What about a child's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - once they are born?"
"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence and considered by some as part of one of the most well crafted, influential sentences in the history of the English language. These three aspects are listed among the "unalienable rights" or sovereign rights of man. Also, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person." (Wikipedia)
United We Stand for Religious Freedom
ObamaCare's contraception mandate stands the First Amendment on its head.
By DONALD WUERL, CHARLES COLSON AND MEIR Y. SOLOVEICHIK
Stories involving a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew typically end with a punch line. We wish that were the case here, but what brings us together is no laughing matter: the threat now posed by government policy to that basic human freedom, religious liberty.
Last month the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Affordable Care Act requires employers to pay for insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraception. What made the announcement especially troubling is that HHS specifically declined to exempt religious institutions that serve those outside their own faiths, such as hospitals and schools.
Coverage of this story has almost invariably been framed as a conflict between the federal government and the Catholic bishops. Zeroing in on the word "contraception," many commentators have taken delight in pointing to surveys about the use of contraceptives among Catholics, the message being that any infringement of religious freedom involves an idiosyncratic position that doesn't affect that many people.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic Church's teaching on contraception (not to mention abortion and surgical sterilization) has been clear, consistent and public. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's decision would force Catholic institutions either to violate the moral teachings of the Catholic Church or abandon the health-care, education and social services they provide the needy. This is intolerable.
And while most evangelicals take a more permissive view of contraception, they share with Catholics the moral conviction that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life. Evangelical nonprofits such as Prison Fellowship would therefore also have to choose between violating their consciences or paying fines that would ultimately destroy their ability to help the people they are committed to helping.
Even worse than the financial impact is the breach of faith represented by Ms. Sebelius's decision. Her notion of an "appropriate balance" between religious freedom and "increasing access" to "important preventive services" stands the First Amendment on its head.
In 1790, George Washington exchanged letters with Moses Seixas, the warden of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I. Seixas praised the newly formed United States for "affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship." People who knew all too well what it meant to be deprived of the "invaluable rights of free Citizens" held religious liberty and freedom of conscience most dear.
In reply, Washington wrote that U.S. citizens had a "right to applaud themselves" for setting an example of "an enlarged and liberal policy" that enshrined freedom of conscience. He added that the ability of members of one faith to seek the benefit of all Americans is the foundation of America's civic strength.
We see evidence of that strength all around us: If a working mother's child needs to visit the emergency room, there's a good chance the hospital is a Catholic one. If an ex-offender needs help readjusting to life outside of prison, there's a good chance help will come from a Christian ministry like Prison Fellowship.
Yet instead of encouraging the different faith communities to continue their vital work for the good of all, the Obama administration is forcing them to make a choice: serving God and their neighbors according to the dictates of their respective faiths—or bending the knee to the dictates of the state.
For Jews, George Washington's letter has always been cherished. It embodies the promise extended by America not only to them, but to all citizens. That is why many in the Jewish community are alarmed to see the very religious freedom Washington praised centuries ago endangered by Washington's successor. "May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land," Washington wrote, "continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants."
At this critical moment, Americans of every faith, as guardians of their own freedom, must, in the words of the First Amendment, "petition the government for the redress of grievances." That's why over the past two years more than 500,000 people have signed the "Manhattan Declaration" in defense of religious liberty. They believe, as do we, that under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law.
That's something that this Catholic, this Protestant and this Jew are in perfect agreement about.
Cardinal Wuerl is the archbishop of Washington, D.C. Mr. Colson is the founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Rabbi Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.