In March 2010, Obamacare was held up for a while in the House because there was a handful of Democratic congressmen who were pro-life. Bart Stupak, former congressman from Michigan, led this group.
Rep. Stupak wanted assurances from the president that Obamacare would not include funding abortion. So the president issued an executive order that the ACA (the euphemistically named “Affordable Care Act,” better known as Obamacare) would not include the funding of abortion. At that point, Stupak and his colleagues conceded.
It’s doubtful whether Obamacare would have passed without the president’s promise to Stupak.
Jump ahead to early 2011, when Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary, imposed the HHS mandate, which says that employers must provide birth-control services (regardless of the views of the employers), including abortifacients.
“Abortifacients” are simply pills that are prescribed to cause the abortion of a pregnancy.
At this point, no one is even arguing that these things should be illegal. What we’re talking about here is forcing people to pay for it, people whose conscience won’t allow it.
Because this violates their conscience, several different Christian-oriented organizations have filed suit for an injunction from the HHS mandate. That includes, among others, Liberty University, Wheaton College (my alma mater for my master’s degree), Notre Dame, Domino’s, Tyndale Publishers, Triune Health Group and Houston Baptist University.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty notes: “Today there are 43 cases and over 110 individuals representing hospitals, universities, businesses, schools and people all speaking with one voice to affirm the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution.”
One of those fighting this mandate is Hobby Lobby, started by David Green and his wife, who are evangelical Christians. They are willing to pay a high price rather than violate their consciences. Unfortunately, they lost an emergency appeal last week – but that doesn’t mean they will violate their consciences.
Ken Klukowski writes (in breitbart.com, Dec. 28, 2012), “Today Hobby Lobby announced that they will not comply with this mandate to become complicit in abortion, which the Greens believe ends an innocent human life. Given Hobby Lobby’s size (it has 572 stores employing more than 13,000 people), by violating the HHS Mandate, it will be subject to over $1.3 million in fines per day. That means over $40 million in fines in January alone.”
Wow. In a hurting economy, our government is going to go after what’s right, what’s working, just to make some sort of pro-abortion point?
Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com has reproduced a letter by Mr. Green, in which the entrepreneur states: “Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right.”
Green notes the inconsistency with which the law is applied: “I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.” This is an outrage.
Concern for the sacred right of conscience is rich in our tradition. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once noted, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
Many of America’s settlers and founders believed that “God alone is Lord of the conscience” (to borrow a phrase found in the Westminster Confession of Faith of the 1640s).
George Washington wrote, “While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience of others, ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in this case they are answerable.”
Thomas Jefferson said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Jefferson also declared, “Almighty God has created the mind free.” Any attempt to force people into opinions they don’t share is wrong.
Protecting the sacred right of conscience is one of the key emphases in the American experiment.
The founders would not agree at all with the tyranny of the current administration in enforcing this mandate – a mandate that would never have come to be unless President Obama had given what now appears to be an empty promise that Obamacare would not fund abortion.