It is our position misplaced, overblown patriotic rhetoric smothers intelligent discussion. Sen. Dan Coats’ defense of the Respect for Conscience Amendment on religious freedom grounds is an excellent example. Search YouTube for “Coats says we must stand for religious freedom.”
The Respect for Conscience Amendment, defeated by Democrats in the Senate on March 1, would have allowed any employer (not just faith-based organizations) that offers health insurance to refuse to cover any “specific item or service contrary to the (employer’s) religious beliefs or moral convictions.” This amendment is caught up in the brouhaha about health insurance for contraceptives – subject for another editorial.
Our point is different. We object to Coats’ “religious freedom” rhetoric because it obscures permitting employers to deny insurance coverage for items contrary to the employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions does nothing to protect the religious freedom of living, breathing human beings. Search as you might in Coats’ grandiloquent tribute to freedom of religion; you won’t find a single syllable explaining how the Respect for Conscience Amendment would enhance the religious freedom of actual, real-life people.
We welcome thoughtful discussion about what treatments employer health care plans must cover. But Coats wrapping himself in the flag certainly doesn’t lead to such a discussion.