The case of the Obama Administration vs. the Catholic Church goes far beyond the fraught question of women’s reproductive rights. It’s also the clearest defining moment that I can think of in our lifetimes, on the question of the proper role of government.
It’s glaringly obvious to many people that abortion, sterilization, and similar procedures are a strictly-required component of women’s health. These people often see the opposition of the Catholic Church to these procedures not as a core belief, but rather as a retrograde, pernicious, and even cynical attack on women.
It’s just as glaringly obvious to many other people that religious freedom in America is sacrosanct. Of all the guarantees given in the Bill of Rights, religious freedom is indeed the very first one!
In this case, the Obama Administration has ruled unilaterally that health insurance programs provided by the Catholic Church must pay for abortions. Forget about the welter of discussion about whether the Federal mandate extends beyond those of many states. That’s not the core issue here.
For the government to say, as it has, that its goals are prior to the Catholic Church’s core beliefs, is precisely to say that government power is unambiguously senior to all other claims.
This is radically counter to the doctrines of the American founding. It’s more radical than anything that even FDR said during the New Deal. It quite simply elevates government to the level of a religion.
Personally, it’s clear to me that people on the pro-abortion side of this debate simply don’t understand the stakes. (Notably, that includes Sen. Chuck Schumer, who ought to know better.) If they accept that government is prior to all other claims, they’re opening themselves to the potential for some future government to take away the things that THEY hold as non-negotiable core beliefs.
To put it another way, we’ll have become a society that forthrightly elevates the collective over the individual. Again, radically counter to the doctrines of the founding.