Contraceptive Mandate “Designed” to affect Catholics

Well at least someone is getting it on the record:

The federal government’s new contraceptive and sterilization insurance coverage mandate includes a religious exemption whose language was designed specifically to counter Catholic institutions’ conscience protections, one Catholic health care leader told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee Nov. 2.

The exemption’s “highly flawed” definition originated in a California debate about a state-level contraception mandate, William J. Cox, president and CEO of the California-based Alliance of Catholic Health Care, told a Nov. 2 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.

The definition was “painstakingly crafted by the American Civil Liberties Union to specifically exclude religious institutional missions like health care providers, universities and social service agencies,” Cox stated.

During the debate, the then-head of Planned Parenthood in California said the wording was designed to close the “Catholic gap” in contraceptive coverage.
An exemption is available only for those religious employers that have teaching religious values as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people who share its religious tenets. [...]

The mandate goes beyond forcing religious institutions to contradict the belief that sterilization and contraception are immoral. Its grant of religious freedom to groups which employ and serve only co-religionists also significantly burdens Catholics’ “deeply held belief that God calls us to serve our neighbors,” …

“Nearly 160 years ago, the Sisters of Mercy responded with compassion and care when government was unable to tend to the victims of the San Francisco cholera epidemic. Today, it is time for government to honor this noble legacy by strengthening once and for all federal conscience protections so all health care providers today, tomorrow and well into the future can carry out their vocations absent the threat of government discrimination,” said Cox.

The opposition goes into Animalfarm-land suggesting that of course consciences are important, but some are more important than others, and institutions can't have consciences, anyway, right?

Jon O’Brien, president of the dissenting group Catholics for Choice, said his organization represents those who respect others’ right to follow his or her own conscience. However, he endorsed the mandate.

He contended that exemptions threaten the conscience rights of every patient seeking care for services he characterized as “essential health care.”

“It is incredible to suggest that a hospital or an insurance plan has a conscience. Granting institutions, or entities like these, legal protection for the rights of conscience that properly belongs to individuals is an affront to our ideals of conscience and religious freedom,” O’Brien argued.

This administration is determined to narrow the concept of religious freedom, and they are trying to do it by suggesting that religions and churches are no longer free to be who and what they are. Apparently,a church can be forced to trespass against itself and its own creed and conscience — or else close down its outreach — and to some people, that seems like “freedom.”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Sadly, some of us have seen this coming.

  • Ann Neumann

    You’re working with a warped definition of religious freedom. While the Catholic Church does amazing health care work, the desire of the USCCB and others to dictate the morality of employees and patients is a direct violation of individual conscience. Jon O’Brien is right in this sense. Were the Church willing to say that patients are allowed informed consent and meaningful referrals, the impact of the Ethical and Religious Directives on patients (Catholic or not) would be lessened. But they aren’t willing to respect the beliefs of their pluralistic employees and patients. In other words, what you’re arguing for, religious freedom, you’re willing to support only for the Church’s leadership (a handful of men who wish to dictate how others believe) but not for all of society. If one doesn’t believe in this brand of Christianity, have they no religious freedom? Now what if they live in a rural area where available hospitals are only Catholic? Must they abide by the USCCB’s conscience? Must they die from a complicated pregnancy? Must they have more children than they want? Must they wither in a hospital on a feeding tube? Surely you admit that there are a multitude of beliefs in this country. And yet the Catholic Church has doggedly pursued its mission of health care, determined to enforce its laws on all. It seems to me that charges of religious intolerance must be leveled at the Catholic Church.

    [Are you arguing that someone can accept employment with the Catholic church -- knowing it is a church, which means it has a creed and a set of beliefs, and is not a secular entity -- and yet demand that the church trespass upon itself and its own beliefs? The employee, understanding WHO its employer is, has no obligation to respect the employee's own policies? The employee is not forced to work for that entity, by the way. An employee is free to say "I choose not to work for this institution that is not aligned with my preferences" in a way the church, as an employer, is not -- they can't say, "we don't want to hire this person because he/she is not Catholic," and I don't think they'd be inclined to. Why does "fairness" and "respect" only go one way? That seems both unfair and a bit dissonant to me. And with all due respect, my definition of religious freedom is not "warped." It's simply fundamental. The church is not trying to "enforce its law on all." It is trying to be TRUE TO ITSELF, and be what it is. And my definition of freedom (coming from my classical liberal background) is that a thing must be free to be what it is, and entitled to full respect for it. To me, this is the epitome of "tolerance." It seems to me the recent mania for insisting that things be not what they are but what others demand they be, is completely at odds with freedom. -admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, of course, this will not only impact Catholics, but every religious organization that opposes abortion, such as the Orthodox Church, and many evangelical denominations.

