intersection

the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
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Posts tagged "Right to life"

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.

And here’s more:

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.

This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve participated in the 40 Days for Life Campaign (February 22 to April 1). A few tips and observations:

  1. You will cry each time you see someone come out after she has had an abortion—her face is always stunned and slightly disbelieving.
  2. Prayer softens the heart (and by that, I mean my heart).
  3. Being a witness is much easier than being a martyr.
  4. Always wear comfortable shoes.
  5. Women who shout nasty things as they drive by are in intense pain.
  6. Men who shout nasty things as they drive by are in intense pain or so cowed by the culture that they think they’re “standing up for women’s rights.”
  7. Always dress warmer than you think you need to (after all, you’re going to be standing outside for a while).
  8. Saying three rosaries takes me about an hour (I always try to start with the Sorrowful Mysteries and end with the Glorious Mysteries, and in-between is anyone’s guess).
  9. You may not see anything change while you’re praying, and that’s okay—God honors your prayers.
  10. Pray with a joyful heart even though you’re in a sad place (and yes, abortion clinics have a certain something about them)–you are praying for Life.

From the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Right to Life News from January 1977:

…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 so casually?

And then, Jackson entered politics (as a Democrat)…and his views, shall we say, evolved accordingly.

Starting soon (February 22), the 40 Days for Life Campaign for spring 2012:

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!

Check out the list of locations and sign up for the one closest to you.

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?…

Read it all. Feel better now? I always do.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

And I use “censored” in the correct First 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….

Archbishop [Timothy] Broglio’s letter opposing the [HHS] regulation and describing it as a violation of the constitutional rights of Catholics was read verbatim at Masses served by Navy and Air Force chaplains around the world.

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 response to the HHS mandated regulations by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America:

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care….

Read it all.

Opposition to the mandated HHS regulations requiring employers to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients is not just a Roman Catholic thing. Unfortunately, I think the writers of this letter miss the bigger point: why is it the responsibility of the American taxpayer to provide contraceptives at no cost to the recipient?

Pregnancy is not a disease, drugs are not necessary to “prevent” it, so why is the government requiring it? This is the problem with government control of health care: they will stipulate everything about it, deliver inefficient service, cost much more money, and mandate people purchase services they are morally opposed to.

But, hey, this is a start:

We write to you specifically as organizations and leaders that are not part of the Catholic community. We write not in opposition to Catholic leaders and organizations; rather, we write in solidarity, but separately—to stress that religious organizations and leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption.

Most press reports on the controversy concerning the contraceptives mandate portray the opposition as coming only from the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. But this is wrong. It is emphatically not only Catholics who deeply object to the requirement that health plans they purchase must provide coverage of contraceptives that include some that are abortifacients. It is not only Catholics who object to the narrow exemption that protects only seminaries and a few churches, but not churches with a social outreach and other faith-based organizations that serve the poor and needy broadly providing help that goes beyond worship and prayer.

The faith-based organizations and religious traditions represented by the undersigned leaders do not all share the same convictions about the moral acceptability of the mandated services. But we are all deeply concerned about the narrow exemption, including proposals made to expand it while still leaving unprotected many faith-based organizations. Many of us previously signed a letter, dated August 26, 2011, to Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, asking his help in persuading your administration, if it maintains the contraceptives mandate, to replace the current “inaccurately narrow and practically
inadequate definition of ‘religious employer’.” An organization does not cease to be a religious organization just because it serves the poor and needy in material ways and does not confine its help to prayer and religious teaching.

We reiterate our opposition to the narrow exemption….

Mr. President, religious organizations beyond the Catholic community have deep moral objections to a requirement that their health insurance plans must cover abortifacients. Religious organizations beyond the Catholic community object to the current narrow exemption which puts them outside the definition of “religious employers.” And religious organizations beyond the Catholic community object to any revision of the exemption that would limit it to churches and denominationally affiliated organizations.

We believe that the Federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic….

Check it out, and here’s a question: if you are a Catholic layperson and have a business, will you be required under these HHS regulations to offer insurance coverage to your employees that mandates contraception, including abortifacients? Just because one is not in a religious organization doesn’t mean one relinquishes all of one’s First Amendment rights.

Will employers who morally disagree with this mandate only have the choice of not offering health coverage? Is this part of the goal here–to have more and more people turning to the government for insurance because more and more employers, for religious and/or moral reasons, cannot comply with the HHS mandates?

Makes you wonder.

Interesting post by Matt Kennedy+ and comment discussion going on at Stand Firm on whether Christians can/should/ought to vote for any candidate who supports abortion, no matter their position on other issues:

I’ve been engaged in a number of conversations lately with Christians—some of them well known orthodoxAnglican thinkers and leaders—trying to justify their support for pro-abortion politicians and candidates. In almost every exchange I’ve run into slightly different forms of the same three arguments.

