The Largely Unnoticed Health Care Mandate

On January 20th, 2012, the Obama administration, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued an additional element to their final rule on an August 2011 decision to require all insurance plans to offer women’s preventative services, such as contraception and sterilization. Up to this point, the exception to the final rule was that religious based institutions who had a faith-based objection to the use of contraceptives were not required to comply. On January 20th, that exception was erased and now all institutions (hospitals, universities, social agencies) are mandated to provide insurance which covers the entirety of women’s preventative services.

The institutions most affected by this ruling are, of course, Catholic institutions. I have written several times about both the differences and similarities between Protestant Evangelical Christians and Catholicism. There are areas of great difference but there are certainly areas of overlap and appreciation. Regardless of a Protestant’s biblical view of contraception, we surely should come alongside our Christian brothers and sisters in what is a significant area of concern.

The foundational issue behind the cause for concern is the degree to which one’s faith affects their various layers of life. Sadly, many Christians consider the implications of their faith in Christ only as far as the church doors. Although none of us want to be in the business of nitpicking and raising a fuss just for the heck of it, I respect individuals and organizations who think through the implications of their faith in Jesus Christ and make difficult decisions based on those implications.

The wording of the news release issued by the Department of Health and Human Services is startling and indicative of the Obama Administration’s outlook. It says, “Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant
health benefits for women and their families, is documented to
significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug
in America by young and middle-aged women.
” This kind of wording is nothing less than an indictment against any institution that would make a decision based on conviction of faith over conviction of science. The liberalism of the Obama administration is unparalleled in that it makes decisions based on scientific progress and imposes them on religious agencies it considers stuck in the 1950’s. Obama’s narrowing of religious liberty is taking us down a path to a solely privatized arena of religious conviction.

I don’t know if this decision is legal or not (I assume it is). What I do know is that Obama could have easily let the issue go to sleep and nary a word would have been spoken, even by the more progressive secularists. Yet, he woke the issue up and made a decision that has tremendous impact on a significant group of people. Why would he do such a thing? That is the question that remains unanswered. Perhaps this is exactly the way the country should be thinking and Obama is allowing his convictions to trump his concern of religious outrage. Or, perhaps Obama is throwing another bone to his progressive secular fan-base who continues to desire more and more from their president. Whatever the case, Christians should be keeping a watchful eye on the future. This decision has gone largely unnoticed. One day we may wake up to the unthinkable and will wonder how it arrived at our doorstep. 

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