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HHS mandate’s coercive nature is fact, not opinion

10/25/2012

By Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann,  which appeared in the Leaven 10-19-2012

During the Oct. 11 debate, Vice President Joseph Biden looked into the camera and emphatically said: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the next day a statement in response to Vice President Biden’s claim that said in part: “This is not a fact. The HHS [Health and Human Services] mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain religious employers. That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital, or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

“HHS has proposed an additional accommodation for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as non-exempt. That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation to pay for contraception and to be a vehicle to get contraception. They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

“The USCCB continues to urge HHS in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.”

Why would Vice President Biden look the American people in the eye and say something that is clearly not true? It is difficult to believe that the vice president does not understand the HHS mandates and what they require from religious institutions. If this were so, it certainly reflects poorly on his competency.

Of course, the only other explanation is that he purposely misled the American people. Congressman Ryan asked the vice president a very pertinent question. If the rights of institutions are not being threatened, then why are Catholic dioceses, hospitals and colleges suing the federal government in 14 different jurisdictions on this very matter? Unfortunately, the vice president did not answer the question and the moderator of the debate failed to press him on this matter.

Just two weeks ago, President Obama, in speaking to campaign supporters at George Mason University, was bragging about the mandates. He said the following to an overwhelmingly friendly audience: “I don’t think a college student in Fairfax or Charlottesville should have to choose between textbooks or the preventive care she needs. That’s why we passed this law. And I am proud of it. It was the right thing to do. And we are going to keep it.”

I am all in favor of college students getting physicals, vaccinations, and other preventive screenings. However, this administration has defined preventive health care to include abortifacient drugs, contraceptives, and sterilizations. For contraceptives and sterilizations to be preventive health care, then fertility and pregnancy have to be considered diseases. If the administration’s definition of preventive health care is permitted to stand, then what is the cure to an unplanned pregnancy when the “preventive care” does not work? Logically, it must be abortion.

Recently, I was at an event where I spoke about the current threats to religious liberty. Afterwards, a man came up to me and said that he disagreed with what I said. I asked him: “What specifically do you disagree with?” He replied that he thought a nurse at a Catholic hospital should be able to get contraception as part of her health coverage.

I said: “Then, you believe that the church and her institutions should be coerced to provide something we believe to be immoral.” He replied: “Well, that’s your opinion.” I replied: “It is not an opinion. It is a fact that must follow if we accept the premise that the government should force Catholic institutions to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives.”

He replied that he believed contraception actually prevented abortion. This is, indeed, a popular myth. The facts of the past 40+ years, however, contradict this politically correct dogma. As contraception became more readily available and as our government funded its provision to the poor with hundreds of millions of dollars annually, we have experienced epidemics of sexually-transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and abortion.
Abby Johnson was so convinced that contraception prevented abortion that she became a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic. A couple years ago, Abby left Planned Parenthood because she was being pressured to increase the number of abortions at her clinic. Abby Johnson said that half of those seeking abortions at her clinic had been using contraceptives when they became pregnant.

Vice President Biden was asked how he squared his support for legalized abortion with his Catholic faith. Again, he looked into the camera and said he believed in the sanctity of human life, but he did not think it right to impose his moral beliefs on others. Afterwards, one of the pundits analyzing the debate applauded the vice president for having such a “thoughtful” position on abortion.

Believing that an unborn child is an innocent human life and supporting the rights of others to kill this innocent child is anything but thoughtful. It is intellectually and morally an incoherent position.

Today, do we think the position of those who knew slavery to be wrong, but upheld the rights of others to own slaves as a “thoughtful” position? Would we consider it “thoughtful” to be personally opposed to rape, but to support someone else’s choice to violate another person’s body? Do we think it is “thoughtful” to be against gangland drive-by shootings, but support another person’s right to gun down people on our streets?
The personally opposed but pro-choice position is not thoughtful. It is a euphemism, a nice sounding way, to describe one’s support for something that is not nice, but very ugly — the killing of an innocent child within a mother’s womb. Mr. Vice President, that is a fact!

 

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