by Dillon Mack, correspondent
The ramifications of the 900-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly called ObamaCare, are still being played out. In the first week of February, President Obama began to feel the fire from religious institutions about a mandate that was passed in this bill. According to Fox News, as of Aug. 1, 2013, religious institutions would be legally responsible to cover contraceptives for women in their health care plans.
The Catholic Church and many Protestants are in a hubbub because they see this mandate as infringing on religious liberty. The Catholic Church has historically decried the use of contraceptives of any kind. Catholic schools, charities, hospitals and churches would now have to provide something that directly opposes their doctrinal convictions.
In similar ways, many Protestant groups are angered because abortifacients, which are drugs that deprive implanted embryos of their nutrition, are also being offered in this plan. As stated by the Gospel Coalition, many see this as killing a new life; pro-life advocates are against the directive that these drugs must now be supplied free of charge.
After the initial uproar from the Catholic Church, Obama came out with a compromise: “The president changed the mandate to shift the burden to insurance companies to provide free access to birth control and other forms of contraception,” according to Fox News. In defense of the compromise, Chief of Staff Jacob Lew said, “No institution, nonprofit institution, that has religious principles that would be violated has to pay for or directly offer these services, but women have access to the kinds of care they’re entitled to.”
However, many are still not satisfied with the compromise because they see it as smoke and mirrors. Head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Timothy Dolan, although initially impressed with this new direction, implied in a comment in an official press conference that the compromise merely amounted to “a hill of beans,” according to Fox News.
“This thing is a distinction without a difference. It’s an accounting gimmick or a fig leaf. It’s not a compromise,” said Paul Ryan, a Republican representative. Because of the close tie to the pro-life issue, Republicans are working hard to stop this mandate from being carried out in a year, when all religious institutions would be required to abide by the new law.
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and frequent commentator on contemporary political issues, recently put out a video concerning this issue. In it he says, “We have come to the point—I say this very soberly—when if there isn’t a dramatic change in circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government.”
This piece is considered a “standard” article in our print edition.
Political Pulse: keeping up to date on US political news