So this proposed change rids us of a requirement the government said it never really meant, and will have no impact at all on who is exempt. That doesn’t mean the change is not welcome: It was always an embarrassment that our government would purport to tell people that they were not religious enough if they served their fellow human beings in need. But as a practical matter, the change is essentially symbolic.
LOPEZ: Why is the National Catholic Reporter describing what HHS released Friday as a “new, broad compromise”?
RIENZI: Lots of news organizations ran with that story because the administration said it was announcing a new, broad compromise. The president has a powerful bully pulpit, and part of that is the ability to control how and when he announces rules, including how the rules will be spun to the press.
But a closer look at the 80-page document released Friday shows that it is not “new,” it is not “broad,” and it is not a “compromise” at all.
First and foremost, the proposed rules do nothing at all to protect religious business owners who cannot provide insurance for abortion-inducing drugs. The administration takes the position that anyone who earns profits cannot possibly engage in religious exercise. Logic and experience, of course, prove the opposite is true. Muslim business owners following Islamic law cannot sell alcohol or pork, and cannot take out certain types of business loans. Certain Jewish business owners cannot sell leavened bread in their stores at certain times and cannot operate their stores (or even hire others to operate their stores) on the Sabbath. For-profit medical offices and hospitals have long been permitted to assert religious objections to involvement in abortion. Profit-making doctors are subject to AMA ethics requirements forbidding them, on ethical grounds, from participating in capital punishment, even indirectly. People of all different faiths can exercise their religion in their work.