AMERICA’S OBAMA WOUNDS
By Tony Perkins, President
Family Research Council
Thanks to President Obama, the tens and thousands of pro-lifers who streamed into D.C. for today’s March have another cause to fight: the future of religious liberty. Late Friday, the Obama administration marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade by cementing one of the biggest attacks on conscience rights the country has ever seen. Starting next year, any organization that offers health insurance to employees will be forced to cover birth control, sterilizations, and abortifacients–no matter what their objections.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized the rule after her agency fielded more than 200,000 public comments–many objecting to the administration’s policies that flow from an anti-child ideology. FRC has been fighting alongside dozens of evangelical and Catholic groups, who see this decision for what it is: naked aggression against America ‘s most fundamental freedom. “Never,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, “has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.” Sebelius is waving off the controversy by pointing to the mandate’s “religious exemption,” which is nothing but a narrow protection for churches. Other religiously affiliated groups like faith-based schools, hospitals, and charities are ordered to comply.
The decision was such a slap in the face of the First Amendment that even newspapers like the Washington Post shook their heads. “Requiring a religiously affiliated employer to spend its own money in a way that violates its religious principles,” the Post editorial board wrote, “does not make an adequate accommodation for those deeply held views.” Others, like the New York Daily News, were not so reserved. “Wrong, wrong, high-handedly, obtusely wrong.” The U.S. Supreme Court just finished rebuking the President for meddling in church business, and now his agencies are using policies as a weapon to blunt the church’s community involvement. As the White House well knows, most of these charities would rather close their doors than meet these requirements. That would suit this administration just fine, since it wants to eliminate the government’s competition for services and drive the church out of the public square. “What war and disease could not do to the congregation,” wrote one church, “the government of the United States will. It will shut them down.”
To help organizations “transition,” Sebelius is waiting until August 2013 to implement the mandate. “In effect, the President is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” Dolan fumed. The Left can also avoid the political pain of staking out such an unpopular position before Election Day. Despite the outrage, the delay should signal just how politically potent the life issue can be. The President recognizes it. Obviously, Secretary Sebelius recognizes it. The only ones who seem to be slow in understanding are those Republicans who say the issue is not important and should not be allowed to define the Party. It’s time for the Establishment to see what the Left already does: pro-lifers are not a liability; we’re an asset. And, as today’s March proved, a growing one.
To show just how much traction the movement is getting, John Boehner (R-Ohio) became the first Speaker in history to speak at the March today. Across America, principled legislators are making gains for life, primarily because of the local pregnancy centers, churches, and religious organizations. But under this administration, we have reached the most critical point in the movement’s past 40 years. The Left has taken life, which we view as a moral issue, and politicized it. Now, they’re threatening to exclude us from the conversation by fencing off the intersection of faith and policy. Either we succeed at protecting our rights, or we lose the ability to fight. And judging by the army of pro-lifers I saw on the National Mall today, losing is not an option.