"Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" -- Thomas Jefferson
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." -- Patrick Henry
Liberty is always tenuous. Those who enjoy it seem to be a minority in the world. That's why liberty must not only be preserved by those who currently benefit from it; it must also be fought for and constantly renewed for future generations, because there are always those who wish to restrict or eliminate our freedoms.
The Obama administration's ham-fisted attempt to require that contraceptives and abortifacients be offered to employees of Catholic and other religious institutions is a serious threat to our civil liberties. Yes, federal (through EEOC oversight) and state governments already play this role and have for a time. According to the Guttmacher Institute, "Some 28 states have mandated coverage of birth control and 20 of those have some sort of exemption for religious employers." New York and California are among the 28. But do we really want government to continue to take the place of individual conscience? Should government continue to dictate to its citizens how to order and conduct their lives?
But wait. Didn't President Obama give in to the concerns of Roman Catholic bishops by excusing Catholic institutions from paying for contraceptives and "morning-after" pills for their employees? Not exactly. The president disingenuously shifted the burden to insurance companies, which have now been ordered to offer the pills "free" to any employee who wants them.
Nothing is "free." The cost will eventually be added to the price of the policies, which the employer will wind up paying for anyway. The cost will then be passed along to the employee.
The bishops weren't fooled. After initially expressing "cautious optimism" over the administration's "first step in the right direction," they issued a statement, reports the Wall Street Journal, saying they still have "serious moral concerns" and cannot support the announced compromise, despite the fact that many thousands of religious institutions will be exempted from the mandate.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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