HHS Mandate: Did Obama Blink?

I’ve found that evil usually triumphs…unless good is very, very careful.

–DR. MCCOY, Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Omega Glory”

Franks Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, posted some interesting news this morning.

There are signs that the Obama Administration is reading the court-ruling tea leaves and has decided to maybe, perhaps, accede on the HHS Mandate — at least to the point of living up to a few of the promises it made in the past.

After misrepresenting the HHS Mandate all the way through the 2012 campaign (“It protects ‘women’s health.’”) and steadfastly ignoring the promises that it made concerning the Mandate, the administration may be backing down just a bit.

As Frank Weathers notes, the probable reason for this move is that the administration has been losing in courts around the land precisely because of these very public promises it made and then failed to keep.

I’m a little chary of this. I expect that the White House will pump out a few “compromises” that are designed to offer as little relief as possible. Then, it will trumpet this action as having satisfied every problem with the HHS Mandate. I then expect the press and the Pavlovian Church haters to follow through by casting these minuscule changes as acts of great statesmanship and a total resolution of the problem.

The trouble I foresee is that the so-called compromises won’t resolve the problems with the HHS Mandate. They will not end the attack it represents to religious freedom. What these grand compromises will effect is to weaken the case of those who oppose the mandate without actually granting them relief.

Of course, I could be wrong. President Obama may actually back down. He might even  decide that attacking the First Amendment clause about the government not interferring with the free exercise of religion is a bridge too far, a legacy he doesn’t want.

The reason I’m cautious in my expectations is that I keep remembering that this president lied to Congressman Bart Stupak and other pro life Democratic Congressmen when he told them that the Affordable Health Care Act would not interfere with freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. Our president is a good gamesman. He plays the public and the press like a harmonica. But he also has a track record on this very issue of promising much and then delivering the opposite of what he promised.

I’m waiting to see what he says he’s going to do. Then, I’ll wait again and see what he actually does.

Frank Weathers has written a great analysis of the current moves by the White House which says in part:

Back in December, I shared thoughts that perhaps the Administration will scuttle this ridiculous rule out of embarrassment alone. I mean, the phony war on women trope worked well enough to secure reelection, but in reality, it isn’t holding up in the courts.

Most likely they won’t scuttle it, but heavily modify it instead. The courts clamping down on the Administration to produce their promised changes certainly puts the HHS under pressure to get this done. CNN has sources who say the modification is forthcoming.

To read more, go to The Administration Rolling Back the HHS Mandate? CNN Thinks Yes.

Also, Elizabeth Scalia has an excellent analysis of the President’s “compromise” here and Frank Weathers posted an update here.  It’s pretty much what I predicted, including the orchestrated hosannas from the press.

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  • Sus

    Cautiously hopeful. I’ve been praying for Obama about this.

  • Bill S

    Which is more harmful? The Catholic Church’s ban on birth control or the HHS mandate? The former is looked upon by Catholics as a cornerstone of morality, while the latter is looked upon as evil. In the coming years, I would venture to say that the ban on birth control will do more harm than the HHS mandate.

    Let’s look at the HHS mandate first. Let’s look at the worst objection against it. I would have to say that that would be the morning after pill. Seriously, is using the morning after pill anywhere near what one would really call an abortion? Only by the strictest technicality one could possibly try to use. It’s really a stretch to call that an abortion.

    As for other contraceptives, this all comes down to the issue of papal infallibility. The popes started out condemning contraception and once they started there was no turning back. So now every pope is required to condemn it. Otherwise, the whole concept of papal infallibility goes out the window. So everyone has to make up reasons why birth control is such an evil.

    At worst, the HHS mandate, which is intended to help people, will cause some employers to have to “violate their conscience”. Oh wow! A violated conscience compared to depriving people of the pleasure of sex without the worry of pregnancy.

    As a disillusioned Catholic turned atheist, I find this so typical of the Catholic Church. Deprive people the enjoyment of sex if it doesn’t lead to procreation.

    • Joe

      Even from a philosophical/scientific point of view, and not even taking into account a theological view, you are grossly incorrect in your assertion of several points. First, the morning after pill is an abortifacient. It does not prevent the egg from becoming fertilized and, de facto, becoming a human being. What it does is disrupt the normal course of ovulation and keep the egg from attaching itself to the uterine lining. IUD’s, as a morning after “implement”, do this in a more physical way by, literally, scraping the uterus and detaching any potentially fertilized eggs from the uterine wall and literally starving the fetus to death.

