You do know that in ancient Rome and Greece, pagans all, they often “disposed” of unwanted and/or deformed newborns by leaving them outside the city walls to die of exposure? Welcome to the 21st century version:
The Abstract from the Journal of Medical Ethics: Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.
Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”
The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns….
The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:
Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.
Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.
Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” …
And what about adoption? Giubilini and Minerva write that, as for the mother putting the child up for adoption, her emotional state should be considered as a trumping right. For instance, if she were to “suffer psychological distress” from giving up her child to someone else — they state that natural mothers can dream their child will return to them — then after-birth abortion should be considered an allowable alternative.
The authors do not tackle the issue of what age an infant would be considered a person….
First Things, a publication of the The Institute on Religion and Public Life, notes that while this article doesn’t mean the law could — or would — allow after-birth abortions in future medical procedures, arguments such as “the right to dehydrate the persistently unconscious” began in much the same way in bioethics journals.
Read it all. Note the appropriation of language: “after-birth abortion” instead of “infanticide.” It takes you a minute to figure out that “after-birth abortion” means killing a child.
Of course, these “ethicists” do have a point. Why is the arbitrary moment in time of the birth the only difference between a “legal” abortion and an “illegal” murder? Good question. Too bad we’ve already ceded so much of the ground in the abortion debate that it becomes harder and harder to argue that the few minutes between inside and outside the womb mean anything in terms of the mother’s ability to “terminate” (see how easy it is to play the semantics game? I mean “kill”) her child.
Jacob Sutton cast Artec pro snowboarder William Hughes in a glowing short film shot on the slopes of the French resort Tignes in the region of Rhone-Alpes. Hughes coasted down the mountain in a customized L.E.D. suit by electronics designer John Spatcher, saying “Filming in the suit was the most surreal thing I’ve done in 20 years of snowboarding.”
Replacing the antiquated notions of switches and clapping is
Taiwan-based Bitplay’s playful gun-controlledlamp, which debuted at the New York International Gift Fair. Those who grew up shooting ducks on their Nintendo will delight in the lampshade knocking off kilter when you pull the trigger.
…In the abortion debate one of the crucial questions is when does life begin. Anything growing is living. Therefore human life begins when the sperm and egg join and drop into the fallopian tube and the pulsation of life take place. From that point, life may be described differently (as an egg, embryo, fetus, baby, child, teenager, adult), but the essence is the same. The name has changed but the game remains the same.
Human beings cannot give or create life by themselves, it is really a gift from God. Therefore, one does not have the right to take away (through abortion) that which he does not have the ability to give.
Some argue, suppose the woman does not want to have the baby. They say the very fact that she does not want the baby means that the psychological damage to the child is reason enough to abort the baby’. I disagree. The solution to that problem is not to kill the innocent baby, but to deal with her values and her attitude toward life–that which has allowed her not to want the baby. Deal with the attitude that would allow her to take away that which she cannot give.
Some women argue that the man does not have the baby and will not be responsible for the baby after it is born, therefore it is all right to kill the baby. Again the logic is off. The premise is that the man is irresponsible.
If that is the problem, then deal with making him responsible. Deal with what you are dealing with, not with the weak, innocent and unprotected baby. The essence of Jesus’ message dealt with this very problem — the problem of the inner attitude and motivation of a person. “If in your heart …” was his central message. The actual abortion (effect) is merely the logical conclusion of a prior attitude (cause) that one has toward life itself. Deal with the cause not merely the effect when abortion is the issue.…
Psychiatrists, social workers and doctors often argue for abortion on the basis that the child will grow up mentally and emotionally scared. But who of us is complete? If incompleteness were the criteria for taking life we would all be dead. If you can justify abortion on the basis of emotional incompleteness then your logic could also lead you to killing for other forms of incompleteness — blindness, crippleness, old age….
There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of higher order than the right to life. I do not share that view. I believe that life is not private, but rather it is public and universal. If one accepts the position that life is private, and therefore you have the right to do with it as you please, one must also accept the conclusion of that logic. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to concerned.
Another area that concerns me greatly, namely because I know how it has been used with regard to race, is the psycholinguistics involved in this whole issue of abortion. If something can be dehumanized through the rhetoric used to describe it, then the major battle has been won. So when American soldiers can drop bombs on Vietnam and melt the faces and hands of children into a hunk of rolling protoplasm and in their minds say they have not maimed or killed a fellow human being, something terribly wrong and sick has gone on in that mind. That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human and then whites further dehumanized us by calling us “niggers.” It was part of the dehumanizing process. The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong. Those advocates of taking. life prior to birth do not call it killing or murder; they call it abortion. They further never talk about aborting a baby because that would imply something human. Rather they talk about aborting the fetus. Fetus sounds less than human and therefore can be justified.
In conclusion, even if one does take life by aborting the baby, as a minister of Jesus Christ I must also inform and/or remind you that there is a doctrine of forgiveness. The God I serve is a forgiving God. The men who killed President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be forgiven. Everyone can come to the mercy seat and find forgiveness and acceptance. But, and this may be the essence of my argument, suppose one is so hard-hearted and so in-different to life until he assumes that there is nothing for which to be forgiven. What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person, and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken socasually?…
And then, Jackson entered politics (as a Democrat)…and his views, shall we say, evolved accordingly.
Just two weeks from today — starting on Wednesday, February 22 — a staggering 251 cities from coast to coast in the United States plus Canada, England, Australia and Spain will simultaneously launch local 40 Days for Life campaigns….
The coordinated international campaign will be conducted from February 22 through April 1, coinciding with the Christian season of Lent — and it couldn’t be happening at a more important time.
From the start of the 40th year of legal abortion in America … to Planned Parenthood’s vicious attack on the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation … to the HHS mandate forcing religious employers’ health plans to include coverage of abortion-causing drugs … to the closure of more abortion facilities and the conversions of more abortion workers … we are on the verge of a BREAKTHROUGH in our unified efforts to end abortion.
And YOU can help save lives by getting involved in the next 40 Days for Life campaign!
…How does this work? How does the illiberal language of the HHS Mandate — proposing unprecedented intrusion by the government into church matters — language that, pretty much all Catholics agreed in the first week could not stand, become codified in the next week with the approval of some of those same Catholics? Is this president’s word so trustworthy that it was enough for him to merely say he would change something he did not change and clearly has no intention of codifying?
Were some Catholics simply looking for a face-saving cover? Why, then? Because unity with their party was worth helping to set a bad precedent? What, specifically, in the codified language (or in Obama’s subsequent statement) has assuaged any conscience sufficiently to bring about an endorsement?
Much more importantly, with some Catholics now on board and making a variety of arguments supporting the administration, they are — intentionally or not — helping to distract people from the crux of the matter, which is simply this: when the CDC itself admits (as it did in 2009 [pdf]) that contraception is so widely available that fully 99% of women report using it at some point (so much so that, as Shea notes traces of birth control residue are found in our water supply), why did the administration find it necessary to even go where it went on the issue of contraception; why is it intruding on the churches own rights and abilities to own their conscience and define their missions?
That’s the question; it’s the ball we must keep our eyes on, and some are happy to get distracted, swing and miss.
It’s a political wedge issue, I get that, meant to divide and conquer, and the administration has clearly managed to do that, but this is also a genuinely bad precedent — so bad that I just cannot understand anyone’s willingness to support it, when this administration has demonstrated more than once that it means to put the churches in their places, and that their places are to be within the government’s mandates (hello Hosanna Tabor), or outside the public arena, altogether.
That anyone is willing to overlook the question of constitutionality for the sake of political expediency, I just don’t get….
There is nothing, really, that is bad to say about Sandberg. And she works very hard to encourage other women to go as far as she has gone.
The problem is, very few women want to be Sandberg, but there is very little discussion of this.
Sandberg has two young kids. She runs a company that is very public about having “lock-ins” to move fast enough to compete with Google, and they have open hours for kids to come to Facebook offices to say goodnight to their parents, who are working very long hours.
She encourages women to have ambition and “never take their foot off the gas pedal,” but very, very few women would choose to do this after they have kids. Pew Research shows that the majority of women would like to work part-time after they have kids. So it’s hard to tell that demographic that they should work 100-hour weeks at startups instead.
It’s revealing that the New York Times profile of Sandberg shows her surrounded by men who are only marginally involved in raising their kids….
Sandberg wants to be a role model for women who want big, exciting careers. But here’s the problem: women don’t want to be Sandberg. It’s no coincidence that the number-one woman on the list of self-made millionaires is Oprah. She has no kids and no husband. She’s fascinating, nice, and smart. But few of us would really enjoy her life.
Sandberg and Oprah represent extreme choices in life. The things they give up are not things that most women would want to give up in exchange for the wild career success they could have.
