Obama: Birth Control Mandate is Final; Catholic Bishops Vow to Fight

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

by Kathleen Gilbert -

After being deluged with complaints from outraged religious groups, Obama’s health department has dug in its heels, saying its decision to force employers to provide abortifacient birth control drugs will continue as planned – although faith-based groups will be given a year reprieve. In response, U.S. Catholic bishops have not minced words, vowing to fight the order as “literally unconscionable.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that faith-based entities like hospitals and universities will have until August 1, 2013 to provide employees with free birth control as part of their insurance packages. The mandate will also force such groups to pay for sterilizations and, because the FDA has approved abortifacient drugs such as Ella as “contraception.”

The mandate is being implemented as part of the new health care legislation that was passed in March 2010 despite vigorous opposition from U.S. Catholic bishops, who called it dangerously open to being used as a means of spreading abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s top abortion lobby, immediately celebrated the announcement and called on abortion supporters to thank the administration for defeating “a pressure campaign from anti-contraception groups.”

“With your help, we stood up to the large, well-funded groups that tried to put their anti-contraception beliefs ahead of women’s health,” NARAL president Nancy Keenan told supporters in an email. “We also kept the pressure on the Obama administration, and, clearly, our message was heard.”

But Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, indicated that the Catholic Church would not go down without a fight.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Dolan.

“To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable,” he continued. “It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”

Other faith-based groups reacted in dismay, with many seeing the decision as equivalent to the administration declaring war on religious groups that oppose the drugs.

“It is the greatest irony, that by worshiping the cult of ‘choice’ the Obama Administration has determined that religious organizations lack the freedom to act in fidelity to their beliefs,’” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic university watchdog group. “The White House has sold the First Amendment for a few pennies of political support from the ACLU and the abortion lobby.” CNS has noted that several Catholic universities have already spoken up in protest against the coming mandate.

“If the Obama Administration cannot respect the First Amendment of the Constitution, then we must take this fight to the courts and win,” Reilly said.

The press office of the USCCB didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) said it was “deeply disappointed” in the decision. “The HHS rules trample on our most cherished freedoms and set a dangerous precedent,” said Galen Carey, NAE Vice President for Government Relations.

NAE notes that, if the unprecedentedly narrow “religious exemption” to the mandate is allowed to remain, it may be adopted in other areas of law, leading to further erosion of conscience protections.

HT: LifeSiteNews

Comments

  1. Adam James says:

    I don’t think churches should be in the business of medicine to begin with. Medical advice and treatment shouldn’t be given or withheld because of a religious belief. That is extremely dangerous. The Catholic Church is subject to the laws of this nation, the same as any organization, when it steps out of the of the tax free enclosures that are its church’s and decides to engage in interstate commerce which is constitutionally regulated by the Congress and subject to the secular laws of this nation. The Catholic Church and all churches and faiths and those without faith must respect the the fact that the Constitution is the Law of this Land and not the doctrine of any church, temple or mosque.

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution states that the Congress shall have the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” . This power, the basis for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 among others, provides an ability for the Federal Government to regulate the actions of business. With respect to these medical facilities, they, with certainty meet the definition of “public accommodation” and thus these institutions are subject to regulation, and in restricting medical access, can be lawfully found in violation of a woman’s right to receive all lawful medical care as afforded to her by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and affirmed by the Supreme Court via Roe V. Wade in 1973. It would in fact be a violation of the First Amendment to allow the Medical Facilities of the Catholic Church an exception to these rules. A dangerous precedent would be set in allowing any facility affiliated with a religious group to not be subject to U.S. Law while in its facilities. It would undermine our fight against Islamic Extremism and could even in theory, provide a protections for the accused in all types of cases where religion could be used as standing. Law is an umbrella which encompasses everyone–

  2. Raymond Lamb says:

    I have been a longtime vocal supporter of President Obama because I agreed with many of his decisions. As a black American, I was extremely proud and had no qualms about expressing my trust and confidence in him. However, this decision is absolutely outrageous and runs contrary to my beliefs as a Catholic and as an American! My vote has never been swayed based one singular issue in the past. This issue will be the first that has outraged me to the point where it will affect my vote and will cause me to actively raise my voice in loud opposition. It pains me to take this stance because minus this issue President Obama had my full support and my financial contribution to his reelection campaign; another first for me. All that has stopped until this decision is reversed. If not reversed soon I am compelled to rigorously speak out against this decision and to get behind any candidate that will reverse this disastrous decision no matter what party the candidate represent! It can’t be allowed to stand!