Jerry Moore: Health mandate causing concern for religious groups
No topic has animated Americans over the past several decades like abortion.
It's gotten to the point where there is no middle ground. Either you want to control women's reproductive decisions (pro-life position) or you support infanticide (pro-choice position).
This helps explain the widespread opposition to a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has interpreted this portion as stating that the health insurance plans offered by most employers must include contraceptives.
Officials with the Roman Catholic Church expressed concerns over this mandate because Church doctrine opposes most forms of birth control. And many Catholics believe it would force them as employers to pay for insurance plans that cover abortions.
John Jansen of Berwyn, Ill., is a project coordinator with the Pro-Life Action League. He described the mandate as "an unprecedented attack on religious freedom."
Nancy Kreuzer of Glen Ellyn, Ill., is the regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. She said this mandate violates the conscience rights because it requires coverage for "contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs."
While I respect the religious beliefs of individuals like Jansen and Kreuzer, there are a few reasons why their views are misguided. First of all, no constitutional right is absolute. When society determines that the benefits of a particular policy far outweigh its detriments to certain individuals, modest infringes to rights are allowed.
But what's most important is that we need to distinguish between rights held by individuals and the ability to regulate corporate entities. There is a difference, and the HHS mandate refers to the latter.
Individuals and businesses do not necessarily share all the same rights. Businesses cannot own firearms; these can only be legally purchased by individuals who have firearm owners identification cards. And individuals cannot declare themselves nonprofits; this is a status reserved solely for corporate entities.
The contraceptives covered by the HHS mandate are designed to prevent pregnancies, not terminate them. But abortion will be continually linked to this issue because it puts more boots on the ground.