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  • Catholic Reaction to Obama’s HHS “Compromise”

    by Kenneth D. Whitehead

    Brack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius

    There was surely never any chance that the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could revise its current birth prevention mandate in a way that would be acceptable to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The stated purpose of this HHS mandate all along has been to provide universal coverage at no cost in healthcare plans of all FDA-approved birth control methods, including contraception, sterilization, and some potentially abortion-inducing methods. At the same time, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) requires most institutions and nearly everybody else, under penalty of heavy fines for non-compliance, to subscribe to the same healthcare plans now made responsible for providing the stated birth prevention methods.

    However, the Catholic Church teaches that these methods are gravely immoral, and hence imposing them by universal mandate violates the consciences of Catholics among others. It should not have been surprising that when the mandate was first introduced last year the Catholic bishops immediately opposed it with virtual unanimity. It forced Catholics and Catholic institutions into direct cooperation with evil.

    The USCCB originally framed its opposition to the mandate primarily with respect to its violation of the religious liberty of Catholics and others; it also found unacceptable the exceedingly narrow religious exemption, which excused from compliance essentially only churches, actual houses of worship.  However, these two objections were not the only reasons the bishops opposed the mandate. In fact, the mandate itself is radically incompatible with the Catholic view of man and society.

    The Obama Administration, however, seems not to have anticipated either the kind or level of opposition mounted by the USCCB. Still, in response to it, an announcement was eventually forthcoming that a “compromise” or “accommodation” would be made whereby the objectionable birth prevention procedures would become the responsibility of the insurance companies and would not be directly paid for by the insured—as if the latter did not still have to pay for the now tainted insurance. In other words, the announced compromise was really no compromise at all, even though the media dutifully reported it as such, and most people accordingly believed that it was a true compromise. Yet what it really amounted to was merely a cosmetic kind of shift in how the objectionable procedures would be delivered and paid for, not that they were in any way less compulsory.

    Dolan’s Response Employs Optimistic Rhetoric
    On February 1, HHS issued a revised rule providing for the shift that had been announced, indicating how self-insured entities would be treated, and broadening slightly the religious exemption to conform with what the IRS regularly considers to be a religious or a religiously affiliated organization. On February 6, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the USCCB president, responded to this HHS action with a statement pointing out that the revised rule “falls short of addressing the U.S. bishops’ concerns.”

    Cardinal Dolan indicated three areas in particular to which the Church continues to object very strongly: 1) Catholic schools, hospitals, charities and the like are still not considered to be “religious organizations” exempted from compliance; 2) these and other organizations will still have to allow their employees to be supplied with the immoral procedures through insurers or third-party administrators (nor can they opt out from this requirement); 3) all  private business employers (and individuals for that matter) remain wholly obliged to subsidize the contraceptive and abortifacient procedures through their insurance plans.

    Nor were the Obama cosmetics even applied to this last category, business employers (and individuals); they must comply regardless of their conscientious objections; they enjoy no religious liberty whatsoever in the matter. Cardinal Dolan rightly noted apropos of them that “we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs they proclaim on the Sabbath. We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.” Thus, the whole controversy would still be far from settled even if an acceptable exemption were somehow granted for religious organizations (unlikely as that appears to be).

    That the Church had no choice but to reject this supposed Obama “compromise” or “accommodation,” then, was inevitable and entirely predictable. What is perhaps a bit surprising about Cardinal Dolan’s response, however, is the positive, almost cheerful, tone in which he couches the rejection. The USCCB president pledged, for example, to continue dialoguing and negotiating with the Obama Administration after a full year of such activity in which the Administration conceded effectively—nothing. Cardinal Dolan nevertheless credited the revised HHS rule with showing “some movement by the Administration”; he added that “we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns”; and he even expressed his hope—clearly a triumph of hope over experience!—for “an acceptable solution that respects the consciences of all.”

    Does Cardinal Dolan seriously believe that any true accommodation with the Obama Administration is really possible? On the basis of the record to date, this would seem to be quite unlikely. The Obama Administration seems unalterably determined to impose this mandate. This is what its leftist constituency has been vehemently calling for, after all. Whether the motive is to put the Catholic Church in its place once and for all, or merely stems from an inability to understand how anybody could possibly be truly opposed to contraception in this day and age so as to put up a fight about it, the Obama Administration seems determined to press forward.

    Unless the HHS mandate is declared to be unconstitutional by the courts under the Second Amendment, or impermissible under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Catholic Church in America can no longer expect anything but a period of protracted conflict with this Administration. President Barack Obama has made his position and his priorities unmistakably clear, and he evidently does not accept any exceptions deriving from Catholic principles.

    Dolan’s Reaction in Light of Catholic Dissent
    So why the optimistic tone of Cardinal Dolan, and his hopeful words about finding “an acceptable solution that respects the consciences of all”? Certainly the New York prelate and his fellow bishops have abundantly shown that they know that they have to fight this mandate. The teaching of the Church is what it is; and it is not going to change; contraception is an “intrinsic evil.” But the cardinal and his fellow bishops apparently also understand that the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception is neither popular nor even very well understood by the American public at large—or even, alas, by many Catholics.

    In fact, the Church’s teaching on contraception continues to be widely and mostly successfully caricatured and belittled. Even some of those who have criticized the mandate have pointedly declared that government promotion of contraception is itself acceptable as public policy. This is the case even for some of those who have sued to escape the mandate; they oppose only the potential abortion-inducing procedures, not contraception itself.

    Even within the Catholic community, Cardinal Dolan and his fellow bishops are regularly reminded that apparently large numbers of Catholics resort to contraceptive use in spite of the Church’s plain teaching. Indeed, the dissent and disloyalty that have plagued the Church over the past 40-plus years started with the massive rejection by Catholics of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which precisely reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception,

    In short, the bishops, in their necessary defense of the Church’s position, do not even enjoy the united backing of their own flocks—not to speak of some of the Catholic institutions in higher education or healthcare eager to go on getting money from a government capable of imposing this draconic HHS mandate. What is perhaps surprising is the degree of support that the bishops have largely enjoyed up to now.

    The internal problems the bishops face in successfully continuing their fight are perhaps illustrated by noting the reactions of some of the “usual suspects” among liberal Catholics to the publication of the Obama HHS “compromise.” For example, the Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., of Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center—one of the secular media’s favorite sources for supposed “Catholic” reactions to current events (which proved to be the case again with regard to Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement)—blandly opined that “HHS and the Administration have gone out of their way to resolve the concerns of religious institutions that object to covering contraceptives in their insurance programs. They have found creative ways to provide contraceptives to the employees of religious colleges and hospitals without the involvement of these institutions.”