Sandberg’s right when she says that the thing holding women back is women’s ambition. But I don’t see that changing any time soon. Even after the Facebook IPO. I’m afraid that what the Facebook IPO means for women is nothing. Sandberg is not a role model. She’s an aberration.
You can’t have small kids and a startup if you want to see your kids….
Sometimes Christians are the worst at answering that question. Many will reply: “The Maker’s Instruction Manual.” Or “God’s Road Map.” Most often religious folk will see it as, essentially, a moral guidebook for right living. But if ever there was a story to explode that misconception it’s this one. Abraham has his faith tested:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. (Genesis 22:1-2)
How on earth are we meant to understand thisstory? Written in a holy book no less? What’s the moral supposed to be, Go thou and do likewise?
No. Genesis 22 is meant to be read the way the whole Bible is meant to be read – first and foremost as a witness to Jesus Christ. And when we read it this way, the whole thing becomes clear….
On this day, a ram is provided as a substitute for Isaac (v13). But of course, Abraham had prophesied that a lamb would be provided (v8). That’s what he and all the generations were waiting for in the centuries following – the Lamb of God, the Beloved Son, the Seed of Abraham. God’s provision of atonement was yet future. And so,
Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [meaning “The LORD will provide”]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen [or ‘provided’]. (Genesis 22:14)
For future generations God’s people would look forward to the Lamb, even knowing the mountain on which He’d be provided.
When the Bible is read primarily as a rule-book it disintegrates between our fingers. With such a mindset, Genesis 22 is a scandal and a barrier to faith. Yet when the Bible is read as intended we see it as a testimony to Christ. At that point Genesis 22 becomes not a barrier but a boost to faith. Suddenly we realise that all the Scriptures and all the saints in every age are fixed on the one truth that towers above all others:
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
And why is this mandate necessary in the first place? Is there some great crisis of access to contraception and abortifacients among employed people that only employers can solve? In my column for The Week, I look at the CDC’s in-depth survey of contraception use and find out that the question of access never even comes up as a barrier:
…Here’s a question few are asking: Why? Obama and his administration insist that women need better access to contraception and abortifacients, but few women have problems accessing them. The CDC reported in 2009 that contraception use wasn’t exactly lacking: “Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age: 99 percent of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime.” Of all the reasons for non-use of contraception in cases of unwanted pregnancy, lack of access doesn’t even make the CDC’s list…
The realproblem in this issue isn’t access to contraception. When 99% of women of reproductive age have accessed it without an employer mandate, access is as universal as it can get. The real issues are religious liberty, as we have often discussed, and the more acute problem of ObamaCare itself. This is not just some benign federal resource-sharing program designed to make it easier to find coverage; this is, as we repeatedly warned, a mechanism for the federal government to take control of the health-care industry and have unelected bureaucrats rule one-sixth of the American economy by diktat. Repealing the mandate is the first step; repealing ObamaCare will be the only way to ensure that bureaucrats don’t have the power to do this again….
After a person posing as a pro-choice leader thanked her for defending reproductive rights against the U.S. Catholic bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association thanked the individual and encouraged her group to take a proposed donation to CHA and instead use it to benefit a “poor woman” in CHA’s honor.
The pro-life activist behind the e-mail says Keehan didn’t respond to e-mails with an overt pro-life point of view sent from several e-mail addresses, but got a very different response when posing as a pro-choice leader praising her for defending birth control.
The individual sent a message from the fake pro-choice group “Riverside for Choice” on Sunday thanking Sr. Keehan for protecting access to birth control and for her “willingness to not be intimidated by people like the catholic [sic.] bishops who oppose choice in women’s health.”
“On behalf of all the women and men of Riverside for Choice I would like to thank you for protecting the rights of all women to have free access to essential health services including the contraceptives that allow us to control our own health and bodies,” the individual, posing as “Jenna Wagner” of “Riverside for Choice,” said in an e-mail exchange with Sr. Keehan forwarded to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). “Wagner” also requested information on how to send a donation to CHA.
“Thanks so much, it would please me if you would use the money for a poor woman in California,” was Sr. Keehan’s response the next day, signed “Keep praying, Sr Carol.”…
LSN asked why Riverside for Choice, which appears to specifically promote artificial birth control, was encouraged to spend funds in CHA’s honor. Sr. Keehan responded, “I asked them to use it for a woman who was poor, I did not ask them to use it for reproductive health.”
Sr. Keehan and CHA have become the fulcrum of the intensifying controversy regarding the Obama administration’s plan to require Catholic employers to pay for sterilizations, contraception, and abortifacient birth control drugs such as the “week-after” pill, Ella. The White House flaunted support from CHA on Friday when it announced an “accommodation” to the mandate that has since been soundly denounced by the U.S. bishops as inadequate. Media outlets then juxtaposed CHA’s name beside Planned Parenthood‘s to give the impression that the two sides of the debate agreed to the arrangement….
The sender of the e-mail, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews.com that the faux pro-choice e-mail address was used after other e-mails were ignored.
“I sent her numerous e-mails from a pro-life point of view and she did not respond, so I wondered if she would respond in a positive way to an e-mail from an abortion supporter and she sure did,” said the sender.
“I was most disturbed by her asking a clearly pro-abortion group to use their money for a ‘poor woman’ knowing a pro-abortion group would use it for abortion,” the sender said…
A mother in Hoke County complains her daughter was forced to eat a school lunch because a government inspector determined her home-made lunch did not meet nutrition requirements. In fact, all of the students in the NC Pre-K program classroom at West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford had to accept a school lunch in addition to their lunches brought from home.
NC Pre-K (before this year known as More at Four) is a state-funded education program designed to “enhance school readiness” for four year-olds.
The mother, who doesn’t wish to be identified at this time, says she made her daughter a lunch that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her. While the four-year-old was still allowed to eat her home lunch, the girl was forced to take a helping of chicken nuggets, milk, a fruit and a vegetable to supplement her sack lunch.
The mother says the girl was so intimidated by the inspection process that she was too scared to eat all of her homemade lunch. The girl ate only the chicken nuggets provided to her by the school, so she still didn’t eat a vegetable.
The mother says her daughter doesn’t like vegetables and – like most four year olds – will only eat them at home under close supervision….
The mother added, “It’s just a headache to keep arguing and fighting. I’ve even wrote a note to her teachers and said do not give my daughter anything else unless it comes out of her lunchbox and they are still going against me and putting a milk in front of her every day.
“Friday she came home and said ‘Mom, they give me vegetable soup and a milk,’” said the mother.
“So I went to the cafeteria to make sure she had no fee and it’s not being charged to her account yet,” she continued, ” but what concerned me was that I got a letter from the principal and it says students who do not bring a healthy lunch will be offered the missing portions which may result in a fee from the cafeteria. So if I don’t stay on top of her account on a weekly basis there’s that opportunity that charges could be put on her account and then if I let it go too far then it’s like I’m going to have a big battle.”…
[Original] I mean, how nutritious do you think the school’s “nuggets” were? And tell me again why the state is inspecting children’s lunch boxes? From the Carolina Journal:
State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.
“I don’t feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County.
The girl’s grandmother, who sometimes helps pack her lunch, told Carolina Journal that she is a petite, picky 4-year-old who eats white whole wheat bread and is not big on vegetables.
“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”
When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.
“She came home with her whole sandwich I had packed, because she chose to eat the nuggets on the lunch tray, because they put it in front of her,” her mother said. “You’re telling a 4-year-old. ‘oh. you’re lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”…
Read it all. I think her lunch from home sounded pretty good. Glad my child’s out of elementary school. (And the state agent telling the girl the lunch her mother packed wasn’t good enough undercuts parental authority big time!)
In the midst of the bloodshed a voice was heard bidding it to cease in the name of Christ, and between the swords there was seen standing a monk in his dark brown dress, holding up his hand and keeping back the blows.
The outraged spectators stoned him to death, but his plea (and his death) convinced the Emperor Honorius three days later to decree an end to the games.
And so end they did.
Is the Roman Catholic Church, clergy and lay alike, prepared to wade into the midst of bloodshed and cry cease? Are other Christians prepared to take up the cause of Telemachus and confront the leviathan of state mandates?
Who’s for and who’s against: Pick a side, any side
One way to figure out which side of an issue you should be on is to see who else is on that side. I learned this when living in California, the land of the ever-expanding propositional ballot. Those measures were often written to purposely confuse and confound the voter, so I would always check to see who wrote the proposition and who was for and against it.
So, let’s take a look at Pres. Obama’s so-called “compromise” on the HHS mandated “free” contraception coverage. Does this regulatory language presented to us on February 10 actually do what the White House said it would: remove the obligation from churches and religious institutions to provide and pay for birth control coverage, including contraception and abortifacients?
