Monday, January 23, 2012

PoliticsUSA: Healthcare-financed abortions: You will pay for it; Christian hospitals well do it


No Change to 
Contraceptives Mandate /
Narrow Exemption

The answer, delivered on Friday, was: No change

Religious groups of various faiths have been protesting ever since the federal 
government announced in the summer that all health insurance plans, except 
for those offered by churches, will have to cover a wide range of birth control 
measures. The mandatory drugs and procedures that must be offered by almost 
all health plans starting this August includes all contraceptives, including two 
abortifacient drugs, sterilization, and reproductive counseling.

The administration's exemption for religious employers was broad enough to 
protect from the mandate only churches and religious orders. But it was crafted 
not to protect religious organizations that serve the public (and not only 
co-religionists) or that offer material or psychological help (and not only prayer 
or preaching). Churches would be exempt from violating their consciences 
about paying for drugs and procedures they reject as immoral, but parachurch 
organizations (faith-based service organizations) would not be exempt. Also 
not exempt: individuals with a conscientious objection to paying for those drugs; 
owners of secular organizations with a moral objection; religious colleges and 
universities--they would have to include the drugs and procedures in the plans 
not only for their employees but also for their students.

Source: eNews for Faith-Based Organizations (IRFA)
(January23,2k12)  Editor: Dr Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional 
Religious Freedom Alliance

Re-posted here by Politicarp, 
refWrite frontpage politics columnist

general editor, refWrite frontpage

I don't oppose all abortion, and strongly maintain 
that Protestant Christian, Catholic, Jewish and other
faith-based hospitals shoud not be forced into the
abortion racket. — Owlb

Dr Carson's article continues below:

Note that the contraceptives mandate applies to all health insurance plans—
it is not a condition attached to federal funds such that a religious organization

can avoid the violation of its convictions by refusing a federal grant or contract.

Not only Catholic leaders, but also evangelicals and orthodox Jews, among 
others, protested the mandate, because it requires including contraceptives
because it

includes abortifacients, or because of the evil of forcing religious employers to  
pay for "preventive services" they regard as immoral. And they protested the 
exemption that essentially defines most faith-based service organizations as not 
being religious at all. That's a terrible precedent to put into federal law and 

On Friday the administration gave its answer to all of the protests is: No change! 
No budging. No accommodation. No change in the mandate, for example, by
eliminating the most controversial drugs, Plan B and ella, from required
coverage. No change in the exemption, not even to protect church-governed

The administration blandly assured everyone that it had carefully listened to the 
many protesting religious leaders. But it judged that no change was necessary. 
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services 
said, "I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting 
religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services."   

Oh, there was a concession, one change: the administration announced a
one-year delay in imposition of the birth control mandate for nonprofit 
employers who currently do not pay for contraceptives in their health insurance 
plans because of their religious convictions.
This delay, Secretary Sebelius said, "will allow these organizations more time and fledibility and flexibility to adapt to this new rule."

In other words, this is not a year to negotiate a change that would accommodate 
religious convictions. No, just a year for the organizations to learn to suppress 
their moral qualms.

A year delay, many observers noted, puts the deadline for these protesting 
organizations safely on the other side of the presidential elections.

Among the responses to Friday's announcement:

* Galen Carey, VP of Government Relations for the National Association of
 Evangelicalssaid, "No government has the right to compel its citizens to 
violate their conscience.  The HHS rules trample on our most cherished
 freedoms and set a dangerous precedent."

* Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious  
Liberty Commissioncalled the decision "outrageous." "It's analogous to  
giving a man on death row a one-year stay of execution. You can follow your  
conscience for one more year."

* Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. 
Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "Never before has the federal 
government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace 
and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a 
land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."

* Even the Washington Post blasted the administration, saying that it should 
have expanded the exemption and calling the one-year delay a "feint at a 

Remedies: Two religious colleges, Belmont Abbey College (Catholic) and 
Colorado Christian University (Protestant) have already sued the federal 
government. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represents the two 
colleges. Other religious institutions of higher education are contemplating 
lawsuits. And several bills have been introduced into Congress to deal with 
the religious-freedom and conscience concerns in the health reform legislation, 
including the problem of the birth control mandate.

Adding insult to injury, some defenders of the administration, to fend off 
charges that its actions diminish religious freedom, try to heap credit on it 
simply for upholding the law. For example, Sarah Posner, at Religion 
Dispatches, has written, "[T]he notion that the federal government has 
somehow discriminated against Catholics is rendered even more absurd by 
the hard numbers: in 2011 alone, according to the federal government 
database at, Catholic Charities received over $753 
million in federal funding. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has not, as 
the president promised on the campaign trail, reformed faith-based funding to 
ensure, among other things, that groups receiving taxpayer aid do not
 discriminate in hiring." But, of course, the federal government awards funding 
to particular private organizations not as an act of favor but because those 
organizations appear to be the most cost-effective suppliers of services; and 
what critics term "religious job discrimination" in fact is a management practice 
that is undergirded by federal laws and court decisions.   

Take Note:  The Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance organized two 
letters from leaders of organizations of various faiths, protesting the mandate  
and narrow exemption.

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