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The contraceptive mandate, by Elizabeth Freund Larus (UMW)
The Chinese government has outlawed certain beliefs among the Chinese and Tibetan people, overriding some faith practices. Is the U.S. government following China's lead?
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WHAT DOES the
Earlier this year, the U.S. government violated Americans' freedoms by issuing a mandate that requires employers, including faith-based ones, to provide and pay for all forms of contraception in their health care plans. Following a public outcry, the Obama administration offered an accommodation, shifting the burden from employers to health insurance providers. This so-called accommodation makes little difference in
The mandate violates the U.S. Constitution and its first amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Under the mandate, however, Catholic hospitals, charities, colleges as well as individual Catholic employers who provide health care insurance to their employees must cover sterilization, birth control pills, and abortion-inducing drugs in health insurance plans, violating the clear teachings of the church.
Although a religious exemption exists, it covers only religious institutions that primarily serve members of their own faith. It does not protect any church institution that serves a considerable number of non-Catholics (more than 30 percent of Americans receive care in a Catholic facility), harming the ministries throughout the community. Failure to comply with the mandate would result in costly fines, forcing groups such as Catholic charities, hospitals, and schools to close their doors rather than violate their beliefs. Many Americans who benefit from their work and services would suffer as a result.
Many Catholics disagree with the church's teachings on contraception and abortion. The argument here is not about agreement or disagreement; it is about protecting freedoms that cannot be alienated by the government. The belief that rights are God-given, and therefore cannot be alienated by man, is the very foundation of our government.
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