Feb 3, 2012
Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) released the following column discussing the new Obama administration health care mandate:
"On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced that under President Obama’s health care law, religiously-affiliated institutions in the United States will be required to cover contraceptive benefits in all insurance policies, regardless of whether the provision of such benefits violates their religious beliefs. I believe that with this action, the Obama administration has violated the religious freedoms of faith-based institutions across America.
"Columnist Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, recently summarized the situation well:
"'The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says under ObamaCare Catholic Institutions—including its charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.'
"'In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can't be Catholic anymore. I invite you to imagine the moment we are living in without the church's charities, hospitals and schools. And if you know anything about those organizations, you know it is a fantasy that they can afford millions in fines.'
"Faith-based organizations and religious leaders across the country, including many in our area, are speaking out against the government’s edict. The Archbishop of Cincinnati, Most Reverend Dennis Schnurr, expressed the frustration and disappointment felt by many Ohio Catholics when he declared: ‘We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.’
"Outrage over the HHS ruling is hardly limited to the Catholic community, however. In a letter
to President Obama in recent days, a group of religious leaders in the Protestant and Jewish faith communities explained that they, too, 'have deep moral objections' to the requirement.
"'Religious organizations and leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption,' the religious leaders told the president. 'We believe that the Federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic. We respectfully ask that your administration. . .devise an exemption for religious employers that accurately defines such employers and exempts them from being required to offer to their employees (and students, if they are among America’s many religious colleges and universities) health services to which they have deep religious objections.'
"I spoke out against the Obama Administration’s rule this week – not just as a concerned Catholic, but as the Speaker of the House and a Member of Congress who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I believe the new rule is an attack by government on the freedoms that have been guaranteed to religious institutions in our country for generations.
"White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president believes the proposal 'strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services.' But there’s nothing balanced about the government’s decision. It is a unilateral attack on the liberties of religious institutions. Forced to choose between his political agenda and the rights of faith-based institutions, the president sided with the former.
"'[President] Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere,' wrote Michael Gerson in The Washington Post
. 'While I am a devout pro-life Catholic, this mandate is not about whether or not we as citizens agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Instead it is about insisting our government stay within our Constitutional boundaries.'
"'[President] Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular,' Gerson opined.
"I agree – and judging by the backlash that has been witnessed in the days since this unjustifiable mandate was issued, millions of Americans do as well. The rule put forth by the Department of Health & Human Services must not stand. The Obama Administration must re-evaluate this decision and reverse it. If it does not, I believe the United States Congress, acting on behalf of the American people, will."
Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.