On the “for” side (Obama has given us something we can live with/something we like/we’re happy, very, very happy), we have:
NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, at least until 2003, when they chose to stop spelling out the acronym–gee, I wonder why? Just what you want, an organization that tries to hide what it is)
RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that uses religion as a fig leaf to cover up their abortion agenda and even presents as one of their ethical justifications the idea that abortion can be considered a self-defense measure)
CHA (Catholic Health Association, the useful idiots of the abortion coalition)
Liberal columnists like E.J. Dionne and Jon Meachem (and as a mark as to how low Time Magazine has fallen, the last time I checked, Meachem’s article had only seven comments)
On the “against” side (Obama continues to violate the First Amendment/this “compromise” was no compromise/this is insulting), we have:
USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops, not always right on the prudential issues, but hopefully never wavering on the teachings of faith and morals)
During the same period that we cardiologists and the health care community were promoting the low-fat/don’t count calories or sugar diet, the nation experienced its epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Cause and effect? We don’t know. But it’s starting to look as if the public health establishment may be responsible for the greatest episode of epidemiological malpractice ever committed….
Americans United for Life joined forces with other pro-life legal organizations to file the leading pro-life amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration’s healthcare law, violates the Constitution by forcing Americans to pay for abortion.
AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest stated, “President Obama’s healthcare overhaul includes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that blatantly violates the conscience rights and First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans. Nowhere in the Constitution does it require Americans to violate their beliefs and pay for abortions.”…
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a clear abortion agenda hidden in the pages of the healthcare law through the controversy surrounding the abortion-inducing drug mandate,” said Dr.Yoest. “Forcing either companies or individuals to pay for abortion-inducing drugs against their consciences is a clear violation of the rights of individuals under the First Amendment. This case is further evidence that abortion is included throughout the healthcare law….
President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has issued a requirement that all insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, cover free-of-charge certain so-called “contraceptives” that are actually much more than that. Some of the drugs and devices required to be covered will actually cause abortions. The required drugs include Ella and Plan B, which can destroy a developing human being prior to, or even after, implanting in the mother’s womb.
The government requirement also covers IUDs. These devices also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the mother’s womb. While some, including the Obama administration, call these contraceptives, they are abortifacients. When a developing human being is expelled by direct human action from the mother’s womb, that is taking a human life—an abortion.
We consider this callous requirement by the Obama administration to be a clear violation of our nation’s commitment to liberty of conscience and a flagrant violation of our constitutional protection to freedom of religion. For many people of faith, this requirement is abhorrent. It forces them to choose between their religious convictions about when human life begins and providing health care for themselves, their families, or their employees. Clearly, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects people from such trampling of their religious convictions….
Also, this outrageously narrow exemption will not protect people of faith in the general population who as a matter of religious conviction do not want to cover as part of their health insurance premiums drugs and devices that cause abortion. The Obama administration’s requirement is an affront to all people who are pro-life. On strictly pro-life grounds, people should not be required to violate their deeply held beliefs about abortion….
The Obama administration’s brazen determination to force all Americans to pay for abortions is an affront to our nation’s core commitment to liberty of conscience. A person who is not free to follow the dictates of his or her moral conscience is not free. Government has no authority to dictate compliance on matters that do such violence to the consciences of a vast segment of the population. The Obama administration has declared war on religion and freedom of conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedoms.
1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”
2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.
3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption….
4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.
5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”
6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is a defendant in a federal lawsuit after a former Lufkin clinic employee alleged a multi-million-dollar billing scheme….
The updated complaint, filed in October 2011, alleges that while [Karen] Reynolds [former employee] was employed as a health center assistant, she was instructed by the organization to maximize billing revenue when the government was fitting the bill through Medicaid and the Women’s Health Program.
She claims this was the procedure in all 12 Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast locations across Texas and Louisiana.
The suit alleges that, in addition to falsifying patient records, billing the government for unwarranted services and services not covered by Medicaid, Planned Parenthood tacked on services patient did not receive….
Fraudulent Patient Chart Documentation to Obtain Reimbursement for Unqualified Services
30. Defendant PPGC also trained its employees to create fraudulent and misleading patient chart entries so as to obtain reimbursement for services for which WHP and Medicaid would otherwise not allow payment. One notable example of this practice relates to PPGC policies for obtaining payment for abortion-related services. WHP, Medicaid, and some other government programs do not allow payment for abortion-related services including “follow-up visits” after an elective abortion procedure. The following is a direct quote from a staff meeting memorandum given to clinic employees January 22, 2009:
POST AB VISITS: We must work these clients in! This visit is self-pay. Quote the self-pay price then ask if she needs any other services such as birth control. If she is interested, screen for WHP or Title XX and offer the WWE [Well Woman Exam]. If the client is getting on birth control make this the focus of the visit and put a note in the chief complaints that the client had a surgical or medical abortion “x” weeks ago. (Emphasis added).
31. A second memorandum given to employees in February 2009, in preparation for a Department of State Health Services audit, was even more explicit in instructing employees on how to fraudulently bill WHP, Medicaid, and other government programs for post-abortion patient visits, including an express instruction to document in a patient chart that the reason for the patient’s visit was to have the Well Woman Exam when in truth the patient had clearly indicated the purpose of the visit was a post-abortion follow-up.
POST AB VISITS: On the telephone – if client requests post-ab check, tell her that service is a self-pay service and quote price. Ask if she wants other services during the visit – especially a birth control method. If yes, screen her for WHP or Title XX eligibility for the birth control part of the visit.
Make sure that if the visit is being paid for by Title XX, Medicaid, or WHP that it is a birth control focused visit with a note in the subjective section that the client has an abortion “x” weeks ago. Example: Client here for WWE and to start on “x” BCM. States had surgical (or medical) abortion “x” weeks ago. (Emphasis in original).
Sure and it begins to feel like Grandad’s auld sod, what with the elites getting comfortable with the notion of telling us what we can and cannot do, what business we may or may not conduct, what materials we can or cannot own…because we’re Catholics.…
**Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices **Ban on intermarriage with Protestants; repealed 1778 **Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the **Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years; repealed 1778. **Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin. **Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land **Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (in order to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority’s hands) **’No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offence.
Of course, in the traditional way of the bigot, Catholics who fall in line (“the good ones,” as Archie Bunker might say) will still be allowed to associate with the elites. All you have to do to be “one of the good ones” is unite with the administration, over your church.…
SUMMARY: These regulations finalize, without change, interim final regulations authorizing the exemption of group health plans and group health insurance coverage sponsored by certain religious employers from having to cover certain preventive health services under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
And now the Overview (from pages 8-14):
III. Overview of the Final Regulations
In response to these comments, the Departments carefully considered whether to eliminate the religious employer exemption or to adopt an alternative definition of religious employer, including whether the exemption should be extended to a broader set of religiously affiliated sponsors of group health plans and group health insurance coverage. For the reasons discussed below, the Departments are adopting the definition in the amended interim final regulations for purposes of these final regulations while also creating a temporary enforcement safe harbor, discussed below.
Think about this: HHS actually carefully considered whether to toss the First Amendment (which they’ve done anyway with their so-called “compromise”). And they’ve only created a “temporary enforcement safe harbor.” Changes they are a-coming…
During the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments plan to develop and propose changes to these final regulations that would meet two goals – providing contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing to individuals who want it and accommodating non-exempted, non-profit organizations’ religious objections to covering contraceptive services as also discussed below.
PHS Act section 2713 reflects a determination by Congress that coverage of recommended preventive services by non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers without cost sharing is necessary to achieve basic health care coverage for more Americans. Individuals are more likely to use preventive services if they do not have to satisfy cost sharing requirements (such as a copayment, coinsurance, or a deductible).
Well, of course, you might be more apt to use something given to you for free. Then again, having spent your own money for something usually makes you more conscientious about it. So it’s a toss-up, but let’s have the federal government mandate that private companies (insurers) give something away at no cost to the receiver, because the Obama administration has shown themselves to be such wizs at economics.
Use of preventive services results in a healthier population and reduces health care costs by helping individuals avoid preventable conditions
Pregnancy, the new disease…
and receive treatment earlier. Further, Congress, by amending the Affordable Care Act during the Senate debate to ensure that recommended preventive services for women are covered adequately by non-grandfathered group health plans and group health insurance coverage, recognized that women have unique health care needs and burdens. Such needs include contraceptive services.
They’re right, it is such a burden being a woman, what with being able to create life and all. We need help, we can’t do it ourselves! Please, give us free stuff because we’re helpless otherwise.
