Born out of Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services contraception mandate fight was among the first battles of the liberal pundit and media coined, yet connotative masculine term, “war” on women.
When the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the health care overhaul’s individual mandate, most thought that this would put an end to the bickering among feminist groups and religious groups on the right concerned about the implications of the mandate requiring employers regardless of religious affiliation to provide contraception and abortive drugs without co-pays or deductibles. However, as part of the majority-of-one opinion upholding Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts left room for “continued legal challenges to certain aspects of the law’s application.”
Some religious organizations are again challenging Obamacare’s access to contraceptive and abortive drugs mandate. Opponents base their arguments on the law’s contempt for the basic right of religious institutions to practice their beliefs and abide by their convictions. As a result, the Supreme Court recently ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare’s contraception coverage requirements.
The requirement, somewhat unclear in the public conscious, does not assert that people be free to use contraception or abortive drugs like Plan B, which of course people are free to use in the United States. Nor does it say that the government will assist people in accessing to these drugs – something public health agencies have done since “the pill” was invented. Instead, the mandate requires that the Catholic Church facilitate people’s access to contraceptives and abortive drugs.
Social conservatives oppose the mandate as an assault of “religious liberty,” libertarians question the federal government power-grab, and in the end Democrats accused Republicans of threatening to turn back the clock on a half century of women's social progress.
So first thing's first, as far as this author is concerned, unless a politician has a time machine or will invent a time machine in the future, no one in the present can accuse said politician of “literally” wanting to turn back the clock on any given issue.
Aside from all the political punditry, court rulings on this issue very well could determine the fervor of our republic’s spirit for community and collective action – two concepts owned by the left as of late that should not be taken lightly.
The Catholic Church is a source of community, like the family, the neighborhood, the guild or any other united force in civil society. These mediating structures between the citizen and the state are the heart and soul of America and it’s unfortunate that in this debate the right’s affection for such societal forms gets mistaken for a pure, pathological disdain for technocracy and government.
This misunderstanding lays the groundwork for Americans to be left unprotected and at the whim of government officials who will ultimately, knowingly or unknowingly, hollow us as a people.
Access to free birth control — arguably one of man’s all time greatest inventions — undoubtedly lowers the rate of abortions and unplanned, teen births. But it would be nonsensical to the cause that is America, not to mention the Left’s de facto tolerance speech codes, to call the Catholic Church whiny, bigoted, or whatever other name, even if you are of the opinion that it is behind the times.
Last month, a victory for community and civil society was won as a federal appeals court issued an order granting a motion for a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate against a Missouri business owner. That makes four cases so far where preliminary injunctions were issued, with several others still in the docket, most notably the Fourth Circuit’s hearing of the challenge made by Liberty University. Given the number of cases related to the mandate, not to mention the number of lawsuits being tossed out as immature because the Obama administration allowed itself until next August to fine tune the policy on exemptions, it is likely that the Supreme Court will again get the last word sometime next year.