Many people will view the HHS Mandate requiring employers to provide access to contraceptives and abortion drugs through health insurance as something that does not really impact their lives. And that may be true, at a superficial level. On a superficial level, the mandate requires free access to contraceptives, something that many people may agree with, especially with high rates of teen pregnancies and single-mom homes across the country. But at a deeper level the HHS Mandate is an example of the Federal Government dictating to the People what they must do. And nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to the rights of religious organizations to freely practice their beliefs, especially as employers.
The HHS Mandate does not discriminate between employers, it applies to them all. However, many religious employers feel inclined to fight against the mandate, which requires them to go against their deeply held religious beliefs that the use of contraceptives is sinful. By forcing religious employers to go against their beliefs, the Federal Government is violating those employers’s First Amendment rights to the free practice of religion as they see fit. The HHS Mandate is unconstitutional, and is beginning to be treated as such with a number of pending cases at multiple legal levels across the country.
The challenges by religious employers – not just churches, but employers such as Hobby Lobby, which operate the business according to religious principles – demonstrate the strength of the reaction against the mandate. Several legal organizations have come to the aid of other, smaller, religious groups, and things are getting noticed. After all, if the Government can trample the First Amendment rights of a small religious business, what is to stop them from trampling the rights of an ordinary citizen?
The free access to contraceptives may seem like a good idea, but the implementation is all wrong. By dictating that employers must provide free access to contraceptives, the Federal Government is not paying attention to the rights of someone – anyone – who disagrees with the use of contraceptives. The Government needs to be aware that imposing regulations, of any kind, which violate the Constitutional rights of the People is not something that will be taken lightly. With numerous legal actions pending, it should by now be very obvious to the Federal Government that this mandate is something that needs to be changed to accommodate the various religious rights of the People.