As documented in a report of the Institute of Medicine, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women, Closing the Gaps,” women experiencing an unintended pregnancy may not immediately be aware that they are pregnant, and thus delay prenatal care. They also may not be as motivated to discontinue behaviors that pose pregnancy-related risks (e.g., smoking, consumption of alcohol). Studies show a greater risk of preterm birth and low birth weight among unintended pregnancies compared with pregnancies that were planned….
OMG, I think the government has just said that unplanned pregnancies truly are anathema to our nation. Women with “unintended pregnancies” are the new smokers, to be avoided at all costs, frowned upon by society, and offered remedial help (aka abortifacients) if they are unhappy with their pregnant state. Just say no…to pregnancy.
The religious employer exemption in the final regulations does not undermine the overall benefits described above. A group health plan (and health insurance coverage provided in connection with such a plan) qualifies for the exemption if, among other qualifications, the plan is established and maintained by an employer that primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.
So much for exempting religious institutions like hospitals, charities, etc. The government is pushing religious institutions out of the public square by limiting this insurance exemption to entities that primarily employ persons of the same faith. No one is stopping anyone employed by a Catholic hospital, for example, from going out and buying their own contraception or insurance provision to cover those costs, but that’s not good enough for the government.
As such, the employees of employers availing themselves of the exemption would be less likely to use contraceptives even if contraceptives were covered under their health plans.
A broader exemption, as urged by some commenters, would lead to more employees having to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services, thus making it less likely that they would use contraceptives, which would undermine the benefits described above.
Because, don’t forget, pregnancy is a disease.
And women are the weaker sex and are incapable of taking control of their own reproductive decisions, so the government must step in.
Employers that do not primarily employ employees who share the religious tenets of the organization are more likely to employ individuals who have no religious objection to the use of contraceptive services and therefore are more likely to use contraceptives. Including these employers within the scope of the exemption would subject their employees to the religious views of the employer, limiting access to contraceptives, and thereby inhibiting the use of contraceptive services and the benefits of preventive care….
Because, repeat after me: Pregnancy. Is. A. Disease.
And HHS is wrong–access is not limited by giving those institutions an exemption. Any female employee can go to their doctor and get a prescription with no limits whatsoever. (And, to be honest with you, it’s no business at all of the government to determine whether or not an employee shares the “religious tenets” of their employer or not.)
With respect to certain non-exempted, non-profit organizations with religious objections to covering contraceptive services whose group health plans are not grandfathered health plans, guidance is being issued contemporaneous with these final regulations that provides a one-year safe harbor from enforcement by the Departments.
Before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments will work with stakeholders to develop alternative ways of providing contraceptive coverage without cost sharing with respect to non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to such coverage.
You know, I just don’t believe them, and you shouldn’t either. There is little to no interest in working with faith communities on how to deal with this because HHS needs to make sure everyone knows that they, and they alone, make the rules.
Specifically, the Departments plan to initiate a rulemaking to require issuers to offer insurance without contraception coverage to such an employer (or plan sponsor) and simultaneously to offer contraceptive coverage directly to the employer’s plan participants (and their beneficiaries) who desire it, with no cost-sharing. Under this approach, the Departments will also require that, in this circumstance, there be no charge for the contraceptive coverage….
Because we all know that the pharmaceutical companies will make the contraceptives for free, the packaging companies will package them for free, the truck drivers will transport them for free nationwide, and the doctors will prescribe them for free. Because that’s how it works in the minds of those who have no idea of the marketplace. In reality, of course, the employer continues to pay for the coverage through increased premiums for everyone (because nothing is free).
The Departments intend to develop policies to achieve the same goals for self-insured group health plans sponsored by non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage.
Um-humm…I don’t believe that either.
A future rulemaking would be informed by the existing practices of some issuers and religious organizations in the 28 States where contraception coverage requirements already exist, including Hawaii.
Why in the world would you call out Hawaii by name, except for the fact that you’re going to use them as a model?
There, State health insurance law requires issuers to offer plan participants in group health plans sponsored by religious employers that are exempt from the State contraception coverage requirement the option to purchase this coverage in a way that religious employers are not obligated to fund it. It is our understanding that, in practice, rather than charging employees a separate fee, some issuers in Hawaii offer this coverage to plan participants at no charge.
And we’ve already gone over the fact that that is a false statement: the insurance company will pass the costs on to everyone through increased premiums, so the religious employers will still be required to pay for coverage they consider morally evil.
The Departments will work with stakeholders to propose and finalize this policy before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor….
I’m sure they will, just like they did before the rules were finalized this time.
Here’s a conundrum: The White House wants to impose its birth-control ideology on all Americans, including those for whom sponsoring or subsidizing such services violates their moral conscience. The White House also wants to avoid a political backlash from this blow to religious freedom. These goals are irreconcilable.
So you almost have to admire the absurdity of the new plan President Obama floated yesterday: The government will now write a rule that says the best things in life are “free,” including contraception. Thus a political mandate will be compounded by an uneconomic one—in other words, behold the soul of ObamaCare….
Under the new rule, which the White House stresses is “an accommodation” and not a compromise, nonprofit religious organizations won’t have to directly cover birth control and can opt out. But the insurers they hire to cover their employees can’t opt out. If that sounds like a distinction without a difference, odds are you’re a rational person….
Insurance companies won’t be making donations. Drug makers will still charge for the pill. Doctors will still bill for reproductive treatment. The reality, as with all mandated benefits, is that these costs will be borne eventually via higher premiums. The balloon may be squeezed differently over time, and insurers may amortize the cost differently over time, but eventually prices will find an equilibrium. Notre Dame will still pay for birth control, even if it is nominally carried by a third-party corporation.
This cut-out may appease a few of the Administration’s critics, especially on the Catholic left—but only if they want to be deceived again, having lobbied for the Affordable Care Act that created the problem in the first place….
We couldn’t recall any spirit of conciliation when the birth-control mandate was finalized in January, so we went back and checked the transcript of that call with senior Administration officials. Sure enough, back then they said that the rule “reflects careful consideration of the rights of religious organizations” and that a one-year grace period “really just gives those organizations some additional time to sort out how they will be adjusting their plans.”
A journalist asked, “Just to be clear, so it’s giving them a year to comply rather than giving them a year to in any way change how they feel or the Administration to change how it feels.” Another senior official: “That is correct. It gives them a year to comply.”…
There is simply no precedent for the government ordering private companies to offer a product for free, even if they recoup the costs indirectly….
The larger tragedy is that none of them objected to government health care, which will always take choices away from individuals and arrogate them to an infallible higher power in Washington. Who was it again who claimed that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan?
A look at how the news media is framing the health care contraceptive debate, from J.E. Dyer at HotAir:
On retrieving my paper copy of the Wall Street Journal this morning, I saw the discouraging headline: Obama Retreats on Contraception
My first thought was, “Surely the Journal knows better than this. Why would they headline this story as if Obama had, in fact, backed off on the mandate? What are they, USA Today?”
The headline doesn’t reflect reality.
…Obama has merely shifted the basis for the mandate. The insurance companies – I use that term loosely – will be required to provide “free” contraception services to the insured who work for Catholic employers. This means that the premiums paid by Catholic employers will fund contraception services. And the overall mandate to purchase the insurance will continue.…
If the federal government can step in and arbitrarily require a company to provide things for “free” that were previously elective, premium-based services, then it is no longer an insurance company. We are not buying insurance from it; we are simply participating in a mandatory government program whose features can be changed at any time, regardless of what we or the “insurers” want. There is no contract. There are only the one-sided decisions of bureaucrats and future presidents.
This Obama move is the opposite of a retreat. It’s a decision to reveal the future to us, and to insist on remaining on course for it….
The president’s people say he has changed his mind on the contraception mandate; in the shallowest of political terms, that can be seen as a “retreat”; and no care is taken to frame the overriding realitythat Catholic employers will be required to pay for “insurance” programs that distribute contraception to their employees.
That is not a change of heart, it’s a significant broadening of the state’s control, undertaken at the drop of a hat – and we have a huge mainstream media apparatus that simply does not frame what’s going on in realistic terms. The clear implications of the Obama decision were widely discussed across the conservative blogosphere yesterday, and even on some MSM opinion pages. But in their news reporting, the MSM characterized what had happened – falsely – as a retreat by the president.
Are they idiots? Are they all “in the tank” for Obama? It may feel good to excoriate them in these terms, but I see it differently in the case of at least some of the MSM….
Color me surprised…not. Because it never was about health care–it’s all about government overreach, always for our own good. From the Daily Caller:
…Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, who also devised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s statewide health care reforms, is backtracking on an analysis he provided the White House in support of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, informing officials in three states that the price of insurance premiums will dramatically increase under the reforms.
