The HHS Mandate and the Compromise that Wasn’t

In response to the incredible groundswell of opposition to the recent HHS birth control mandate President Obama has offered a compromise meant to appease Catholics. A statement released by the White House announced the compromise and stated the following:

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works.  The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.

Catholics cannot under any circumstance cooperate with an inherent evil which, according to Catholic moral teaching, includes methods of artificial birth control including, but not limited to, contraceptives, abortions and sterilizations. Unfortunately, President Obama’s compromise merely makes this cooperation one step removed. That is, while no Catholic under the mandate would be required to directly hand out contraceptives to his or her employees, Catholic employers will still be required to indirectly pay for birth control through their insurance plans.

The Obama administration attempted to justify the accommodation by stating that Catholics will not be paying for birth control because it will be free and the cost of birth control would be negated by the money saved by reducing pregnancies. The net result is that we would actually save money, the administration claimed. However, practicing Catholics have been categorically opposed to the mandate not because covering birth control represents a financial loss, but because it requires Catholic employers and insurance providers to offer contraception, abortion, and sterilization without any conscience-protection exemptions. Thus, the mandate, even in light of the new compromise, directly violates religious freedom by forcing Catholics to choose between following the law and following their faith.

This has nothing to do with the money. The economics can be debated and the Obama administration can do accounting backflips if they so desire but the problem remains that all those who oppose birth control – Catholic and otherwise – are required by law to cooperate with something that they believe to be evil. If Catholics are to be afforded conscience-protection then they must have access to insurance plans that does not cover birth control.

Unfortunately, this represents nothing more than a political ploy meant to offer a facade of compromise without really providing Catholics with any accommodations whatsoever. In order to live in accordance with their religion, Catholics will be compelled to civil disobedience in relation to the HHS mandate and accept any consequences under the law until such a time that the mandate is rescinded.


NARAL Defends Birth-Control Mandate in its Entirety Despite Violations to Religious Freedoms

In an email Tuesday, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan rallied supporters to combat the surge of opposition by “birth-control opponents” to what many have called an unprecedented challenge to the freedom of Christians who oppose abortion and birth control.

“Anti-choice lawmakers are so hostile to birth control that one representative called the new coverage policy ‘unrelated to the basic needs of health care.’ How is birth control not basic health care when 99 percent of women use it at some point in the lives?” wrote Keenan. Keenan was criticizing a bill to block the mandate introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who decried the order as “a bailout for Planned Parenthood.”

Unfortunately for Keenan’s argument the health benefits of a drug don’t negate the illegitimacy of the HHS mandate resulting from the absence of a conscience-clause protecting the constitutional rights of individuals to freedom of religion and the free practice thereof. Furthermore, not only is Keenan’s argument wrong but its incoherent. Keenan states that 99 percent of women have used birth-control. However, this statistic is misleading as according to the Guttmacher Institute – a research arm of Planned Parenthood – states that 62% of women of roughly child-bearing age currently use some form of birth control method.  Additionally, no matter how popular a drug is it cannot qualify as “basic health care” on this premise alone. The vast majority of birth-control use is for regulation of fertility in relation to sexual activity – a voluntary behavior. The morality of contraceptive use can be debated but to assert that birth-control is a medical necessity in more than just a small minority of cases leads to a logical conclusion that female sexual behavior isn’t a free choice of the will but an animalistic instinct that woman are too stupid to control. Obviously this train of thought is blatantly false and reeks of the misogynistic pseudo-science that should only exist in the history books. Now I don’t think that Keenan is a misogynist but when you follow her argument to its logical end then it should become crystal clear that she is being intellectually dishonest  – and dishonesty never leads to true justice.

Free Contraceptives More Important than Freedom of Religion?

Whether or not you believe that contraceptives are a legitimate part of reproductive health the HHS’s recent birth control mandate’s lack of a conscience clause should come as a shock to you. The mandate demands that all insurance plans include complete coverage of contraceptives without co-pay, without exception. Since contraceptives are contrary to the Catholic faith this poses a huge obstacle to Catholic employers who, in good conscience, cannot cooperate with this mandate. According to Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik the mandate “undermines the democratic process itself.” He continues, “Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for women’s health issues? The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe – the United States included – the Church is health care.”

In defense of religious freedom I ask that you sign a petition demanding a conscience clause be added to the birth control mandate so that Americans won’t have to make the odious decision of choosing between their faith and their job.