Our first and most fundamental right as a free people is to be protected against Government interference in our religious lives. This right is guaranteed by the first amendment to the US Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (From: The US Constitution)
Yet in a recent statement from Health and Human Services (HHS), all employers, regardless of their status or religious beliefs, must provide insurance coverage for contraceptive services to their employees, some of which could include sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. This mandate forces religious institutions to choose between their conscience and their Government, and stands in direct conflict with our right as a free people to be protected against Government interference in our religious lives.
A bill in the House, H.R. 1179 (first introduced by Rep Jeff Fortenberry and co-sponsored by Dr. Dan and 163 other members of the House) would stop the Government over-reach of this bill, and this Administration.Called the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” this bill would “amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to protect rights of conscience with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and services” and Dr. Dan is a strong supporter of this legislation.
As he said recently on the House floor, ‘the government has no right to mandate that employers purchase health insurance for their employees in the first place, but this law is made even worse by demanding that those who support life, regardless of their particular religion, provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs’:
…I recently cosponsored H.R. 1179…If signed into law, this bill would amend the Affordable Care Act to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor of the plan without suffering consequences. While I and other Members of Congress continue our efforts to repeal the President’s health care plan in its entirety, bills such as H.R. 1179 are necessary while the Affordable Care Act is still law to ensure that the Federal Government does not mandate any American citizen to defy their own religious principles. (From VoteSmart: Feb. 2, 2012)
President Obama’s healthcare law, the so-called Obamacare plan (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), was bad legislation when it passed, and remains bad legislation today as elements of the bill are beginning to come into effect. It has been repealed in the House, and it should not be allowed to into go effect. Until that day comes, however, organizations should not have their constitutional rights stripped from them by unconstitutional laws. H.R. 1179 is a good first step towards protecting them against that happening.