A Democratic effort to reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling “does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty “does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty,” according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who noted that the bill would undermine an array of conscience protections beyond the contraception issue.
“Although one of the findings in the bill claims that it is ‘consistent with the Congressional intent in enacting the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993′ (RFRA), in fact the bill’s operative provisions explicitly forbid application of RFRA whenever the federal government wishes to override the religious freedom rights of Americans regarding health coverage,” the bishops wrote in a Monday letter to the U.S. Senate obtained by National Review Online.
Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.,) introduced the bill last week, saying it would “ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care.”
The bishops said that Murray’s bill would empower the government to force employers to pay for abortions. “If, in the future, the executive branch chose to add the abortion pill RU-486, or even elective surgical abortion, including late-term abortion, to the list of ‘preventive services,’ those who object to providing or purchasing such coverage would appear to have no recourse under RFRA or ‘any other provision of Federal law’ that may have protected against this mandate,” they wrote. ”Existing conscience protection against the federal ‘essential health benefits’ mandate, still being defined state-by-state, could be jeopardized as well.”
Gardner, for his part, suggests that Congress allow birth control to be sold over the counter. “Getting the politics out of contraception will improve the lives of women all over the country,” Gardner wrote in a Denver Post column. ”It’s time for a new generation of thinking in Washington — one that puts solving problems ahead of scoring political points.”