NYT: The Founding Fathers Would Have Wanted A Contraception Mandate

Today’s NYT features a ponderous defense of the HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate by Dorothy Samuels, a member of the Times editorial board and former ACLU lawyer.  If this is the best the Left can do, it is pathetic indeed.

Samuels basic assertion is that those who oppose the mandate have no “right to impose their religious views on millions of Americans who do not share them.” Hang on a minute.  Those of us who say that the government should not force religious institutions to violate their core principles are somehow trying to impose our views on others?  Presumably, every failure to subsidize a  lifestyle choice amounts to an infringement of liberty.

Discussing the First Amendment, Samuels says that “the nation’s founders were seeking a protective balance, one that gave wide berth to religious belief, but drew a line at government entanglement with religion or favoring one faith over another.”  Invoking the Founding Fathers is obviously a shrewd move: a moment’s thought will tell you that Madison would be appalled at the thought of individuals having to pay for morning-after pills with their own dough. 

Anyway: “a wide berth to religious belief.”  That’s how the Left likes to describe the First Amendment – the president refers to “freedom of worship.”  But that’s not what the First Amendment says.  It says “free exercise” — to exercise one’s religion means the ability to act, or not act, according to the dictates of one’s faith.  In the liberal rewrite, you’re free to “believe” or “worship” as you please, but if the State tells you to dispense Plan B, you’d better well hop to it.  If that’s what “free exercise” means, there could never be a conscientious objector in wartime.

Besides, you have to get far into the piece before Samuels concedes that the validity of the HHS mandate is to be determined under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that any abridgement of free exercise must advance a “compelling” government interest and must be the “least restrictive means” of promoting that interest.  To that, Samuels has a one-sentence ipse dixit:  It clearly advances the government’s compelling interest in promoting women’s health and autonomy, and broad participation is the least restrictive way to carry out a complicated national health reform.

It’s “complicated” you see (you neanderthals).   It’s all about “autonomy” — women must have it, but religious institutions must not.  Now I see what the “free exercise” clause is all about.

  1. HVTs
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Adam Freedman:   Presumably, every failure to subsidize a  lifestyle choice amounts to an infringement of liberty.

    What, you mean it doesn’t?

    After all, a person is onlyreallyfree if he has themeansto do what he wants.

    Subsidies all ’round!

     Orwell lives.  First you lose the language then you lose your liberty.

    Let’s recall that the political class has for many decades defined a non-increasing budget as a “budget cut.”  Let’s also remember that in each of those few fiscal years (1998-2001) when the federal budget was running “a surplus” the National Debt simultaneously increased (by a total $394 Billion). It’s a relatively small step from the perversion of language concerning black & white issues of finance to Ms. Samuels’ ‘you are not free unless someone else buys it for you.’

  2. Mothership_Greg

    Don’t women already have the autonomy to purchase their own birth control pills and tubal ligations? Someone remind me again why the federal government needs to be involved in these things, when we are told that 99% of women use “contraception” already? If poor women want birth control pills, they can go to Planned Parenthood, which the federal government already gives tons of money for this purpose. Why do we need a middle class birth control subsidy? And why must it involve insurance companies, if there was a need for such a thing?

  3. Mel Foil
    Mothership_Greg: Don’t women already have the autonomy to purchase their own birth control pills and tubal ligations? Someone remind me again why the federal government needs to be involved in these things, when we are told that 99% of women use “contraception” already? If poor women want birth control pills, they can go to Planned Parenthood, which the federal government already gives tons of money for this purpose. Why do we need a middle class birth control subsidy? And why must it involve insurance companies, if there was a need for such a thing? · 4 minutes ago

    I thought our public schools existed to hand out free condoms. Don’t we already have this covered?

  4. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    Were we in possession of a Presidential nominee with the wit to say, “The Emperor has no clothes,” Pravda-on-the-Hudson and its supporters (including the clown in the White House) would withdraw in shame from the public arena.

    It is, nonetheless, only a matter of time. One way or another, I suspect that we will waste the opportunity afforded by 2012. If Barack Obama wins, we will have wasted it. If we elect an inept Republican who thinks that better management can set things right, we will have wasted it.

    But our inadequacy in these circumstances will not change the facts. If Pravda-on-the-Hudson can do not better than this, the progressive era really is coming to an end. It is, as I said, merely a matter of time.

  5. David Williamson

    The Left, like the poor, will always be with us.

    It would help if we had a better Presidential nominee, I agree.

  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    etoiledunord

    I thought our public schools existed to hand out free condoms. Don’t we already have this covered

    Tell me this pun was unintentional…

  7. Chris Campion

    In passing Obamacare, the floodgates open for literally any governmental action, as long as it’s wrapped in the bulletproof shroud of “health”.  Want to force people to pay for something they don’t want?  “Health.”  Want to make sure parents are required to attend sex education classes along with their children?  Call it “health”.  Want to mandate the installation of transgendered-only bathrooms in every new building built in the US?  “Health” should cover it.

    It’s interesting that the one arm of government that actively protects our health, the US military, is getting its budget cut, while the government has expanded to almost triple its prior budgets, largely under the guise of “health”. 

    I’m wondering what the outer limits are of this “health” mandate, and how soon they will be tested.  Non-conformance is surely not to be tolerated.

  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    Adam Freedman:   Presumably, every failure to subsidize a  lifestyle choice amounts to an infringement of liberty.