    I see this as persecution by Lawyer/bureaucrats.

  • vox borealis

    Now what if they live in a rural area where available hospitals are only Catholic? Must they abide by the USCCB’s conscience?

    Well that’s the rub, isn’t it. If such a hypothetic places—the rural locale with ONLY a Catholic hospital available—then I would say yes, the patient has to abide by the rules of that private institution. And that private institution should be able make its own rules in accordance with its own religious and moral dictates, as according by the first amendment’s freedom of religion.

    Now, if that is a problem, then maybe the government could build a competing hospital, or maybe some other more accommodating denomination could build a health care facility. But it is perverse—warped, to use your word—to allow the government to so narrowly define religious freedom… freedom that is not only spelled out in the bill of rights but is a cornerstone on which the nation was founded.

    [You know, once upon a time the ONLY choice many Americans had outside the big cities were Catholic hospitals -- and the Catholic hospitals and wonderful Catholic religious treated whoever came to their doors -- they didn't reserve their care only for the Catholic; they didn't require that a patient cease to be who he or she was before they could be treated. True tolerance. Until abortion and contraception became the be-all-and-end-all of civilization (perhaps literally) no one in those rural places, served by the Catholics, minded that they'd have to get their healthcare from an institution with a creed and respect for the sanctity of their lives, and boundaries. In places where it is still the only choice, I'm not sure the church must be forced to trespass against itself in order to serve others. One cannot argue that a church that can be told "act against yourself and your own conscience or close down your outreach" is free. That is in fact, a warped idea of freedom. -admin]

  • vox borealis


    And of course a double-standard is at work. An institution will not be allowed to have a conscious (to use Jon O’Brien’s wording), so no protections for church’s or church hospitals. That freedom of religion lies with the individual. Unless of course the individual is Catholic and works in a non-Catholic hospital—then the nurse who does not want to take part in an abortion can be fired. no individual conscience clause for you, lady!

    The mind boggles not only at how the first amendment has been perverted, but how quickly the process seems to be accelerating in recent years.

    The good news is that when all Church opposition has been cornered and silenced, and everyone from age 9 and older has all the free, tax-payer funded birth control pills and condoms and abortions they want, then all our societal problems will be solved, right. Right?

  • Reg

    When the government tells people they cannot help people unless they also assist them to act immorally, the government is acting as a tyrant and its requirement is entitled to no respect.

  • fiestamom

    So frustrating that 50% of American Catholics voted for this guy. My own priest in 2008 never said a word about the 08 election. Although he always found an opportunity to rail against the “unjust war.” On the Sunday before Obama’s inauguration, his homily was about how historic Obama’s election was. 2 things: that was my last Sunday at his parish, he just quit the priesthood. What a leader.

    What a sad representation of American Catholics in his administration. Pelosi, Biden, Sebelius, Kmiec- It has always seemed so obvious that Obama is purposely trying to divide and conquer the American Catholic Church.

  • Iris Celeste


    The Catholic Faith teaches the belief that the body is animated by the soul from the moment of conception. Also, like most religions, it teaches that murder is wrong, though it won’t condemn it under certain extreme circumstances, such as in self-defense and in cases of just war. To be a member of a religious faith, means that one as an individual espouses the tenants of that faith. Therefore, if one calls one’s self Catholic one must believe that abortion is nothing less than murder. So if an individual does not believe that, then the individual is not Catholic and should not call himself such; it is not a matter of conscience. A matter of conscience would be if the mother’s life was in danger and a Catholic individual, under the exception of “self-defense” thinks an abortion should be done in order to save the life of the mother.

    Now, the scenario you just painted for us is equivalent to someone saying, “This young woman does not own a car. She uses public transportation. She has also decided she wants to murder her boyfriend and the way she wants to murder him is with a vehicle. Since she doesn’t own a car and uses the city’s bus system, the city should allow her to use one of its busses to run over her boyfriend. It is a matter of conscience for her, the murder would be on her hands and not the city’s.” I’m sure if someone proposed such a thing to you you would find it inane. Now you know how you sound to someone who actually knows what the Church teaches.

