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February 26. 2012 4:14PM

It's the mandate: Not the pill

With all of the problems the nation faces right now, you might wonder how we wound up spending so much time discussing contraception. Indeed, how did that happen?

To hear the left tell it, the Republicans are simply obsessed with the issue. They are mindless moralists. They're waging a “war on women.” They want more babies so they can eat them at midnight when the moon is full. Also, they prefer cobras to puppies.

But we aren't talking about this issue right now because Republicans brought it up. We are talking about it because the Obama administration brought it up. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule last month ordering employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception that requires no out-of-pocket costs to employees.

Were it not for that mandate, all of us would still be talking about jobs and the economy. It's almost as if officials in the Obama administration wanted to turn people's attention away from the economy to an issue with which they could more easily claim the moral high ground.

In New Hampshire, where House Republicans have sought to undo a similar state mandate, and in the nation as a whole, the Democrats are gleefully portraying Republicans as cold-hearted misogynists for opposing contraception. But Republicans are not opposing contraception. They are opposing government mandates that force people to violate their religious beliefs.

The issue is not contraception. It is whether the state should compel people to violate their faith. But the left has cleverly reframed the debate as a discussion of contraception itself.

The left says the state cannot compel people to practice a particular faith. We agree. The left then says the state can compel people to violate their own faith. No. The state should have the power to do neither.


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