      Second is your assertion that the HHS mandate is there to help people. You will need to define what you mean by helpful, because in a great number of cases it is not helpful. If your determination of is that a free and conscious act of the will can have its “negative” consequences nullified…then you have actually not helped the person, but instead made them more delusional in their thinking. Even greater risks will be attempted for which there is no “help” to nullify the negative consequences. And so you have a larger and larger number of people whose thinking is distorted by the mindset that birth control and abortion help them, in that negative consequences can easily be rendered null by the use of a chemical or physical substance in the body, or worse, that their poor decisions will be made better by someone else paying for it. It is in this latter part in which the HHS mandate is made doubly harmful and sets up an entire society for failure.
      With the HHS mandate, now the negative consequences of someone’s actions are now MY problem as much as it is the individual who made the choice to spread their legs. The money to make the HHS mandate possible, which is made through an effort of my time of which I am then paid accordingly by an employer who spent time in creating the business to be successful enough to employ me, is now funding the poor decision of each individual who chooses to make the decision to use birth control. So, instead of the individual being made to answer for the consequences of their actions, an entire business, from the employer to the employee, is now responsible for making the funding possible so that the individual who made the poor choice, now has a means of removing the negative consequence from their life and go back to making this same choice as many times as they want, with no discernible consequence to them. Meanwhile the cost of the product which I am employed to produce grows higher and causes an inflationary cycle which is detrimental to not only the growth of the business, but of the entire industry and even, perhaps, globally. In essence, every time Wonderbread has to fund someone’s birth control either the price of bread goes up, or their margin shrinks and results in a loss of someone’s job.

      So, just from this extremely limited viewpoint, it is easy to see that these types of poor decisions are not helpful to anyone. A person who makes a poor decision is never assuaged from their poor decision making. A business, who has to pay for this person’s poor decision making, could potentially raise prices on their products, thus creating less money for you to have and potentially impinging on your decision-making. Or worse, the company could lose profits and decide to layoff employees as a result, making that individual’s poor decision directly responsible for someone losing a job.

      I do hope you can see that your comment is neither well thought out nor in keeping with the reality of things. Every action has a consequence. Whether you choose to believe that, is not my problem…but I’m sure one day it will be.

      • Bill S

        “First, the morning after pill is an abortifacient.”

        I get a kick out of that word. Like there really is something special about life from its very inception. If you took a scientific look at the process, you would realize that an early stage abortion is really nothing to get worked up about. The problem is that Catholics have infused a soul and all kind of characteristics into the fertilized egg and they are so brainwashed by this belief that they can’t see how benign an early abortion is. Especially the morning after pill.

        And the cost of coverage is insignificant as far as health care costs go. To make birth control evil, people come up with all kind of dreaded scenarios and consequences. Just because the Church is out in left field on this whole issue.

        And the thing Catholics fail to understand is that sex without procreation can be a good thing and is not always a bad decision. I’ve enjoyed it my whole adult life and I have two well planned children. It’s all good, regardless of what staunch Catholics have to say about it.

    • Suzanne

      You can always buy your own contraceptives. No one is keeping you from that.
      I bought my own and have two great kids. Why does the government have to pay for everything? or your employer. Not paying for it is different from not allowing it.

      • Bill S

        Same here. Maybe Obama feels that the HHS Mandate is good for the country. He is afterall Harvard educated and has two daughters. So he is not just some sort of loose canon making stuff up as he goes along. There is a better chance that contraception is good for the country than there is that the ban makes any sense whatsoever.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Bill, contraception has been condemned for 2000 years (and indeed 6000 since Onan was condemned for using it in Genesis). It was condemned long before the 20th century Popes spoke against it, and in fact the only reason that the Pope spoke about it in 1930 was that, for the first time, some Protestants had declared that contraception use might be permissible within marriage. For 400 years prior to that, all Protestants were against contraception as well.

