Freedom of Conscience and Its Limits

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 13 2012 10:23 AM

Freedom of Conscience and Its Limits

Let me pull a point out of a rather long John Holbo post. Start with the assumption that ObamaCare is repealed, in its entirety, tomorrow. The day after tomorrow Abdul Hussain, owner and CEO of a large private firm with 5,000 employees, announces that his firm will no longer offer employees health insurance that permits women to visit male doctors or male employees to be treated by female doctors. This is a newsworthy event, and the day after the day after tomorrow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder both offer the opinion that this is a form of illegal discrimination and that if it's not already illegal it should be made illegal. Will Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans stand up for Hussain's "freedom of conscience" in this case? Will my conservative Twitter followers?

I'm going to guess no.

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Conservatives don't like the Affordable Care Act and are sympathetic on the merits to the claims of those who think contraceptives or morally wrong, so in this particular case the principle of "freedom of conscience" seems appealing to them. But there's actually nobody who endorses the general principle being invoked here.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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