    Similarly, Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter—which the bishop of Kansas City, where it is published, has said should remove the word “Catholic” from its title—believes the Obama Administration has responded favorably to the objections of the bishops. He ascribes this putatively favorable response to the fact that President Obama “does not relish the idea of fighting with clerics” (he only started the fight, after all). Winters actually thinks that the Administration’s “compromise” is nothing short of a “miracle.”

    As for what even Winters in passing describes as the “evil” the insurance company will be engaged in as “the vehicle for the delivery of the contraceptive services,” he characterizes the Catholic involvement with this as merely “material cooperation.” In classic Catholic theology,” he claims, “in cases of material cooperation with evil, you can intend the cooperation, but you can’t intend the evil.” Hence for a hospital or university administrator, the intention of providing for insurance coverage for employees is what matters; there is no intention to do the “the evil the insurance company will undertake.” Ergo, the problem is solved. There is no reason why the Catholic Bishops should continue to oppose the mandate.

    It is hard to credit that this kind of pathetic sophistry could be taken as a serious contribution to the discussions concerning the HHS mandate. Yet Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne provided more of the same. He actually described the revised HHS rule as an “olive branch,” and, like Winters, he believes “President Obama never wanted this fight.”

    For Dionne, “the vast majority of Americans believe that health insurance should cover contraception”; in a democratic society that is supposed to settle the matter; and the fact that Catholics too have recourse to contraception means for Dionne that the Church’s teaching is nothing more than a dismissible “theological objection.” Like Winters, he believes the Obama “compromise” should suffice to end the controversy.

    If this is the kind of thinking that even supposedly professing Catholics are capable of in a culture itself almost wholly favorable to contraception, then it is obvious that Cardinal Dolan and the USCCB have a serious problem presenting the Church’s position in a way that will elicit a favorable public reaction. Most Americans today are hardly disposed to view any kind of fight against contraception as a “just war.” A not untypical February 2 commentary in the Washington Post, for example, held that “the refusal of churches and businesses to comply with widely accepted social mores as well as with the law, is an attempt to impose their religious or secular beliefs on their employees.”

    In this climate, it is surely understandable that Cardinal Dolan would want to adopt a positive public stance, whether or not he believes any compromise with the Obama Administration is actually possible. He surely wants to avoid if at all possible having the Church almost automatically branded in the public eye as “the heavy” in what is very likely to be a long-term, protracted conflict. No: the Church is reasonable; the Church is willing to talk. Considering what is at stake for the Church, this is surely the positive stance that needs to be adopted in response to the mandate.

    It is entirely fitting and proper, in other words, that the Church’s leaders should try to avoid a PR disaster if they possibly can; but what is also needed is a Churchwide program of catechesis explaining the Church’s teaching and why it cannot be changed—and also why Catholics cannot accept and live with the Obama HHS mandate.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Alecto

      Public opinion is not what the USCCB believes it to be. It’s a construction of the Obama propaganda machine. Not only is there opposition to Obama and the HHS mandate, but it is deep. The membership of the USCCB would better understand that if it got out into local parishes to speak with and listen to parishioners or any American conservatives of any religious persuasion. They’re too busy racing for the microphones. If they want to be successful in reaching the public, learn from Wayne
      LaPierre and the NRA. He effectively countered Barak Obama’s attack on the Second
      Amendment after Newtown. In the war of ideas, Catholic bishops are as effective as
      fluffy bunnies at a wolf convention.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

        Public opinion is irrelevant in this situation. The Church does not rule by polls.

        • Alecto

          What does any of this have to do with how the Catholic church is run? No wonder the Catholic church is losing, and losing big. The issue isn’t Catholic in nature, it constitutional in nature, and these bishops have failed to articulate a response as citizens, not as Catholics.

          If you cannot articulate your position; if you’re more concerned with appearing non-confrontational then you are in defending your beliefs, you will continue to be bullied and marginalized. Contrast the message of Catholic bishops with the NRA’s response to attacks on the Second Amendment: “we really, really really want Obama to like us and respect us, and we really really really want to work with him to find a compromise” – what a bunch of pansies! How can any American respect that? If they won’t fight for their rights, why should I? Wayne LaPierre didn’t cower in a corner wringing his hands and begging to be liked! He went on the offensive…publicly. That is because he understands how to fight a bully. Bishops are plume-plucked puttocks, so insulated from the world and unaccountable, they cannot fight for anybody or any principle. That’s why you don’t see bumper stickers referencing hands off my religion. People want courageous and principled leaders and they respond to and follow them. There is nothing virtuous, inspirational or admirable in failing to defend one’s beliefs.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

            I din’t give a damn about pleasing Obama and I seriously doubt the bishops do either. The Church has been around a long time. When push comes to shove and he is told the Church will close all of it’s charitable institutions and the government will need to pick up the slack, then we’ll see what Obama has to say. Does he want unemployment numbers to go up? Where will the patients go if Catholic hospitals are closed. (Though there have been plenty closed already.) I think your blanket condemnation of leadership in the Church is exaggerated. We have our share of wimps but we have younger and stronger priests coming up and most of the”fifth” has gone. They’re often referred to as the John Paul II priests who are serious about their priesthood and faithful to the Church. Don’t count them out yet.

    • KT

      Support for Obama among Catholics is somewhat higher that it is among non-Catholics. The vast majority of Catholic couples choose to use contraception. So, yes, it is true to say that the bishop’s position is rejected by most Catholics. OK. So who gets to decide whether or not women are going to use contraception or not? That cannot be Dolan and the USCCB. They were never publicly elected with clear majority support, as Obama was. OK. So how about the employers that now have to provide health care? Let’s assume they have some say in which procedures they pay for. BUT, they are NOT required to pay for contraception. Insurance companies have agreed to provide this for free because, as their actuaries tell them, it’s cheaper to pay for contraception instead of for pregnancies and menstrual complications. Now Dolan and the USCCB are getting into the territory of trying to impose their beliefs on those who disagree. They don’t have that absolute power. They are unable to impose it by fiat. The arguments presented above by Reese, Dionne, and Winters are compelling. I have to agree that the Obama administration has done its best to meet the conscientious objections of Catholics while being true to his desire to extend comprehensive for all. No Catholic organization can now be seen as morally responsible for the choices of its employees with regard to contraception.

