I don't understand why the White House is trying to be conciliatory over this HHS regulation. They think it is important to make a religious institution do something that violate the principles of that religion. They shouldn't pretend they want to negotiate, they should admit that they simply don't care, that access to birth control trumps religious liberty.
Incidentally, that's a silly thing to think because elective birth control is in and of itself not health care. This is maybe a bit less unreasonable than requiring people to pay for boob jobs or elective amputation, but the difference is one of degree, not of kind. Anybody who is taking hormonal birth control on the off chance they get raped is probably making a bad call on a balance of probabilities, which means the only situation we're really concerned with is one in which someone is choosing to have sex and then using a drug to prevent unwanted consequences that are in no real sense an illness. Since the choice to have sex is voluntary (it is, cope), I don't know why paying for managing that choice shouldn't be.
It doesn't really matter though. They think this is an important right, and that religion isn't an important right. I just want them to say so, to admit that we aren't talking about rights at all, we're talking about prerogatives.
A right is something that you get to exercise regardless of how crappy the exercise of that right might be for someone else. You get to speak no matter how offensive it is, you get to use your money how you want even if it would increase utility to force you to do certain things with it, and your conscience trumps social obligation. They are absolute, they come without condition, and they are beyond the power of the state. We don't, collectively, believe in that, though.
We believe in prerogatives, in people getting to choose to do stuff. Since choice itself has primacy in this system, everyone's choice set is constrained by the maximization of choice in aggregate, and that concern is prior to any other. I'm not actually opposed to this system (it is no dumber than any other), I just want us to be up front about it. I want to hear the President get up and admit that that's his theory of government, that he believes that the power of the state always triumphs, and that the people are to be governed, they are not to govern. If you believe in rights you need to defend them most when they are exercised most vilely - you don't get to wimp out and pull rank as soon as it gets hairy.
The real problem is that our government is totally unprepared for the prerogatives system. All this election business and putting power in the hands of the people is worthless if we're going to mandate a way of life after as soon as the ballots are counted. Prerogatives taken and given at the whim of the state is only going to function when there is unquestioned rule which is predictable and self-perpetuating without reference to any other group or institution. You need oligarchs, or maybe some sort of regulated monarchy, in order to pull this shit off. Quadaffi and Mubarak were better set up for that system than Obama is, because the American system requires a free people, jealous of their rights and committed to self-determination, in order to check against the power of the state. Without that, you end up with the worst form of authoritarianism - rule by demagogues, whoever can stir the prejudices of the masses into the greatest frenzy. Even strict will-to-power military conflicts are better than that because in those people still tend to get left alone. If we want to act like we have a monarch, we should probably take some steps to ensure a functioning monarchy, rather than letting the power-hungry panderers climb the ranks to an invisible throne.
If we're going to live in a statist regime, we should be fucking honest about it. If we believe in individual rights, we should act like it. Either way, America (and the whole west) needs to shit or get off the pot.