      The Catholic Church does not condemn married couples “enjoying sex” as long as they don’t purposely take action against the life-giving aspects of sex. As it happens, the man/woman combination is only fertile for about 8 days or so of the month. To be honest, from the health standpoint alone, not to even get into the issues of morality, hormonal birth control is something to be carefully avoided if one cares about their health.

      • Bill S

        “Bill, contraception has been condemned for 2000 years (and indeed 6000 since Onan was condemned for using it in Genesis).”

        That’s just a ridiculous statement. As is this one:

        “The Catholic Church does not condemn married couples “enjoying sex” as long as they don’t purposely take action against the life-giving aspects of sex.”

        It shows just how far removed the Catholic Church is on modern day living.

        • Dave

          “Bill, contraception has been condemned for 2000 years (and indeed 6000 since Onan was condemned for using it in Genesis).”

          “That’s just a ridiculous statement.”

          Why, exactly, is it ridiculous? It’s a factual statement.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      “Which is more harmful? The Catholic Church’s ban on birth control or the HHS mandate?”

      Oh Bill, you’re such a broken record. Why do you bother coming to Catholic blogs?

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  • FW Ken

    Free sex over conscience.

    Amazing.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I think there’s less here than meets the eye. Obama hasn’t blinked. He’s taken one step back while he’s got a buffer of fifty steps behind him. While religious institutions are not paying for the contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations, the insurance they provide must still give it over. Which makes the Church a pimp in the transaction.

  • http://www.brandondutcher.blogspot.com Brandon Dutcher

    Rep. Hamilton: You will find this article (“Crony Contraception”) fascinating (though, sadly, not surprising): http://spectator.org/archives/2013/02/01/crony-contraception

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Hi Brandon! Thanks for this. I’ll read it this evening.

  • Bill S

    “While religious institutions are not paying for the contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations, the insurance they provide must still give it over. Which makes the Church a pimp in the transaction.”

    So there really is no way for Obama to satisfy Catholics? The changes to the mandate have been promulgated. I can’t wait to read the USCCB comments.

  • Bill S

    Dave,

    What proof of that statement can you provide?

    And what makes you think that the Church has not been wrong, as it has been in many things?

    • Dave

      Bill,

      The proof can be found anywhere – here for example in the very top parts of the article:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_contraception

      The Church has not been wrong on any doctrine. Certainly, it has been wrong in many other administrative decisions its leaders have made. Of course, there can be no proof that the Church is right, but we Christians take Jesus at His word when He said to Peter, “whatever you bind on Earth will have been bound in Heaven” among other similar statements. At the very least, the Catholic Church can be shown not to have reversed course on any teaching.

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  • Bill S

    “At the very least, the Catholic Church can be shown not to have reversed course on any teaching.”

    You say that as if it is a good thing. That is the very worst thing about the Catholic Church. It can’t admit and correct its errors. That’s insane. By backing that position , you are being used and misdirected.

    • Dave

      “That is the very worst thing about the Catholic Church. It can’t admit and correct its errors.”

      Yeah, it is either one or the other. The Church is either the extension on Earth of the Kingdom of Heaven and is protected from teaching errors as Christ indicated to St. Peter, or as St. Paul says in another context, “if for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

      Of course, St. Paul immediately goes on to say, “But in fact Christ HAS been raised from the dead…”

      Now, in other contexts besides the area protected by Christ from error (which is actually a pretty narrow area), the Church can and must correct its mistakes. In areas of the truth revealed by Christ, though, the Church does not even consider Herself at liberty to change the teaching of Christ. Her commission is to pass on the truth that Christ taught, period.

  • Bill S

    “The Church is either the extension on Earth of the Kingdom of Heaven and is protected from teaching errors as Christ indicated to St. Peter, or as St. Paul says in another context, “if for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

    I can guarantee that it is the latter. There is no way that it is the former and I pity anyone who believes that it is.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      “I can guarantee that it is the latter.”

      Good for you. I’m glad you have integrity in your beliefs. I am certain that you are wrong. But for those who are not certain either way, it is better to follow Blaise Pascal (one of my heroes) and bet on God’s existence, since you don’t lose anything if you are wrong and you gain everything if you are right.

  • Dave

    “You should not believe things without evidence or at least a rational assessment of the possibility of it being true.”

    I’ve made that assessment and believe it to be true. Maybe you should have read some of the best answers that Catholics give, such as “Answering the New Atheism” before you went and jumped ship.