      • KT

        “I have to agree that the Obama administration has done its best to meet the conscientious objections of Catholics while being true to his desire to extend comprehensive for all. ”

        This should read: “I have to agree that the Obama administration has done its best to meet the conscientious objections of Catholics while being true to its desire to extend comprehensive HEALTH CARE TO all.” My bad eyesight:-(

        • cloonfush

          You have a lot more bad than just your eyesight KT. :-)

      • Ford Oxaal

        We can all agree that health care is a societal good. So why force contraception, an objectively intrinsic evil, down the throats of a free people? It has nothing more to do with health care than does euthanasia. It has only to do with expediency and utility. Next, insurance will cover euthanasia. Next, insurance will deny real health care, claiming euthanasia is the proper ‘treatment’. Much more profit to be made.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

        KT — This is absurd. You want contraception? You pay for it. It is not expensive. There is no “providing something free” — everybody pays for it who pays for the policy. Your reasoning is completely upside down. I’m not imposing my morality upon you — it’s you who are imposing it upon me, by demanding my money for it. Go get your own damned spermicides. But there’s more — the whole sexual revolution, spawning massive family breakdown, is hugely expensive to everybody, and in more than dollars.
        But you are not being honest. You are telling US that OUR objections have been met. And who in the name of all that’s holy are you to examine our consciences for us? It’s like saying to a Quaker, “Don’t worry; you only make the land mines; we won’t make you dig the holes and set them in place.” It’s like saying to an Orthodox Jewish school, “Don’t worry — your school meal plan will provide for free pork, so your students won’t have to pay for it.” What a joke. The fact is, you haven’t even begun to take the objections seriously. Suppose the policy mandated “free” coverage for self-cloning. We’d all have to pay into it. Would it then be meeting our objections to say, “Well, you don’t actually get a bill for it — it will be ‘free,’ so don’t worry”? That is a shell game. It’s a stupid and dishonest bookkeeping trick. The real point is, YOU don’t think the thing is a big deal.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

          And another thing: Contraception is the most elective thing in the world. It is not medical. It cures no disease. It restores healthy function to no limb or organ. It palliates no ailment. The problem is not that the reproductive organs aren’t working right. The “problem” is that they are working perfectly fine, and the contraceptors wish they weren’t. Well, that is not a medical issue at all. That is the use of technology or pharmacology to thwart the perfectly healthy and natural function of an organ. It would be analogous to pills that would prevent a normal person from digesting food, so that he could binge to his heart’s content. But alas — there is more, as we are all weary of pointing out. This contraception has done to our society all the things that Pope Paul said it would — and worse, even worse, because even Paul did not foresee the depth of our madness. Back then, people said, “Oh, what a silly man! Those things will never happen!” Well, they have happened, all of them. It’s just that now we take the sewer for granted. You want lower health care costs? Preach chastity before marriage and continence within. And don’t come around here saying that such is impossible — not when out-of-wedlock birth rates for poor blacks circa 1900, before any Pill, were about 10 percent — and for other populations in the US the rates were lower than that. The Pill produced the problem it purported to solve.

          • KT

            If you believe that, that’s fine. It’s a reasonable point of view. Just understand that there are hundreds of millions of people in this country, and we all have our own ideas about this. By all means, preach what you believe and practice it. However, you cannot force your own views down other peoples’ throats. You do not have the authority to make your own religious views the law. Most people, including those who believe in chastity before marriage and continence within it, understand that. If you want people to be receptive toward your point of view, you might find it helpful to share your views with more charity and less rage. Remember, you need to persuade, as you have no power to enforce. There’s also the issue of hypocrisy. When above you say “The real point is, YOU don’t think the thing is a big deal,” while deliberately misrepresenting the financial realities of my argument, what you really mean (as is enforced by your second rant above) is that you think your opinion about contraception overrides the religious and economic freedom of the insurance companies.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

              You’re right, we have no power to enforce. That’s the power Mr. Obama is using to make us pay. And insurance companies don’t have religious freedom. What a ridiculous statement! Obama is the one trying to overide my religious freedom. Why can’t you understand that he wants to use my money to promote an agenda I am opposed to by right of my faith. I am the one being denied my right to not have my money pay for what is against my religion. Not only do Catholic Christians oppose birth control and abortion, so do Muslims. Did you know that? My interest is not in changing anyone’s point of view. I just want to be allowed to practice mine.

              • Phil

                You already pay for abortion clinics, stem cell research, funding for gay-rights organizations, the legal fees of criminals…

                • Ford Oxaal

                  That’s why 500,000 of us show up for the March for Life in the dead of winter — a penance to change the wintry hearts of our fellow citizens.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

              So who is stopping the insurance companies? YOU are. The company might very well want our business, on terms acceptable to both of us. That is called freedom. What you want is to compel ALL the insurance companies and ALL their corporate customers. Now, our bishops are telling us — and they usually have spines of spaghetti — that they can’t go with this. We have to obey God, not men. But what is so all-fired necessary to make us a party to your decision? You don’t need our cooperation.

          • KT

            It’s OK to believe that contraception is evil and destructive. That is altogether a different issue and not what this is about. This is about the religious and financial freedom of private insurance companies, and peoples’ freedom to make choices that you don’t like. You have not made any sort of convincing argument addressing that point.

            • E.J.D.

              KT, the irony of your position is that it neglects the religious freedoms of Catholics who, in good conscience and in accordance with the teachings of the Church, don’t want to provide contraceptives to their employees, while purporting to protect the religious and financial freedom of private insurance companies. What about the peoples’ freedom to make a choice that YOU don’t like? And the evil and destruction wrought by contraception is not altogether a different issue, as you claim. IT IS the issue. This is why Catholics can’t in good conscience provide it to employees.

            • Dave

              And how exactly is anybody not free, just because a Catholic WILL be free to choose or to offer a health care plan that does not provide for these things? They are still free. They can buy their own. What is wrong with that? That is what we have right now. What is the big deal? Why can’t my Catholic school buy a plan that does not provide for abortifacient drugs? Aren’t they a private contractor, entering a contract with a private company? What is wrong with such a contract? Why should that be illegal? I’m not forcing anybody to do anything. You are free to work for somebody else, you are free to buy supplemental insurance, you are free to buy your own birth control — and so on. And if you are so poor that you cannot afford birth control, WHY ARE YOU DOING THE BABY-MAKING THING IN THE FIRST PLACE?

