Though it's commonly said that social conservatives would force us to live under theocratic rule if they could, these days the group most successful in imposing its worldview on others happens to be called the Democratic Party.
Just ask more than 40 Catholic organizations -- the Catholic University of America, the University of Notre Dame, the archdioceses of New York and Washington, etc. -- that filed suit against Obamacare's contraception mandate. Churches and other private institutions are impelled by government to break conscience in the name of state.
Religious freedom is, of course, limited to the interests of public health, but because contraception is relatively cheap, available in five minutes wherever you happen to be standing at this moment and covered by nearly every insurance plan, the only reason the administration mandates contraception is to coerce everyone to abide by left-wing orthodoxy.
At some point, contraception was transformed from a -- and I hope my Catholic friends will excuse the wording -- godsend to those wanting to avoid unwanted pregnancy to a "public health" concern to a moral societal imperative that must be mandated, lest we abandon our daughters, science, decency, "choice" and freedom.
Vice President Joe Biden once claimed that this debate is about "the right of women to decide for themselves, whether or not they want to use contraception" -- but not, you should note, allowing women to decide what kind of health insurance they can buy.
How does coercion become "choice"? I ran across a headline on the website of the left-wing think tank ThinkProgress that illustrates the awkward logic of this assertion: "Missouri Legislature Approves Bill Allowing Employers To Deny Access To Birth Control."
What could this possibly mean? Are these dastardly priests, archbishops and nuns forming a human blockade in front of the doors of St. Louis area pharmacies, denying men and women their "right" to purchase condoms? Does one deny access by failing to supply that something to another person? But let's transpose this logic to other areas of government that already exist.
We don't need a "State Legislature To Approve a Bill Allowing Employers To Deny Access to iPads" or a "State Legislature To Approve a Bill Allowing Employers To Deny Access to Cupcakes." For the most part, legislators are reacting to intrusions from the federal government. They aren't denying anything to anyone. (By the way, the correct headline should have read: "Missouri Legislature Approves Bill That Doesn't Allow Employees To Force Employers To Give Them Birth Control -- Not To Mention Sterilization Drugs and Abortifacients.")
Perhaps the Catholic Church, which often seems to back economic "fairness" rather than market freedom, will be more sensitive to the intrusions of the state in economic choice. This episode exhibits how economic freedom is intricately tied to all other liberties. When the state creates virtual monopolies through regulatory regimes, it also gets to decide what is moral and necessary and compels everyone to act accordingly.
And though I'm not interested in having the Catholic Church dictate the moral contours of my life, I am equally uninterested in having the Obama administration do it. And the dogmatism of the left -- though not driven by God and though, culturally speaking, I may occasionally agree with it -- is no less intrusive, whatever you might make of contraception.