The Corner

Getting Back to the Coercive Mandate the Obama Administration Has Forced Upon Us

The Sandra Fluke frenzy has been a tremendous gift to the Obama White House. From the beginning, the administration’s strategy on the mandate issue has been to confuse and distract, counting on people losing interest in the midst of complication.

And then came the drama! Images were disingenuously snatched and enlarged to present a storyline of bishops vs. women, even though it was never true. The next one was a favorite Left enemy picking on a law-school activist woman.

And now we are told a new Sermon on the Mount has been delivered in Washington, D.C.!

The great teacher is none other than Georgetown’s president, who, bravely, we are told, pointed out what everyone else seemed to know: that Rush Limbaugh really shouldn’t have said what he did, the way he did, about a Georgetown Law student who testified before Congress.

But what’s lost in the histrionics is Georgetown’s lack of leadership at a time calling for some.

Go to Georgetown Law’s website and there are protests galore. But what about teaching something?

For starters: How exactly do Catholic institutions and employers handle doctor-prescribed hormone therapy, that comes in the form of pills that can also be used for contraception? How does Georgetown do it?

In all of the frenzy about Ms Fluke’s non-testimony and then testimony, what has gotten lost is an opportunity to educate in the face of a very confusing flood of misinformation and accusations.  

First off, Fluke began expressing her gratitude that the mandate “implements the nonpartisan, medical advice of the Institute of Medicine.” But we know that is not the case. The “reproductive rights” community was more than well-represented on the panel. As was the Democratic party.

Secondly, Fluke admitted even in her testimony that Georgetown’s student insurance does, in fact, cover drugs that are can be used as contraception if they are prescribed for medical reasons. Georgetown’s insurance handbook further suggests as that, unsurprisingly, Georgetown’s student insurance policy would provide such coverage. Fluke also mentioned a student who somehow didn’t manage to get the exception for her cysts, which seems like a problem you don’t need a law to fix.

Beyond Georgetown, in his testimony before the House Oversight and Government last week, Connecticut Bishop William Lori, who heads the Catholic bishop’s religious-liberty efforts, explained that “our Catholic law of theology . . . recognizes that the same drug can be used for different purposes with different effects and our plans reflect that, so we should be given credit for the nuance and the understanding that we have already brought to the table.”

“At most this anecdote is about administrative difficulties,” Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor at the Catholic University of America further points out about the anonymous law student Fluke talked about with cysts, “but it actually has nothing to do with any of the religious objections actually being asserted.” “In that sense, it is a complete misdirection.

It’s a misdirection in other ways, too. Remember that the preventative care that activists are really concerned with in the HHS Mandate is prevention of pregnancy. Rienzi further explains, “notably, the HHS mandate does not require free coverage for all cyst treatments. If that cyst is treated with any drug or therapy on the planet other than contraceptives, apparently HHS and the mandate’s supporters are fine with the treatment being dealt with like all other non-preventative services. For example, if a cyst bursts and someone needs antibiotics, that is not covered under the mandate as preventative care. Likewise, if a cyst needs to be removed through laproscopic surgery, that surgery is not covered as preventative care.” 

“So it turns out that the only time HHS thinks treatment of a cyst should be covered as preventative care is when it provides a convenient rhetorical tool to beat up people who have stated a completely unrelated religious objection to a completely unrelated use of the drugs.”

After the frenzy has calmed, there is a whole lot of sober fact-checking to be done. Maybe we can start actually talking about the issue at hand instead of playing whack-a-mole with distractions that do not advance the cause of protecting religious liberty in America, a beacon for the oppressed throughout the world.

Georgetown could help here. But then, all of us could. By just looking at the facts and getting back to the basic issue at hand, the freedom of conscience the federal government has coercively moved against.


The Latest