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                Whether you have “private” insurance or not, Obamacare is being paid for by ALL taxpayers. Everything that the government mandates is paid for with taxpayer money and the only place that money comes from is the taxpayer (you and me). It comes out of your paycheck every payday. So, whether or not you agree, your money is used to pay for someone else’s birth control and, by the way, their abortion. Think about it, please.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

                  No, Noreen, that is not the same. We have to pay taxes, which is itself a duty. It is then the duty of our leaders to use those taxes in a moral fashion. I am not in control of that, and can’t be expected to be. Our apostles were under no illusions about the sweetness of the Roman Empire, yet they paid their taxes. This is different. In this case, I am being compelled to purchase a product directly, and to contribute money directly to the contraceptors and aborters. We can’t do that. We are not permitted to do it. You can tax me, and then use the money immorally. But you cannot compel me to cooperate in the immoral action. You can tax me and misuse the money. But you can’t compel me, say, to buy a product from a company that will send one dime to Planned Parenthood.

                  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                    I agree with you 100%. I have no problem with paying my taxes. I live in this country and it is my responsibility to do so. We are still being forced by this mandate to cooperate in the financing of other people’s contraception. That’s all I’m saying.

        • KT

          No, it is your reasoning that is false because of the economics involved in contraception. As I so carefully explained, contraception is provided for FREE by the insurance companies because it is in their financial interests to prevent pregnancy, which is very expensive, and menstrual complications, which are less expensive but also costly. You should be able to figure this out for yourself. It’s about the math, not the morality. Your analogies are illogical. There would be no financial saving in providing pork in a meal plan — only a cost. Insurance companies LIKE prophylactics. It’s why they’re happy to pay for vaccinations Your tone is, as usual, hostile, insulting, ranting, abusive and alienating, and your logic is, as usual, circular and completely egocentric, as in, “If I — the great ***I*** — don’t like it, who are you to disagree!” Well, I hate to break it to you, but most Americans — as well as most Catholics — disagree with you! If people don’t want to use contraception, that is their choice. For all of those people, I am more than happy to subsidize the extensive costs of their prenatal care, birth, postnatal care, and health care for their 15 children until they all turn 26, if need be. I honestly don’t mind paying for it. I am not prepared, however, to try to force insurance companies to bend to my own moral reasoning or to that of a small subset of Catholics. This is all about economic liberty and the free market. Religious liberty is untouched. An unelected minority cannot make this decision for private companies. What right would they have to do that? We have our capitalist freedoms, and we don’t live in a theocracy run by you.

          • E.J.D.

            KT, where does the insurance company get the money to pay for the contraception its provides for free? Thin air?

          • NR

            KT – You seem to be forgetting a very basic principle of economics: There’s no such as a free lunch. That contraception is not free. Catholic employers pay the insurance company, the insurance company pays the company that manufactures contraception. You say that most Americans disagree with us. OK, fine. The problem is that, even in a democracy, we agree to live under certain basic rights. In this case, that would be freedom of religion. There are not so many people in favor of this that you could get a Constitutional Amendment, so, even if we are in the minority, we are still protected by law (at least in theory).

            You say that this is “all about economic liberty and the free market.” In a sense, you are right: people have a right to choose where they work and what their compensation is. People have a right to negotiate their own contract with an employer. So, quite frankly, it’s none of the government’s business to say whether that contact includes coverage for contraception. It’s a free market issue between the employer and the employee. Secondly, religious freedom is touched by this. Look at precedent: In 2012, the Northern Aparaho Indians were granted permission to sacrifice two bald eagles (protected by law) for a religious sacrifice due to their freedom to practice religion. Freedom to practice religion does not mean freedom to worship on Sunday. It means a freedom to live your faith. In this case, the mandate clearly violates that…Catholic teaching – regardless of whether people follow it or not – is very clear on contraception. If you want capitalist freedom (or religious freedom), this mandate has to go. To do otherwise is to interfere with the free market, one’s ability to negotiate one’s own pay and one’s ability to practice the Catholic faith. In short, the Mandate works against every type of freedom that this country has been founded on.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

              “Freedom to practice religion does not mean freedom to worship on Sunday. It means a freedom to live your faith.”
              NR, I love that statement. Many people just can’t understand that.

          • Steph

            I apologize in advance if I’m missing something obvious in your argument, but I’m confused. I’m neither a Catholic, nor do I believe contraception is a sin. I also don’t believe the government should actively prevent people from purchasing contraceptives who would like to use them, nor do I believe the government should prevent employers who wish to provide free contraceptives through insurance to their employees from doing so.

            And from what I understand, this is currently the way the system works. There is no law preventing people from using contraceptives, nor is the Catholic Church asking for one. Everyone, including employees of Catholic institutions, is free to purchase contraceptives on their own. Neither the Catholic Church, nor Catholic employers are preventing anyone from exercising this particular freedom. In fact, as it was pointed out, many Catholics already do use contraceptives and are not prevented from doing so by the Church.

            What the government mandate would do is change this. It doesn’t take away anyone’s freedom to choose to use contraceptives. Instead, it takes away a
            religious objector’s freedom to choose not to pay for someone else’s contraceptives. It would proactively force, by mandate of law, Catholic employers to provide what the Church has long held to be an intrinsic evil. How does forcing an individual or institution to go against a longstanding
            religious belief by taking away a long-held freedom make the government in the right?

            Nor do I understand your argument based on economics. Are you saying that something becomes a “right” if an argument can be made that it is “economical”? And apparently not just any right, but a right that supersedes one of the most fundamental and longstanding natural rights we have—the right to freedom of conscious when it comes to practicing religion. This, to me, seems like a very dangerous position to take. It may get “free” (I use that term very loosely) contraceptives now, but what happens when it is applied to other situations further down the road, perhaps on issues with which you personally don’t agree?

            • Phil

              Should an institution run by the Jehovah’s Witnesses be allowed to refuse coverage for blood tests? Should Hindu employers be allowed to refuse coverage for diseases spread through the consumption of meat?

