A Ricochet member sent along a note wondering why there hasn't been more coverage of the nationwide rallies being held Friday to protest the draconian measures by HHS that will force people to fund abortion drugs, sterilization and contraception, even if they have religious objections.
There has been very little mainstream media coverage of these rallies, part of a trend of hyping some rallies and hiding others. And yet somehow, despite the horrible media coverage of this issue, there's enough interest to host rallies in some 120 cities across the country.
My family cares deeply about this issue and so I'll be bringing my children to the rally in DC at the HHS headquarters on Friday at noon. All rallies will take place at noon local time.
The great religious liberty expert Douglas Laycock explains why this HHS mandate is such an attack on liberty:
The labels for the after-the-fact pills say that they may sometimes work after fertilization. Asking Catholic institutions to pay for something that they believe sometimes results in homicide is a grave threat to religious liberty.
The bishops’ principal legal claim is under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — RFRA. RFRA says that the federal government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, unless the imposition of that burden is the least restrictive means to serve a compelling government interest. The government says that its compelling interest is in adequate medical care for women.
But the government cannot claim an interest as compelling if it fails to protect that interest in any important range of cases. And the contraception mandate has enormous gaps. The health-care reform act does not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees, which leaves 20 to 40 million employees uncovered. It does not apply to grandfathered plans, of which there seem to be a great many. They may remain grandfathered for many years. And the Department of Health and Human Services has reportedly granted thousands of administrative waivers to employers who were initially covered. McDonald’s got a waiver on the ground that it can’t afford to offer full coverage for its low-income employees. When the government is willing to make tens of millions of exceptions, it cannot credibly say that its interest is so compelling that it cannot make exceptions to protect the free exercise of religion.
These exceptions also support a claim directly under the Constitution. The Supreme Court has said that the Free Exercise Clause does not require religious exceptions from laws that are neutral and generally applicable. But a law with tens of millions of exceptions is not generally applicable. Nor is it neutral; it reflects a value judgment that McDonald’s low-wage business model is more important than the bishops’ freedom of conscience.