Many have asked me whether I think that the President's announced "accommodation" regarding the HHS mandate for health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization is acceptable.
As many Catholics and non-Catholics point out, the principal problem is that the mandate is still in place. The President's February 10 announcement changed none of that. What remains is that all employers -- not just religious ones -- have to provide health insurance for their employees, and all health insurance plans have to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization.
It's a fiction to say that the insurer, not the employer, is now the one offering this coverage. It is an illusion to think there is any moral difference introduced by the February 10 "accommodation" of the Administration.
As Peggy Noonan wrote, "The short-term White House strategy is to confuse and obfuscate, to spread a thick web of untruths about the decision and let opponents exhaust themselves trying to fight from under the web."
Simply put, freedom of conscience -- which belongs not just to religious people but to every American -- demands that people should “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions” (Respect for Rights of Conscience Act).
Apparently, more will be coming out from the Administration, during the year that it is giving to non-exempt religious groups to "adapt" to the mandate. But we don't need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to "adapt" to the mandate. The mandate is unjust. You don't adapt to injustice; you oppose it.
That's why Priests for Life is launching a federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration to block the enforcement of this mandate on us, and to declare it unconstitutional.
That is also why we are garnering support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).
This is why we are also helping to organize public rallies, protests, and acts of civil disobedience.
As an organization of Catholic clergy, as a corporation that employs 60 people of various religious backgrounds, and as a ministry whose very purpose is to protect and promote Church teaching about the specific practices at issue in this HHS mandate, we are particularly well-positioned to fight against this intrusion on the rights of conscience.
Moreover, we are convinced that the current mandate, if allowed to stand, paves the way for mandated coverage of abortion on demand, and we see no reason why those pushing for the mandate would not want that in the long run. If the HHS can add at any time to the list of "preventive services" for women, and argues that these services are cost-effective, how could they not argue for health insurance policies to cover abortion, as less expensive than childbirth?
As John Allen said, "There's no room for compromise on this. The mandate has to go."
Keep up with details at www.PriestsForLife.org
We will have a webcast about this on Wednesday, February 15 at 9pm ET
We will take your comments to Congress
Washington Post OnFaith article: Why we’re suing over the HHS birth control mandate
Press Release: Father Pavone rejects White House compromise on contraception (February 10, 2012)
Press Release from Congressman Chris Smith: No Change (February 10, 2012)
Statement from National Right to Life Committee: Obama paves way for abortion mandate
Religious scholars examine Obama’s action (Fox News)
US Bishops’ response to Obama’s action
Comments from Archbishop Charles Chaput