Conservatives, Women Leaders and Religious Groups Energized and Mobilizing to Fight Obama HHS Mandate and Preserve Individual Freedom and Religious Liberty

February 29, 2012 6:34 pm

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a motion to table Senator Roy Blunt’s Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.  Conservatives have held initial meetings and are coordinating plans to fight the HHS mandate and will not rest until it is rescinded.

  • Grace Marie Turner, Founder, President and Trustee, Galen Institute, Inc.
  • Hadley Heath, Independent Women’s Voice
  • Brian Burch, President, CatholicVote.org
  • Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.
  • Jennifer A. Marshall, Director, Domestic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation
  • Dr. Pia de Solenni, SThD, ethicist and moral theologian.
  • Maggie Karner, director, Life and Health Ministries, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
  • Kristan Hawkins, executive director, Students for Life of America
  • Penny Nance, CEO and President, Concerned Women for America’s
  • Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General of the United States
  • Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
  • L. Brent Bozell, Chairman, ForAmerica
  • J. Kenneth Blackwell, former US ambassador to the U.N.  Human Rights Commission and Chairman, Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition
  • Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dean and Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law
  • Asma Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action

Grace Marie Turner, Founder, President and Trustee, Galen Institute, Inc.

The White House is trying to frame this issue as a “right to contraceptives.” But this is really about who we are as a country.  America was founded on the principle that we can, as free people, express our beliefs and moral values with the knowledge that our religious liberties are protected by the U.S. Constitution.  The administration’s mandate violates the First Amendment and tramples the very essence of who we are as a nation.  Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment restores Americans’ constitutional protections and assures people that they will not be forced to follow a government dictate that would violate their conscience and religious beliefs.

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Hadley Heath, Independent Women’s Voice

Independent Women’s Voice supports Sen. Roy Blunt’s proposed amendment to provide employers the opportunity to opt out of the new government mandate compelling them to provide specific, government-required health care benefits to their employees, even if such benefits violate their religious or moral beliefs.

As one insightful woman noted, the so-called “contraception mandate” is as much about birth control as the American Revolution was about tea.  Any government mandate that forces Americans to violate their 1st Amendment rights represents an affront to the very concepts of freedom and liberty.  Our Founding Fathers understood this, that the biggest threats to freedom were not from foreign tyrannical governments, but from purported “good ideas” for which we are told we must sacrifice our liberty.

IWV is asking Americans to help protect our 1st Amendment Freedoms by joining the thousands — including many notable women leaders — who have signed our petition at www.SavingOurHealthCare.org/1stAmendment .

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Brian Burch, President, CatholicVote.org

In what may be the most important vote in decades, the time-honored principle of religious freedom may soon be put to a vote in the United States Senate.  Regrettably, American citizens have been thrust into an unnecessary and unprecedented assault on their first liberty – the freedom to believe — and they will have little patience with Stupak-like compromises or the outright refusal of any elected official to stand up for this foundational freedom.  Observant Senators would be wise to consider the aftermath of the vote on Obamacare, as this vote will be no different.  If the Senate fails to protect the conscience rights of all Americans, millions of voters will have little choice other than to use the ballot box and the courts to vindicate their rights.

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Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network

This debate is about contraception in the same way that the American Revolution was about tea. In reality, both were concerned with defending liberty against a shamelessly tyrannical government. If the Obama administration’s war on the Constitution is going to be stopped, saving the First Amendment and religious freedom is a good start. The Blunt Amendment is that first step. Unlike Obama’s patronizing accounting tricks, the Blunt Amendment provides real respect for people of conscience and their health care decisions.

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Jennifer A. Marshall, Director, Domestic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate is forcing Americans to fight for our first freedom all over again. Religious leaders from many faiths are standing united against this affront to our liberty. Every American should take this mandate very personally as well. Under Obamacare, government mandates what insurance plans must cover, what employers must offer, and what individuals must buy. There is no way out. The moral compass for our personal health decisions is now in the hands of bureaucrats. Congress should act to put that authority back in the hands of Americans.

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Dr. Pia de Solenni, SThD, ethicist and moral theologian

The HHS contraception mandate is nothing more than a fine for one’s conscience. Whether one is motivated by religious principles or simply one’s conscience, if a person’s values and views happen to be different from this mandate they could be required to pay a fine for acting in accord with their conscience. The US is a nation of capable citizens who can make decisions for themselves; the government should allow citizens to make their own decisions, not make decisions for them.

The HHS contraception mandate narrowly focuses “women’s health” to mean nothing more than contraception, suggesting that fertility is a disease. With the so-called compromise, insurance companies will be forced to provide free contraception. Women face many other health issues throughout their lives. Yet none of these mandate free coverage by insurance companies. Most women pay co-pays for mammograms and pap smears. The top two causes of death for women are heart disease and cancer, neither of which are treated with contraceptives.

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Maggie Karner, director, Life and Health Ministries, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

We are here to advocate for basic religious freedom.  And I don’t give a rip what gender is speaking about religious freedom, as long as SOMBODY is talking about it.  This is about all of us women and men—American citizens and our constitutional rights.

Religious folks have some street ‘cred’ to bring to the table when we’re talking about public health and the good of our society.  Faith-based organizations, no matter what denomination or creed, have a long history and a vested interest in our society, and we have much to contribute in the future. We can be a valuable asset to the government as we help to address the many needs in our society.   But we can only do so if we are given the freedom to work within the framework of our deeply-held beliefs.  This anti-conscience mandate doesn’t allow that. It strips us of the protection of the free exercise of our First Amendment religious rights.

