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ABSTRACTPolitics and Principle in the Contraception Mandate » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog SUBSCRIBER LOGIN forgot password? | obtain login Home Visit the Home Page Print Edition Current Edition Previous Edition Archive Subscribe On the Square Latest Feature Archive Blogs Evangel Secondhand Smoke First Thoughts Postmodern Conservative Events Coming Events Recent Events Advertising Advertise on First Things Donate Support First Things About Us Masthead ROFTERS Contact Us Submissions Store Shop First Things Buy The Creed Subscribe Subscribe Customer Service Search First Things Search for: / Masthead Joe Carter Ian Marcus Corbin Meghan Duke Greg Forster Matthew J. Franck Joseph Lawler Micah Mattix Robert T. Miller Matthew Milliner David Mills Joseph Knippenberg R.R. Reno Robert Saler Russell E. Saltzman Matthew Schmitz First Thoughts Archive Monthly Select Month April 2012  (13) March 2012  (184) February 2012  (137) January 2012  (147) December 2011  (148) November 2011  (141) October 2011  (161) September 2011  (150) August 2011  (151) July 2011  (128) June 2011  (114) May 2011  (112) April 2011  (128) March 2011  (121) February 2011  (114) January 2011  (142) December 2010  (147) November 2010  (175) October 2010  (199) September 2010  (211) August 2010  (206) July 2010  (224) June 2010  (189) May 2010  (201) April 2010  (182) March 2010  (153) February 2010  (137) January 2010  (140) December 2009  (123) November 2009  (123) October 2009  (94) September 2009  (149) August 2009  (176) July 2009  (221) June 2009  (172) May 2009  (125) April 2009  (133) March 2009  (144) February 2009  (122) January 2009  (97) December 2008  (113) November 2008  (106) October 2008  (118) September 2008  (157) August 2008  (134) July 2008  (93) June 2008  (87) May 2008  (26) April 2008  (40) March 2008  (69) February 2008  (113) January 2008  (181) December 2007  (100) « Previous    |Home|    Next »          Politics and Principle in the Contraception Mandate Friday, February 10, 2012, 11:02 AM Robert T. Miller By now everyone knows about the Obama administration’s decision to require all employers, including religious ones like Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities (though not houses of worship), to include in their employee health insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception. Everyone knows too about the entirely justified outrage of the Catholic bishops and other religious leaders at this gross invasion of religious freedom. Of course, some people have argued that the real story here is not about religious freedom but the ever-expanding role of government. Thus, Daniel Henninger argues that the Catholic Church is merely feeling the kind of intrusive government regulation that businesses, doctors, schools and others feel all the time. I think this is right too. There is, however, another point here, intermediate between the religious-freedom point and the big-government point, and it is one that the Catholic bishops ought to care about. Thus far, the bishops have argued that, since the Church believes that abortion, sterilization, and contraception are morally wrong, it is wrong for the government to force the Church’s institutions to fund such things through its health insurance plans. By what logic, however, does the Church restrict this argument to just religious institutions? If these practices are morally wrong in the way the Church clearly says they are, how may the government force any employer who objects to them to funding them? Do the Catholic bishops believe that the government may legitimately compel people do wrong, unless such people are religious institutions? If the board of directors of an S&P 500 company, or an entrepreneur with a small business, decides that the company’s health insurance plans ought not cover abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraception, does the government have a right to compel that company to include such things in its health plans nonetheless? It’s hard to see how any consistent Catholic can say this. If an action is wrong, compelling someone to do that action is wrong too, no matter who the person subject to the compulsion might be. It is no doubt politically astute for the Catholic bishops to frame this issue as one of religious freedom; they already seem to gaining traction by doing so. Moreover, an across-the-board exception for anyone objecting to the government mandate may well be politically unattainable, and if so, it may be imprudent to argue for such an exce.......