Letter to Editor


Andy Rao’s opinion article on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby deserved to be included in a head-to-head series.

Andy argues, “This ruling is a blatant violation of the concept of the separation of church and state.”

It should be remembered that the establishment clause is followed immediately by the free exercise clause. The ruling does not establish any religion. It makes no statement on the morality of emergency contraceptives whatsoever. It is far easier to argue that aspects of the Affordable Care Act violate the free exercise clause.

Rao also commits the slippery slope fallacy. I could take the other side of that slope and argue, for example, that ruling in favor of Sebelius/Burwell would indicate that the government could legalize euthanasia and then require an incorporated group of physicians to perform the procedure even if they as individuals consider the procedure murder.

Andy asks, “What’s stopping me from establishing my own religion tomorrow and declaring that income taxes are a grave transgression of my beliefs?”

The ruling itself states, “There simply is no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes.”

Another example, “Would I now be allowed to refuse employment to a homosexual individual on grounds of religious objection to the Equal Opportunity Act?”

Answer, again from the ruling: “The principal dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example, on the basis of race might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction. Our decision today provides no such shield.”

The executive branch of government in this case is not just saying that women have a right to contraceptives – it is saying that employees have a right to all contraceptives and that these should be provided to them by their employer, even if that employer has to violate personal convictions in order to obey a law that was enacted based on the differing personal convictions of another. This ruling does not limit access to contraceptives, and I feel that women should have this access. Contraceptives are not, however, a constitutional right. The right to free exercise of religion is.

Kent Downing
2010 K-State Alumnus