The Corner

In the Repeal, a Vote for Conscience Rights

I applaud the Freedom Tax Repeal Act inasmuch as it seeks to educate people and help solve the taxing conscience problem Americans start to face come August 1 of this year. But it, of course, does not solve the problem before us: the erosion of religious liberty in America. We are living right now in a country where Americans are about to be mandated by federal law to violate their consciences or pay up for the privilege to exercise religious liberty. (Which Nebraska congressman Jeff Fortenberry has been warning about for much more than a fortnight.) This, in a country where we used to believe God granted us that freedom and the government existed to protect it, and where congressmen are now trying to protect Americans by any legislative means possible. We’ve found ourselves at an outrageous point.

As the House votes to repeal Obamacare today, the text of the repeal language underscores the manipulation that was at the heart of the health-care legislation’s passage. They told us our consciences would be clear. Maybe, in some cases, if you pay for the privilege:

7) While President Obama promised that nothing in the law would fund elective abortion, the law expands the role of the Federal Government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The law appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides Federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Moreover, the law effectively forces millions of individuals to personally pay a separate abortion premium in violation of their sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs.

(8) Until enactment of the law, the Federal Government has not sought to impose specific coverage or care requirements that infringe on the rights of conscience of insurers, purchasers of insurance, plan sponsors, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders, such as individual or institutional health care providers. The law creates a new nationwide requirement for health plans to cover ‘‘essential health benefits’’ and ‘‘preventive services’’, but does not allow stakeholders to opt out of covering items or services to which they have a religious or moral objection, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Public Law 103–141). By creating new barriers to health insurance and causing the loss of existing insurance arrangements, these inflexible mandates jeopardize the ability of institutions and individuals to exercise their rights of conscience and their ability to freely participate in the health insurance and health care marketplace.

This current Speaker has sought to be a guardian, but the House does not have the power to protect religious liberty on its own. It is now the upper house, and the White House, that remain obstacles. November matters; elections simply do


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