Contraception Edict and Obamacare

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  • 02/09/2012

The Contraception Edict: An Assault on Liberty

We're seeing Obamacare's future and how it works.

The Obama administration's decision to force religious institutions to cover contraception is a case study on how Obamacare and its implementation have politicized medical decisions. Here's how it works. First, health care choices are overruled if they do not flow from the state and do not require taking rights from one group to give to another in the name of fairness. Next, the same administrative apparatus engages in politicking and deal making to appease groups angered by the original decision.

The contraception mandate was issued unilaterally and without regard to the deep feeling and anger it would generate. Now the administration is rhetorically backpedaling and seeking to find a way to respond to the quickly spreading attacks on the action. Claims to the contrary, this was and is not about assuring all women have access to contraception. It was about eliminating the choices and overruling the preferences of one group to enforce the "rights" of another.

Now everyone is focusing on "accommodating" concerns that Obamacare would force employers and organizations to cover birth control. And in doing so, by turning an individual health choice into a government edict we must obey subject to Obamacare's equivalent of plenary indulgences -- a waiver -- we move one step away from liberty and closer to centralized control. That's why one idea for "accommodating" will never be implemented: 'Allowing' religious organizations and employers not to offer contraception as part of health insurance as long as they give employees who want it a choice of plans that do. That's because giving people choices of health plans also comes at the expense of enforcing everyone's "right" to medical care.

The contraception edict is but one of a series of Obamacare judgments that have angered millions of Americans because of its one size fits all nature. From mammograms, to coverage requirements, to end of life planning, the administration's actions rankle not because they are completely dumb (they usually are) but because they violate people's sense that such decisions should not be made by government and should not be based on meeting a political or policy goal.

The contraception decision is more disturbing than these previous enactments of Obamacare because freedom of religion is a deeply cherished freedom that allows us the liberty to establish a relationship with God, family, and lives in ways that government can never replace. As a result, more than any other action, the restriction of Catholic and other religious-sponsored organizations or employers to exercise choice reflects the belief that freedom of religion come at the expense of "reproductive rights of women" underscores how Obamacare regulators will restrict choice and access in the future. In this warped world, birth control medicines and devices are mandated and essential but not Avastin or genetic testing or treatments for cancer or rare diseases. Remember how the administration tried to make end of life planning a requirement? The inner logic of Obamacare is that life-saving therapies and choice inhibit the growth of the welfare state and the appropriate distribution of resources. It is the underlying rationale of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which focus on "social decisions" rather than individual benefit, decisions that produce winners and losers based on a political calculus.

The action also exposes -- at the beginning of this presidential election season -- the fundamental view of liberty enshrined in Obamacare. Thomas Jefferson wrote "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." Another political leader noted, "Liberty is precious. That is why it must be rationed." That was Lenin. You tell me which worldview shapes the contraception edict.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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