The Idaho Senate has decided to follow Governor Otter's recommendation that his state government cooperate with the Obama Regime in implementing ObamaCare. The battle to preserve liberty now shifts to the Idaho House, where lobbyists for the insurance industry have been working hard to charm, cajole and corral the large class of freshmen legislators.
It would be easy to use this page to vent. Let's limit the matter for now to an expression of disappointment in the majority of Republican senators who determined that cooperation with the Obama Administration was our only course.
Instead, let us celebrate and acknowledge the patriots who stood all day on the Senate floor defending the Constitution, the cherished value of limited government and individual liberty. And honor the fight they made to defend the sanctity of human life.
Sen. Monty Pearce read from the Federalist Papers, trying to turn the Senate's gaze back to a more heroic age, one in which men risked their very lives to resist tyranny.
Sen. Curt McKenzie gave one of the most eloquent and briefest arguments against submitting to the plans of Barack Obama to remake America. He said that he understood the "Affordable Care Act" to be unconstitutional and he could not in good conscience help advance its implantation in Idaho.
He hit upon the very core question before the Legislature: Shall we cooperate with the evil that is ObamaCare?
Sen. Cliff Bayer argued that buried in the fine print of the legislation was language which stated that the Idaho insurance exchange will comply with "all applicable law" - meaning, of course, that Idaho will be bound to implement the regulations and policies of the Obama Administration. Those that exist today, and those yet to be imagined by the likes of Kathleen Sebelius.
Sen. Russ Fulcher, who has been a stalwart leader of the conservative opposition, took his turn on the floor to urge rejection of SB1042:
"Supporters of SB1042 have indicated they want to resist ObamaCare. In my opinion, what that says is we're going to resist by complying, or we're going to resist by doing what they tell us to do."
They were joined by Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, who tested the proposition of resisting ObamaCare by asking the Senate to amend the bill. She wanted our language protecting the religious liberty rights of Idaho citizens and employers embedded into the act creating a state insurance exchange:
"The exchange shall respect the religious and conscience liberties of Idaho citizens, employers, churches and religious organizations. No health benefit plan offered through the exchange shall require the purchase or provision of benefits which include sterilization, contraceptives, abortifacients or drugs or devices which act as abortifacients, emergency contraception or surgical abortions."
Unfortunately, her attempt to amend the bill was rejected by a majority of Senate Republicans, who stood on procedural grounds to avoid the profound question by the amendment: If Idaho is creating a state exchange in order to "resist" the federal government - then what more basic rights are there but the right to life and the right to freedom of religion?
Republicans Cliff Bayer, Russ Fulcher, Dan Johnson, Curt McKenzie, Dean Mortimer, Bob Nonini, Monty Pearce, Steven Thayn and Steve Vick stood with Sen. Nuxoll and the pro-Life movement to support the amendment. A lone and courageous Democrat, Sen. Branden Durst, joined them.
A number of historically pro-Life members of the Senate voted against the amendment on procedural grounds. During debate of the motion, numerous references were made to support for a "trailer bill" which would incorporate the religious liberty language. We'll have to see how those promises bear out.
The language of our amendment was overwhelmingly supported last year - when the Legislature passed SJM 104 in response to the Obama Mandate on contraception and abortifacients. But that was largely a feel good measure consisting of sending President Obama a strongly worded letter defending religious freedom.
One is tempted to be discouraged and conclude that for some, pro-Life principles are good for campaigns and fine when it doesn't really matter. But that is probably the wrong view. There is time yet in this session for getting language in the state exchange bill which would put teeth into those pro-Life principles - language which would prevent the state from using its police powers to enforce Obama's anti-Life agenda upon Idaho citizens.
Now we turn our attention to the Idaho House. And let us celebrate the vision and courage of those righteous dozen who waged battle on the Senate floor for our children and grandchildren.
And pray that the Lord raises up more such men and women.