The Corner

‘Obamacare’s Contraception Mandate’

That phrase or variants of it will appear in a lot of coverage today. It’s misleading for two reasons. Hobby Lobby doesn’t object to providing contraception; it objects to contraceptives that may act as abortifacients. (Donna Harrison provided some background information on this issue for NRO.) And the mandate isn’t in Obamacare. Even the very liberal Congress of 2009–10 never explicitly decided, or even really debated, whether to force companies to provide contraceptive coverage. HHS used the authority the law gave it to impose the mandate. Several pro-life Democrats who provided the law’s narrow margin of victory in the House have said they would have voted against the law had it included the mandate.

This also, by the way, casts light on the widespread liberal claim that the Hobby Lobby case is based less on sincere concerns about religious freedom than on hostility to Obamacare. The fact that one of the main institutional opponents of the mandate — the Catholic Church — is (unfortunately!) broadly supportive of the law is one sign that this claim is false. Another is that the mandate is so incidental to the law that it isn’t even an explicit provision of it. 

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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