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

                Phil — why don’t you ask the JW’s what they do and how they handle it? But what are you talking about, “refuse coverage”? Who is paying for what here? You are asking the JW’s to violate their consciences. Maybe they don’t pay for blood tests. That would be a reason not to work for the JW’s, if that is what they do for non-JW employees. There is a difference, though — an obvious difference. If you have a blood test, it’s likely that you are ill. A blood test is genuinely medical. It is meant for the healing of illness, or for the early detection of internal problems. Contraception is not medical. Abortion is not medical. The purpose of contraception is not to heal a disease or to restore normal function to an organ. It is to thwart the natural action of a healthy organ. It is wholly elective.
                Also — you people who believe that the Pill saves money because otherwise we’d have to pay for babies — what world do you live in? How many times does it have to be pointed out? Human beings are not machines. The Pill has changed the whole ballgame. We now have fewer children, but MANY more born out of wedlock, many more growing up in broken families, with all the social pathologies that those things entail.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                Pregnancy is not a disease.

          • Ford Oxaal

            But we do live in a country with enumerated liberties, including freedom from a government which is using coercive force to prevent millions of people from free exercise of their religion.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

            Insurance companies have been happy to do business with us. We can come together to make our own plans. They are private companies, and we are private citizens. You are the one who wants to compel us both. I’m not stopping any insurance company from offering anything, and I’m not stopping you from arranging a plan acceptable to your company and to the insurance provider. You are the one who wants to take away that freedom that, till now, has been quite acceptable to both of us. THAT is the free market. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with that mutual agreement?

      • Bob

        Think about this: there are 25 million women in America that have thyroid disorders and need to be on daily levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, etc.). Without daily levothyroxine female patients suffer all kinds of chronic and debilitatng symptoms. Out of pocket per month is anywhere from a copayment of $20 to $38. This as you can see is primarily a women’s issue and Obama care will not provide free Synthroid. But Obamacare eagerly will provide free birth control pills. Why? There is obviously an ideological agenda by paying for one woman’s daily pill and not paying for the other.

        • KT

          Firstly, Obama is not providing free birth control pills — the insurance companies are doing so willingly. Secondly, I suggest you take up the idea of no copays with the insurance companies. If it made economic sense to them to void copays on Synthroid, I expect they would do so.

          • Bob

            INCORRECT! Really…did you even research this? It is called the “Obamacare birth control mandate” for a reason. From the Daily Caller last August: “The new Obamacare regulations require all insurance companies to cover well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screenings, domestic and interpersonal violence counseling, FDA-approved contraception” by law, the commercial carriers have to provide free contraception. And it is completely false to say they are providing them willingly. Many commercial insurances ( Highmark Bc/Bs for example ) have stated that one of their reasons for higher premiums is the ne birth control mandate.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

              Thank you, Bob. Maybe now, this KT person will stop with her inaccurate ranting.

            • James

              Bob writes, “From the Daily Caller last August: “The new Obamacare regulations require all insurance companies to cover well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screenings, domestic and interpersonal violence counseling, FDA-approved contraception” by law”
              And you have a problem with this?????????????????????

              • Bob

                Read the whole post and my post above. Yes, I have a problem having my insurance company mandated to pay for birth control pills.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

            Obama doesn’t provide the birth control, true. You and I and every taxpayer “provide” the money for it. That’s where the insurance company money comes from. Why can’t you get that through your thick head.

        • HeilMary1

          Thyroid copays aren’t nearly as bankrupting to women and insurance companies as $10,000 to $1,000,000 obstetric bills, and resulting needed kidney and heart transplants and funerals for dead mothers.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

        (Before I begin, KT are you REALLY a Catholic? And what the majority of American Catholics choose to do is irrevelant. The Catholic Church is not a democracy and no one is obligated to belong) No, it is not CARDINAL Dolan and the USCCB getting into the “territory of trying to impose their beliefs on those who disagree.” It is a question of Mr. Obama, with his “mandate”, not “law”, unjustly imposing a requirement that all taxpayers pay for “free” birth control, including birth control that causes abortion. (By the way, you do realize that Mr. Obama wants abortion on demand (anytime during pregnancy) to be free for anyone who wants it even though we pay billions of our tax payer money to Planned Parenthood (the largest provider of abortion in this country, already.) This is not an issue of finances; this is an issue of freedom. You don’t seem to understand that. Pregnancy is not a disease. To prevent pregnancy is a personal choice, not a health condition to be paid for at large. Also, so far, Mr. Obama doesn’t have “absolute power” either. You do not seem to understand that Mr. Obama’s “compromise” is not compromise, it’s just an accounting adjustment that changes the path of the money. It all ends up in the same pot and it’s still coming out of my pocket and forces me to be complicit in what I consider to be immoral. And, yes, I am entitled under the Constitution to practice my faith., including not participating in paying for contraception or abortion. As Tony says, if someone wants contraception, get a prescription and go to the drug store. No one is stopping it’s sale.

      • Alecto

        Do you understand that the Catholic institutions are self-insured just as many companies and employers are? For those entities, “insurance” = “employer”. There is no intermediary there which renders your premise false.

        What a defective education you must have had, moldwarp, to find Reese, Dionne and Winters “compelling”.

    • Lee

      KT, you argue logically and with patience and charity against would-be theocrats. Your words are true. We don’t have to agree with every decision government makes or with the decisions of the majority, but we cannot be tyrannical and impose our own personal view. On the contraception issue, we must each live our own lives with integrity and love. If we can in so doing convince others that our view is right, we have succeeded. The biggest encouragement I get for not using contraception in my marriage is the loving example of the big, happy Catholic family. It’s more convincing to me than anything the priests and bishops might tell me. I cannot stop others from using contraception though. In some cases I even think it is a good idea for some people to use it.

      • Steph

        “On the contraception issue, we must each live our own lives with integrity and love. If we can in so doing convince others that our view is right, we have succeeded.”

        But that’s not what you’re doing by arguing in favor of the mandate. The mandate is not “convincing others”, it is one group with a particular view on the subject using the power of the state to force another group to go against long-held religions convictions. I’m just not getting the logic of your argument. How is the government not being “tyrannical and imposing its own personal view” in this instance? It’s not the Catholics who are passing laws that encroach on people’s freedoms. They are not using the power of the state to prevent people from getting contraceptives, nor have they proposed to do so. Quite the opposite in fact…they are opposing coercion by the state in a matter of personal and religious freedom.

