Just so we’re clear:
“We’re not going back,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re not repealing it as long as I’m president. I want everybody to be clear about that. We will make it work for all Americans.”
“It,” of course, is the President’s health care plan. I will refer to it here as Obamacare, despite the re-branding that is part of the President’s new-and-improved effort to promote it. The quote above was from a speech yesterday kicking off a series of appearances, a road show, to convince people that the fouled-up web site for signups is being de-fouled even as he speaks.
And the HHS mandate? That term hasn’t passed Mr. Obama’s lips lately, if ever. In case you’re wondering if he stands behind it, defends it, and thinks it’s an integral part of the plan, check out a line that appeared in yesterday’s speech and has already been used by the President’s surrogates:
“Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free through your employers.“
The President would have us believe that a $500 mammogram and a $10 birth control prescription are identical as “preventive care,” presumably because he thinks pregnancy and cancer amount to the same thing. “Mammogramsandbirthcontrol” has become one word in the White House lexicon, occasionally varied with “cancerscreeningsandbirthcontrol.” It’s all the same, says the traveling salesman.
“I’m going to need some help in spreading the world. I need you to spread the word about the law …Tell your friends. Tell your family.”
Glad to oblige.
First, I refuse to take health advice from any individual or any bureaucracy that cannot distinguish between a mammogram and birth control pills. The medical professionals who colluded in the development of Obamacare policy should be ashamed of themselves for calling fertility suppression “preventive” care.
Second, the President is once again not being straight with his audience – either the adoring fans he had at yesterday’s speech, or the American public he likes to address on television – about the fact that he is determined to roll the First Amendment flat, using Obamacare as the steamroller. The HHS mandate to force participation in a program providing “free” birth control is a direct denial of the religious freedom rights of Americans who dissent from the Administration’s view that there is no moral aspect to birth control and abortion. Catholics who accept Catholic teaching (and what a world, in which I have to include that modifier) are not the only people affected. Evangelical Protestants, among others, have gone to court over this.
Third, looking at the lawsuits challenging the mandate, two have arrived at the Supreme Court. In the case involving Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs say they only object to a few of the birth control methods defined as “preventive” under the President’s law, namely the ones that actually induce early abortions rather than prevent fertilization. The President isn’t commenting on the very real possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will declare that abortive agents are the same as contraceptives. We have already seen from the list of “preventive” services under the health care law that biology has been put at the service of politics. No one familiar with twentieth century history should be able to contemplate that without recoiling.
So there are three things the President won’t tell you: “preventive” is a misnomer, the First Amendment is at stake, and science and politics are in bed together.
What would I do instead, you ask? Repeal the mandate. We can debate ways and means and web sites once the First Amendment is restored to its proper place. But first, simply repeal the mandate.
I wrote last February (“Memo to the President: Mandate 2.0 is still a failure”) about how the mandate was not being fixed by the Administration despite a few tweaks. Then, as now, the President was seeking public comment. I am nothing if not responsive to such appeals. Much of what I wrote then still holds today.
You cited advisors at the “Institute of Medicine” who concluded that it is much cheaper for women to be chemically altered than to have babies. Sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs made it into the Mandate as well. No corresponding concern for the cost savings attendant upon male contraception and sterilization made it into your guidelines for “preventive” services.
…Your contempt for my religion still permeates your health care plan. It is a matter of deep religious belief for me that fertility is a gift, to be regulated by means consistent with human dignity, and at no point considered to be a public health problem. And if you call contraception “preventive,” then you are calling fertility a problem.
…Women aren’t broken and they don’t need fixing. If only you hadn’t called contraception for women a “preventive” service, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. How ironic that an Administration that has claimed “being a woman shouldn’t be a pre-existing condition” has codified precisely the opposite.
[The Administration issued modified regulations to determine which religious institutions could get a waiver from the mandate.] … Instead of one executive agency (HHS) deciding what’s religious, you are turning the matter over to another executive agency, the IRS, that has been making that determination for years. The new regs also exempt non-profit religious organizations that meet four criteria, or jump through four hoops, to the satisfaction of whatever agency is going to implement this whole policy. Seldom do the American people have cause to be glad the IRS is going to define religion, but at least by bringing the tax people into it, you are making an effort at consistency. [I need to take back that last sentence. When I wrote it last February, I hadn’t heard of Lois Lerner.]
But what about individuals? What about groups that do not hold themselves out to be “religious” but are nonetheless animated by a respect for life that makes the Mandate abhorrent to them? What about a business owner – someone who owns a hobby store, as an example – who has religious objections to providing contraception and abortion-inducing drugs by way of employee health insurance?… Individuals have religious liberty AND conscience protection under our Constitution, and those protections are not forfeited when individuals form groups or run businesses.
Like the man said, I need you to spread the word about the law. Tell your friends.