    Iris Celeste

  • thule222

    “Surely you admit that there are a multitude of beliefs in this country. And yet the Catholic Church has doggedly pursued its mission of health care, determined to enforce its laws on all.”

    Interesting phrasing, “doggedly pursued.” It’s almost like you’re disappointed they haven’t quit yet.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Vox, yes, the First Amendment has been perverted.

    And it has accelerated in recent years; the secular religion of abortion/contraception is a jealous god, and will allow no rivals. We will submit to it. Or else. As I was saying on another thread, the other day, more and more, Christians will be forced to choose between earning a living, or following their faith. It won’t be easy, especially in these hard economic times. Any complaints will be met with “But we’re just following the law!” Or, “We’re just trying to be fair! You can work here, as long as you approve of abortion!” Or, “We’re just protecting women.”

    (And, of course, the story we’re being sold is that more abortion, and more sterilization/contraception will bring about Nirvana. Or at least the Earthly Paradise. And I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. . . )

    (Would that the powers that be were as interested in eliminating cancer—or Alzheimer’s Disease—or Autism; but their holy grail is “Women’s freedom”—which mostly seems to be some form or other of unnatural sterility. How this ties into health, I’m not sure.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Ann, how is it a violation of individual conscience for the Catholic Church to state its views, and hire people accordingly—and yet it isn’t a violation of individual conscience for the government to start dictating what you can, and can’t believe, if you get any assistance from it, or want to work for it? Talk about your religious intolerance!

    And Catholic hospitals do not kidnap helpless women off the street, and force them to accept their services. Nor do they force women to get pregnant. And, despite your trotting out the usual “Hard case” scenario, which is supposed to wring our hearts, the fact is that even remote rural areas these days have access to a number of health services these days—by car, or some kind of transportation, if nothing is right in town.

    As for withering on a feeding tube—when my beloved older brother had a stroke, and was declared brain dead, they didn’t keep him going aritificially. Catholic hospitals don’t take extreme measures when it really is no use.

  • SKay

    Will they do the same to Islam?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    SKay—no, they won’t.

  • Elaine S.

    “Christians will be forced to choose between earning a living, or following their faith. It won’t be easy, especially in these hard economic times.”

    Well, then, maybe we ought to start thinking about a contingency plan… tell me how we’re going to support those homeschooling stay at home spouses and big pro-life families we’re supposed to have?

    I say this NOT to ridicule the Church or advocate giving in to the world — far from it — but simply to say that we need to start thinking, NOW, about how to help people who are going to be caught in these faith vs. putting food on the table dilemmas and not just say (to paraphrase the Epistle of James) “Well, good luck and hang tough” without doing anything concrete. Can we offer them employment or hook them up with free lance work? Can we find a way to disengage our charitable instiutions from their dependency upon government funds? Can we teach young Catholics good financial planning skills so that they are less likely to panic or fold like cheap suits when confronted with a conflict between their job and their conscience?

  • kenneth

    I’m certainly not in favor of letting a church enforce its moral codes far and wide outside of its core ministries, but I see one possibility for compromise. Maybe a Catholic employer wouldn’t have to directly contract for or provide coverage for things like birth control. The thing to do might be to give all their employees a reasonable amount of money on the side, say in a flex spending health account.

    Just pulling a number out of the air, but the employers could say “Our doctrine won’t let us provide birth control coverage, but here’s a thousand bucks you can use at your discretion.” They could spend it on acupuncture, reiki, a weight loss camp, birth control pills, getting their tubes tied, or laying in a large cache of Sudafed for their weekend meth lab (though I’m pretty sure the feds would frown on the latter). At any rate, it strikes me as a win-win. The employees aren’t getting someone else’s doctrine shoved down their gullet, and left out of pocket for what should be standard medical care in the secular world. Conversely, the employer is not being forced to directly or knowingly underwrite something against their doctrine.

  • Manny

    I don’t know how a Catholic votes for the Democratic party, and especially this administration. This is proof of an open attack on our faith.

