John Roll, Grand Forks, column: Feds abuse power by forcing birth-control coverageThe Obama administration’s mandate to force the Catholic Church and other organized religions to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion is wrong and an intrusion into Americans’ religious beliefs. It should be struck down as unconstitutional.
By: John Roll,
By John Roll
GRAND FORKS — The Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly called “ObamaCare,” was passed to expand health care to the 50 million people in America who lack health insurance.
While I agree with the idea that everyone should have affordable health insurance, I disagree with the government’s forcing or mandating actions that directly violate one’s moral or religious beliefs — actions such as the Obama administration’s recent mandate about contraceptives.
The Obama administration has decided that contraception, sterilization and even abortion coverage must be provided by religious organizations, even if that goes against church dogma or religious beliefs.
On Jan. 20, the administration and the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that religious organizations (including the Roman Catholic Church) must provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and even abortion-promoting drugs under their health insurance policies, even though this breaches the organizations’ religious beliefs.
That means this mandate violates the separation of church and state, a phrase that frequently is misunderstood by politicians and the public alike.
Contrary to popular belief, the idea of the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.
Instead, it has its origins in an 1802 letter by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association.
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State,” Jefferson wrote.
He did this in order to assure the Baptist Association that the government would not dictate to or otherwise infringe on its religious beliefs.
In other words, Jefferson’s intent was to protect the religious group from governmental interference — not the other way around.
The separation of church and state also was discussed by Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in the 1947 case of Everson v. Board of Education, which dealt with the funding of school transportation.
“Neither a state nor the federal government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa,” Black wrote.
“In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State.’”
Black’s statement should make it clear that the federal government has no authority to mandate or force any religious group to participate, pay for or otherwise be party to something that is morally against its religious beliefs.
Clearly, the Obama administration’s mandate to force the Catholic Church and other organized religions to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion is wrong and an intrusion into Americans’ religious beliefs.
It should be struck down as unconstitutional.
If left intact, the Affordable Care Act will set a precedent for even more illegal and unwanted governmental interference into the lives of American citizens.
I urge all North Dakotans who are against this unwanted governmental intrusion into their personal and religious lives to call, write and e-mail their congressmen and senators to repeal this unwanted and dangerous legislation.
Roll is a registered nurse and a student in UND’s Family Nurse Practitioner program.