        • Tony

          Thank you, Steph — you are exactly right. The Catholic Church is not the one proposing any change. What “theocracy”? Is that what we have now, a theocracy? All the Church wants is the status quo. You are the innovators, and the compellers. By the way, what can you possibly mean by the word “theocrat”? Is that what all Americans were before yesterday? Theocrats? All you mean is that in the matter of sexuality, it’s a free-for-all. You don’t mean that there should be no civil laws regarding dishonesty, brawling, homicide, disturbing the peace, and so forth — it’s just the Magic Kingdom of Sex that is supposed to be free, and anybody who thinks that that is plain nonsense, and destructive of the common good, and of liberty also, is a “theocrat”. Argue on the merits. Don’t call names. I don’t require Quakers to construct land mines. You are free to join a company that does so. I don’t require Orthodox Jews to pay for my ham and cheese sandwich. You are free to buy your own. So you are free to buy your own birth control. Why should this of all things be the Sacred Cow? Why? Because it is the linchpin of the sexual revolution, which is the linchpin of the current welfare state.

          • Tony

            Sorry — by “you” I mean Steph’s interlocutor Lee, above.

          • KT

            Tony, in a democracy, we generally decide as a community what the laws should be. A poll taken last December shows that about 2/3s of American believe employers should cover contraception regardless of their employers’ opinions on the subject. Here we have a law saying that employers DO NOT have to cover contraception as the insurance companies will provide it for free. OK, let’s say I’m a JW theocrat and I employ 50,000 people. I decide I’m not going to allow any of my insurance plans to cover blood transfusions. Insurance companies are up in arms — not for moral reasons but because it costs them 10 times as much to provide end-of-life care as it does to provide blood confusions. Now say the JW theocrat continues to whine that he’s being defrauded. THAT is theocratic behavior. It’s an arrogant attempt to impose his own belief system once the issue of his own personal culpability in what he believes to be immoral has been neutralized. The Obama Administration is already making massive concessions to the little subset of the Catholic Church that opposes the contraception mandate. They’ve worked around the issue with sensitivity. Face it — your real problem is not the contraception mandate. It’s that you don’t like contraception. That’s FINE, but it’s a SEPARATE issue.

            • Steph

              KT: You bring up two separate questions in your JW example:

              1. Should the JW “theocrat” (an interesting pejorative term in a supposedly “patient” and “charitable” argument) be coerced by the government to pay for a good or service over and against a freedom protected by his first amendment right?

              and

              2. Given that he was not coerced one way or the other by the government, should the JW “theocrat” bear the cost of doing business that is incurred as a result of his religious convictions?

              Given how fragile our constitutional rights appear to be at this point in time, I would argue “no” on the first question and “probably yes” on the second. I am curious to hear what your answer would be.

              And, I will ask again, because I am trying to understand the internal logic of your argument…do you believe that an “economic” argument in favor of a good or service should turn that good or service into a right that supersedes a long-standing constitutional right? And do you believe that a public opinion poll showing two thirds in favor of a good or service should turn that good or service into a right that supersedes a long-standing constitutional right?

              • KT

                Steph,

                1) The word “theocrat” is used correctly in the above context. If the insurance companies provide blood transfusions for free, does the employer still have the right to object? He is not being “coerced” to pay for anything. Please answer the question, i.e., if the insurance companies provide the service for free, should the JW theocrat be able to deny his employees access to blood transfusions?

                2) This has already been answered. He is not having to bear any cost at all.

                In response to your next-to-last question, I would say that it depends on the situation. In this particular case, it is simply not possible to supersede an employer’s constitutional right when that employer is emphatically not paying for the particular service (as I’ve explained above, the specific economics of contraception allow this.) The issue has been thoroughly neutralized.

                Finally, the poll showing that 2/3s of the population support the provision of free contraception is not as relevant within the context of the HHS mandate as it is within the context of democracy vs. theocracy. The moral argument about “making employers pay for contraception” has already been defused as explained. If someone is making the completely separate argument (separate from the HHS mandate, that is) that contraception should be abolished, that person would be attempting (unsuccessfully, in our culture) to behave as a theocrat. Now, within the context of universal health care specifically, as opposed to access to contraception in general, the situation is more complex. However, whether health care is provided through an employer or a government program or private insurance, I would say that it is fair to define what should and should not be covered by that insurance. In this case, when you have a combination of overwhelming majority support AND the decision by insurance companies, made on economic grounds, that contraception will be provided free of charge, I don’t see how anyone could possibly object.

                • Steph

                  KT: Thank you for your thoughtful response. Let me see what I can do with it…

                  1) This is an interesting question, but I can’t answer it until we clarify a very important “given” in your question. This would be the “given” that the procedure (or any healthcare good or service for that matter,) is, or could be, free. It’s important that we establish some kind of common ground on this issue, or further discussion would be a waste of time for everyone involved.

                  Would you be willing to agree that the transfusions are not actually
                  free in the sense that they cost nothing? In other words, everything must be paid for by somebody, at some point in time. If we can agree on this basic
                  economic principle then I think we can move on to other questions, such as who would incur the cost of the good/service.

                  Also, with your permission, I would like to move this line of discussion away from the hypothetical JW “theocrat”, and back towards Catholic Church and contraceptives. At this point in the discussion, equivocating a life-saving procedure (blood transfusion) with a lifestyle choice (birth-control pills) might cloud the already murky waters.

                  2) I think perhaps you misunderstood my question, or perhaps I misunderstood your original point. Either way, this issue can be addressed later, if at all.

                  As to your final points about my questions regarding economic arguments ultimately superseding constitutional rights, I think I would be more fully equipped to respond if we can establish that common ground on whether or not goods/services are free.

                  • KT

                    Steph, thank you too for your thoughtful response. I promise to respond but … I’m late for a date (it is Valentine’s Day after all.) Will try to answer soon though:-)

                  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                    Good luck, Steph.

                  • KT

                    Hi Steph,

                    ‘K, I’m back:-)

                    Your question seems to be whether a procedure/good/service (especially as related to healthcare) can be provided for free. Let’s look at a non-healthcare case. When my parents bought fire insurance on their home, they were offered a “free” smoke detection and alarm system by the insurance company. Was it really a freebie? Certainly to my parents it was. For the insurance company, it was clearly a net saving to provide it, even if it was not technically free. To them, providing insurance plus the fire alarm system was cheaper than providing insurance alone. It’s the same way with contraception. Not only are pregnancies cheaper, but women who use the pill tend to be less expensive to insure across the lifespan. This is shown by actuarial studies and explains why the insurance companies don’t mind providing contraception for free.

