Saunders: BIden, seeking unity, should let Catholic charity be

Supreme Court decision should have ended efforts to force group to offer contraception to staff.

By Debra J. Saunders / Las Vegas Review-Journal

President Biden likes to talk about unity and his intent to rise above partisan rancor to heal the divisions that led a pro-Trump mob to swarm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Given his history of cutting deals with Republicans, I believe he wants to work across the aisle.

But a hail-fellow-well-met demeanor can’t paper over his party’s intolerance and readiness to use government as a club to beat dissenters into submission. Choice? That’s not for Little Sisters of the Poor; or at least it wasn’t last year as Biden was the presumptive Democratic nominee and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

Let me back up and lay the scene. The Little Sisters of the Poor is an organization of Catholic nuns who want, as their mission statement explains, to provide for “the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ.”

Then they ran into Obama administration regulations that required most employers to include in their employee health care plans free birth control. The Little Sisters objected because they believe “deliberately avoiding reproduction through medical means is immoral.”

You would think the federal government would have better things to do than pick on nuns caring for old people. Indeed, Congress passed no legislation with this mandate, and Barack Obama never signed such a law. His Affordable Care Act, however, mandated that essential benefits be included in most employer-provided health care plans, and then nameless bureaucrats did the rest.

In 2012, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services declared that contraception was essential preventive care and hence was exempt from co-payments. Thus began a series of legal battles in which the Little Sisters generally prevailed against the federal machine because they did not back down.

In July, the Little Sisters won one of many cases against the group by a 7-2 margin. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, who were appointed by Democratic presidents, concurred with the majority. Biden’s response? It befitted the response of a Democratic presidential nominee.

The former vice president released a statement in which he said: “Health care is a right that should not be dependent on race, gender, income or ZIP code. Yet as a result of today’s decision, countless women are at risk of losing access to affordable, preventive care.”

Note: Women who work for the charity would not lose access to health care. They’d still be able to go to a clinic or see a doctor for contraception. They’d just have to pay for it. Both employees and employers would be free to choose.

Biden also nominated as his Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who sued the caregiving nuns to force them to obey the Obamacare mandate.

At Thursday’s daily press briefing, I asked press secretary Jen Psaki if Biden still planned to go after the religious and moral objection exemptions given his stated goal of bringing the country together.

Her answer: “I haven’t discussed that particular issue with him. I’m happy to circle back with you, but I don’t, there’s not a change in his position from what he said earlier this summer.”

I don’t agree with the Little Sisters of the Poor, but a government that would work to bring these compassionate nuns to heel is a government that cares more about conformity than people. Where’s the tolerance? There is no tolerance for conservative Christians.

And if Biden pursues this track, he will further divide America.

Email Debra J. Saunders at Follow her on Twitter @DebraJSaunders.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, holds blank voter registration forms as she poses for a photo Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, at her home in Bremerton, Wash. Simmons, believed to be the first formerly incarcerated person to win election to the Statehouse, is now working to help restore voting rights to people in Washington state who are out on parole or probation after serving prison time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Editorial: Restore voting rights to those who served time

Denying the vote to those who owe fines keeps many from fully rejoining their communities.

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, March 3

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Everett Comics owner Charlie Knoedler and his wife Tracy talk with Everett Police Officers as they drop by to talk about the recent theft of a 4-foot tall Funko Batman Statue on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  The statue was stolen in a “smash and grab” early Sunday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Editorial: Training, support must follow policing mandates

The Everett Police Department’s use of an intervention training program should be a model for others.

The 2022 Bolt EV, foreground, and EUV are displayed, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Milford, Mich. Whether people want them or not, automakers are rolling out multiple new electric vehicle models as the auto industry responds to stricter pollution regulations worldwide and calls to reduce emissions to fight climate change.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Editorial: Goal or mandate, encourage move to electric cars

Legislation has advanced to set a goal that new sales after 2030 be of electric vehicles only.

Mobile phone personal data and cyber security threat concept. Cellphone fraud. Smartphone hacked with illegal spyware, ransomware or trojan software. Hacker doing online scam. Antivirus error.
Editorial: Adopt protections for internet users’ personal data

State legislation would offer consumers more control in how their information is used and sold.

Comment: Ruling to allow evictions an attack on federal power

It continues a recent shift to weaken the authority of the executive branch to address crises.

Saunders: Were 2 Democrats ‘asking questions’ or ‘burning books’?

The letter to big tech giants appeared to threaten the broadcasts of Fox News and similar outlets.

Comment: Why ‘Trial of Chicago 7’ resonates in 2021

Abbie Hoffman’s Yippies might resemble the Capitol rioters in theatrics, but the comparisons stop there.

Comment: As covid wanes, expect its political battles to grow

More than just vaccine opposition, debates will continue about immunity and how we move forward.

Most Read