Judge Sotomayor grants a reprieve for Obamacare contraception mandate

Listen to this article

The new year is still swaddled in diapers and already Obamacare is making headlines with another pressing issue besides its enrollment numbers and Fisher-Price website. On New Year’s Eve Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction against one mandate of the Affordable Care Act that was to take effect January 1. In her order, Sotomayor said the government is temporarily prevented from enforcing contraceptive coverage requirements on the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, based in Denver, CO.

Okay, let’s stop for just a moment. Contraceptive care…for elderly nuns? This at-first-amusing contradiction highlights the silliness of a “one size fits all” national health care plan, which, for contraception and abortion, would only work if we had a one-size-fits-all faith perspective in America, too. All faiths are different, and many cannot be associated with abortion, sterilization, and contraception and still be who they are as a faith.

In America that is their right, or at least it has been since the first sea-faring pilgrims landed on wilderness soil that we have always called our country. Our meaning all of us, not just the cool kids.

Let’s break it down. In layman’s terms, if Catholic and other religious organizations and institutions will not, due to faith objections, follow the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in regard to facilitating access to birth control and abortion coverage, a regulatory mandate will cause these groups to be fined. They must basically provide access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization for their employees and students, or suffer the consequences. So be warned: go against your faith, or pay out.

That kind of sounds like a moral shakedown, right? Except it is more serious than just a moral shakedown  – hopefully we are all moral beings, even if we disagree. This law is forcing a fine on institutions that consider abortion not just a moral human failing, but a sin. It is that serious and the law and its constant adjustments seem almost flippant in the face of that weight.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor with Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. (Photo via Wiki Commons)
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor with Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.
(Photo via Wiki Commons)

Let’s look at it this way. The 9/11 terrorist conspirators that are currently jailed for their crimes against Americans are allowed to follow prayer routines and dietary adjustments that are a part of the expression of their Muslim faith. They are allowed to continue these practices because America feels that faith is more than an exercise or a routine of meaningless, hollow gestures – it is a part of your very personhood.

It is, as a practicing person of faith, who you are, and what you believe your Creator asks from you in regard to worship and your particular expression of belief. And we Americans believe in redemption, so even if you are jailed we will not deprive you of your faith.

Here in America, your last chapter is as yet unwritten as long as you draw breath; even you who have done evil may yet be redeemed. Yet Americans who are tax-paying (and innocent) are deprived of their right to expressions of faith by being made to either hop to it and hand out access to contraception and abortion, or pay up.

Is this really the type of country anyone – regardless of political ideology – wants? Are we going to demand these healthcare mandates of Muslim mosques, organizations or institutions that begin formal operations in America? I don’t believe so, because we respect the Muslim faith, even if we don’t understand it.

We need more time to evaluate these mandates, and to both discuss and defend faith in an ever-changing American landscape. Judge Sotomayor did the right thing here, granting an injunction on behalf of these aged nuns. The President claims that religious institutions have been buffered against these mandates by “accommodations” folded into the healthcare plan that will protect religious institutions from being directly involved in objectionable healthcare offerings.

Instead of the religious group, church or school paying directly for the component of the plan that offers birth control, sterilization or abortion access, the insurers themselves or the health plan’s outside administrator will pay for birth control coverage and Obamacare will create a way to then reimburse them for their costs. But is this any better? “I won’t hand you the gun, but I will direct you to the guy that sells the guns … and, oh, tell him I sent you.” That’s what this “accommodation” says.

What do we want in 2014? Peace. When do we want it? Now. Let’s begin by allowing all peaceful faiths to practice as they see fit – without penalty or fine – as they have been doing for hundreds of years in a country created by and for religious freedom.