Obamacare, Contraception, and the Constitution

Contraception is very much in the news today.  Obama’s mandate that private employers provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to their employees under penalty of federal law has brought it to the front page.  As you know, the American Freedom Law Center is challenging the constitutionality of this mandate on behalf of Priests for Life—an international, Catholic, pro-life organization.  AFLC filed a federal lawsuit on February 15, 2012, on behalf of Priests for Life in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  You can read more about that lawsuit here.

Certainly, AFLC’s lawsuit is about religious freedom and not contraception, per se.  Under our Constitution, the government cannot compel conduct that substantially burdens an individual’s religious beliefs or practices, particularly when it already provides exceptions for others.  The Obama mandate does just that.

But there is much more to this healthcare and contraception debate. . . .

When you consider the contraception mandate in the broader context of government-mandated Obamacare (read more about AFLC’s challenge to Obamacare here), one must ask, “At what point does the use of contraception become mandatory, if not, at a minimum, socially obligatory?”  When the government can control (i.e., ration) healthcare, at what point does it start imposing burdens upon families with more than two children, for example?  And at what point does the government start penalizing the birth of a child (or rewarding contraception, sterilization, or abortion)?

Indeed, the liberal left views pregnancy as a disease that can be prevented (via contraception and sterilization) or treated (via abortion).  Unfortunately, now that government-mandated healthcare is upon us and the government is running up huge deficits, a China-like, two-child policy may be in the not-so-distant future.  After all, is it not cheaper (and therefore less of a burden on the government’s resources) to fund contraception, sterilization, and abortion than it is to provide a lifetime of healthcare to an individual, particularly if that individual is expected to be born with a disability?

At the end of the day, Obamacare and all of its associated regulations, such as the contraception mandate, represent an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of all Americans by imposing unprecedented governmental mandates that restrict personal and economic freedoms.  As James Madison wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”  This constitutionally mandated division of authority was adopted by the Framers to ensure protection of our fundamental liberties.  Indeed, federalism protects the liberty of all persons by ensuring that laws enacted in excess of delegated governmental power, such as Obamacare, cannot direct or control their actions.

That is why it is critical that the American Freedom Law Center prevail in its litigation to stop the federal government’s encroachment on our first freedoms—freedoms that our Founding Fathers protected by the division of power through federalism and by enshrining them in the Bill of Rights.