Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Institutional rights don't trump individual rights

In a speech to supporters in Colorado, presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama over his administration’s decision to force religious organizations to provide birth control pills and other related drugs in the health plans they offer. The Catholic Church doesn’t believe that the use of birth control is moral. Other Christian organizations and churches believe the use of most birth control pills is actually abortion. The religious organizations believe that by offering the drugs in the health plan they are supporting an immoral act.

Romney says that if he was president, he would allow the exemption on religious grounds. In the speech he accused Obama of restricting religious freedom. While Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he tried to exempt religious institutions from providing the drugs in the health care mandate in the state. But, the legislature overruled his policy.

Romney is making the choice between an institution (that does have deep religious concerns with birth control) and the individual’s right to make those choices. His belief is that groups, in this case the Catholic Church, are equal in status with individuals. Keep in mind, Romney is the same man that said corporations are people too.

A pillar of conservatism is that the individual holds all the power and the responsibly. It is the individual’s choices that determine his responsibility. Apparently, that is true up to the point that the individual is covered under a health plan.

By allowing the Catholic Church to be exempt from offering birth control in their health plan, it limits the individual's choice and personal freedom. Just because the church provide the drugs doesn’t mean they are suggesting anyone should use them. The church can use their freedom of speech to express their concerns about birth control.

If it was allowed, it could create many other divisions, not even just in the birth control issue. Should a church have health insurance policies rewritten that restrict what clinics, hospitals and doctors can receive payments from the health plan because they offer birth control and abortion? This, even though the health of the woman may dictate that she goes to one of them?

President Obama made the right decision on the birth control issues. The individual’s right to make choices must be greater than the group’s ability to control those choices.

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