Remember, this debate is not about contraception.  Nobody is advocating for denial of access.  Nobody is threatening women’s health.  Nobody is outlawing anything for the general population.  Rather, this debate is simply about us being forced to pay for products and services contrary to our religious beliefs.  We cannot be expected to check our faith at the door!

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Kristan Hawkins, executive director, Students for Life of America

The HHS mandate is an affront to the very principles our nation was founded upon – religious freedom and individual liberty. What kind of country will we be leaving our young people, many of whom I face every day on college campuses, if this mandate is allowed to stand? The HHS mandate takes a sledge hammer to religious liberty and individual rights and leaves the next generation a country devoid of freedom and liberty.  Senator Blunt’s Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is a good first step in preserving freedom and liberty for the next generation, but Students for Life will not rest until the entire mandate is rescinded and Obamacare repealed.

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Penny Nance, CEO and President, Concerned Women for America

As a woman representing 500,000 women nationwide, I can tell you that we are tired of President Obama trampling our religious liberties under the guise of ‘protecting women’s health,’” said Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America’s CEO and President.  “At the core of almost every woman is a conscience and moral integrity that must be protected.  The government has no right to violate those by forcing individuals and organizations to infringe upon their religious and/or moral beliefs by mandating the purchase of a product or service they find objectionable.  Senator Blunt’s amendment is crucial to protect our religious liberties and consciences, which are the bedrock of American society.

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Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General of the United States

The new HHS mandate is an affront to the First Amendment and to every American citizen’s constitutional liberties.  Congress should pass corrective legislation to safeguard our fundamental right to religious liberty guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

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Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

President Obama’s callous decision to require all insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to cover free of charge so-called contraceptives that are also abortifacients violates our constitutionally-protected right of freedom of religion and conscience. Neither the narrow exemption nor the recent proposed compromise is acceptable.

Millions of people of faith will still be forced by the federal government to choose between their religious convictions about when human life begins and providing health care for themselves, their families, or their employees. What is at stake is whether our nation will protect our God-given and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience.

The Obama administration has declared war on religion and conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedom.

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L. Brent Bozell, Chairman, ForAmerica

President Obama’s HHS mandate represents a blatant and unprecedented attack on the First Amendment.  It is the greatest intrusion on individual freedom and religious liberty in our nation’s history.

“This week’s Senate vote on the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act will be a telling sign of whether or not the United States Senate respects and adheres to the Constitution or whether the Constitution is nothing more than a piece of paper they can trample and trash. By supporting Senator Blunt’s freedom of conscience amendment, it will inject constitutional sanity back into our government on this issue.

Those Senators who oppose the Rights of Conscience Act will owe an explanation to the nation and to their constituents as to why they broke their oath of office.

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J. Kenneth Blackwell, former US ambassador to the U.N.  Human Rights Commission and Chairman, Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition

Religious liberty is the most important of our human rights. Without religious freedom, people exist only as political or economic entities, not as free human beings. Religious liberty is the first of all human rights, for it implies the dignity and sacredness of human conscience. One’s faith is one’s most profound level of personhood.

We must fight with all we have to defeat this attack on the foundation of American Exceptionalism. We must push back

against the Obama administration’s very restrictive view of religious liberty. Congress must pass the Respect For Rights of Conscience Act.

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Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dean and Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law

Mathew Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, said that Liberty Counsel Action has indicated it will score the vote on the Blunt Amendment. The left is trying to frame this as a contraceptive issue is, but it’s not just about contraceptives, it’s also about abortion and religious liberty. The FDA currently calls Ella and Plan B contraceptives while in actuality, they are abortifacients, and Obama wants to force religious employers to cover these abortifacients in their healthcare plans. Liberty Counsel Action, Liberty Counsel, and the Liberty University School of Law have no desire to purchase health plans that cover abortifacients. The Obama Administration’s attempt to scratch the First Amendment from the Constitution and force faith-based organizations and institutions to conform their beliefs to Obama’s mandate is atrocious. We strongly encourage the Senate to fight for a vote on this Amendment and we strongly encourage senators to vote to preserve the consciences of millions of Americans by voting for the passage of the Blunt Amendment.

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Asma Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

This mandate is simply unconstitutional. It violates the Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, Free Speech Clause, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Despite these severe burdens on our clients’ constitutional rights, the government, in its response last night, continues to provide no compelling interest that justifies forcing monks and nuns to hand out abortion drugs.

Women, too, seek the freedom to live in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Religious freedom is a right enjoyed by everyone, and it is just as much in women’s interest to protect that right as it is in men’s.

As a Muslim-American woman and an academic, I have spent my career fighting for  women’s and minority’s rights, and the fact that I must be here today to explain why our constitutional rights exist is extremely offensive to me personally.

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Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Our clients are acting because of what is being asked for, rather than who is doing the asking.

They do not seek to prevent women from accessing these abortion drugs, but they do object to having to provide them against their conscience.

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Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action

Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action Senator Blunt’s “Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act of 2011″ amendment would restore the status quo on conscience rights prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and protect against the Administration’s HHS that will violate the conscience rights of many individuals, businesses, and religious organizations that are not exempted as “churches.” Congress has a long-standing history of providing conscience protections that this amendment would restore.

Religious employers should not be forced either to violate their conscience or drop health insurance and face severe financial penalties. In essence, the Administration’s HHS mandate will push religious employers to drop health insurance for their employees, which will undermine women’s health and reduce the number of Americans who currently have health insurance through religious employers.

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