Monday, February 6, 2012

Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

1. The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals. These institutions are vital to the mission of the Church, but HHS does not deem them "religious employers" worthy of conscience protection, because they do not "serve primarily persons who share the[ir] religious tenets." HHS denies these organizations religious freedom precisely because their purpose is to serve the common good of society—a purpose that government should encourage, not punish.

2. The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral. Under the mandate, the government forces religious insurers to write policies that violate their beliefs; forces religious employers and schools to sponsor and subsidize coverage that violates their beliefs; and forces religious employees and students to purchase coverage that violates their beliefs.

3. The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception. Though commonly called the "contraceptive mandate," HHS's mandate also forces employers to sponsor and subsidize coverage of sterilization. And, by including all drugs approved by the FDA for use as contraceptives, the HHS mandate includes drugs that can induce abortion, such as "Ella," a close cousin of the abortion pill RU-486.

4. Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate. Catholics who have long supported this Administration and its healthcare policies have publicly criticized HHS's decision, including columnists E.J. Dionne, Mark Shields, and Michael Sean Winters; college presidents Father John Jenkins and Arturo Chavez; and Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

5. Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate. Many recognize this as an assault on the broader principle of religious liberty, even if they disagree with the Church on the underlying moral question. For example, Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian, and Orthodox Jewish groups--none of which oppose contraception--have issued statements against the decision. The Washington Post, USA Today, N.Y. Daily News, Detroit News, and other secular outlets, columnists, and bloggers have editorialized against it.

6. The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates. HHS chose the narrowest state-level religious exemption as the model for its own. That exemption was drafted by the ACLU and exists in only 3 states (New York, California, Oregon). Even without a religious exemption, religious employers can already avoid the contraceptive mandates in 28 states by self-insuring their prescription drug coverage, dropping that coverage altogether, or opting for regulation under a federal law (ERISA) that pre-empts state law. The HHS mandate closes off all these avenues of relief.


Frank said...

UPDATE: 1,340 signed this petition yesterday, on Super Bowl Sunday. So far, over 21,000 people have signed it. Learn more about it here.

Donna said...

Can you explain how the HHS ruling relates to the Weldon Amendment, the Church Amendment, and the RFRA Act?

Does the HHS ruling supersede these three pieces of legislation? If so, how did they manage that? If not, is there any recourse under these three existing rulings?


Chris said...

I appreciate the "conscience" argument, and I am wondering how, as a Catholic citizen, I can be expected by the Church to pay taxes, knowing that some small portion of those taxes funds groups such as Planned Parenthood. I am not at all trying to start a flame war; I would just like some clarification on why it is not a violation of my conscience to pay taxes, yet it would be a violation of conscience for Catholic hospitals to pay some small portion toward the potential use of contraceptives.

Frank said...

NARAL has started a petition as well.

Details can be found here.

From my side of the altar said...

As a Catholic priest who Blogs, I would encourage my brothers who do the same to please be sure and courageously add this and any other information to your Blogs. Our good people need to know the truth of what is going on in this crucial matter. If you need an example feel free to take a look.

Fr. Timothy Mockaitis
Archdiocese of Porltand, OR

Geremia said...

Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

Psalm 63 said...

Supposedly, planned parenthood does not use the funds received from the government for abortion. :) The government does a lot of things with my taxes that I find objectionable, however, I do not have an option in regards to paying them. Forcing a person to buy insurance to begin with is an over extension of the Federal government's power. Forcing a religious institution to pay for things that are specifically against life and are no part of preventative medicine is a direct violation of the right to religious freedom. There is no comparison between paying taxes and this blatant attack against the Church. I would say against Christians, except most have no problem with the culture of death.

Same said...

@Christopher Wesson,

I don't think you will start a flame war. You have a valid point and one which has really been raised since the start of 'legal' abortion. It is precisely this thinking that has prevented the US from funding abortions during specific administrations (obviously not his one).

James Chamberlain 813.816.1552 said...
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stumpCHUNMKAN said...

@ C. Wesson,

There are a few differences in the 2 scenarios you describe. First of all, as far as taxes and taking the technical argument and not the religious one even, your tax money goes to all types of purposes and you never really know what your specific funds actually covered. Also if everyone objected on grounds something tax-wise went to something they didn't like, then there would be no tax base at all for the necessities.

Second of all, the religious argument would be that the bible itself answered this question with "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

Now the difference between a tax paid and the requirements of this law is that the government is forcing a group, in this case the church, to directly pay for things it expressly forbids. In the secular realm this would be like a requirement being made that the American Cancer Society be forced to buy cigarettes for all its employees.

You also have the slippery slope argument that if the government has the power to overrun this particular church belief under the guise of healthcare then there is nothing else that could not follow the same course.

One of the main arguments on the side of the Administration is that this is an anti-discriminatory act for the rights of workers, but any person freely accepting a position with a organization knows that there are particular behaviors and requirements that that employer expects. Since a person who wanted abortion pills covered by insurance, or any of the other services in question has the freedom of mobility amongst employers, the worker could choose to work with another organization with beliefs that more similarly model their own personal beliefs.

One other technical point would be that taxes levied by federal government is an expressed power in Article 1 of the Constitution, but the ability to force an individual or group to take a particular behavior in a case where the current position of that organization or person does not infringe on any stated rights of a general citizen.

If abortion pills, birth control, and the like is a civil or human right, then why do people have to pay for those services? There is not another civil right that a person has to buy. They have a right to it by definition.

You could make an argument up to a point if there were no other option for people desiring these medical service was not already widely available in other outlets in the marketplace.

earthboarjewelry said...

I think this is a perfect opportunity for the Catholic Church to unite in a one day peaceful protest by closing the doors of all their institutions hit by this mandate. I believe this would get the attention of US citizens and demonstrate how committed we are to our religious values. This mandate draws a line in the sand and we must meet the challenge.

earthboarjewelry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Chamberlain 813.816.1552 said...

We need to support legislation overturning the application of this disease.

Peter said...

Religious freedom is included in the first provision of the Bill of Right. Signifying it's importance amount inalienable rights. What does our U.S. President, a former Constitutional Law Professor, not understand about the Bill of Rights?

Eric Rasmusen said...

It would be helpful to give sources for the statement about the various state requirements. Where can I go to learn more, and to check?

P Dubble said...

61% of Catholics agree with the administration on this. Saying Catholics of all political persuasions disagree with it is pretty misleading as a majority don't even disagree with it.

Peter said...

The U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S. Citizens the Right of Freedom of Religion. The H.H.S. mandate requiring all organizations, including Catholic affiliated organizations, to provide artificial birth control with no copay to all of their employees is an infringement of our U.S. Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Freedom of Religion. This H.H.S. decision is a threat to the principles upon which this country was founded. Whether one condones or doesn't condone the use of artificial birth control is immaterial. Personally, I am opposed to the use of artificial birth control. Perhaps, you are not opposed. However, your solidarity against this infringement of a constitutionally guaranteed Right to Freedom of Religion is essential to keep liberty for all in the U.S.A.

Peter Guild, Quincy, Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

P Dubble,

It may be so that 61% of "Catholics" agree with the administration, but in a recent poll, only about 22% of US Catholics even regularly attend Mass.

Considering weekly attendance of Mass is kind of a big deal to the Church, it makes sense that this "61%" of people also don't take the Church's stance seriously.

The issue with the 61% statistic is that there are plenty of people in the sample size that probably shouldn't be considered "Catholics" proper.