  • Greta

    Manny, I have not been able to figure out how anyone could support the Democratic Party with their long history of being wrong on the major moral issues since our founding. Those who do will deny history that clearly shows their party as slave masters, starting a war which is our most devasting in our history to keep and expand slavery, forming the terror group the KKK after they lost the war to deny rights to freed blacks, beating terrorizing, and lynching blacks as well as burning and bombing churches, and doing everything possible to block any civil rights for generations until they finally saw the handwriting on the wall 100 years after the end of the civil war. They say this is not the current democratic party and try to give their past to the Republicans with full support of the MSM without a single shred of proof. The so called southern strategy was to bring in those who were against the liberal big government agenda, the movement to end school prayer and came out in full force with the liberal passing of Roe. The democrat racist all stayed within the Democratic Party for the remainder of their lives like bull connor, Senator Robert Byrd, a KKK Kleagle, Byrd senior, Al Gore senior, and more. In fact, when LBG got the 1964 civil rights bill passed, take a look at the Democrats who voted no. Please show which of these left to become Republicans…
    - Hill and Sparkman of Alabama
    - Fulbright and McClellan of Arkansas
    - Holland and Smathers of Florida
    - Russell and Talmadge of Georgia
    - Ellender and Long of Louisiana
    - Eastland and Stennis of Mississippi
    - Ervin and Jordan of North Carolina
    - Johnston and Thurmond of South Carolina
    - Gore Sr. and Walters of Tennessee
    - H. Byrd and Robertson of Virginia
    - R. Byrd of West Virginia

    And of course we know that the Democratic Party support not only this type of effort show in this Anchoress post, but anything that will support the death of babies through abortion. Remember the battle to try to stop even partial birth abortion which you have to be a real monster to support that brutality. So why would we be surprised to see the Party of death and destruction of life and liberty lining up to end religious conscience issues?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    So, basically, Kenneth, you’re saying that Catholic employers should just hand out money, in the thousands of dollars, to their patients, so they can “Do what they like” with it—in short, they have to become banks, as well as medical facilities, and they’ll have to find this money to hand out somewhere—even when the economy’s imploding.

    If the patients buy birth control, or abortions, with these funds, then the Catholic employer is being forced to fund such things anyway—just doing it under the table, and calling it by a different name; many Catholics would still find this a violation of their conscience, and I doubt it will appease the state. And why should Catholic medical facilities be expected to pass out money for Whatever? Money which will be used for reiki, beer habits, yoga, drugs or a pack of cigarettes? Is this really what a health service should do? Become a giant piggy bank? Isn’t this a waste of money that could be spent on life saving drugs, treatments, nurses and doctors? (Excuse me, I forgot—birth control has now become the most important service hosptials and clinics can provide; forget about all that heart attack, accident, cancer stuff! /Sarc. off.)

    And if they do end up supporting someone’s meth lab, they could get in trouble with the law. Also, Catholics are not supposed to support drug abuse, any more than they are abortion—and you know that’s where a lot of “Free money” is going to end up. At which point, after the thousands of dollars have been spent, the patients will be back—wanting abortions. Handing out wads on random money, to random people? Not a good idea.

    I’m trying to see the Win-win here, but I just can’t.

    This is not about protecting people from religion–and it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of secular sources for abortion/birth control, what have you. It’s about putting the Catholic Church out of business, and putting the fear of the state into any Christians who dare disagree with the state’s social policies.

  • kenneth

    Well, look, the meth reference was just a joke born of the goofiness of fatigue. But I stand by the core idea. Health savings/flex accounts are not a radical new idea nor an invention of mine. Its a good way for employers to provide a benefit without getting bogged down in the minutiae of trying to account for the vastly different needs of employees.

    My idea isn’t to put them on the hook for vastly large amounts of money they otherwise wouldn’t spend. The idea is rooted in my assertion that non-Catholic workers at essentially secular employers should not have to be on the hook for someone else’s doctrine. There has to be a limit in how far any church can extend its sphere. Once a religious entity starts buying up multi-million dollar business ventures, they can’t claim that anything that entity does must be treated as an extension of worship and religious expression and is therefore immune to any regulation. I just don’t buy that and never will. You’re right that I’m a big fan of a church state wall of separation, a big razor-wire topped one. It’s not the case that I favor these policies as part of a plot to snuff out Christian conscience for snorts and giggles. I seriously have better things to do with my time, even in this economy.

