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Friday, February 8, 2013

CMA commentary in Washington Post on HHS mandate, religious freedom


My commentary on the HHS mandate in The Washington Post below, followed by the original submission if you're interested to see how the Post edits submissions.

What the contraception fight is about

Published online  February 7, print February 8

E.J. Dionne Jr. pontificated that “America’s Big Religious War ended Friday” [“Obama’s olive branch to Catholics,” op-ed, Feb. 4]. After a slew of court losses, the Obama administration now grudgingly exempts from its contraception mandate organizations it deems sufficiently religious. Mr. Dionne called that concession “a clear statement that President Obama never wanted this fight,” but the president and his campaign gleefully promoted this fight as a “war on women.”
Mr. Obama undermined any pretense of a compelling health justification for a government mandate by unwittingly observing that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives. His health department dismissed concerns of economic consequences, blithely contending that preventing babies is cheaper than having them.
The First Amendment protects all individuals — not merely government-certified religious institutions. Yet the administration continues to coerce conscience-objecting individual employers.
Mr. Dionne castigated the faith community for claiming First Amendment infringement since the government coercion did not restrict the “freedom to worship or to preach.” The Founders, however, clearly construed the First Amendment to also protect the free exercise of conscience.
Jonathan Imbody, Washington
The writer is the Christian Medical Association’s vice president for government relations.
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Original submission: (The Post editors edited out what I thought were especially relevant historical quotes by Neville Chamberlain in the beginning, Thomas Jefferson in the middle and Winston Churchill at the end.)
Reprising Neville Chamberlain's infamous "peace for our time" speech, E.J. Dionne Jr. pontificates, "America’s Big Religious War ended Friday" ("Obama's olive branch to Catholics," Opinion, Monday). After a slew of federal court losses, the administration now grudgingly exempts from its contraceptive mandate certain organizations it deems sufficiently religious. Dionne calls that concession "a clear statement that President Obama never wanted this fight."
The president and his campaign gleefully promoted this fight as a "war on women." President Obama undermined any pretense of a compelling health justification for a government mandate by unwittingly observing that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives. His health department dismissed concerns of economic consequences, blithely contending that preventing babies is cheaper than having them.
Dionne castigates the faith community for claiming First Amendment infringement since the government coercion did not restrict the "freedom to worship or to preach." The founders clearly construed the First Amendment to protect not only worship and preaching but also free exercise of conscience.
The First Amendment also protects all individuals--not merely government-certified religious institutions. Yet the administration continues to coerce conscience-objecting individual employers.
Thomas Jefferson asserted, "The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God."[i]
We shall never surrender.


[i] Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 17, p. 159, ed. William Peden (1954).

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