On May 16, the Supreme Court of the United States recognized what we’ve contended all along and what the government has apparently come to admit in its latest statement to the Court: There are numerous ways to make abortion-inducing drugs available to the public without hijacking the health insurance plans of faithful Christian women to do so.
From the very beginning of this national debate over the Affordable Care Act’s “abortion-pill mandate,” Oklahoma Wesleyan University has argued that there is absolutely no good reason for the Obama administration and Department of Health and Human Services to ignore the religious convictions of our female employees. We have said repeatedly that it is duplicitous and insincere for our government to argue that the only way to make the morning-after pill available to those who want it is to force women who don’t want the pill, to be complicit in providing it.
We have said over and over again that even those who espouse the most liberal interpretation of the First Amendment surely must agree that no one should be forced to be involved in the provision of services they do not want and will not use; products and services they find morally repugnant; products and services that violate their religious convictions; products and services their chosen church condemns and their personal moral convictions forbid.
At every turn, our position has been that the government’s presumption dishonors the women of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and the women of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The bottom line for us has always been this: It is anti-woman, anti-choice, and anti-freedom to deny Oklahoma Wesleyan University women their right to choose health care coverage consistent with their religious choices. There are literally dozens of other ways for the government to provide these objectionable drugs to women who want these products without hijacking the health insurance of those who don’t.
By vacating the lower court decision and remanding the case back to the 10th Circuit, the Supreme Court is essentially conceding our point: The women who work at OKWU, as well as the Catholic nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor, should be free to choose health coverage consistent with their beliefs. The government should stay out of their private lives and not presume to tell these women that they are required to avail themselves of drugs and devices they don’t want and will never use them.
It appears that the Supreme Court is basically agreeing with us and, thereby, instructing the government to employ at least one of a myriad of obvious ways of making abortifacients available to the public without trampling on the consciences of millions of religiously sincere women across the land who simply do not want the stuff.
It has been said that when you find yourself fighting a bunch of nuns, you might want to take a step back and listen — you might be doing something wrong. I would add that when our government finds itself fighting against millions of women from coast to coast, it might want to humble itself and listen just a bit, for indeed it is quite possible that it might be on the wrong side of the argument.
Now that the Supreme Court has urged the government to work with the plaintiffs to find a solution, pray that the administration and its lawyers listen and hear this message loud and clear.
Dr. Everett Piper is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
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