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We use the “ifs” often when arguing about who to vote for. “If Mitt Romney was president, he would…” “If the Republicans had cooperated, we would have…” “If President Barack Obama had not…”

There’s good reason for doing so. But I am controlled this year by what has happened, not what should have or what might in the future. I have been so stunned by it that I barely know how to address it. Four years ago the President said that though we can’t agree on abortion, we can agree on how to talk about abortion. He didn’t talk about it with us, however, before announcing early this year that most of us would be paying for abortifacient contraceptives.

This is not simply a policy disagreement, which is unavoidable in any administration. This is forcing millions of Americans to choose between searing their consciences or facing financial hardship.

This not simply a Catholic issue, although they ought to have the right not to pay for products their beliefs proscribe. I wager there are millions of non-Catholic Americans, such as myself, who object to paying for products that eliminate a living fetus in any stage of its life.

This is not simply an institutional issue. It’s not enough that churches be released from this order. Business owners who object to this policy also must be free to run their businesses according to their consciences. If they can’t, their first freedom is violated.

I’m sorry that social issues such as this one are tiresome to many people. But there is a reason more than 110 plaintiffs — Catholic and non-Catholic, religious and for-profit — have filed suit against the current administration. I am sure the President thinks he means well to provide free contraceptives to women. But they’re not free. They come at the price of our consciences.

Rebekah Hall