Health Care and Rights of ConscienceOctober 24th, 2012
In America, those who ethically and morally oppose war are not forced to violate their deeply held beliefs. Our nation has a long-standing tradition of respect for the principles of conscientious objectors.1 In fact, soldiers whose battlefield experiences have led them to oppose war may be honorably discharged from the military or re-classified as a non-combatant.2
If our government is careful not to step on the conscience of those who oppose war, should we not respect the beliefs of those who oppose contraception? Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, private insurance plans must cover the cost of all FDA-approved birth control. This includes contraceptive measures, as well as methods like the IUD, which prevent implantation of the developing embryo.3 Failure to comply with the mandate will result in significant fines. 4
So what happens to the business owner who objects to IUDs? What happens to Catholic institutions? What happens to other persons of faith or persons of conscience who object to birth control on a religious or moral basis? Must they choose between violating their conscience or closing their business to avoid crippling fines? That hardly seems fair.
A narrow religious exemption from the contraception mandate is provided. However, as many have pointed out, this exemption does not apply to many religious organizations.5
It’s not too late to provide for a broader conscientious objection to the contraception mandate. But it will take the voices of concerned citizens to ensure that their rights of conscience are protected.
1 Conscientious Objector. The Free Dictionary. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Conscientious+objectors
2Conscientious Objection Fact Sheet. http://girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/conscientious-objection-discharge#topic-the-process
3Obamacare Conscience Issues Put Catholic Health Care at Risk http://www.lifenews.com/2011/12/15/obamacare-conscience-issues-put-catholic-health-care-at-risk/
4 Obamacare Contraception Mandate Takes Effect http://dailycaller.com/2012/08/01/obamacare-contraception-mandate-takes-effect/
5Obamacare, Religion, and the Court http://www.american.com/archive/2012/march/obamacare-religion-and-the-court