In an email to The Daily Caller, Gruber framed this new reality in terms of the same human self-interest that some conservatives had warned in 2010 would ultimately rule the marketplace.
“The market was so discriminatory,” Gruber told TheDC, “that only the healthy bought non-group insurance and the sick just stayed [uninsured].”
“It is true that even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’” he conceded, “in that they pay more than before [Obama’s] reform.”
Gruber, whom the Obama administration hired to provide an independent analysis of reforms, was widely criticized for failing to disclose the conflict of interest created by $392,600 in no-bid contracts the Department of Health and Human Services awarded him while he was advising the president’s policy advisers.
Gruber also received $566,310 during 2008 and 2009 from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a study on the Medicare Part D plan….
“As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” [President Obama] said in September 2010, “premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise.”
Gruber’s new reports are in direct contrast Obama’s words — and with claims Gruber himself made in 2009. Then, the economics professor said that based on figures provided by the independent Congressional Budget Office, “[health care] reform will significantly reduce, not increase, non-group premiums.”
During his presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011, Gruber revealed that while about 57 percent of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit in one way or another from the law’s subsides, an even larger majority of the individual market will end up paying drastically more overall.
“After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported….
Read it all. Why do we continue to listen to “experts” who seem to have no understanding of human nature and how that affects the market? Sigh…
The Empress Ming the Merciless prepares to give birth to the new age of despotism!
Indeed, the Manolo is only half joking, for as the more he watched the Madonna-tacular show of the halftime, the more he was struck by the unshakeable impression that this was the sort of Nuremberg Rally for the new age of crass narcissism aborning.
Beginning with its imperial fanfare and militaristic pomp, progressing through the forced adoration of the Glorious Leader (L-U-V Madonna! L-U-V Madonna!), and culminating in her apotheosis as the goddess and chief priestess of her own cult of personality, Madonna was urging on us nothing less than her hegemonistic vision of the Madonna-based future….
Polling shows that the economy remains voters’ top priority. But there are signs that the business situation is improving. The dropping unemployment rate is just one example of good economic news. U.S. growth may be subpar, but it is growth nonetheless. Conservatives would be foolish to think that the media will dwell on the economy’s weak spots when the president is a Democrat and his party controls the Senate.
Running bulls will bring in additional revenue to the U.S. Treasury, which will temporarily mask the country’s dire long-term fiscal predicament. The dollar’s status as the global reserve currency will stave off inflation and high interest rates for a while longer. The administration will claim credit despite doing everything in its power to reward friends and punish enemies, delay the recovery, and increase the cost and intrusiveness of government. But even that may not be enough to secure the president’s reelection.
Why? Because culture trumps economics. The tenor of news coverage might lead one to believe that the assault on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for ending donations to Planned Parenthood, and the debate over the administration ruling that universities and hospitals with religious affiliations must provide contraception to their employees, are winning issues for the Democrats. But any Democratic strategist planning a campaign around these issues might want to think twice.
Such controversies tend to mobilize conservatives more than liberals. As longtime consultant and analyst Jeffrey Bell observes in his excellent book, The Case for Polarized Politics, social issues tend to separate the populist, socially conservative mass from the progressive elite. That is why Republican social policy has been an electoral winner, whether the topic is crime or patriotism or affirmative action or abortion or religious liberty….
The debates over Komen and contraception are not solely about abortion and health care. They are both instances of a liberal minority attempting to coerce an organization to perform acts against its will.Patty Murray’s ridiculous suggestion that Komen’s “dangerous” decision to eliminate the grant to Planned Parenthood was the result of a “partisan witch hunt” is beside the point: Civil associations in a free society have every right to give money to whichever organizations they choose. Meanwhile, Barbara Boxer, M.D., can tell MSNBC that the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive regulation is “a medical issue” all she wants; it does not change the fact that, if the regulation goes into effect, institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church will be forced to do something that violates fundamental tenets of their religion.
Both stories fit the classic pattern of post-cultural-revolution politics…
Tying the president’s fiscal policies to broader questions of society, culture, life, and freedom is the more effective route, because on these questions Obama has nowhere to go. He is a prisoner of his ideological biases. His elitist defense of social progressivism likely will lead him to commit a gaffe similar to when he said that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in arresting Professor Gates of Harvard….
After a long day of supposed “accommodation” and discussion, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops took a close look at the supposed adjustment of the HHS mandate yesterday. Their conclusion? It represents no change at all, and the bishops will press for a “legislative solution” to Barack Obama’s mandate…
They note that the overall mandate is “unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern,” and that they “cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.” But it’s that question that animates their activism, and it’s not just the fact that these religious organizations will end up paying for these products and services either directly or indirectly — which we’ll address momentarily. The mandate forces these organizations to facilitate the use of products and services that violate their religious doctrine, under penalty of government force. It’s exactly the type of government threat from which the First Amendment was written to protect religious practice — and that included the practice of religion outside of worship spaces….
[W]hat we do know is that costs will rise immediately as insurers have to pay for the contraceptives and abortifacients for which they will get no cost-sharing from the women who use them. When those costs go up in the short term, so will premiums. If the long-term savings that HHS predicts do come to pass, all it will do will be to avoid premium hikes far down the road, but the initial impact will force insurers to raise premiums to cover these costs — and that means the religious organizations that have to pay more to cover the costs of the mandate. So yes indeed, they will have to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients despite the shell game announced by the White House yesterday….
Bishops Renew Call to Legislative Action on Religious Liberty
Regulatory changes limited and unclear Rescission of mandate only complete solution Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act
WASHINGTON – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued the following statement:
The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the “preventive services” regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011.
First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated “preventive services” prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.
Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such “services” immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of “religious employers” that HHS proposed to exempt initially.
Today, the President has done two things.
First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.
Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:
It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.
It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer’s policy, not as a separate rider.
Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.
These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.
We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.
We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.
During the debates/discussions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association worked hard to get the legislation passed. Of course, she had no idea what was in it, and over the past few weeks, has expressed disappointment at the new HHS mandates on contraception coverage.
…The country’s Catholic bishops have not yet responded to the White House’s statement. However, both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association (CHA) have expressed satisfaction with the new plan.
“The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed,” said Sr. Carol Keehan of CHA. Keehan and her organization are perhaps best known for flouting the position of the Catholic bishops during the fight over Obama’s health care reform, throwing their weight behind the bill despite the opposition of the U.S. bishops over concerns the bill would increase abortion funding. Keehan was personally singled out by former USCCB President Cardinal Francis George for condemnation for her role in helping pass the health reform law.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards issued a statement, saying: “In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women.s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work….
Wow, just where a Catholic sister ought to be, sitting on the same side as Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
Tell me again why women are entitled to contraception at no cost to them and at cost to the taxpayer or the insurance company? Why this issue? Why now? Why this benefit and not something else? From Lifesitenews.com:
The White House announced today that, instead of forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, it will force insurance companies to offer the drugs free of charge to all women, no matter where they work.
The plan, touted as a concession to freedom of religion and conscience, was immediately denounced by pro-life Rep. Chris Smith. “The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else,” said Smith. “It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naï or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.”
“The White House Fact Sheet is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction,” Smith continued. “It states, for example, that religious employers ‘will not’ have to pay for abortion pills, sterilization and contraception, but their ‘insurance companies’ will. Who pays for the insurance policy? The religious employer.”…
President Obama reiterated the statement in a press conference this afternoon, saying that “the insurance company, not the hospital, not the charity, will be required to reach out” to women employed by such institutions to offer birth control “without copays, without hassles.”
The new rule is reportedly similar to coverage laws in Hawaii that allow employers with religious objections not to directly pay for contraception, but instead to direct employees on how to conveniently access all such drugs and procedures.
In an email to the Weekly Standard, Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this week that such an “adjustment” would be not only inadequate, but even worse than the current mandate.
“It would be no improvement to say: ‘Sure, you don’t have to include the coverage, you just have to send all your lay employees and women religious to the local Planned Parenthood clinic,’ he wrote.
Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League also told LifeSiteNews.com that the new rule amounted to a “shell game.” “At the end of the day, religious employers are still required to provide insurance plans that offer free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients in violation of their moral tenets,” he said….
The crisis of the modern welfare state is a crisis of government, and it is more than that. Too many private charities and foundations dispense aid on the basis of what feels good rather than what works. As a result, they end up providing, instead of points of light, alternative shades of darkness….
Private charities and foundations can do a better job than government but only if they follow seven principles that effective poverty fighters of the past understood. Here are the principles, with historical meaning and contemporary applications, in alphabetical order.
