Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. That is the exact wording of the First Amendment.
I am posting it because of the controversy raging in the world outside of our beautiful city of Oz about the mandatory coverage provisions relating to abortions, prophylactics, and end of life decisions. .
Cardinal Dolan is right in insisting that Catholic Hospitals cannot be forced to perform abortions or disconnect life support systems in terminal patients.
To force a person who feels that it is prohibited by his/her religion by law to perform abortions is in my view a clear violation of the 1st amendment. (See underlined text).
To force an institution (hospital/surgical center) to provide the service may be questionable. This is the basic area where Cardinal Dolan could be wrong if the facility is accepting public supplied funds. It then has a contract with the PEOPLE and cannot ignore portions of its obligations.
By preventing individuals through an exemption in the laws to seek a desired and legal service in a public supported facility because of one’s religious convictions is a violation of the first portion of this Amendment. The only acceptable alternate is to have readily available alternate providers and institutions easily available.
Abortions were once illegal .That did not stop women from seeking and having one done under in most cases dangerous condition s. Too many died from post-abortion sepsis; a horrible death that even in this day of antibiotics occurs too frequently under similar situations. That is an unacceptable alternate for a procedure done under sanitary conditions by a trained practitioner.
The 18th Amendment not only did not prevent the consumption of alcohol. It also produced a violent criminal class. Legislation to prohibit surgical abortion procedures under aseptic conditions will have similar result with a marked increase in deaths.
The Singers of the Declaration of Independence wrote:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ".
To deny someone the right to make a health decision is a violation of the principle
To try to eliminate by law what one group considers to be a sin and creating instead a potential tragic outcome is a reason we must resist any effort by the religious right or specific religious leaders to insert their position into the law.
(Editorial corrections/changes post posting are in blue)