Katie Ryder: The Truth About Religious Freedom and the ACA
February 8, 2013
Your right to swing your fist in religious practice ends when your fist reaches my nose, or uterus.
By Katie Ryder
The phrase “religious freedom” pulsed through the 2012 election cycle like a car alarm that everyone decided was just going to go off all day, and it hasn’t faded out since. The term is used almost exclusively in reference to policy or legislation related to contraception; abortion; more rarely, gay rights; and, infrequently (amazingly) bullying. Right now, conservatives speak of religious freedom primarily to assert that the Affordable Care Act—which requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception—infringes on constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties.
Since the passing of the bill, right-wing publications like The Weekly Standard, National Review, and The Washington Times have all claimed the act mandates that citizens ignore their individual religious compass and involve themselves in the availability of contraceptives. This is not untrue. In fact, it is true. And exactly as it should be in a democracy predicated upon citizens’ equality before the law: rights to personal safety, health, and liberty must supersede the religious beliefs of individuals. Classically, this is bread-and-butter territory for the public left. Currently, they’re unwilling to say it.
What the left has been too timid to say is this: it is obvious that we do (and must) make laws that conflict with religious views, endlessly variant as they are.