    Finding any point of true compromise is as rare as hens teeth these days, so why not take a serious look at them when the come up? At first look, this seems like a very real way to accommodate Catholic conscience and the rest of us. The amount of money I’m talking about is almost secondary. Maybe the employer does a dollar for dollar match into the flex account up to a limit. The employer gets some real moral separation from things like birth control. The idea is to structure it so that it’s not just a “wind and nod” handover of money to be used explicitly for contraceptive drugs or procedures. It’s a bit of money that some will chose to use for that and many will use for other things.

    If Catholic non-support for contraception is so strident that they can’t give money that has the remotest chance of ill use, guess what? They’ve already got problems. They have no control over what workers do with their paychecks as it is, and it’s quite reasonable to expect that some of that money underwrites things the Church does not support. Most Catholics use artificial contraceptives, and demographically are also well represented among those who get abortions. You can bet your last dollar some of them have done so with funds paid to them while teaching at a Catholic school or working at a parish hall someplace. For that matter, there’s nothing to stop a Catholic-employed person from donating lots of their paycheck to Planned Parenthood or Catholics for Choice or who knows what. The point is that the employer is not openly or willingly complicit in such things. They pay out the money in good faith, the person getting it makes their own moral choices and presumably has the accountability for them.

  • vox borealis


    You’re right that I’m a big fan of a church state wall of separation, a big razor-wire topped one.

    Do you really? If so, then you should not favor any attempt by the state to regulate how private enterprises—especially those with overt religious affiliations—handle their own affairs. If a church-run hospital wants to create very “strident” (to use your term) rules for its employees, so be it. The gov’t should have no say (separation of church and state!), and then let the marketplace determine if qualified employees are willing to work for such an outfit.

    As for your compromise plan—sure, it’s ok as far as it goes. But in no way should it ever be mandated by the state. I have a better plan, though: no “flex dollars” whatsoever are provided. Instead, the employee does whatever he or she wants with his paycheck. Want to buys some condoms? Well, I guess that means a a couple fewer trips to McDonalds this month.

  • kenneth

    One other point that I think needs to be made is that contraception IS “real medical care.” It’s really not all about blocking pregnancy to enable some sort of libertine excess or as a way just to stick a thumb in the bishops’ eyes. At least half of the women I know who are using birth control pills these days do so primarily to treat real medical problems – extreme bleeding and cramping etc. My own wife is among them. Before starting her latest pill, she would have pain so severe that it sometimes required trips to the ER and IV dilaudid to control. I know others who have undergone ablations for similar reasons and women who have had tubal ligations because another pregnancy would endanger their lives. I don’t see where any employer has the right to override a decent standard of care for people who may not even be sworn to their doctrine.

    We can look at this same problem from another angle. I think we would all agree these days that mental illness is real and requires real treatment – psychiatric counseling and drugs. The Church of Scientology don’t agree. If they buy up secular businesses (they have plenty of cash), should they have the right to tell a worker with real depression or bipolar disorder “tough luck kid”? That situation is not at all materially different from what Catholic owned businesses seem to be demanding in terms of religious freedom. You and I can roll our eyes at Scientology and say “they’re not the same,” but under the law, they are.

  • kenneth

    “Do you really? If so, then you should not favor any attempt by the state to regulate how private enterprises—especially those with overt religious affiliations—handle their own affairs. If a church-run hospital wants to create very “strident” (to use your term) rules for its employees, so be it. The gov’t should have no say (separation of church and state!), and then let the marketplace determine if qualified employees are willing to work for such an outfit………………….”

    The problem I have with this is that “their own affairs” at some point become the rest of our affairs. I have no problem keeping most such regulations out of the confines of churches themselves and enterprises directly related to them such as schools.

    Things like hospital systems are an animal of a very different stripe. They are money making corporations regardless of their non-profit status. They are administered and staffed overwhelmingly by secular professionals and serve the general public. In many areas, Catholic hospitals are the only game in town, and that often appears to be a deliberate strategy by some of the orders buying them up.

    It’s also not a “private affair” to the extent that they get millions of dollars in government money. If the public is paying for coverage for some of its citizens, its not unreasonable for them to demand that they get a complete level of care as defined by medical standards, not religious ones. Churches could nullify that by getting off the government teat, but few have been willing to do so since Constantine’s day.