    Check out Leah Libresco, a genius of a gal, even when she was an atheist. Now she has decided to become Catholic. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/my-burden-of-proof

    • Bill S

      Dave,
      I meant well by my last response to you, but I think it was deleted. I don’t see it anywhere. But it appears that you got it based on your latest response to me.

      I checked out the link you sent me. Thank you.

      You have no idea how much easier my life would be if I were a believer. I have sacrificed most of my quality of life to not believe. My best friends and most of my family are believers.

      The best book I have read that responds to the New Atheism was one I got off Patheos called “True Reason”. As they say on the X-files, “I want to believe”. But I can’t unknow what I have learned from my research. Good for you if you have made the assessment and believe it to be true. I have come to the opposite conclusion.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Bill,

        My two best friends from high school (a long time ago now, but we are still good friends) are atheist/agnostic, so I have had some interesting discussions and am familiar with the books answering the atheist perspective.

        In my opinion, you won’t find very good responses from the Protestant side (in general, I am not familiar with every single work.) This is just because they tend to respond (those who bother to respond) from a fundamentalist type viewpoint. One exception is “The Delusion of Disbelief” by David Aikman, which is pretty good.

        The one I mentioned earlier is pretty good as an overview. Other good ones are “God is No Delusion” by Thomas Crean, “The Dawkins Delusion?” by Alistair McGrath, “New Proofs of the Existence of God” by Robert Spitzer, and “The Last Superstition” by Edward Feser, all of which come at it from slightly different perspectives. As with the books taking the atheist perspective, many of the books in the field are not very high quality.

        • Bill S

          Thank you. I will put them on my reading list.

          • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

            If you want one more, but an earlier one…G.K. Chesterton was a former atheist, and the famous Christian C.S. Lewis was also an atheist until he read Chesterton’s book “The Everlasting Man”

            • Bill S

              Thanks Dave. I appreciate your references. I did read “Mere Christianity” and “The Screwtape Letters”. I haven’t read any Chesterton.

              I look at faith from a historical standpoint. We had the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and the Earth came into existence 4 billion years ago. Humans evolved from apes some 200 thousand years ago. So called ancient Hebrew Scriptures were “found” by Hilkiah/written less than 3,000 years ago from which we got the concept of Yahweh/Jehovah/God. Christianity began less than 2,000 years ago with stories about Jesus that were eventually recorded in the Gospel of Mark, from which the other Gospels were written.

              The Roman Empire became the mechanism for the spreading of Christianity, which really took off under Emperor Constantine. The Bishop of Rome became the head hauncho of the bishops and the papacy evolved into what it is today. There really was no hand of God or Holy Spirit involved in any of this. The Church is a strictly human institution claiming supernatural authority.

              From this, I can see how people believe what they do, but I can also see how it all came to be without any divine intervention. God is just a fictional character invented to unify the kingdom of Judah under Josiah. There never really was an Adam, Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc. and the story of Jesus is mostly a myth.

              • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

                Your narrative is one way to interpret the evidence. I think it’s a stretch to say that Jesus was mostly a myth, because there is more evidence for his existence than that of virtually every other ancient historical figure whose existence we don’t question. But if you think Jesus is mostly a myth, do you think the Apostles were mostly a myth as well? Because they all (except John) died as martyrs, so certain were they of the truth of the Gospel. In the following generations, many others who were the next generation following the Apostles were certain enough to die for that truth as well.

                By the way, the Bishop of Rome was the “head honcho” long before Constantine. You can read the commanding tone of St. Clement’s (the 4th Pope) letter to the Corinthians (who were well outside of his jurisdiction as Bishop of Rome), St. Ignatius (died about 107 AD) who said that “Rome presides in the chief place” or St. Irenaeus (late 2nd century) who said of the Church of Rome, ” FOR WITH THIS CHURCH, BECAUSE OF ITS SUPERIOR ORIGIN ALL CHURCHES MUST AGREE, THAT IS, ALL THE FAITHFUL IN THE WHOLE WORLD”

  • Bill S

    Dave,

    My response was deleted again. Probably because I recommended a book that might enlighten you. Censorship is one way to protect faith that wouldn’t need protecting if it were true.

    I think I will quit while I’m ahead.

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