As expected, the academic establishment is pushing back at the Catholic bishops for protesting the Obama Administration’s regulation that would require religious institutions to provide sterilization, abortifacients and contraceptives free of charge. “It’s a simple question of whether rights belong to individuals or to groups,” James K. Wilson  of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) argues on his Academe blog. “There is no such thing as a collective Constitutional right for religious groups; there is only individual religious freedom.”
“Yes, religious organizations are protected, but only because of the individual rights of the people who constitute them.” The bishops beg to differ. Well, actually they don’t beg. They do differ.
“Perhaps the courts offer the most light,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, wrote in a letter to his brother bishops. “In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously defended the right of a church to define its own ministry and services, a dramatic rebuff to the administration, apparently unheeded by the White House.” The ultimate irony is that this is a contretemps the White House could have easily avoided with an opt-out provision, particularly since the bishops were initially sympathetic to the president’s health care plan.
“For the past decade, North Carolina has operated under a contraception mandate for private health insurers that hasn’t caused much uproar,” David N. Bass  writes in the Carolina Journal. “It contains a broad exemption that allows faith-based employers who are opposed to birth control as a matter of conscience to opt out, and frees insurers to charge co-pays for the coverage.”
“But new federal guidelines  from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would supersede the exemption.” The Carolina Journal is published by the John Locke Foundation.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia .
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