Paul Greenberg

As if the president's Signature Accomplishment, aka Obamacare, doesn't have enough problems, it's been put on hold by a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who recognized still another obstacle it faces: religious objections. These were raised by an order of Catholic nuns in Colorado. It seems the Little Sisters of the Poor run a nursing home and hospice there, and they don't want to sign on to Obamacare's requirement that they help provide contraception, sterilization or abortion through their health insurance plan.

Defenders of the requirement explain that the sisters don't actually have to provide all that themselves. All they need do is certify that they object to such procedures and they can opt out of the requirement. Their insurers will do the rest -- pay for it all, at least in theory, and have willing providers do what the Little Sisters find objectionable.

The nuns aren't the only ones who have raised conscientious objections to Obamacare's requirements. By now a whole array of Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and dioceses refuse to sign on to this arrangement.

Behind them in this line are Americans of all denominations or none who want nothing to do with taking innocent life. The ranks of conscientious objectors to Obamacare are varied and growing. And headed for the courts.

So what's the big problem? It's just a piece of paper, a formality, a "certification" if you prefer that term to oath. If it makes religious organizations complicit in actions they deem sinful, it makes them only slightly complicit. A third party will do the dirty/bloody work, and even that at a safe remove. The nuns' consciences will be clear, or so the federal government assures them. Even if it involves them in something they consider evil. But it's just a touch of evil, and that at a distance. Just a little evil never hurt anybody, right?

No, that's not the voice of the suave gentleman in red socks whispering in the nuns' ear but that of our own Justice Department. And if the nuns still won't take this handy out, the feds point out that they can just stop offering their nuns and priests, their doctors and nurses and other medical professionals any health insurance at all. Nobody's forcing them to provide it. Problem solved. Except for the small one of failing to do right by those who work in and for the order.

So much for this administration's real regard for workers' rights. When those rights get in the way of its ideology, it's the rights that must give way.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.