The first goes something like this: “I agree that abortion is wrong but we cannot legislate moral choices. Instead, why don’t we simply focus on preaching the gospel. Only changed hearts will bring about a changed culture.”

The logic behind this rationalization is stunningly bad—so bad it’s hard to answer without a tinge of incredulity and exasperation. But here’s a paraphrased summary of my most common response: Right you are about changed hearts. But why the false dichotomy? One might as well say: “I agree that killing toddlers is wrong, but we cannot legislate moral choices.” Sure we can and we must. Not only do we proclaim the gospel and pray that God’s grace will change hearts and change the culture but we also put laws on the books that prevent people from killing their children.

Both/and not either/or.

The second rationalization employs logic every bit as bad if not worse than the first but a little more subtle. It goes something like this:

Check it out.

From Ace commenting on Michael Gerson’s piece in the Washington Post on the new HHS mandated regulations–excellent as usual: Radical: For No Reason Except To Punish Cultures He Abhors, Obama Mandates That Catholic Organizations Must Now Pay for Abortions for Their Workers:

…I don’t know what to say except the arrogance is breath-taking. Obama doesn’t understand the point of government.

The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.

A hotelier, if his goal is to just run a successful hotel, should not care very much if some rooms are rented by Jews, and some by Catholics, and some by atheists; and some by families, and some by pairs of cheatin’ spouses.

Only if the hotelier puts his own moralism over the business would he attempt to force his guests to live by his specific rules of life.

Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.

Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to “shove it down the throats” of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.

It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.

Can he make a little space for those who do not rush to embrace his Madonna Moralism?

No. For to do so would be to confess doubt about the Moral Scheme he has in mind for people; it would signal that he’s not utterly certain of his own moral beliefs.

And few on the political left have any sense of modesty about any of their culture-changing schemes….

Read it all.

A letter to all parishioners from Bishop Peter Jurgis Jugis (Diocese of Charlotte) and Bishop Michael Burbidge (Diocese of Raleigh):

January 27, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception. The rule is set to take effect August 1, 2012. Non-profit religious employers including the Dioceses of Charlotte and Raleigh that do not now provide such coverage, and are not exempt under the rule’s extremely narrow definition of religious employer, will be given one year—until August 1, 2013—to comply.

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Last August, the HHS issued a list of “preventive services for women” to be mandated in almost all private health plans under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The mandated services include sterilization, all FDA-approved birth control and “education and counseling” to promote these among all “women of reproductive capacity.”

HHS’s proposed rule allowed only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.” In September and December of 2011, CatholicVoiceNC.org issued action alerts on this matter at a time when HHS was seeking comment on the proposed rules. The January 20 announcement makes the proposed rule final.

To correct the threats to religious liberty and rights of conscience posed by PPACA, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has been introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

ACTION: Contact your U.S. Representative by e-mail, phone, or FAX letter:

* Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.

* Send an e-mail through CVNC’s Grassroots Action Center.

Thank you for all you do in support of life.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh

The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte

I appreciate the bishops’ letter, but I have to admit, I have little sympathy for the reaction to this mandate by Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, who supported Obamacare  and worked against the USCCB as those bishops pointed out the ramifications of the bill’s passage. That Keehan would expect anything less than complete government control shows she had no idea what she was supporting during the Obamacare debate.  And, I have to say, her public statement on the HHS mandate is very weak:

The Catholic Health Association is disappointed that the definition of a religious employer was not broadened in today’s announcement by HHS regarding the final rule on preventive health services for women. This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection.

It was important to have clarified by the President and the Secretary of HHS that this decision will not undermine the current conscience protections in law and so very necessary for our ministries.

The challenge that these regulations posed for many groups remains unresolved. This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country, which has always respected the role of religions.

“Disappointed,” “missed opportunity,” “unresolved,” “national conversation”–ugh, how passive. And “a missed opportunity to be clear”? I think HHS and the Administration were extremely and completely clear–their agenda trumps all.

Give me Timothy Dolan and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh any day. From Bishop Zubik:

Let’s be blunt. This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.

This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone — not only Catholics; not only people of all religions. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens. It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats….

Kathleen Sebelius, and through her the Obama administration, have said “To hell with you” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.

• To hell with your religious beliefs,

• To hell with your religious liberty,

• To hell with your freedom of conscience.

We’ll give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under. As Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded, “in effect, the president is saying that we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

As I wrote to you last September, with this mandate the democratic process is being ignored while we are being ordered to ignore our religious beliefs. And we are being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation; to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States….

The outcome is yet to be determined, but the Administration better be careful–even the politically liberal Catholics are upset with this one.