The Rights of the Organization Far Outweigh the Rights of the Individual
Wait a minute. Am I not getting this right?
The original plan was to require employers who provide health insurance to make free birth control available to their employees only if they requested it, the idea being that each individual has a choice–in particular, that employees whose beliefs differ from the beliefs of the organization they work for not be forced to follow the religious dictums of others and therefore not have their own beliefs repressed. Churches got an exemption, but not affiliated institutions, like hospitals or charities–places where people of different belief systems may work.
Organized religions and the religious right balked at this, claiming that their religious freedoms would be infringed by having to act as the go-between for a medical service they felt violated their religious beliefs–meaning that they held that the religious freedoms of the institutions was more important than the religious freedoms of the people they employed. As bad as that was, they could at least claim that some church staff–individuals–would have to be involved, and their rights would be compromised. Again, supposedly, their discomfort would trump the medicine needs and religious freedoms of others.
So Obama went further to ameliorate them: he made it so that the institutions did not have to be involved at all–that the path of contraception request and delivery would completely bypass the organizations, so that the individual would make all requests directly to the insurance company, which would deliver the contraceptive materials directly to the individual.
Organized religions and the religious right claimed that this was still “crushing religion” and constituted a “war on religious freedom” in the United States.
In short, the rights of institutions–not individuals in any way, shape, or form–to impose their belief system on others are so important that the religious rights and freedoms of individuals mean nothing in comparison? That an individual’s right to choose is so meaningless that an institution can invalidate those beliefs just because they employ the individual?
This is not about protecting religious freedoms, it is about controlling others and denying them religious freedom. It is about enforcing religious doctrine, even on those whose religious beliefs differ. This is not about religious freedom, this is clearly about the religious right trying to ban contraception. Not abortion, not even the day-after pill, we’re talking about the birth control pill.
This is so obviously hypocritical, extremist, and oppressive that it should be a matter of outrage–except that the outrage is just complex and slippery enough that far too many Americans, too lazy to engage their critical faculties beyond a single clause, will not comprehend exactly what is going on here. They will hear the religious right say “they are crushing religion,” but a counter-argument beyond “That doesn’t make sense because…” will be lost to them.
Afterthought: I wonder how they would feel about a law allowing atheists to deny Catholics access to wine and crackers?