Conscience Battle Just Starting

Despite what President Barack Obama would like you to believe, the controversy over his attempt to trample First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion is not over. The potential ramifications of his agenda are enormous.

Obama’s “compromise” on a requirement all employers, even church-affiliated ones, provide contraceptive devices and drugs to employees is just a word game. In effect, the rule stays in place.

Those of some faiths, including the Roman Catholic Church, say complying with the mandate would force them to disobey a primary tenet of their religions. Among mandated contraceptives are some the churches view as abortifacients.

Catholic leaders still are pondering how to respond to the attempt to force them to go against their faith or close their doors.

What if they decide they cannot abide by the infringement upon their religious freedom?

  • Nearly 630 of the nation’s hospitals are operated by the Catholic church. They account for 120,311 of the 804,943 U.S. hospital beds, according to the Catholic Health Association of the United States. In 2010, Catholic hospitals had more than 5.5 million admissions. The hospitals and related facilities have nearly 641,000 employees.
  • More than 900,000 students attend the 201 Catholic institutions of higher learning in the United States, according to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
  • Various church-affiliated charities provided critical services to more than 10.2 million Americans in 2010, reports Catholic Charities USA.

Yet Obama is willing to risk loss of Catholic health care, higher education and charity in order to make his point. Given the fact the contraceptive services could be provided in other ways, without forcing churches to go against their beliefs, that is puzzling.

But it can’t happen, some may say. The Catholic church would not close charities, hospitals and institutions of higher learning over a question of faith, they insist. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

  • In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston closed an adoption service because the state insisted it had to accommodate same-sex couples.
  • In 2010, Catholic Charities of Washington shut down its foster care and adoption programs due to a District of Columbia mandate on same-sex couples.
  • Last year many Catholic Charities in Illinois decided they would close because of another state rule on adoptions by same-sex couples.

As difficult as it may be for Obama to comprehend, principles are more important than profit for lots of people and institutions. Think about it: If you’re involved in health care and you honestly believe part of Obama’s mandate amounts to killing babies, what’s your next step? Does “do no harm” come into the picture?

If Obama gets away with this, what’s next? You don’t have to wait to find out.

Some drugs, including “Plan B,” can prevent women from delivering babies even after they have had unprotected intercourse. Quite a few people – not just Catholics – believe that amounts to abortion.

When former President George W. Bush was in office, the government used a “conscience clause” to protect health care professionals who believed it was wrong to provide such drugs.

Earlier this month, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services announced it plans to throw the “conscience clause” out the window. If you’re a doctor, even if you believe you’re killing a baby, you will be required to provide Plan B-type drugs to women who request them.

Ethical concerns mean nothing to the Obama crowd. To them, the only thing that matters is demonstrating the government can force anyone to do anything it chooses.

How long will it be before Obama decides all health care personnel and institutions will be required to provide full-scale abortions? Think about what he’s done in three years, and remember: He thinks has five more to go.

Myer can be reached at