Judge's Moral Choice on Contraception Gets the Law Wrong

Religious objections to birth control are different from secular reasons.

Does it matter why you're pro-life?

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

What’s so special about religion? When it comes to exemptions from general laws, whether regulating gay marriage or contraception, no question is more important -- or more complicated. The federal district court in Washington answered that question Monday by saying religion is nothing special. The court held that the Department of Health and Human Services is obligated to give the same exemption to a nonreligious group that has a principled reason to deny its employees contraceptive health-care coverage that the department already gave to religious groups with analogous views. This conclusion was almost certainly correct as a matter of moral logic. But it’s far from clear that it was correct as a matter of law.

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