                    Let’s look at a more specifically healthcare-related case study. The Smith family consists of mom, dad, and two kids. They’ve decided to just have the two. When the littlest Smith starts school, Mommy Smith gets a job at the same school as a teacher. Her insurance company gives her the option of free contraception. She decides to use this, in part to regulate her menstrual cycle, which helps keep her healthy and out of the doctor’s office. Now both Daddy and Mommy Smith have health insurance for their four-person family. Both their health insurance companies are smiling. At the same time, let’s look at the Esolen family. James (above somewhere) has found them seven new children. We know they’ll welcome these kids with open arms because they know children are a blessing and everyone should have as many of them as possible. In fact, they know it’s a good idea to have 10 children, so they go out and adopt another three. Mommy E knows her place is in the home, so they only have one insurance plan. Hence, the Esolen family is paying half as much for their family of 12 (plus whatever kids they have already) as the Smith family is paying for its family of four. Their insurance company isn’t quite as happy as the Smith’s one. The Smiths don’t complain. They don’t mind subsidizing all the Esolens. So why is it that people feel the Smiths are the ones cheating the system?

                    • KT

                      “Not only are pregnancies cheaper, but women who use the pill tend to be less expensive to insure across the lifespan. This is shown by actuarial studies and explains why the insurance companies don’t mind providing contraception for free.”
                      Gak! Meant to say, “Not only is avoiding pregnancies cheaper.” This is a financial reality.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

                  It is nonsense. It is not being provided for free. It has to be paid for, and the money comes from the contributions. Why is that hard to understand? You are engaging in a shell game. You also don’t seem to understand — Catholics CANNOT cooperate in the evil. We will have to shut things down; we don’t get to have plebiscites to determine what we are going to believe and what not. That isn’t an option. When contraception is so cheap, why is it so important to force me to buy it for you? You buy it. And again, this definition of “theocrat” is just silly name-calling. If I make an argument that legalizing X will undermine the common good, what difference does it make if I happen to believe also that X violates the tenets of my faith? It will undermine the common good all the same. Argue on the merits of the case, and quit appealing to majorities. And come clean too on all the issues regarding the sexual revolution. Say openly that it is a good thing that people fornicate all the time, that they don’t bother to marry, that half of marriages end in divorce, that children grow up without both parents …

                  • KT

                    Tony Esolen:
                    1) Your response is all emotion, zero logic. Of course contraception is not free in and of itself. It is FREE TO THE EMPLOYER! It is FREE TO THE PATIENT! BUT, the insurance companies pay for it because it is cheaper to provide it than to pay for the resulting pregnancies. I’ve explained this time and again. Neither YOU nor I nor the man in the moon is required to pay ANYTHING for ANYBODY else’s contraception. The insurance companies eat the costs because it is cheaper for them to do so. Go look at my analogy about energy.
                    2) The word “theocrat” is being used correctly.
                    3) There is always interplay between public opinion and individual conscience. We all have to cough up — through our taxes — for wars that many of us think are evil. I can’t pop myself up and insist that wars cease immediately or else just because I’m a pacifist.
                    4) It is dishonest to suggest there is a connection between my rational argument and my personal beliefs. Of course I don’t believe that “people should fornicate all the time” (blah, blah) or that it’s a good thing that “half of marriages end in divorce” (whine whine). Why are you even bringing these things up??? What do they have to do with the fact that employers are not required to pay for contraception???

                    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

                      KT — It is not free. It is paid for. We may suppose that an insurance company decides that it would be cost-effective to provide “free” hookers for people with obsessive compulsive disorders, to knock them out of their ruts. Wonderful — but why should I have to provide that policy for my employees? I can’t do it. What is hard to understand about this? I can’t cooperate. I am not allowed to. I would be paying for it. You’re engaging in a shell game. I cannot put out one thin dime for it, I cannot sign a paper giving the go-ahead, I cannot put out one dime even in the expectation of getting a dollar back. I can’t cooperate with it. Taxes are different entirely. That is not an issue — see my comments about that. Look, an extortionist may say, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for these shakedowns, they bring in more money anyhow than you’d have to put out,” but that doesn’t matter. I can’t give a dime to them. And how on earth do you not see the connection between the pill and the conditions I mentioned? Why am I bringing these things up? Because you’re calling me and my fellows theocrats — for wanting no more than the status quo! And for suggesting, merely suggesting, that a governmental policy of laissez-foutre is destructive. Do you not know that Paul VI predicted the conditions we suffer under now? Why should the Pill be this Sacred Item, this one thing so important that we have to shred the Constitution for it? Again, if the government thinks it’s so important, let them provide the pills for free. You think it’s important? You provide them.

                      • James

                        “Again, if the government thinks it’s so important, let them provide the pills for free.”
                        This must be the dumbest thing I’ve read on this site yet!

                      • E.J.D.

                        James, what is so dumb about the proposition?

                      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                        And where will “the government” get the money for free pills. From us the taxpayers. Again, the money the government spends comes from US, the people who pay taxes. Oh, maybe you don’t pay taxes. It doesn’t grow on trees but that’s where Obama thinks the money comes from that’s why he keeps on spending it.

                      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                        Give up, Tony. “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who don’t no explalnation will suffice. God bless and be at peace.

            • Alecto

              This isn’t a democracy. This is a republic, or to be explicit, a constitutional republic. We have a framework in the constitution that guarantees individual rights AGAINST the government. No vote can overturn the constitution. What an ignorant post.

    • HigherCalling

      “Unless the HHS mandate is declared to be unconstitutional by the courts under the Second Amendment…”

      Keeping, bearing, and possibly using arms might come in handy, but even that is unlikely to help secure “religious freedom,” cleverly granted in the 1st Amendment of the purely secular and deliberately Godless US Constitution.

      “In fact, the mandate itself is radically incompatible with the Catholic view of man and society.”

      The entire notion of Obamacare or any government takeover of healthcare is radically incompatible with the Catholic view of man and society. The bishops’ fight over the HHS mandate, (a secular necessity in this huge, pluralistic society), while accepting the disordered concept of Obamacare in the first place, is ultimately meaningless for anyone who takes the entirety of Catholic principles seriously. Appealing to “religious liberty,” ostensibly found in a Godless Constitution that calls lawful all manner of violations of Christian truth, as the primary Catholic objection to the HHS mandate, will likely prove unsuccessful when facing off with an all-powerful government that proudly claims no obligation to God.

      • Ford Oxaal

        So what is your recommended course of action?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

          Exempt Catholics from this HHS Mandate. That’s all. It didn’t exist berfore Obamacare. We are entitled to a religious exemption.

          • Ford Oxaal

            Bingo!

