This provision is a direct result of President Obama’s deeply flawed health care law — the first federal health care law that doesn’t honor religious beliefs.
This outlandish rule rightly was met with opposition from both sides of the aisle, and amid increasing pressure, President Obama announced a so-called compromise earlier this month that was nothing more than an accounting gimmick.
Instead of addressing Americans’ very valid concerns, the president simply reissued the same rule it already had unveiled with a vague promise to protect faith communities from the cost of the regulation in the coming months.
What President Obama doesn’t seem to understand is that this debate is not about cost. It’s not about contraception. It’s about the Constitution. It’s about faith and who controls the religious views of faith-based institutions. Based on his statements and recent actions, it’s clear that President Obama believes he should have that control. But our Constitution states otherwise.
Last August, I introduced, with Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska, the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” a broad, bipartisan bill that has garnered 37 cosponsors in the Senate and support from all of the major organizations that are concerned about this issue.
Our bill protects health care providers and insurers from being forced to violate their principles to provide products and services under the new health care law, and it ensures that all Americans are protected against discrimination, penalty or exclusion from the health care market for exercising their rights of conscience and following religious beliefs.
I recently attempted to introduce this provision for an up-or-down vote in the Senate — an effort that was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who called the debate ‘senseless” and urged Americans who are concerned about this issue to “calm down.”
Americans don’t need to calm down. This debate is fundamental to the very freedoms that make our country great.
The work of the church, synagogue or mosque cannot and should not be defined by or limited to the four walls of a building — faith based groups are often our charities, universities, and hospitals. The Christian school, the Jewish day care center, the Islamic community center should be distinctive. And this issue needs to be decided by the constitutional means of the legislature and the Court — not by some “regulation.”
We have a responsibility to project those liberties from government intrusion, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the Obama administration’s unlawful health care mandate is repealed as soon as possible and replaced with the common-sense reforms our health care system needs.