It is equally tragic and asinine when a simple First Amendment issue concerning religious freedoms evolves into an irrational attack on Republicans, labeling any opposition to the mandated provision of unlimited free contraception as yet another phase in the GOP's "War on Women."
When one discards the fancies of emotion, rumor, innuendo and lies instead, concentrating on cold, hard facts, a much different portrait is painted. First, the notion that the GOP initiated the controversy over the decision not to exempt religious employers' health care plans from requirements to offer contraception belies the reality that the opposition came from Catholic Bishops and other major religious denominations denouncing the assault on religious freedoms.
The U.S. Constitution's "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is self explanatory — the government may not dictate nor proscribe the teachings of a church or a religious group. Consequently, whether or not many or even all of its members reject the ban on contraception is irrelevant, the church doctrine and teachings are not subject to government interference or interpretation.
There is another but also closely related issue at stake. The first, as described above is the assault on religious freedom as, once more, the left-leaning progressive Democrats have employed their well-documented animus against the "religious right" in particular and the GOP in general to tilt and becloud the birth control issue. To infer that opposition to the contraception mandate violates a woman's right to choose is absurd.
The pundits and other proponents of contraception are on firm ground in assuming that "most Americans like contraception" and that the public favors its legality and wide availability. It is also accepted in law and by the vast majority of Americans, regardless of political or religious persuasion, that it is the right of every woman to have access to contraceptive birth control if she so chooses.
However, on what authority may the president order private companies to parcel out, free of charge, a service that his own secretary of Health and Human Services has described as a major financial burden? Where in the Constitution do we find precedent for government by presidential fiat in unilaterally decreeing contraception an entitlement and requiring insurance companies to pay for contraception?
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, in testifying that fewer births means lower future health care costs, defended the mandate to provide unlimited free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. That may well be true; however, those costs are merely passed on to taxpayers in the form of higher insurance premiums — nothing is free.
Accordingly, along with the Constitutional infringement on religious freedoms and unlawful assault on our collective pocketbooks instituted by the mandated "right" to contraception and birth control, there is a third issue — that of personal responsibility.
Unfettered access to contraception devices is a right enjoyed by all Americans, be they male or female. However, the right of access does not obviate the individual's responsibility to exercise common sense, reasonable caution or even abstinence in birth control measures.
Progressive and media histrionics notwithstanding; no one is questioning nor denying the right of a woman to choose to exercise contraception — the issue is whether the cost is an individual responsibility or to be borne by the taxpayers. Almost everyone is in favor of "free stuff" but, freedom of choice does not mean there is no charge for that choice.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.