Terry Jeffrey

"Catholicism teaches that it is a sin to use, provide, or otherwise support contraception."

These words are not from the Catholic Catechism or a sermon by a Catholic bishop. They are excerpted from the preliminary injunction U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland issued last month temporarily stopping the Obama administration from forcing a family-owned outdoor-power-equipment company to comply with an Obamacare regulation that requires virtually all health care plans to provide women (but not men) with co-pay-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

The judge stated the Catholic teaching on contraception as an undisputed fact of the case. He could have made similar statements about sterilization and abortion.

The Obama administration is not arguing that the Catholic Church does not actually teach that artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion violate the natural law and are intrinsically immoral, and that Catholics cannot be involved in them.

What the Obama administration argues is that it has the authority to tell Americans they can no longer practice Catholicism. What the Obama administration argues is that it can order Catholics to act against their faith.

In the case of Daniel Weingartz v. Sebelius, the administration specifically argues it can order a Catholic business owner to provide his employees with coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs -- and thus act against the teachings of his faith on a matter that involves the destruction of innocent human life.

Elsewhere, the administration argues it can order Catholic institutions -- such as the University of Notre Dame -- to provide its employees and students with coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

Still elsewhere, by mandating that all individuals must buy government-approved health-care plans (whether through an employer or a government health-insurance exchange), the Obama administration argues that it can order all Catholic laypersons in the United States to act against the teachings of their faith.

The Catholic bishops of the United States have unanimously declared that the Obama administration's contraception-sterilization-abortifacient regulation is "an unjust and illegal mandate" that violates the freedom of conscience not just of Catholic institutions and Catholic business owners, but also of individual Catholic laypersons who do not own businesses or manage Catholic institutions.

The regulation, the bishops said, is a "violation of personal civil rights."

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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