A century ago, when individuals applied for material assistance, charity volunteers tried first to “restore family ties that have been sundered” and “reabsorb in social life those who for some reason have snapped the threads that bound them to other members of the community.” Instead of immediately offering help, charities asked, “Who is bound to help in this case?” Mary Richmond of the Baltimore Charity Organizing Society summed up in 1897 the wisdom of a century: “Relief given without reference to friends and neighbors is accompanied by moral loss. Poor neighborhoods are doomed to grow poorer whenever the natural ties of neighborliness are weakened by well-meant but unintelligent interference.”…
New York charity leader Josephine Lowell wrote that “the problem before those who would be charitable, is not how to deal with a given number of the poor; it is how to help those who are poor, without adding to their numbers and constantly increasing the evils they seek to cure.” If people were paid for not working, the number of nonworkers would increase, and children would grow up without seeing work as a natural and essential part of life. Individuals had to accept responsibility: Governmental programs operating without the discipline of the marketplace were inherently flawed, because their payout comes “from what is regarded as a practically inexhaustible source, and people who once receive it are likely to regard it as a right, as a permanent pension, implying no obligation on their part.”
Today, programs that stress employment, sometimes in creative ways, need new emphasis….
Charity workers a century ago did not press for governmental programs but instead showed poor people how to move up while resisting enslavement to governmental masters. Job freedom was the opportunity to drive a wagon without paying bribes, to cut hair without having to go to barbers’ college, and to get a foot on the lowest rung of the ladder, even if the wages there were low. Freedom was the opportunity for a family to escape dire poverty by having a father work long hours and a mother sew garments at home. Life was hard, but static, multigenerational poverty of the kind we now have was rare; those who persevered could star in a motion picture of upward mobility.
Today, in our desire to make the bottom rung of the ladder higher, we have cut off the lowest rungs and left many on the ground. Those who are pounding the pavements looking for work, and those who have fallen between the cracks, are hindered by what is supposed to help them. Mother Teresa’s plan to open a homeless shelter in New York was stopped by a building code that required an elevator; nuns in her order said that their code forbade such mechanical helps and that they would carry upstairs anyone who could not walk, but the city stuck to its guns and the shelter never opened….
“True philanthropy must take into account spiritual as well as physical needs,” poverty fighters a century ago noted, and both Christians and Jews did. Christians worshipped a God who came to earth and showed in life and death the literal meaning of compassion—suffering with. Jewish teaching stressed the pursuit of righteousness through the doing of good deeds. Groups such as the Industrial Christian Alliance noted that they used “religious methods”—reminding the poor that God made them and had high expectations for them—to “restore the fallen and helpless to self-respect and self-support.”…
A letter to the editor in today’s Columbus Dispatch on the HHS mandated coverage for contraception, for which I can only say, “You can’t encourage government intervention in health care without realizing that what the government pays for, the government controls.” Were they just naive or amazingly terminally blind? I honestly don’t know, but I know they were wrong.
I thank Vice President Joe Biden for visiting Ohio today.
The Sisters of Charity Health System is a Cleveland-based Catholic health-care organization which, in collaboration with other Catholic health ministries, actively promoted the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We are dedicated to increased health-care coverage and access and are supportive of the law’s efforts to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.
Maybe, sister, you should have fully understood the entire legislation before you encouraged your elected officials to vote for it.
I ask the vice president to help Catholic and other faith-based employers with a recent federal action. We are very disappointed with the Health and Human Services rule on women’s preventive services that requires the inclusion of contraceptive coverage and sterilization in employer-based employee-benefits plans. The regulation denies adequate conscience protections for religious employers like us.
Weak, weak, weak: “We are very disappointed.” Disappointed gets you nowhere. And the regulation also “denies adequate protections” for any employers who feels these requirements are morally evil, but as long as the church institutions get their exemption, they seem to be fine with others having to violate either their consciences or the law.
Our faith motivates us; we carry out the healing mission because of God’s call. And we are blessed to be joined in our ministry by a diverse and inclusive work force.
That’s why we supported legislation we didn’t understand that promoted government control. [/sarc]
We urge President Barack Obama to be consistent with existing provider conscience-protection laws and allow us to exercise our First Amendment rights to conscience protection as faith-based employers. Please fix this discriminatory rule.
MARK RIENZI: The mandate forces individuals and organizations to violate their religious principles by providing their employees with drugs that cause abortion, as well as with contraception and sterilization. Whatever one thinks about the debate between “choice” and “life,” we should all be able to agree that only willing people should have to participate in abortions.
This country was founded by people of all different faiths and backgrounds. We have a great tradition of finding ways to work with people so as not to force them to violate their religious beliefs. The Obama administration’s refusal to do that here violates the Constitution and federal law.
LOPEZ: Is there a smart shorthand that captures that?
RIENZI: Sure: Tyranny….
LOPEZ: Is this about birth control or religious freedom?
RIENZI: The only issue here is whether the government will force unwilling religious objectors to give up their religious beliefs. There is no problem of access to birth control in this country. As the administration never stops saying, the stuff is popular and provided by most private employers. And when private employers don’t provide it, the federal government already gives it out to people who want it through Title X funding.
Let me give you an example. At the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, we represent the monks at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. They are Catholic, and they have religious objections to providing these drugs. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the federal government already provides contraception to more than 100,000 people in North Carolina, from more than 100 federally funded Title X clinics. There is simply no reason that the government can’t provide contraception to any employee of Belmont Abbey who happens to want it. So the question is not whether people will be able to get birth control — they can, and they will. People get plenty of contraception today without making Catholic monks give it out. The question is whether the government will use the issue to force a small religious minority to conform to the government’s view that birth control is a great idea. And that’s something the Constitution and federal law clearly forbid….
RIENZI: James Madison famously said that conscience is “the most sacred of all property.” Conscience — particularly in the religious sense — is the right all of us have not to be forced by the government to violate our religion. It is the idea that in a free country, the coercive power of the government should not be used to deny people the right to freely and peacefully practice their faith…. It is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, our history, and our basic liberty….
LOPEZ: I’m an atheist. I’m on the pill. Why should I care about this?
RIENZI: You should care because you are an American, and this is a fundamental liberty issue. Religious liberty is just one aspect of liberty. The same First Amendment that protects your right to be an atheist — which is a wonderful and noble thing that our First Amendment does — protects the rights of other people to have other views. Just as you wouldn’t want the government to force you to follow Catholic views about the pill, we also don’t want the government to force Catholics to follow your views. It’s a free country. If you want the pill, you can buy it, you can work for one of the millions of employers who happily pay for it, or you can get it for free from the federal government. But everyone should oppose this forced conscription of unwilling people to participate.
LOPEZ: Is this a Catholic issue?
RIENZI: No, it is a liberty issue. That’s why you’ve seen such a huge outpouring of criticism of the Obama administration from people of all religious faiths….
Men these days can choose only sex, not fatherhood; mothers alone determine whether children shall be allowed to exist. Legalized abortion was supposed to grant enormous freedom to women, but it has had the perverse result of freeing men and trapping women….
“Abortion facilitates women’s heterosexual availability,” [radical feminist Catherine MacKinnon] pointed out: “In other words, under conditions of gender inequality [abortion] does not liberate women; it frees male sexual aggression. The availability of abortion removes the one remaining legitimized reason that women have had for refusing sex besides the headache.” Perhaps that is why, she observed, “the Playboy Foundation has supported abortion rights from day one.” In the end, MacKinnon pronounced, Roe’s “right to privacy looks like an injury got up as a gift,” for “virtually every ounce of control that women won” from legalized abortion “has gone directly into the hands of men.”…
If [a young women] says she is pro-life so that [her boyfriend] thinks abortion is not an option for her, he might decide to keep her from getting pregnant by leaving her for someone more open to abortion, a woman who doesn’t insist on his using a condom. That is, the presence in the sexual marketplace of women willing to have an abortion reduces an individual woman’s bargaining power. As a result, in order not to lose her guy, she may be pressured into doing precisely what she doesn’t want to do: have unprotected sex, then an unwanted pregnancy, then the abortion she had all along been trying to avoid. Even though her abortion in this case is not literally forced, it would be, in an important sense, imposed on her. And, far from alleviating her overall situation, it would merely return her to the same sexual pressures, made worse by a new assurance to her boyfriend that she is willing to take care of a pregnancy.
Perhaps it was difficult to foresee such cultural trends back in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court. But they simply track the inner logic of choice and the market. Economists have shown that such scenarios have in fact become common since abortion was legalized in the United States. Easy access to abortion has increased the expectation and frequency of sexual intercourse (including unprotected intercourse) among young people, making it more difficult for a woman to deny herself to a man without losing him, thus increasing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections….
