To recap two major problems with the HHS mandate: it restricts the natural right of religious freedom and imposes a false view of religion.
In addition to being illegal by violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (see Ed Whelan’s posts at National Review Online about this starting here), the Health and Human Services contraception mandate is unjust for at least two reasons: it infringes the natural right of all citizens to freedom of conscience and religion (see Melissa Moschella’s Public Discourse article); and it attempts to impose on society a false—overly restrictive—definition of what religion actually is (see Gerard Bradley’s Public Discourse article). Here I want to sum up and defend these two crucial points.
First, on the right to religious freedom. The rightful authority of the political community is limited: it does not extend to every aspect of human life. We form political community only to promote the public good, that is: to protect natural rights, and to promote ends that serve all within society, and can effectively and appropriately be pursued by the political community (as opposed to ends—such as the adoption of a particular religion—that can best be pursued only by individuals, families, and voluntary associations). The protection of natural rights—grounded in genuine human goods or aspects of human flourishing—is an essential component of the public good, and part of what citizens consent to when they consent to the political community.