    I could buy the consistency of your argument from a Libertarian perspective as long as you would be cool with non-interference if a humanist employer refused coverage for all childbirth related costs knowing that faithful Catholics in their employ would be affected.

  • Gail Finke

    Kenneth: Should Scientologists be able to restrict mental health care coverage if they buy a secular business? Yes. Business owners buy health care programs for their employees and if mental health services are against their wacky religion, they should not have to pay for them. Nobody is forced to work at a Scientologist-owned business. And if the Church of Scientology opens an “L. Ron Hubbard Memorial Hospital,” then they should not have to offer those services at their faciities, the doctors they hire should not have to offer them, and they should not have to offer that coverage in their insurance plans. That is what freedom of religion means. People are free to work elsewhere (I would!) or spend their own money.

    You are wrong about contraception, by the way. The Catholic Church allows women to take contraceptive pills if they treat a real condition. Your wife would not be forbidden to take pills to control severe pain and bleeding if she converted to being a Catholic — although she would probably want to investigate whether it could be controlled some other way (some doctors prescribe pills for everything and don’t investigate other options). And of course Catholics in real life do whatever they want. The Catholic Church can’t MAKE you not buy or take pills it tells you are immoral to take.

  • vitae

    Does anyone have any hard data about “in many areas, Catholic hospitals are the only game in town”? In how many rural areas is this really the case? And by “in town,” do we mean “within a 25-mile-radius” or “within a 250-mile radius”? I am not trying to be sarcastic or snarky — I would truly like to know. And not only because I find straw-man arguments needlessly divisive…

  • vox borealis


    and that often appears to be a deliberate strategy by some of the orders buying them up.

    This seems to be mostly BS. Catholic hospitals make up a far smaller % of healthcare coverage today than decades ago. I have a hard time believing that orders are buying up hospitals all over the place.

    It’s also not a “private affair” to the extent that they get millions of dollars in government money. If the public is paying for coverage for some of its citizens, its not unreasonable for them to demand that they get a complete level of care as defined by medical standards, not religious ones.

    I agree and disagree. As I see it, the state has pulled the rug out from under church run organizations. The church provided services that the state could not or would not. The state recognized this was a good deal and shifted public money to private institutions. But now the state wants to change the rules of the game. My view is that since the state (or if you prefer “public”) is dependent on these private institutions, they public has very little right to demand that these private institutions bend to their will.

    Of course, that is not the way the game will be played. So I think that, in the longer run, the Church will have to simply reject all public money so that it can (hopefully) remain free of state coercion. There are in fact times when I wish the Church would simply close all of its charitable institutions that receive state funding. Let the state find a way to fill the void. But the Church won’t (rightfully so), so it will continue to dance with the devil…the increasingly abusive and coercive state.

  • vox borealis

    Kenneth (again),

    I could buy the consistency of your argument from a Libertarian perspective as long as you would be cool with non-interference if a humanist employer refused coverage for all childbirth related costs knowing that faithful Catholics in their employ would be affected.

    I would not have much problem with this. I think it should be up to employers to offer whatever benefit packages they see fit to attract the best workers. An employer who wanted not to pay at all for childbirth benefits should be within his rights to do so. Of course, he would probably lose many good employees because coverage for childbirth and related costs are a major incentive for employees. But like I said, that should be the employer’s call.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Along with Vox, I’m in favor of employers offering any sort of benefits they see fit—or no benefits at all, if that’s how they want to do it. It should be the employer’s call.

    The problem is, the state is trying to override employer’s here, and dictate its own terms.

    Furthermore, the Church doesn’t force secular employees to come and work for them. If said employees do choose to work there, I think it is wrong for them to agitate against their employers’ policies—just as I think it’s wrong for religious employees who, knowing their employers’ policies, seek to change those by filing lawsuits, etc. Again, the problem here is that the government is coming up with policies directed against a particular religious institution and religious belief; it’s practiscing discrimination. If secular employees are really that determined to avoid somebody else’s religion, why would they work for a religious organization in the first place?

    If a woman takes the pill for hormonal, non-birth control reasons, it isn’t considered forbidden, by the church. All the women I’ve ever known who used birth control, used it in order to avoid pregnancy, plain and simple. And the millions of abortions we’ve seen since the institution of Roe vs. Wade are not due to health reasons; if they are—-well, if that many women are unable to sustain healthy pregnancies, we’ve got a real health crisis on our hands, and it’s got nothing to do with the church!