Furthermore, if a woman attempts to choose birth instead of abortion, she may well find the child’s father pushing the other way. Her boyfriend’s fear of fatherhood would once have been focused on intercourse itself and could have led him either to be careful to avoid conception or else (overcoming that fear) to commit himself beforehand to equal responsibility for the child. His fear now will turn to getting her to choose abortion….
When birth was the result of passion and bad luck, some people could sympathize with a young woman who was going to need help with her baby, though the stigma of bastardry was genuine. If money or a larger place to live were going to be necessary for her to stay in school, a sense of solidarity would likely lead friends and family to offer assistance. The father would feel strong pressure as well, for he was as responsible as she for the child. He might offer to get a second job or otherwise shoulder some of the burdens of parenting.
But once continuing a pregnancy to birth is the result neither of passion nor of luck but only of her deliberate choice, sympathy weakens. After all, the pregnant woman can avoid all her problems by choosing abortion. So if she decides to take those difficulties on, she must think she can handle them.
Birth itself may be followed by blame rather than support. Since only the mother has the right to decide whether to let the child be born, the father may easily conclude that she bears sole responsibility for caring for the child. The baby is her fault.
It may also seem unfair to him that she could escape motherhood (by being legally allowed to prevent birth), while he is denied any way to escape fatherhood (by still being legally required to pay child support). If consenting to sex does not entail consenting to act as a mother, why should it entail consenting to act as a father?…
Throughout human history, children have been the consequence of natural sexual relations between men and women. Both sexes knew they were equally responsible for their children, and society had somehow to facilitate their upbringing. Even the advent of birth control did not fundamentally change this dynamic, for all forms of contraception are fallible.
Elective abortion changes everything. Abortion absolutely prevents the birth of a child. A woman’s choice for or against abortion breaks the causal link between conception and birth. It matters little what or who caused conception or whether the male insisted on having unprotected intercourse. It is she alone who finally decides whether the child comes into the world. She is the responsible one. For the first time in history, the father and the doctor and the health-insurance actuary can point a finger at her as the person who allowed an inconvenient human being to come into the world.
The deepest tragedy may be that there is no way out. By granting to the pregnant woman an unrestrained choice over who will be born, we make her alone to blame for how she exercises her power. Nothing can alter the solidarity-shattering impact of the abortion option.
Read it all and ponder (and support your local crisis pregnancy center).
What would happen, though, if a website covered the left in the same way that the left covers the right? What picture of the world would one have in mind if the morning paper read like the New York Times—but with the subjects of the stories and the assumptions built into the text changed to reflect a conservative, not liberal, worldview? What would happen if the media wolf pack suddenly had to worry about an aerial hunting operation?
You are about to find out. The Washington Free Beacon is here to enter the arena of combat journalism. Our talented staff will add to the chorus of enterprising conservative reporters, publishing original stories, seeking out scoops, and focusing on the myriad connections between money and power in the progressive movement and Obama’s Washington. Our research and war room divisions will supplement that reporting with context, additional materials, and breaking video. At the Beacon, you will find the other half of the story, the half that the elite media have taken such pains to ignore: the inside deals, cronyism cloaked in the public interest, and far-out nostrums of contemporary progressivism and the Democratic Party. At the Beacon, all friends of freedom will find an alternative to the hackneyed spin, routine misstatements, paranoid hyperbole, and insipid folderol of Democratic officials and the liberal gasbags on MSNBC and talk radio. At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them.
Whenever I get discouraged about pro-life progress, I re-read From Pro-Choice to Pro-Life, an essay by Frederick Mathewes-Green, written in 1999. It was one of the first things I read when I, in total confusion, went searching for clarity on the abortion debate once I discovered my [now former] church supported abortion unconditionally. This essay offers very practical advice and is written in such a gentle spirit:
I have a personal interest in conversation between the opposing sides: I myself have championed both positions. Back in my college days I was your basic bad-tempered, male-bashing, hairy-legged women’s libber, actively pro-abortion. Abortion, I believed, was essential to liberation. Women would not be able to enjoy the same success as their male counterparts unless they, too, could be unhampered by pregnancy and childrearing.
Then, in 1976, a few years after Roe, I read an essay in Esquire magazine titled “What I Saw at the Abortion Clinic.” In it surgeon and essayist Richard Selzer described watching a 19-week abortion by an injection procedure no longer in use. He described the abortionist sliding the needle of the syringe into the woman’s belly, and then, he writes, “I see something other than what I expected here … it is the hub of the needle that is in the woman’s belly that has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wobbles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.”
The image horrified him, as it did me. I had never considered that the being in the uterus was more than a blob of tissue, that it could be a human life that wanted to go on living. Selzer concludes his essay: “Whatever else is said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense will not vanish from my eyes. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?”
The truth of what he saw affected me deeply. I could no longer say that abortion was right—and yet, somehow, I couldn’t jump on the anti-abortion bandwagon. I knew that unplanned pregnancy could wreak havoc in a woman’s life. The dilemma seemed irresolvable.
I eventually worked my way out of this dilemma, but that is why we must *listen carefully* to pro-choicers in order to understand their reasoning and, we hope, break through the deadlock.
For several years I have participated in pro-life/pro-choice dialogues, and I now serve on the national steering committee of an umbrella organization that unites grassroots dialogues, the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice[ed. note: this group ran from 1993-2000]. A dialogue usually will begin when members of a community grow weary of miscommunication and hostility and want to get people together on neutral ground just to talk. More ambitious goals may emerge after trust has been built up, but in many cities, “just talking” is all that is accomplished. Thus, Common Ground (CG) is not for every temperament; many will find the lack of concrete action frustrating….
After we listen, then we persuade. Persuasion needs to become the main strategy for pursuing the pro-life cause. While CG serves to advance the discussion between warring camps, it does little to persuade advocates on either side to “cross over.” That is better suited for when you have coffee with a friend over your kitchen table.
The first step in adopting the persuasion model may sound surprising: Put the question of making abortion illegal on the back burner. I believe abortion should be illegal because it is violence against the smallest members of our human family. But one of the reasons we’re stuck in a deadlock is because political posturing has overwhelmed the moral discussion. The abortion issue has become something like a football game where yards gained by one side are by necessity yards lost by the other, and neither side is ever going to be willing to give up the fight. This polarization makes it less likely that we can arrive at a resolution; and without resolution, consensus, and peace on this issue, there will be no lasting protection for the unborn. Even a great victory, like an amendment to the Constitution explicitly protecting unborn life, would immediately be attacked by our opponents. They would not rest until they tore it down, just as we haven’t rested in combating Roe v. Wade for 25 years. A deeper agreement must be reached before legal justice can be permanently won….
Once we get people to recognize that abortion both kills babies and hurts women, we can then pose the practical question: How could we live without it?
Abortion is part of a complex machine of interlocking social realities, linked to expectations about women’s sexual availability, men’s freedom from responsibility, and women’s duty to be economically self-supporting. The pressure of these social forces cannot be minimized: they create a demand for 4,000 abortions every day, making it the most frequently performed medical procedure.
Pro-lifers need to think beyond the single goal of making abortion illegal. People “in the middle” on this issue imagine that, if all the clinics were padlocked tomorrow, we’d just see 4,000 women pounding on the doors and crying. What needs to change in order for this ravenous demand to be quelled?…
…It is now a requirement of Obamacare that every Catholic institution larger than a single church—and even including some single churches—must pay for contraceptives, sterilization, and morning-after abortifacients for its employees. Each of these is directly contrary to the Catholic faith. But the Obama administration does not care. They have said, in effect, Do what we tell you—or else.
The beginnings of this confrontation lay in an obscure provision of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which stated that all insurers will be required to provide “preventive health services.” When the law was passed, “preventive” was not defined but left to be determined at a later date.
This past August, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally got around to explaining the administration’s interpretation of the phrase. Based on a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine, the administration would define “preventive health services” to include contraceptives, morning-after pills, and female sterilization. And they would interpret the “all insurers” section to include religious organizations, whatever their beliefs….
As soon as Sebelius released this decision, the Catholic church panicked. The Conference of Catholic Bishops reached out to the administration to explain the position in which it had put them. But the tone of their concern was largely friendly: Most Catholic leaders were convinced that the entire thing was a misunderstanding and that the policy—which was labeled an “interim” measure—would eventually be amended.
The reason for this optimism was that more than a few important Catholics had previously climbed out on a high branch for Obama politically, and for his health care reform as a matter of policy. …
So most Catholics took the president at his word when he met with Archbishop Timothy Dolan last fall and assured him that when the final version of the policy was eventually released, any fears would be allayed.
That was their mistake. Obama telephoned Dolan on the morning of January 20 to inform him that the only concession he intended to offer in the final policy was to extend the deadline for conformity to August 2013. Every other aspect of the policy enunciated by Sebelius would remain rigidly in place.
