Tag Archives: catholic health association

The bishops and the mandate: Principled witness vs. politics as usual

From Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson, writing for the Witherspoon Institute:

…Let’s consider some facts. When national opposition to the mandate was a white-hot blaze, President Obama announced a few changes meant to satisfy critics. Hours later, the mandate was enshrined in the Federal Register without any of those changes having been made. The President’s self-imposed deadline for making good on his promises? After the election.

He claimed to be accommodating religious, especially Catholic concerns. It was a compromise, say America’s editors. That would make it history’s first unilateral compromise: The White House had secured (and promptly rolled out) the approval of longtime supporter Sr. Carol Keehan—and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards—but not a single bishop.

In fact, the New York Times reports, the proposal was never really meant to address the bishops’ concerns. It was calculated to give cover to liberal Catholics, whose renewed support of the mandate would mute the roar of criticism of Obama from champions of religious freedom on the Left and Right both….

Well, the bishops certainly do oppose mandating this funding (and always have), for contraceptives and abortifacients are, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan and others have noted, not health care. Anovulent pills can be used for genuinely health-related purposes, which the bishops support and even cover for their own employees. But what contraception and abortion prevent or “treat”—the existence of new people—is no illness or disease. They serve, as such, no common good. And when one weighs religious liberty against what is no public good at all, it’s easy to see how the scales of justice will tip. Bishops who point this out are not flexing “political muscle” in a hyped-up “difference over policy,” as America’s editors suggest. They are drawing the plain implications of Catholic principle—to which Jesuit magazines are, we presume, editorially committed.

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that these services were forms of health care. Imagine too that the “compromise solution” were more than the election-year I.O.U. of a politician who had already revealed himself to be reckless about religious freedom (and even averse to that term). We still face the fact that the mandate would require Catholic and other religiously opposed employers to provide plans that cover services they find morally abhorrent, or else pay crippling fines. Insurance companies would be the ones to advertise (and, officially, to fund) the plans’ controversial parts, but objecting employers would in practice bear their costs. …

Freedom of conscience is hardly safer after the new proposal: Objecting employers will still have to contract for insurance plans covering what they judge to be immoral. Their employees will still have this coverage through employers’ contracts, effectively on their dime….

But it gets worse. All these threats—to conscience, to witness, to religious freedom, to pluralism and civic virtue—would take their toll for no good reason, whatever one’s view of the services at stake. The cause of subsidized contraception and abortion has, again, no share in the common good. But suppose it were a public good, and important enough to justify risks to conscience and witness and religious freedom; suppose Obama’s revision really would be implemented as promised; and would, so implemented, diminish all these risks. The case for the mandate would still fail, for whatever risks remained would be unnecessary.

For one thing, contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs are widely available—not just at drug stores but also (to cite the administration’s own announcement) at “community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support.”

But even more tellingly, the administration has on non-religious grounds granted exemptions from the mandate to employers that account for an estimated 88 million employees in 2013. If coverage of contraceptives and abortifacients is indispensable, why is it not guaranteed for these tens of millions? If, on the other hand, the administration can afford to exempt employers for other reasons, why not show the same solicitude for employers with moral and religious objections? HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebellius, who promulgated the mandate, may have let the reason slip when she declared herself at “war” with those she cast as enemies of—you guessed it—“women’s health.”…

The administration’s dubious record on religious freedom, its selective intransigence on the insurance mandate, indeed the weakness of its position from every vantage-point leave only one explanation. Against people seeking to keep and share their faith, the Obama administration has chosen to give shining witness to its own dogmas—for which it would risk one-term martyrdom; before which it would bend every pillar of society, make every last man and woman bow. The Catholic bishops remain standing in bold resistance, and somehow it is this—and not their own, rather awkward posture on the matter—that embarrasses the editors of America magazine.

Read it all.

Promised objectivity, Americans receive Planned Parenthood ideology

From HLI America, part of Human Life International, a report on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used information provided by the Women’s Preventive Services committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM, part of the National Academy of Sciences) to further their political pro-abortion agenda by insisting that including contraceptives in government-mandated health care is medically necessary, when objective evidence shows that it isn’t.

Virtually all of the Women’s Preventive Services committee members are affiliated in some way with Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

From HLI America:

… But these eleven members—out of a total of sixteen—demonstrate a more than casual commitment to the furthering of the abortion lobby. In fact, according to information available from the public record, a total of $116,500 has been donated to pro-choice organizations and candidates by these committee members. What is more, public records show that not one of the sixteen committee members has financially supported a political candidate who is politically anti-abortion. Whatever one thinks of the relevant issues, one would be hard pressed to argue that this IOM committee is politically non-partisan. This committee was purportedly assembled for the very purpose of providing outside, objective, and expert advice to the policy-making HHS; as the above roll call demonstrates, however, the committee was anything but a balanced sampling of experts….

The committee held three “open information-gathering sessions” to receive expert testimony regarding the preventive services that should be mandated and funded. However, nearly all the invited speakers were known advocates of contraception and abortion on demand. In a press release, Michael O’Dea notes:

At both meetings, the invited speakers represented organizations which advocate coverage of contraception, without cost sharing of expenses. Those organizations include the Guttmacher Institute, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Planned Parenthood, The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Society for Family Planning.

Furthermore, there was not one representative from the Catholic health care system, despite the fact that, taken together, it constitutes the single largest provider of health care in our country. Representatives of the pro-life and pro-family organizations (who were forced to seek for themselves permission to speak) were relegated to the brief public comments portion at the end of the day.

