Monday, February 4, 2013

A Compromise?

Gary L. Bauer

After more than a year of heated debate, the Obama Administration issued a "modification" late on Friday to the Obamacare mandate requiring employers to pay for their employees' contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The administration is under court order to revise its rules, and the new regulations supposedly expand the number of religious organizations that can opt-out of the mandate. But it offers no exemptions for private businesses owned by committed Christians—such as the craft store Hobby Lobby—that don't want to pay for their employees' birth control or chemical abortions.

The Constitution grants freedom of conscience to all Americans, not just church groups. As the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has filed several lawsuits challenging the mandate, stated about the rules change, "Today's proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is pouring over the new regulations now. But I already see a bright red flag: the new rules are 80 pages long. That likely means that the administration may be trying to obscure who is paying for birth control.

Let's wait and see what the Bishops have to say. But the administration's "modification" makes me skeptical that it has seen the light. The Obama administration is losing in court, and this change may be an attempt to cut its losses.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, responded to the new ruling by saying, "This policy delivers on the promise of women having access to birth control without copays no matter where they work." Judging by how happy abortion advocates are about the new rule, it seems clear that little if anything has changed.