June 01, 2017
When the president told the Little Sisters of the Poor their “long ordeal will soon be over,” he meant it. Just weeks later, the Trump administration is elbow deep in a regulation that would sweep aside almost eight years of Obama’s faith-based hostility. While Congress tries to pull out Obamacare by the roots, the White House is busy ensuring that whatever time the law has left won’t be spent punishing religious organizations, colleges, and charities. Under a draft rule that leaked yesterday, employers would no longer have to pay for health care that offers pills or procedures they morally oppose.
It’s a long-overdue response to Obama’s “birth control mandate,” which took five trips to the Supreme Court, siding with religious liberty every time. Now that the Constitution has a friend in the White House, President Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price intend to make good on their pledge to defend Americans’ First Freedom. Predictably, the Left has flown into full-blown hysteria over the news, which even they would admit was inevitable. The mandate wasn’t just unpopular -- it was indefensible, as dozens of court cases proved.
That hasn’t stopped outlets like Time magazine from pushing their sky-is-falling narrative. “Birth control without a co-pay could disappear if a regulation reportedly drafted by the Trump administration is rubber stamped, potentially leading to higher out-of-pocket costs for hundreds of thousands of women,” write the fearmongers. As liberals try to spin this into a debate about denying women free “reproductive care,” the reality is that the federal government already gives out free birth control at Title X clinics all across America. What President Trump is making clear is that it’s not right to order conscientious objectors to provide it, under threat of crippling fines, when there are other ways to get it to them. Plus, the Federalist jabbed, there’s no such thing as “denying access” to birth control if these businesses are paying their employees wages they can use to buy whatever they want. (Which, as most people will tell you, isn’t exactly a financial hardship at $6 a pack.)
Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with the Becket Law, pushes back on the exaggerations of the Left. “You will hear the number 55 million bandied about by opponents of the Little Sisters of the Poor. But the actual number of affected employees is less than 3/10ths of one percent of 55 million. This is Chicken Little on steroids.” Not to mention that the rate of insured women who got free birth control soared to 59 percent from 14 percent in 2012. So if there is a “war on women,” it’s on women with religious beliefs -- who seem to be the only ones hurting under Obama’s law. We applaud Secretary Price and President Trump for working to right this wrong and restore the First Amendment freedoms that are essential to making America great again.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.