    There are also many forms of contraception, such as the diaphragm, that are intended solely for contraceptive use, and provide no health benefits, per se.

    Kenneth, you meant the Meth lab thing as a joke—but, trust me, it’s no joke; if medical facilities start passing out money for patients to do whatever they like with. . . well, let’s just say it’s probably not going to spent on health care.

    Again, with Vox, I think it would be better if the Church were to close all charities that depend on government funds. However, I don’t think, in the long run, this will help—more laws will be written, specifically against them; also, the church will then be denounced for it’s “cruelty” in no longer providing services.

  • Elizabeth

    There’s an interesting angle here — could a health plan provide a set amount of money in a health savings account handled by a third-party administrator, following the regulations established for “eligible medical expenses,” and manage to follow Catholic moral teaching and the “free contraceptive” ruling — or do the “free contraceptives” have to be without any trade-offs at all?

  • Mary De Voe

    @Elaine S.:
    Catholics are citizens who pay taxes. The taxes that Catholic citizens pay may be returned to them to enhance outreach programs. Government does not “launder money” from Catholic taxpayers to make it secular money from secular taxpayers. Government grants were originally requested and granted with the accepted fact that all citizens pay taxes irregardless of their religion. The Catholic religion teaches “Render unto Caesar…” so that government authority is observed and obeyed. This is to say that Catholic Charities has as much right to tax money as the ACLU and without government intrusion into the lives of its taxpayers. For government to intrude into the lives of its taxpayers to squelch their conscience is taxation with out representation. Government takes taxes from Catholics. Government must acknowledge their contibution, their citizenship and their personhood or government is taking their taxmoney without representing these persons…taxation without representation…unconstitutional.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Mary, very good post!

  • Mary De Voe

    It is important to understand that government does not own taxes. Tax money belongs to the taxpayers even as the taxmoney is administered by the administration. Government is a servant of the people. There is a Government Accounting Office to relate to the citizenry how their tax moneys are disbursed. For the ACLU to try to cut Catholic taxpayers out of the contributers circle is rather piggish.
    If Catholic taxes are taken by the government for the common good and they are, this alone is an acknowledgement, acceptance, inclusion, welcome of Catholicism and the wholeness of persons who embrace the Truth. If government takes Catholic tax dollars, through this taxation, government admits to the sovereign personhood, inviolable, of the Catholic person, the individual Catholic person, the non-profit Catholic person, the ecclesiastical Catholic person (The Catholic Charities who receive government grants, because of the Catholic persons’ co-mingled tax moneys receive the good will to serve the common good AND DO NOT FORFEIT ANY OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP, UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, AND FREEDOM IN THE PROCESS. Catholics have put their tax monies where their mouth is. Government and the ACLU needs to DO THE SAME.

  • Mary De Voe

    @Rhinestone Suderman:
    You are very kind. God bless you.

  • Mary De Voe

    What is absent from too many posts is the reverence for life, reverence of the other, the will to disabuse each other of contraceptives.

  • Greta

    I have been involved with Healthcare for over 40 years. Most here do not understand the first thing about how hospitals are fun, Catholic or otherwise. There is so much bad information in these comments that it does not make sense to even try to correct it.

    Catholic hospitals are in many places and staying alive through generous gifts and donations. For anyone to see them as money making even if they are not for profit is simply showing their ignorance. Without many of these hospitals, rural communities would go under. Any understanding of the industry would point out that these hospitals would be far better off simply shutting the doors. The same is true of most of the Catholic Hospitals in the urban settings. Most offer services that for profit hospitals have shut down as money losers long ago. If this type of thing going through, you will begin to see Catholic’s sell off the hospitals to for profit groups and healthcare will become far worse. Rather that do anything possible to keep the Catholic Hospitals viable and supported, this administration is far more focused as always on ways to attack faith which they see as their enemy and the enemy of their number one focus, abortion. If they were actually interested in better healthcare and lowering costs, this type of thing would not be happening. Of course if they can mess up healthcare enough, then their dream of total control of the people by controlling healthcare might be easier. Imagine if they gain this power and control. What you see here is only a beginning to what they want to control in our every day lives.

  • Mary De Voe

    @Mary De Voe:
    What is absent from too many posts is the reverence for life, reverence of the other, the will to disabuse each other of contraceptives.

