Letter to the Editor:
I appreciate our Congressman Joe Pitts’ support of religious freedom—for example in sponsoring legislation easing labor law restrictions on our Amish neighbors.
His guest column in the Aug. 21 edition of the Chester County Press appears to mis-characterize the limitation on religious freedom flowing from the Affordable Care Act. He claims that “all private employers and even religious charities and schools must provide a full range of contraceptive services, including sterilization and drugs….” No, the law requires employers to offer employees and pay premiums for health insurance that would cover those services if the employee chooses to use them.
Our rights and freedoms are not absolute because they often conflict with one another. Pitts notes that I, as a Quaker, have the right as a matter of conscience to forgo service in the military. But, those of us who would like to opt out as a matter of conscience from paying war taxes are denied that right under the law – and some have lost their homes and faced jail time because of it.
The Affordable Care Act doesn’t require religious schools to perform sterilization operations, as a literal reading of the column would suggest; it does require those schools—any entity that operates in the public arena—to offer access to health insurance plans that meet community standards. I understand the distaste of having to contribute to something that encourages others to do something one abhors. But, as with my war tax example, that seems an unavoidable result of being fully part of a community with a great diversity of personal convictions over what it means to sin.
In the same issue of the Chester County Press, Marice Bezdek did an excellent job of laying out some of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. There certainly are flaws in the Act, many of which could be corrected if the House Republican caucus would stop the monomaniacal focus on repeal and instead express a willingness to consider common sense reforms.