By Tony Perkins
When the Obama administration talks about a mandate “accommodation,” you can be sure the only thing they’re accommodating is their radical agenda. A month after the Supreme Court gave ObamaCare one of its biggest black eyes, the President’s team is back at the drawing board, desperate to find a new way to force family businesses and nonprofits to violate their pro-life convictions.
After three years of legal wrangling over the HHS mandate, the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Hobby Lobby-Conestoga Wood case was supposed to settle the matter, ruling in favor of religious freedom and against the heavy hand of government. Unfortunately, it looks like the only opinion the Obama administration is interested in is its own. In the weeks since the decision came down, the President’s team has poured its energy into new ways to avoid the Court’s opt-out for companies with moral objections to pills that can end or prevent a pregnancy. In the past, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered a placebo, an “accommodation” for religious groups that used fancy accounting gimmicks to hide the reality that these nonprofits were still paying for drugs that violated their beliefs — just through an intermediary.
The trick may have fooled the media, but it certainly didn’t pass the sniff test with the hundreds of universities, charities, and other organizations subject to the President’s shell game. As the White House explained it, this “olive branch” was supposed to alleviate the concerns of organizations like Catholic Charities, hospitals, or colleges who are forced to provide life-destroying drugs against their will or pay the price. But in practice, the religious groups would still have to pay for the “health care” they oppose, but through a third-party.
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Now the administration is resorting to the same scam, hinting that it might use this same approach with family businesses as a way of bypassing the Court’s ruling. Late last month, the Justice Department warned that another rule change was coming down the pike, submitting a legal brief in court announcing that it would tweak the HHS for the umpteenth time, setting a new policy that could dramatically alter the landscape for nonprofits and companies like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.
In the brief, DOJ writes, “The administration believes the accommodation is legally sound, but in light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the Departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting non-profit religious organizations to provide notification, while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing. While we are working through the details now, we expect this rulemaking to be issued within a month.”
Although there’s plenty of speculation about how the new rule would work, there’s none where the President’s tendencies on religious liberty is concerned. The bottom line is that President Obama can’t ease pro-lifers’ concerns without sacrificing the mandate. And so far, he’s refused to — not even when the Courts, the Constitution, and the citizens demand it.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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