Letter to the Editor: Obama’s Contraception Compromise Doesn’t Quell Debate

Rachel Maddow [“The Republican war on contraception,” op-ed, Feb. 12] is mistaken when she defends the Obama administration’s recent rule requiring Catholic hospitals and schools to cover contraceptives and certain abortifacients starting in 2013. That rule violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Ms. Maddow suggested that the rule must be valid because New York state adopted a similar rule. But there is a crucial legal difference between federal and state governments. State governments are no longer subject to the RFRA, thanks to a 1997 Supreme Court ruling. But the federal government is, based on a 2006 Supreme Court decision, which ruled that the RFRA limits federal regulatory power, and requires certain religious exemptions. So that law continues to shield religious schools and hospitals from federal regulations that order them to violate their religious tenets. The government must follow the law, even when doing so is unpopular.