This relegation is not insignificant, for though the use of contraception by American women during child-bearing years is nearly universal, support for publicly funded contraception is not. As indicated by a recentRasmussen poll, 46% of Americans do not support the committee’s recommendation, while only only 39% of Americans believe that contraception should be covered free of charge. This diversity in viewpoints should have been reflected both in the makeup of the committee and of the speakers invited to testify at the hearings. Instead, there was a built-in bias in support of the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs….

The central claim of the report, as it is bears on Recommendation 5.5, is “that greater use of contraception within the population produces lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates nationally” (pg. 92). In support of this claim, the report cites only two sources—one of which is a non-peer-reviewed advocacy report. This spurious source was published by the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, and a strong advocate for abortion and contraception. One reason for this dearth of evidence is simple: numerous studies show that greater access to oral contraception and emergency contraception does not in fact reduce unintended pregnancies or abortion….

Read it all. (H/t Stand Firm)

Sr. Carol Keehan thanks pro-choice group in private e-mail

Surprised? I’m not. (Well, actually I am a little–that Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, didn’t respond to the pro-life emails as well). From LifeSiteNews.com:

After a person posing as a pro-choice leader thanked her for defending reproductive rights against the U.S. Catholic bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association thanked the individual and encouraged her group to take a proposed donation to CHA and instead use it to benefit a “poor woman” in CHA’s honor.

The pro-life activist behind the e-mail says Keehan didn’t respond to e-mails with an overt pro-life point of view sent from several e-mail addresses, but got a very different response when posing as a pro-choice leader praising her for defending birth control.

The individual sent a message from the fake pro-choice group “Riverside for Choice” on Sunday thanking Sr. Keehan for protecting access to birth control and for her “willingness to not be intimidated by people like the catholic [sic.] bishops who oppose choice in women’s health.”

“On behalf of all the women and men of Riverside for Choice I would like to thank you for protecting the rights of all women to have free access to essential health services including the contraceptives that allow us to control our own health and bodies,” the individual, posing as “Jenna Wagner” of “Riverside for Choice,” said in an e-mail exchange with Sr. Keehan forwarded to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). “Wagner” also requested information on how to send a donation to CHA.

“Thanks so much, it would please me if you would use the money for a poor woman in California,” was Sr. Keehan’s response the next day, signed “Keep praying, Sr Carol.”…

LSN asked why Riverside for Choice, which appears to specifically promote artificial birth control, was encouraged to spend funds in CHA’s honor. Sr. Keehan responded, “I asked them to use it for a woman who was poor, I did not ask them to use it for reproductive health.”

Sr. Keehan and CHA have become the fulcrum of the intensifying controversy regarding the Obama administration’s plan to require Catholic employers to pay for sterilizations, contraception, and abortifacient birth control drugs such as the “week-after” pill, Ella. The White House flaunted support from CHA on Friday when it announced an “accommodation” to the mandate that has since been soundly denounced by the U.S. bishops as inadequate. Media outlets then juxtaposed CHA’s name beside Planned Parenthood‘s to give the impression that the two sides of the debate agreed to the arrangement….

The sender of the e-mail, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews.com that the faux pro-choice e-mail address was used after other e-mails were ignored.

“I sent her numerous e-mails from a pro-life point of view and she did not respond, so I wondered if she would respond in a positive way to an e-mail from an abortion supporter and she sure did,” said the sender.

“I was most disturbed by her asking a clearly pro-abortion group to use their money for a ‘poor woman’ knowing a pro-abortion group would use it for abortion,” the sender said…

Read it all.

Sr. Carol Keehan strikes again. . .

During the debates/discussions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association worked hard to get the legislation passed. Of course, she had no idea what was in it, and over the past few weeks, has expressed disappointment at the new HHS mandates on contraception coverage.

But, no worries, she hasn’t left the Democratic plantation yet–she’s fully on-board with the new “accommodations” by the White House:

…The country’s Catholic bishops have not yet responded to the White House’s statement. However, both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association (CHA) have expressed satisfaction with the new plan.

“The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed,” said Sr. Carol Keehan of CHA. Keehan and her organization are perhaps best known for flouting the position of the Catholic bishops during the fight over Obama’s health care reform, throwing their weight behind the bill despite the opposition of the U.S. bishops over concerns the bill would increase abortion funding. Keehan was personally singled out by former USCCB President Cardinal Francis George for condemnation for her role in helping pass the health reform law.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards issued a statement, saying: “In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women.s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work….

Wow, just where a Catholic sister ought to be, sitting on the same side as Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

HHS mandates: Render unto Caesar

What of the Catholic and other religious laity? Who speaks for them?

When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the years urged that the government install universal health care, they may have been working from what they perceived as Christian motives (corporal acts of mercy) but what they were really encouraging was government intervention in all aspects of an individual’s life.

Once the bishops finally realized that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) included language that allowed for government-funded abortions, they tried to stop the legislation’s passage but it was too late. Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, eagerly supported the legislation, along with other Catholic people religious, and for too many years, much of the laity had heard from the bishops how health care coverage was something the government should provide.

Obamacare passed, and now the bishops are upset that Catholic institutions will be required to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. They are right: requiring this coverage is an assault on the First Amendment (prohibiting the free exercise of religion) and a massive interference in how churches and institutions are run, but it doesn’t end there.

What of a Catholic or other religious layperson who owns a business who will now be required to offer this coverage to his employees? The owner will have to provide, and pay for, what he considers morally evil. The bishops do a disservice to all concerned laypeople when they regard the matter as settled if religious institutions end up exempt. Why are the bulk of church members left to fend off the government intrusion for themselves?

USCCB has forgotten the church’s own principle of subsidiarity, that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority–something the federal government definitely is not.  In pushing for universal health care controlled by the government with exemptions for religious churches and institutions only, the bishops have left everyone else to fend for themselves in trying to oppose government mandates.

They may get their exemption, but we will not.