-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Bishop William Lori, a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that mandating insurance companies cover contraception is like mandating kosher delis serve ham sandwiches. Lori likens the obvious health benefits of not getting pregnant to the claim that “pork is good for you.” Lori calls this the Parable of the Kosher Deli.
The beauty of Lori’s Parable is that it can be used to argue against any health insurance coverage mandate.
If an employer is a Jehovah’s Witness and insists that any employee health insurance plan not cover blood transfusions then any employee who wants that coverage could have to find another policy and pay its entire cost out-of-pocket. Any employees who do not share the employer’s worldview are penalized for those different beliefs.
While Lori makes much of the employer’s freedom of conscience, does not the employee possess that same freedom of conscience? If an employer insists on an employee health insurance plan that covers abortion in cases of rape or incest, and a Catholic employee objects to paying even part of the cost of the insurance, would Lori still support the employer’s freedom of conscience? Or would he suddenly discover that employees deserve the same freedom of conscience?
While many consider an employer’s place of business to be private property wherein the employer rules as king, that business makes use of roads, bridges, infrastructure, law enforcement, etc., paid for by the government. Without this government support, businesses wouldn’t survive. In return for the services provided, the government gets to set standards of behavior toward competitors, customers, employees, and the environment.
This is not a new issue, as evidenced by the Supreme Court case of Reynolds v. United States in 1878. For a unanimous Court, Chief Justice Waite wrote:
Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.
The freedom of religious expression requires the freedom from control of that religious expression from those holding different religious beliefs. If one demands freedom of religious expression for oneself, then one must give up control over the religious expression of those holding different religious beliefs. If one demands freedom of conscience for oneself, then one must give up control over the conscientious beliefs of those holding different conscientious beliefs. One cannot reasonably complain about the denial of freedom of conscience when one’s denying that freedom to others.