Joe Six-Pack’s Public Comment on the HHS Mandate “Proposed Rule: Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act”

Joe Six-Pack’s Public Comment on the HHS Mandate “Proposed Rule: Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act” March 24, 2012

It’s a lovely Saturday, following on the heels of a Friday in which many folks turned out during their lunch hours to stand up for religious liberty. From the photographs I’ve seen posted on Facebook and other blogs, the turnout was pretty good. NPR even reported on the event, as did a few other news outlets, like the Washington Post.

Truth be told, I couldn’t make it to the event that was planned nearest to my home. The six hour roundtrip, and a honey-do list a mile long, put the kibosh on that idea. But now, sitting in the comfort of my home, with two out of three children off to various activities, I found time to submit a public comment on the Proposed Rule for “Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act.” Remember that opportunity from the news dump last Friday?

The process is similar to when I wrote the Petition for All Freedom Loving People to Sign. In other words, it’s a bit like a Tweet with a 2,000 character limit (which is 1,200 characters more than the 800 character Tweet that the petition was). What follows is what I just uploaded over at the website for the HHS Mandate.

The present Administration, through the Health and Human Services Department, is mandating that all employer healthcare insurance plans provide coverage for drugs and procedures which violate the beliefs of the Catholic Church, Catholic institutions, and individual Catholic Christians.

Basically, the new rules require the Catholic Church, and the institutions operating faithfully under the aegis of the Church, to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs, abortifacients and sterilization procedures that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The “accommodation” outlined by the Administration does nothing to assuage the moral dilemma faced by the Church, her institutions, and her faithful, who are all  involved in her mission to the world.

Never before has the United States Government deigned to represent “transcendental truth” on matters of conscience for any religion within the United States. That in itself is unprecedented. As stated clearly in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the free exercise of religion must not be impeded by the state. The narrow exemption to the mandate is such an impediment, as it severely limits the ability of the Church to conduct her mission to minister to all peoples, regardless of their religious affiliation.  This is why the Mandate is unconstitutional in it’s current form.

As it stands, neither this proposed rule, nor the “accommodation,” remedies the situation faced by the Catholic Church, her institutions, or individual Catholics. None can opt out of this mandate in a way where their consciences are protected. As it stands,  the mandate violates their ability to conscientiously adhere to the teachings of their faith. A robust, and real way for organizations and individuals to conscientiously object to this mandate, so that their core beliefs, teachings, and moral values are not violated, must be implemented in order to make this mandate acceptable.

See the attached file for clarity.

You see, you are given the opportunity to upload files that may help bolster your argument. In case you are wondering what I uploaded for “clarity,” it was a little excerpt from Pope Paul VI’s encylical letter Humanae Vitae, saved in the form of a Microsoft Word document. To wit,

The Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding birth control can be found in the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

Lawful Therapeutic Means

  1. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)

The complete document can be found at the following link:

And that is all there was to it.

As it turns out, there are 87 4 days left in which the public can comment on the HHS Mandate, and the Administration’s “Accommodation.” Feel free to use my comment as a template, or a jumping-off point to your own thoughts and commentary.

Whatever you do, don’t be shy. Let the Administration know your thoughts today.

UPDATE: The Catholic Health Association’s Comment Letter.

Protesters rally for religious freedom in front of Philadelphia's Independence Hall on Friday. Alex Brandon/AP
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