It’s unclear whether Obama anticipated the blowback which resulted from this announcement, or perhaps even welcomed the fight. The liberal Catholic establishment nearly exploded….
The reason liberal Catholics were so wounded is twofold. First, this isn’t a religio-cultural fight over Latin in the Mass or Gregorian chant. The subjects of contraception, abortion, and sterilization are not ornamental aspects of the Catholic faith; they flow from the Church’s central teachings about the dignity of the human person. Second, Obama has left Catholic organizations a very narrow set of options. (1) They may truckle to the government’s mandate, in violation of their beliefs. (2) They may cease providing health insurance to their employees altogether, though this would incur significant financial penalties under Obamacare. (The church seems unlikely to obtain any of Nancy Pelosi’s golden waivers.) Or (3) they may simply shut down. There is precedent for this final option. In 2006, Boston’s Catholic Charities closed its adoption service—one of the most successful in the nation—after Massachusetts law required that the organization must place children in same-sex households.
Which means that what is actually on the block are precisely the kind of social-justice services—education, health care, and aid to the needy—that liberal Catholics believe to be the most vital works of the church. For conservative Catholics, Obama merely confirmed their darkest suspicions; for liberals, it was a betrayal in full.…
Read it all, and I don’t care about your politics, but if you knew Pres. Obama’s history on abortion, there is absolutely no reason in the world why you would think he would have exempted anyone from these provisions. I guess the bishops didn’t do their homework, or chose to ignore or not believe what is public record.
And even if the church institutions get an exemption, it leaves the rest of us of all religions to pay for these same services whether we think they’re moral or not.
What of the Catholic and other religious laity? Who speaks for them?
When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the years urged that the government install universal health care, they may have been working from what they perceived as Christian motives (corporal acts of mercy) but what they were really encouraging was government intervention in all aspects of an individual’s life.
What of a Catholic or other religious layperson who owns a business who will now be required to offer this coverage to his employees? The owner will have to provide, and pay for, what he considers morally evil. The bishops do a disservice to all concerned laypeople when they regard the matter as settled if religious institutions end up exempt. Why are the bulk of church members left to fend off the government intrusion for themselves?
USCCB has forgotten the church’s own principle of subsidiarity, that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority–something the federal government definitely is not. In pushing for universal health care controlled by the government with exemptions for religious churches and institutions only, the bishops have left everyone else to fend for themselves in trying to oppose government mandates.
Catholic archbishop for the military speaks out (but is censored by the Army)
And I use “censored” in the correctFirst Amendment sense (that of government interference)–in this case, it’s a twofer: 1) prohibiting the free exercise of religion and 2) abridging freedom of speech. From CNSNews.com:
…The message from the archbishop touched off a controversy both in and outside the military when the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told the service’s senior chaplains that Catholic priests serving as Army chaplains should be told not to read the archbishop’s letter from the pulpit.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services has described that move as a violation of the archbishop’s First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of the Catholic chaplains involved and their congregations….
However, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to silence Catholic Army chaplains from reading it at their Masses—an effort rejected and resisted by Archbishop Broglio….
In his Jan. 28 telephone conversation with Army Secretary [John] McHugh, Archbishop Broglio was able to extract from the secretary an admission that it had been wrong for the secretary to try to silence the Catholic chaplains….
And here is the letter (from His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services) that the Army rejected:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It is imperative that I call to your attention an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those immoral “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Your children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
Therefore, I ask two things of you. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
Grateful even now for your support, I remain
Sincerely in Christ, (Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio Archbishop for the Military Services
A presentation on Religious Liberties in America and the recent Health and Human Services Mandate
In response to the January 20, 2012 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces virtually all private health care plans to cover sterilization, abortifacients and contraception despite religious objections, the Defense of the Faith Committee of the Order of Malta is offering a free public presentation from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on February 11 in The Haid on the campus of Belmont Abbey College. The presentation will be followed by Mass at Belmont Abbey.
To register for the presentation, please click on the “Sign Me Up” button below.
…The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They generally wait until they’re married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security, and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy, and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. As Kay Hymowitz noted in Marriage and Caste in America,“Virtually all — 92 percent — of children whose families make over $75,000 per year are living with both parents. On the other end of the income scale, the situation is reversed: only about 20 percent of kids in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents.”
The failure to marry on the part of the lower middle and lower classes — not the tax code, or Wall Street, or competition from China, — is what is aggravating inequality in America.
The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure — school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more — children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality, and diminishing happiness on a grand scale….
to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.
to express what is false; convey a false impression.
And that is exactly (and quite rightly) what the USCCB is calling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on with the HHS’s inaccurate and false “fact sheet” on the new mandated regulations on contraception:
The Obama administration, to justify its widely criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1). In what follows, each White House claim is quoted with a response.
Claim: “Churches are exempt from the new rules: Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception.”
Response:This is not entirely true. To be eligible, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and serve primarily people of their own faith and have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose. Some churches may have service to the broader community as a major focus, for example, by providing direct service to the poor regardless of faith. Such churches would be denied an exemption precisely because their service to the common good is so great. More importantly,the vast array of other religious organizations – schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions – will clearly not be exempt.
Claim: “No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The President and this Administration have previously and continue to express strong support for existing conscience protections. For example, no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription for contraception.”
Response: It is true that these rules directly apply to employers and insurers, not providers, but this is beside the point: The Administration is forcing individuals and institutions, including religious employers, to sponsor and subsidize what they consider immoral. Less directly, the classification of these drugs and procedures as basic “preventive services” will increase pressures on doctors, nurses and pharmacists to provide them in order to participate in private health plans – and no current federal conscience law prevents that from happening. Finally, because the mandate includes abortifacient drugs, it violates one of the “existing conscience protections” (the Weldon amendment) for which the Administration expresses “strong support.”
Claim: “No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This rule only applies to what insurance companies cover. Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible. But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.”
Response:The statement that no one will be forced to buy it is false. Women who want contraception will be able to obtain it without co-pay or deductible precisely because women who do not want contraception will be forced to help pay for it through their premiums. This mandate passes costs from those who want the service, to those who object to it.
Claim: “Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions.”
Response: False. The policy already requires coverage of Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or “Ella”), a drug that is a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) and has the same effects. RU-486 itself is also being tested for possible use as an “emergency contraceptive” – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well.
Claim: “Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: Several of these States like North Carolina, New York, and California have identical religious employer exemptions. Some States like Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemption at all.”
Response: This misleads by ignoring important facts, and some of it is simply false. All the state mandates, even those without religious exemptions, may be avoided by self-insuring prescription drug coverage, by dropping that particular coverage altogether, or by taking refuge in a federal law that pre-empts any state mandates (ERISA). None of these havens is available under the federal mandate. It is also false to claim that North Carolina has an identical exemption. It is broader: It does not require a religious organization to serve primarily people of its own faith, or to fulfill the federal rule’s narrow tax code criterion. Moreover, the North Carolina law, unlike the federal mandate, completely excludes abortifacient drugs like Ella and RU-486 as well as “emergency contraceptives” like Preven.
Claim: “Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”
Response: This is irrelevant, and it is presented in a misleading way. If a survey found that 98% of people had lied, cheated on their taxes, or had sex outside of marriage, would the government claim it can force everyone to do so?…
Claim: “Contraception coverage reduces costs: While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges from $30 to $50, insurers and experts agree that savings more than offset the cost. The National Business Group on Health estimated that it would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of potentially unintended and unhealthy pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.”
Response: The government is violating our religious freedom to save money? If the claim is true it is hard to say there is a need for a mandate: Secular insurers and employers who don’t object will want to purchase the coverage to save money, and those who object can leave it alone….
Claim: “The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue.”
Response: False. There is no “balance” in the final HHS rule—one side has prevailed entirely, as the mandate and exemption remain entirely unchanged from August 2011, despite many thousands of comments filed since then indicating intense opposition. Indeed, the White House Press Secretary declared on January 31, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here,” so little was placed on that side of the scale. The Administration’s stance on religious liberty has also been shown in other ways. Recently it argued before the Supreme Court that religious organizations have no greater right under the First Amendment to hire or fire their own ministers than secular organizations have over their leaders– a claim that was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court as “extreme” and “untenable.” The Administration recently denied a human trafficking grant to a Catholic service provider with high objective scores, and gave part of that grant instead to a provider with not just lower, but failing, objective scores, all because the Catholic provider refused in conscience to compromise the same moral and religious beliefs at issue here. Such action violates not only federal conscience laws, but President Obama’s executive order assuring “faith-based” organizations that they will be able to serve the public in federal programs without compromising their faith.