Seems that some of my correspondents are riled up because one of my posts linked to a site and a point of view with which I agreed. (See the comments below “Top 9 Things the Left Has Wrong About the Supreme Court's Birth Control Ruling,” July 2.) They scolded me because I didn’t provide my own analysis, e.g. “Do the work, Byrnes.”
Well, I wasn’t aware that ChicagoNow has a rule that says that I can’t link to another site without providing my own commentary. In fact, I thought that such linking was encouraged.
I suspect that one reason they were upset is because I linked to the Illinois Right to Life home page, instead of the article itself that I was referencing. I erred in linking to the home page instead of the article. I’ve corrected the error in the original post, and I apologize for the mistake.
Nevertheless, it is fair of my critics to ask that I detail my own views on the subject: the controversial Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision allowing closely held family corporations to be exempt from the Obamacare mandate requiring that employers provide free insurance coverage to their employees for four types of abortifacients.
It’s a question of balancing rights. The right to practice your religion without government interference is the first civil right listed in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. In turn, my critics imply that (1) receiving the free abortifacients is, indeed, a “right,” and (2) that it trumps the constitutional right to religious liberty.
First, I would argue that your right to have your employer give you (via your health insurance) free abortifacients is not a “right” in a strict sense. It is not a civil right in the same sense that you have a right to use public accommodations whatever your race.
Second, for the sake of argument let’s suppose that it is a right. So it must be asked: Is that right superior to the right to religious liberty? Here we have the Constitution, law (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA) and case law that clearly lay out your right to practice your religion free of government interference. But we have only a bureaucratic-imposed rule that gives you the “right” to the four free abortifacients. I risk saying that the constitution trumps a bureaucratic rule.
But like every constitutional right, freedom of religion is not an absolute right. Just like your right to a firearm is not unlimited. Nor is free speech. So, how do we balance our religious liberty rights with the so-called right to free abortifacients?
Here is what the court said in the Hobby Lobby case:
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” [Emphasis added.]
Does the gift of four free abortifacients trump the fundamental, constitutionally protected right to practice your religion? I think not. And even if it did, is there a better, less restrictive means of providing the abortifacients?
As the high court’s opinion stated:
There are other ways in which Congress or [the Department of Health and Human Services] could equally ensure that every woman has cost-free access to the particular contraceptives at issue here and, indeed, to all FDA-approved contraceptives.
In fact, the Obama administration has done that.
Perhaps my critics, forced into a corner, would argue that those four abortifacients cannot be obtained in other ways, or that they are more important than protecting the fundamental right of religious freedom. Considering the quality of their responses to my post, they probably would be willing to make such a ludicrous argument.
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