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Reviewing the revised contraceptive mandate

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All hell broke loose when the Obama administration required employers, including religious hospitals, Catholic universities and faith-based social service agencies, to provide free contraceptive and morning-after and sterilization insurance for employees as part of Obamacare. And so President Obama announced on Feb. 10 that the religious employers wouldn't have to provide the free coverage; their insurance companies would, however.

Obama, in addition to being president, is also a lawyer (as am I). So we shouldn't be surprised to find him "thinking like a lawyer." As Columbia law professor Karl Llewellyn famously told a first-year class at the law school in 1930 how to think like a lawyer, "The hardest part of the first year is to lop off your common sense, to knock your ethics into temporary anesthesia."

I say this because there are several problems with the revised mandate, whose promised revision at this date is just talk, albeit presidential talk. After all, the previous regulation has since been promulgated in the Federal Register, and is thus the applicable legal rule until properly withdrawn or amended; neither of which has been done.

Common sense, for example, would say that if there's free contraceptive coverage, someone's gotta pay for it. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Obama now says that the religious employers don't have to provide free coverage, but the insurance companies do. Here's the rub:

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