    What, you mean it doesn’t?

    After all, a person is only really free if he has the means to do what he wants.

    Subsidies all ’round!

  9. raycon and lindacon

    We are witness to evil.  By any other name, it is nevertheless evil, of the kind the world has always endured, and from which God spared the American people.

    God operates a perfect democracy.  He reads the hearts of the people, and gives them the government they vote for.

    America has elected Obama, first with their hearts, and then, just to consumate the evil, at the ballot box.

    The present GOP effort, and the media onslaught, give us a hint of what the hearts of the American people are voting for.  Sadly, we will probably lock down our shame at the ballot box.

    We are doomed… as a nation. 

    God’s grace is still ready to be shed on us, but I no longer believe that America will receive it as a nation.

  10. Basil Fawlty

    With that contraception mandate, they probably would not be known as the founding fathers.

  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    Chris Campion: In passing Obamacare, the floodgates open for literally any governmental action, as long as it’s wrapped in the bulletproof shroud of “health”.  Want to force people to pay for something they don’t want?  “Health.”

    …I’m wondering what the outer limits are of this “health” mandate…

    If the federal government cannot force all citizens to call me Queen Midge and subsidize my yearly consumption of fishnet stockings, then clearly the outer limits have not been pushed far enough.

  12. Palaeologus

    It clearly advances the government’s compelling interest in promoting women’s health and autonomy

    So, the government has a compelling interest to promote women’s health and autonomy? Okay. Can the government run an ad campaign or commission a study? No? Too restrictive?

    …broad participation is the least restrictive way to carry out a complicated national health reform.

    I see… broadly compelled participation isn’t restrictive at all.  

    Clearly the least restrictive way to go about this is to force all insurers (save those given waivers) to include sterilizing and contraceptive offerings in their plans and for employers to pony up for the (direct) costs. It’s complicated and national doncha know.

  13. Crow

    I’m not sure which I find more galling: the fact that the Left actually thinks of human autonomy in so dimwitted a fashion, or the willful, brazen, hubristic tone in which they warp history and misrepresent founding principles to serve their ideology. 

  14. Adam Freedman
    C
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake ….force all citizens to call me Queen Midge ….. · 13 hours ago

    I’m on board, your Highness!

  15. Flapjack
    Religion:  a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.  (Source: dictionary.com) Leftism is a religion and thus should be severed from government.
  16. Adam Freedman
    C

    Prof. Rahe, I agree, both in the short term pessimism and long- term optimism. And really, it is shocking what passes for informed opinion in Pravda.Basil, good point. Perhaps we should refer to the Founding no-strings-attached-sex-guys.

  17. Peter Gøthgen
    Chris Campion: In passing Obamacare, the floodgates open for literally any governmental action, as long as it’s wrapped in the bulletproof shroud of “health”.  Want to force people to pay for something they don’t want?  “Health.”  Want to make sure parents are required to attend sex education classes along with their children?  Call it “health”.  Want to mandate the installation of transgendered-only bathrooms in every new building built in the US?  “Health” should cover it.

    For years, nearly every time we’ve heard a story from Britain involving someone being ordered by government to do something blitheringly idiotic (i.e. stopping people from attempting to save a drowning victim from a ditch), we have heard the same refrain:  ”It’s ‘elf and safety.”  If the attempt to institute such a system in this nation does not provoke revulsion if not revolt, we no longer deserve this nation.

  18. Paul DeRocco
    Peter Gøthgen

    For years, nearly every time we’ve heard a story from Britain involving someone being ordered by government to do something blitheringly idiotic (i.e. stopping people from attempting to save a drowning victim from a ditch), we have heard the same refrain:  ”It’s ‘elf and safety.”

    Steyn did a great column on “‘Elf and safety” a while back, which made me glad that I lived in America. Yet not six hours after reading the column, I found myself in Starbucks ordering some confection, and asking that it be handed to me directly, rather than wasting a bag. The woman refused, and when I asked why, answered, “Health and safety”.

  19. tabula rasa

    I’ve never been a big fan of the ACLU.  However, I do remember a time in which it at least maintained some sort of intellectual consistency in its protection of rights (defending, as I recall, the rights of American Nazis to have a protest parade).

    Now they’re just another left-wing legal group.  They love free speech (just not for right-wingers or corporations), they don’t like religion at all, and, well, what were the founders thinking with that 2nd amendment thing?  They like the “rights” left-wingers like (including ones made up to support abortion-on-demand).  Others written out in real words in the Constitution, not so much.

  20. Paul DeRocco

    Am I the only one who thinks that leftism is becoming more and more ignorant and vicious as the years pass?

    There is no ignorance more invincible than that of a highly educated person convinced of his own enlightenment. The left lives in an echo chamber that absolves them of engaging the opinions of anyone who disagrees with them–or at least anyone whose opinion they can’t wave off with a snarky, smug insult. As a result, their intellects have gotten fat and lazy.

    It’s amazing that anyone above the level of trailer trash could believe that a failure to pay for someone else’s benefit equals a prohibition of that benefit. Or that making everyone participate isn’t actually the most restrictive way to implement the program, rather than the least. Yet superficially smart people by the millions actually pass these absurdities through their brains without triggering any sort of red flag warning of logical incoherence. And they’re willing to fight like hell to impose these absurdities on everyone else–all the while congratulating each other for their supreme benevolence and tolerance.

    We’re dealing with something feral, not something civilized.

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