The Obama administration’s unprecedented assault on conscience through its “preventive services mandate” has torn the mask off the entire structure of the 2010 health care law: From top to bottom, it is a massive attack on individual and moral freedom.
President Barack Obama’s “accommodation” does not change this fact. The assault on freedom lies in the very DNA of the Democrats’ takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
This truth has dawned on some of the law’s key supporters, men and women who abandoned their deepest principles to pass the president’s plan in early 2010.
Former Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), who lost her campaign for re-election over this issue, told reporters that, had she known the law would force religious institutions to buy coverage of abortion-causing drugs, she would not have voted for the bill. Former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who led the anti-abortion defectors who embraced the measure, admitted that under the Obama rule “you’re destroying an embryo, you’re taking a life.”
Today, Obamacare would not be law and these two Democrats would still be providing distinguished service in Congress had they not fallen prey to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid deception. What a double tragedy because the right to life needs defenders in both parties, as does moral and religious liberty.
But this double tragedy is built on a double deception. After all, the preventive services regulations are merely a mandate within a mandate. There will be many more of them as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius exercises the myriad grants of authority with which the health care law entrusts her.
The most mischief will likely come from the bill’s mandate that the federal government impose a one-size-fits-all definition of “essential” services. The bill also creates an unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will have sweeping powers to decide whether the sick elderly get access to things such as cancer treatment or dialysis.
The liberty Americans have always enjoyed to create health care systems, to consult with doctors of their choice, to build and finance hospitals that reflect their moral convictions, to work for employers who will not force them to buy products that violate their consciences — all of these liberties were not just weakened by the new preventive service rules, they were devastated by the passage of Obamacare itself.
Consider just one aspect of what the president called an “accommodation” (not a compromise). According to Obama, the problem has gone away because now insurance companies, and not the religious charities they serve, will be forced to provide free sterilization, abortion drugs and contraception. Apart from the economic illiteracy that allows our nation’s highest public official to proclaim a privately produced and marketed commodity as “free” to the public, he has only amplified his intrusion on conscience by decreeing that henceforth in the United States no insurer, including a self-insuring entity, will be able to decline these same “free” procedures for their customers.
Think that this applies only to religious entities and only to today’s administratively determined “preventive services”? Think again. The mandate applies to the Christian employer who owns a bookstore and offers her staff health care benefits. It applies to the Susan B. Anthony List, to the National Right to Life Committee and to the Heritage Foundation. It establishes in principle that the executive branch, acting on its own, may decide in the future that elective abortion and assisted suicide are preventive services that must be covered by every insurance policy in the United States.
This is the primary effect of Obamacare. Its tendency, from first to last, is to impose controls on insurance that will reduce the options available to the American people. Want a high-deductible health savings account with excellent catastrophic coverage? No chance. Want to avoid having to visit your doctor to have him “prescribe” an over-the-counter medication so that you can pay for it with your HSA? Tough luck. Want to buy a health care plan that will not cover your minor daughter’s “free” IUD without your knowledge? Forget about it.
Among the few options Obama’s new rule leaves Catholic institutions is to drop their health care coverage altogether and dump their employees on the state exchanges. The University of Notre Dame, to cite just one example, will pay the federal government an estimated $10 million annual fine for this exercise of its religious liberty. And every one of Notre Dame’s employees who go onto the taxpayer-subsidized exchanges will be added to the rolls of Americans who depend on Uncle Sam for the minutely defined plans they will be permitted to buy.
Come to think of it, this is a win-win for advocates of a national health care system. More revenue, fewer insurance options. The problem is, it is profoundly unfree. And anti-life. The Obama prevention rules must go, and so must Obamacare.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Charles A. Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.