Thousands of Missourians are expected to gather today at the Missouri Capitol in opposition to the Obama Administration's abortion drug mandate. Christian citizens will be participating in a religious liberty rally
to protect the rights of religious institutions and religious-based employers.
The rally takes aim at the recent contraceptive edict issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. That mandate requires that virtually all health insurance plans must include coverage of all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including the abortifacient drugs Ella and Plan B. Employers who fail to comply will face onerous fines under the new contraceptive decree.
The rally has been organized by the Missouri Catholic Conference in collaboration with the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and various pro-life organizations. The fact that Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Southern Baptists are joining
forces in sponsoring this event highlights the grave threat the abortion drug mandate poses to the religious freedoms of churches throughout our nation.
"We can't afford to be passive when our federal government has taken a position that forces people of faith and religious entities to act in a way that is contrary to our morals and beliefs," says Archbishop Robert Carlson
of St. Louis.
"We have seen decades of tragedy resulting from the overreach of government in the Roe v. Wade
abortion decision. It is important for us to do something now to secure conscience rights for our citizens and avoid further tragedy."John Yeats
, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, echoed Archbishop Carlson's comments. "Under the Constitution, the government has no right to impose penalties on religious convictions of any kind.
Our Baptist forefathers were the authors of religious liberty. They shed their blood for a free church in a free state. Many endured imprisonment and lost their personal assets over this one issue."
"The recent federal mandate is a blatant overreach by the Administration into the spheres of conscience that directly impact Christian ministries and universities. We need to be first in line to protect our precious First Amendment freedoms from abuse by those with political agendas."
In the meantime, the Obama Administration is plowing forward with plans to implement another controversial action: the abortion surcharge provision included in President Obama's health care law. All insurance companies who offer
coverage for elective abortion in their health insurance policies will be required to collect a separate premium for abortion coverage. That premium will be assessed against all policyholders regardless of a person's age, gender, or physical condition.
It is likely that most insurers will opt to collect the surcharge, since it is a requirement for access to federal subsidies. In an amazing display of audacity, the Obama Administration is prohibiting insurers from disclosing the abortion surcharge (which is initially being set at $1 per month) in their informational materials until policyholders sign up for coverage. Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler
sharply condemned the Administration's actions. "This lack of transparency and secrecy involving abortion coverage in health care plans hides critical information from consumers and may force pro-life Americans to unknowingly pay for abortions. That is wrong!"
"This is an unconscionable intrusion into the lives of Americans and yet another example of why the Obama Administration's takeover of health care must be repealed, Hartzler added."
Fortunately, Missourians won't be required to pay this abortion surcharge because of action taken by the Missouri Legislature to opt out of this provision. However, Missourians will still be forced to underwrite abortion coverage in other states through their federal
income taxes. Federal subsidies will help pay for policies that may include abortion coverage for individuals who qualify for federal assistance.
A St. Louis Catholic business owner has decided that he is not going to take the abortion drug mandate sitting down. Frank O'Brien has filed suit in federal court against the contraceptive mandate, claiming that it violates his constitutionally protected religious beliefs. O'Brien employs 87 people at his company, O'Brien Industrial Holdings.
"This mandate would require business people like our client to leave their religious beliefs at home every day as a condition of doing business in our society," says Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing O'Brien in the litigation.
"This mandate tells people like Frank O'Brien that they have to choose between conducting their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, or conducting their business in a manner consistent with the government's values. The Constitution does not allow the government to impose such a choice."
The mission statement of O'Brien's business reads as follows: "Our mission is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society." O'Brien's refusal to comply with the abortion drug mandate could result in fines to his firm totalling over $3 million a year.
The Obama Administration is accepting public comment for a 90-day period on the regulations. You can register your objections to the abortion drug mandate by using this link:HHS Public Comment
Please be praying for business owners like Frank O'Brien who face the moral dilemma of following their consciences or facing crippling financial penalties to the companies they operate.