religious freedom in the United States. The Obama administration’s requirement that all insurance plans cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs — the HHS mandate — goes into effect today. This requirement is now binding on countless employers who have religious and moral objections to providing such insurance. 7
- WND, a conservative news source that covers stories from a conservative Christian viewpoint, commented on the lawsuit between the federal government and Weingartz Supply company over the HHS mandate. WND said:
- "The administration’s statements came in a court filing that asserts the federal government has the authority to order private companies to provide abortifacients for their employees."
Again, they are referring to emergency contraception. 8
- On the day before the HHS Mandate was implemented, Life News quoted:
- The Catholic Association as stating: "Last week, a federal court dealt a major blow to the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in their healthcare plans. In the first-ever legal victory against the mandate, the court granted a temporary injunction to the family-owned Hercules Industries in Colorado. The Obama administration argued that employers have no conscience rights if they engage in a for-profit business, and therefore the business owners — the Newland family – ought to be subject to millions of dollars in fines per year for non-compliance."
- Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate as saying: "August 1st will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away. A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide products and services for free. And if they don’t, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with enough costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government just to stay in business. While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed."
- Christen Varley, executive director of Conscience Cause,as saying: "The implementation of this policy tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of religious freedom in our nation. Starting tomorrow, employers with religious and moral objections must make an unimaginable choice: comply and deny your faith, or resist and be subject to crippling fines. Religious institutions have been given an absurd one year reprieve in which to decide the same.
People of faith and those who believe in protecting our constitutional freedoms will continue the fight to repeal and bar any regulation that would compel individuals and institutions, including religious hospitals, schools and charities, to violate the tenets of their faith or be subject to penalty of law. Conscience Cause will continue our efforts to inform the public as well as to petition Congress to overrule this devastating policy. If we do not stand up and make our voices heard, it is only a matter of time before our other liberties come under direct assault." 9
Subsequent comment by the Family Research Council about religious freedom:
A year after the above examples of misinformation and disinformation, many conservative religious and social groups were still issuing alerts about employee health insurance that were lacking objectivity, completeness, and accuracy. On 2013-OCT-15, the Family Research Council (FRC) issued a press release that touched on the HHS Mandate. It said in part:
"We have also called for religious freedom protections since the HHS mandate will continue to violate the conscience rights of employers such as Conestoga Wood, Inc., and Autocam, Inc., as well as the conscience rights of non-profit organizations such as Little Sisters of the Poor. The 'deal' does nothing to protect American's religious freedoms. [Emphasis ours] 10
The HHS mandate specifies that health insurance plans for female employees must include free access to contraceptives if the employee wishes to take them. It is basically a choice by each employee and a response to that choice by the insurance company. It bypasses the employer entirely. Even though it is the employer who ultimately pays for the insurance coverage, the amount paid is unchanged, whether the employee decides to use or not use contraceptives. The employer is not "in the loop." Many people consider regulating one's fertility through contraception is a religious freedom issue, largely because the Roman Catholic Church and a few other conservative faith groups ban their followers from the use of contraception for religious reasons.
The FRC press release is partially accurate because if the HHS mandate is activated, then employers will lose a basic religious freedom: the freedom to manipulate and control their employees' lives by denying them free access to birth control pills. But it will also cause employees to receive a basic religious freedom: to decide whether to use birth control without a co-pay. This is a classic "zero sum" conflict: one group gains an extra freedom, but only at the expense of the other group losing freedom. If the mandate is not applied, then it is the employee who would lose a religious freedom to obtain free contraceptives, and the employer would gain the freedom to control and limit the religious freedom of their employees.
There is no win/win situation available. There are only two win/lose options. However, since the number of employees greatly outnumber the number of employers, there would be a net gain to "America's religious freedoms" if the mandate is applied. Removing the employers' religious freedom to control and manipulate their employees personal decisions would be vastly outweighed by the increase in their employees' religious freedom to make basic decisions about their own lives.
How you may have arrived here:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Will our church be subject to a conscience tax?, Speak Up - Church, 2012-JUN-08, at: http://blog.speakupmovement.org/
- Tom Strode, "Letter to Obama: It's not just Catholics who oppose HSS over 'contraception mandate'," Baptist Press, 2012-JAN-06, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
- Mat Cover, "Sebelius Claims 'No Abortifacient Drug' Covered by Contraception Mandate," CNS News, 2012-MAR-01, at: http://cnsnews.com/
- "USCCB: HHS Mandate for Contraceptive and Abortifacient Drugs Violates Conscience Rights," United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011-AUG-01, at: http://www.usccb.org/
- "About us," LifeNews.com, 2011, at: http://www.lifenews.com/
- Steven Ertelt, "Obama Admin Told to Rescind Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate," Life News, 2012-JUN-18, at: http://www.lifenews.com/
- The Editors, "The HHS Mandate goes into effect," National Review Online, 2012-AUG-01, at: http://www.nationalreview.com/
- Bob Unruh, "Obama minions: Gov't 'Can override your religion'," WND Faith, 2012-SEP-06, at: http://www.wnd.com/
- Steven Ertelt, "Obamacare’s Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate Takes Effect Tomorrow," Life News, 2012-JUL-31, at: http://www.lifenews.com/
- "Family Research Council Calls on House to Oppose 'Deal' on Debt Limit, Continuing Resolution," Family Research Council, 2013-OCT-15, at: http://www.frc.org/
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUL-08
Latest update: 2013-OCT=16
Author: B.A. Robinson