By Elizabeth Harrington
In explaining her opposition to a Health and Human Services regulation that requires virtually all health-care plans to cover sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients, Rep. Michele Bahmann said Friday that the issue involved in this mandate was whether the government could place itself before God and prevent institutions and people from following their faith and their consciences.
"The people want to have their liberties back and they don't like to see religious institutions, particularly the Catholic Church, have to be forced to deny their sincerely held faith and the doctrine of their faith in order to be in compliance with government because at that point who is God?" Bachman said.
"Is government God? Or are people allowed to follow their conscience before God?" said Bachmann.
"That's really the issue at hand and we cannot have this change that Barack Obama has put forward and that's why you see the people here today who are working very hard to make sure they can hold on to their religious liberties," Bachmann said.
"So, of course, we're going to stand," said Bachmann, who indicated the House of Representatives should use any legislative vehicle possible to stop the regulation, which was issued under the Obamacare law.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called the regulation "an unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and 43 Catholic insitutitions, including the archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and Washington have sued the Obama administration in federal court arguing that the regulation is a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong, and, thus, the HHS regulation would force Catholics to act against their faith by making them provide and/or purchase coverage for these things.
At a religious freedom rally in Washington, D.C. on Friday, CNSNews.com asked Bachmann, "The House Republicans, should they include language in the next continuing resolution [CR]--to fund the government beyond Sept. 30--should they put language that would defund the HHS mandate?"
Bachmann said, "What I have said from the very beginning is that this is an issue that the American people care deeply about. The nation does not like Obamacare. They especially don't like the fact that our religious liberties have been stripped away from us in Obamacare."
"This is the line in the sand," she said. "This is our fundamental right for religious liberty. It is why the Pilgrims came to this country, to have religious freedom. Barack Obama is taking away that basic right from the American people. So, of course, we're going to stand."
"And I have believed from the beginning that, in every possible area that we can, we need to fight it, whether it's in the continuing resolution or in any other piece of legislation," she added. "That's why I wrote the bill to repeal Obamacare. We can't have a bill that denies Americans our fundamental protections of religious liberty."
Earlier, Bachmann addressed a crowd at the rally of religious leaders, activists, and politicians who were opposed to the administration's HHS regulation on sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients.
"We will fight this and we will win," Bachmann told the gathering.
The continuing resolution that was passed last December, to keep the government funded, will expire on Sept. 30, 2012. The House and Senate will have to pass another CR to keep government running when FY 2013 begins on Oct. 1
CNSNews.com asked Bachmann: "Do you think Speaker [of the House John] Boehner [R-Ohio] would support prohibiting the funding for this regulation in the next continuing resolution?"
"Well, you'll have to ask the speaker how he feels about that," Bachmann replied. "All I know is that in a recent poll, 66 percent of the American people want us to either fully repeal Obamacare or drastically change this legislation. It's wildly unpopular, it's completely unconstitutional, and it needs to go."
Bachmann was more close-lipped when asked if she has had conversations with Boehner regarding the upcoming CR negotiations.
"Well, those conversations are between colleagues and those are ones that I wouldn't be revealing," Bachmann said, "but again the most important thing is that we are the people's representatives, we need to do the will of the people."