The US Agency for International Development boasts that the United States is “the world’s largest family planning bilateral donor for 50 years, ” “supports voluntary family planning” and “takes a rights-based approach to family planning.” Here at home with its own citizens, however, the administration has taken the opposite tack.
Rather than directly providing contraceptives for voluntary use as it does overseas, the Obama administration instead has mandated coverage through employer-paid insurance plans. Not even nuns who care for the elderly—like the Little Sisters of the Poor, who this week had to ask the Supreme Court for protection—can claim a conscientious objection.
The administration’s “accommodation” of conscientious objectors is to force the nuns to sign a form that tells the government to make their insurance company provide contraceptives. That’s like making a conscientious objector to military conscription designate a proxy for combat.
The nuns and other religious objectors simply seek the freedom to follow their beliefs without fear of government punishment—in this case, draconian fines that would wipe out the ministry. At stake is not only the First Amendment freedom of religious exercise, but the rights of all citizens to speak and act in accordance with their beliefs—even when those beliefs challenge the government’s ideology and power.
[Note: The Christian Medical Association has filed an amicus brief in this case, Zubik v. Burwell. A dvidided Supreme Court recently asked both parties to consider and report back new solutions.]