Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

GOP's proactive steps lessen impact of ?intrusive' health care mandate

February 7, 2012

Olson Op/Ed on Health Care Mandate
GOP’s proactive steps lessen impact of ‘intrusive’ health care mandate - Bay Area Citizen 02/07/12

President Reagan once wisely said, " To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny."

The latest Obama administration mandate that will force religious organizations, through member dues, to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, controversial abortifacients, and contraceptives is just the kind of tyranny that President Reagan was talking about. This rule is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and an assault on religious freedom.  It undoes a standard of religious freedom in America that has been in place for more than 200 years.

It should trouble every American to know that this President is so willing to dismiss the liberties so carefully included in our Constitution. Last month it was the Senate's Constitutional mandate to provide advice and consent on Presidential appointees. Today, it's the right of religious entities to practice their faith freely. What will it be tomorrow?

The President’s sworn duty is to defend the Constitution, not make “accommodations” in an attempt to perpetuate unconstitutional actions. President Obama continually revises history to fit his viewpoint or agenda.  The President also chastised those who opposed him on this issue for making it a “political football,” but he’s the one who should take the responsibility for fumbling the ball and causing this mess.  When you are wrong, you should admit to it, but not at this White House. 

The President now mandates health plans to offer contraceptive services for free, but that only means that the cost of this new federal mandate will be passed on to consumers.  It's also still unclear if religious-affiliated institutions will be required to inform and direct participants in their health plans to outside contraceptive services.  

Our rights are not up for compromise. They are God-given.  The House Energy & Commerce Committee, on which I am privileged to serve, is leading the charge in developing legislation to right this egregious wrong.  We will not relent in fighting to protect the first amendment right to religious liberty.

Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into American's freedom of conscience. This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not and will not, stand.