Our laser weapon of religious-freedom clarification, Cathleen Kaveny, has made some more awesome distinctions and points. This time she considers a judge hearing the potential Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act case that we would hypothetically mount. Click through the link to savor her insights.
Two things that strike me:
1. Seems to me that the judge could reasonably ask of us plaintiffs: “Okay, now: about this burden on you. Taking for granted that using artificial contraception is evil…Under the disputed law, when the evil deed is done, who exactly will be doing it? Will you have to do something evil?”
To which question we do not have a compelling answer. If we say we would formally co-operate by paying into a healthcare plan with bad provisions, a sympathetic interlocutor could respond: But couldn’t you put your conscience at ease? By your own teaching regarding just compensation, you assert that everyone deserves the provision of healthcare. The healthcare delivery system will simply be following the law. You publicly disagree with the law. You clearly teach that artificial contraception and abortion are immoral. Therefore, your conscience can be clear. If others act immorally, they will answer for it. Not you.
(And I, for one, firmly believe that any judge has a right to question any religious-freedom claimant in this manner. True religion is not irrational. The Free-Exercise Clause should be understood to protect only that religious practice that can be defended on reasonable grounds.)
2. Regarding the government making its case:
The fact of the matter is that, while there may be plenty of big-time problems with the Obama administration, doing due diligence in drafting the Affordable-Care-Act regulations is not one of them.
In coming up with the regulations, the administration did what any reasonable governing body would do. They consulted experts and accepted the assertions of the spokespeople of mainstream medicine. The “medical community” of the U.S. does in fact say that artificial contraception is good medicine and important medicine.
Here, my friends, is where I believe we meet the heart of the problem. The nearly universal presumption of medical practice holds that artificial contraception counts as medicine.
Now, in fact, artificial contraception does not count as medicine. But to make this point, we have to build from the ground up, starting with:
to facilitate sexual libertinism ≠ to heal
To the contrary:
to facilitate sexual libertinism = to wound
This is the point-of-view of a (now middle-aged) man who was born at the hour of history when the bad bell tolled. I grew up with condoms being shoved in my face.
To me, the whole business looks like a racket for getting people to do things that are truly bad for us. I am pretty sure that a special furnace in hell burns for everyone who peddles condoms and birth-control pills. Its fires are fed by the pain of every young heart broken by someone’s unchaste act.
True health means a mature spiritual life and the self-control that goes with it. It means chastity, love, and hope for the future, with trust in God. Health means church on Sunday and a lot of people who love you and will help you through any difficulty.
The whole rationale for Roe v. Wade, namely that abortion has to be legal because otherwise it will happen dangerously in the shadows–this rationale fails for one reason. There is a safety net for every pregnant woman, and it is the love of Christ, Who does not condemn but rather rejoices in all life. And the love of His Church. If every woman who thought she needed an abortion walked into a Catholic parish church and started asking for help, there would be no abortions.
Hence, my position on the HHS-mandate business is:
We do not belong on the sidelines whining to the referees about our poor, little religious freedom.
We belong in the game. We need to run down the throat of the defense like Ray Rice.
The idea that sex on-demand is a key to health is simply false. Chastity is a key to health. This can be demonstrated by careful argument, including the all-important citation of many statistics.
We can attack the Obama administration, if we want to. But, in this particular case, we need to attack the false medical consensus.
Abortion sucks. Contraception sucks. Doctors who give out artificial contraceptives suck twice. Doctors who perform abortions…well, God help us. I’m sorry I brought that one up.
The HHS controversy is not a religious-freedom problem for American Catholics. It is an evangelical mandate for American Catholics.
What are you and I going to do about the real problem? All the people who crush human life, anywhere from the zygote stage on–they’re all going to hell. Unless we do something to help them.