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Healthcare and Freedom

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has recently issued a statement opposing on moral grounds the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all health insurance plans include birth control benefits. This statement reasons that the Government should not mandate actions that will that violate an individual’s conscience or religious freedom.

In response to the Catholic Bishop’s statement Obama supposedly agreed to compromise by saying the following:

As part of the health care reform law that I signed last year, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care at no cost.

We fought for this because it saves lives and it saves money –- for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody.

No woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.

But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.

The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. Let me repeat: These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.

The Catholic Bishops rejected this alleged compromise because the disputed services are still mandated, and the contention that insurance companies are paying for it all is absurd, since the cost will already be included in the premium as part of the required mandatory coverage. In addition, Obama’s statements about the cost of these services and who will pay are deliberately misleading. He says these services will be “free” or provided at “no cost,” but knows full well that the taxpayers and plan participants will pay, since nothing is free.

Obama has attempted to spin his position as one that supports women’s rights and freedom of choice; when in fact, it does precisely the opposite. Without this mandate every person has the right to purchase or not purchase contraceptives, if they so choose; but under Obama’s plan every person is forced to pay for that benefit whether or not he or she wants it or morally objects to its inclusion in their plan. Mandatory and universal participation is required by Obama because one of the primary aims of the legislation is to force income redistribution. In his comments Obama defines freedom as freedom from the need to pay for those things one wants or needs; but American freedom has always been defined as the ability to make individual life choices without the arbitrary interference of the Government.

The Bishops’ concerns should cause every American to pause and consider the unprecedented loss of freedom that will occur if The Affordable Care Act is not repealed. Obama’s statements make it clear that the Government’s interest in mandating individual health decisions is superior to any individual moral or religious considerations. Under this law the individual no longer has the freedom to determine what healthcare coverage, if any, he will purchase, since the law now mandates the exact coverage he must purchase.

In the past proponents of laws regulating individual behavior have argued that the Government should have the power to regulate any personal choice (like wearing a motorcycle helmet) that could potentially cost the taxpayers money. Using this reasoning, since anything could potentially affect someone’s health (thereby costing the taxpayers), every aspect of our lives is now the proper concern of Government, and nothing will be strictly a matter of individual choice.

We have always been a free people because our Constitution strictly limits the scope of the Government’s power, and guarantees our individual liberty and autonomy. In the debate over the ratification of the Constitution the Founders were chiefly concerned that the power of the Federal Government might become a threat to the individual liberty that they fought to win.

The Bill of Rights was part of the compromise that allowed ratification because the Founders wanted to assure that it would be impossible for the Federal Government to infringe on our individual freedoms. Nothing in the Constitution’s enumerated powers justifies the Federal Government’s attempt to mandate individual healthcare decisions or force Americans to buy a product for their own good.

If this gross abuse of power is allowed to stand, all of our freedoms will be in serious jeopardy.

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