    The Law of the Land, our Constitution, is our founding principle “…to secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Our posterity is all future generations. Liberty walking at the break of a new day is the most beautiful coin ever struck.
    Aborting God’s children, our constitutuional posterity, when it is God WHO makes the seed grow into wheat, and sends forth the rain and sun, in spite of Malthus’ calculations, is the absence of all good sense for the common good. Malthus ate some of God’s wheat and this makes of Malthus a liar.
    Collecting taxes for an agenda so contrary to the general welfare without the issue being put on the ballot is to silence the voice of the people and now, the conscience of the people. Silencing the conscience of the people makes of persons the property of the state. Persons into property.
    It is very hard for the government to walk with both feet in its mouth.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Elizabeth, I suspect the idea is that the “Free” contraceptives must be provided without any trade-offs at all—and Catholic charities are not going to be allowed to hide behind some monetary account, or a third party administrator (who would probably just mess things up—my office has worked with such administrators; trust me, efficient, they are not.) As I pointed out in my earlier post, just giving patients an open money account, which they can use to spend on contraceptives if they choose, isn’t a good idea, and is just skirting the issue.

    And, as Mary points out, this whole thing is simply trying to get around the very serious issues of reverence for life, the modern acceptance, even among many Catholics, of contraception; questions of taxation, and why Catholics are being singled out for this treatment when they, too, pay taxes, and when Catholic hospitals provide important services, and are not in violation of the Constitution.

    Greta, you make some good points. And Mary, thank you for your kind words.

  • Mary De Voe

    Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness toward man’s destiny are endowed, unalienable rights infused into man’s soul by our Creator when two become one.
    Catholics are a reproach to the immorality being imposed on the newly begotten innocence and virginity created by God to renew the face of the earth and bring forth a springtime of hope and peace.
    Rhinestone Suderman’s eloquent synopsis of this issue will further understanding for it brings clarity to the chaos that diminishes too many peoples’ grasp of their own civil rights, freedoms, and TRUTH. Rhinestone Suderman gives us a language as arms in this battle against the dark forces of evil, namely: “How have the Catholic hospitals violated our Constitution?” and “What laws have the Catholic hospitals violated that they must be outlawed?”
    Thank you Greta. Rhinestone Suderman: Thank you and you are very, very welcome.

  • kenneth

    “There’s an interesting angle here — could a health plan provide a set amount of money in a health savings account handled by a third-party administrator, following the regulations established for “eligible medical expenses,” and manage to follow Catholic moral teaching and the “free contraceptive” ruling — or do the “free contraceptives” have to be without any trade-offs at all?”………………………………

    Did a little looking into things and it turns out these concepts are already well established. There are things called flex spending accounts and health savings accounts. They work a bit differently. The former program tends to supplement people who already have decent insurance. The other is more for those who have high dedictibles – the sort of insurance that only covers big time hospitalizations etc. They can be funded through employer contributions or, as is usually the case with flex spending, the employees themselves.

    Even if your employer isn’t giving you the money, its a nice benefit. The money you put in can only be used for medical things under a set of rules – including but very much not limited to birth control medications. You use it to pay for stuff your insurance doesn’t cover for whatever reason- can be the $20 deductible for meds, or bigger ticket items. The sweet thing is that the money you deposit and use is then not counted against you as taxable income at tax time, assuming you follow the rules. There’s also some payroll tax advantage for employers.

    I would be very surprised if Catholic employers are not already using these things. In fact in the case of HSA, you don’t even need the employer’s input to create it, although they often contribute to them.

    Is this the answer to the mandate issue at hand? To me it seems like a decent place to start. Compromise can work IF there’s some room between each party’s non-negotiable bottom lines and IF they care to look for that negotiable ground. If everyone comes into it with an absolutist mindset, then it just comes down to one side losing due to electoral/demographic/judicial outcomes. No one can say how courts will come down on any given future fight, but for those advocating a total hands-off exemption to discrimination law for Catholic employers, the precedents are not promising:

    This is of course one ruling in one state with one set of laws. But they seem to be modeled on well-established federal employment law which sharply limits a church’s ability to discriminate in employment practices when its the church itself or some entity which is primarily concerned with day to day religious activities where the hiring and service is limited to people of that faith.