        • HigherCalling

          The point is that if there is a religious exemption from the HHS mandate for Catholics (or anyone) it won’t be because of the illusory “religious liberty” found in the 1st Amendment. It will be out of the ‘goodness’ of Obama’s heart, and it’ll be a strategic move to boost his compassion ratings and to avoid bad press. But even an exemption is probably temporary as the country moves ever leftward. I’m convinced that the “religious liberty” brilliantly written into the Constitution by the (ahem) deeply religious Framers was merely a clever political move on their part to neutralize the role of religion in the public square. It worked perfectly in a pluralistic society. It did not so much create a government neutral on the subject of religion, but more so neutralized any power religion had in affecting the rule of law. Creating a government free from the constraints of Christian principles, the Framers fostered the relentless advance of federal power from the get-go, leaving any political power of revealed religion in the dust.

          The course of action is first to accept the Constitution for what it is: secular and Godless — by design. It never has and never will buttress Catholic teaching. A document that finds abortion lawful is probably not one that will support long-term an exemption for a very unpopular teaching of a very ‘backward’ minority religion. Next is to accept that Catholic life is now more than ever lived on a battlefield. Catholic Americans are resident aliens in hostile territory. Catholics are called to martyrdom — even Catholic Americans. Rather than diluting Catholicism with America’s secular and oh-so enlightened values, Catholics must double down on the Church’s teachings and hold fast to the fullness of wisdom the Church protects. Finally, we must stay steeped in the sacraments and do what we can to bring others to the fullness of truth.

          • Ford Oxaal

            But the federal government does not have the “police power”, and it must protect the free exercise of religion, at least until the first amendment is repealed. I think the Roberts decision finally boxed in the commerce clause — you cannot force someone to buy something. And it upheld states rights. It threw the “how we spend tax money” back to Congress where it belongs. It sets up a religious liberty battle that is now being joined. I happen to think the mandate for contraception will be found unconstitutional. I think the pendulum will swing back to the states. On your recommended course of action, I would disagree that we should lie down and take it on the chin, and add that it is our responsibility as American Catholics to participate in government as best we can. But we absolutely have to be willing to go all in for the Faith. The irony is that because Catholics understand the truth and importance of sexual morality, we will be among those left standing after the selfish generation has largely exterminated its progeny.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Law is an expression of the general will, not of any presumed truths about the person, rights, morality and even less, faith.

            As Scalia J explained in an interview back in 1996, “You protect minorities only because the majority determines that there are certain minorities or certain minority positions that deserve protection. Thus in the United States Constitution we have removed from the majoritarian system of democracy the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and a few other freedoms that are named in the Bill of Rights. The whole purpose of that is that the people themselves, that is to say the majority, agree to the rights of the minority on those subjects — but not on other subjects.” In other words, “”The minority loses, except to the extent that the majority, in its document of government, has agreed to accord the minority rights.”

            If the people don’t like their present “document of government,” they can exercise what Lincoln called “their constitutional right to amend it, or their revolutionary right to abolish it.”

            Why should Catholics want to quarrel with that?

            • HigherCalling

              “Why should Catholics want to quarrel with that?”

              Well, for starters, because law divorced from truth, as an expression of the general will, is not Catholic. Laws so conceived are the product of an Enlightenment-influenced, Reformation-borne, secular worldview. They violate what the Church calls the “Social Kingship of Christ,” which views the State as a moral totality oriented to the eternal destiny of man as an en-souled being, where Christian truth must under-gird the laws and institutions of society holding both individuals and the State accountable to divine authority. Such laws restrain (at best) religion or religious expression whenever they come into direct conflict with the mythological “neutral” exercise of governmental power (witness Obamacare). They have led to the slow destruction of Christian civilization, with all authority derived from man and not from God. The results are apparent everywhere: the abortion holocaust, full societal acceptance of contraception and divorce, depopulation, the destruction of the family, the advance of homosexualism, the amorality of the marketplace, the corruption of the arts, and the rise of a new paganism, a militant atheism and a culture of death that has no Constitutional limitation in stripping God-serving Catholics of “unalienable” liberties. The Catholic view of the relationship between the citizen and the State is a far better protector of real liberty than the secular state (seemingly championed in Scalia’s quote) could ever be.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                As Pascal says,“He who obeys them [the laws] because they are just, obeys a justice which is imaginary and not the essence of law; it is quite self-contained [elle est toute ramassée en soi], it is law and nothing more.”

    • MAT

      The HHS mandate is clearly an usurpation of religious freedom and is a clear example of religious oppression. The inability to see this is puzzling. It seems that ideology trumps freedom. People love the mystique of Obama and anything goes. The independence for which our forefathers sacrificed and died is being trampled upon. The permissiveness and ignorance of the age maybe explain the lack of concern and even alarm which these ideological attacks on freedom should arouse.

    • Pingback: OBAMA DESTROYS THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION « Obama Against the Church

    • RichR

      As a Catholic employer who is trying to follow his conscience, I find it comforting to know that the USCCB has not forgotten about us. To be forced to subsidize procedures that Christ’s Church condemns is inherently wrong. It is the Obama administration that is forcing its beliefs on me, thereby making me have to choose between violating my own conscience before God or leaving my employees (and my own family) to fend for themselves in the over-priced insurance free-market (where coverage for objectionable procedures is still required). How despicable that it has come to this. Why not allow a true free-market and allow insurance companies that don’t want to cover these procedures do so? If there is enough concern from Catholic institutions and Catholic private employers, why not let them practice business as they want to?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

      This could be a perfect teaching opportunity for the bishops to instruct Catholics in the “whys” of Humanae Vitae and the scientific advances that have been made in natural family planning. In the end, the bishops have no choice but to hold fast to the Church’s teachings no matter how much they try to “soften” their rhetoric in public. I don’t think Mr. Obama realized what he was getting into with his “mandate”. He should have known better than to take on the Catholic Church. But then, he has nothiing but disdain for true believers in contrast with the “Christian” preacher he sat and listened to for 20 years. As an aside, when will Ms. Kathleen Sibelius’ Cardinal have a sit down with her as to her obligations as a Catholic in “private” or “public”. (The phony Catholic politicians with the split personality beliefs are a real pain.) They are well overdue to be told their presence is no longer desired in the Catholic Church. And their cardinals/bishops know who they are.

    • KT

      E.J.D. writes, “KT, where does the insurance company get the money to pay for the contraception its provides for free? Thin air?”

      E.J.D. and others who have asked this question: It is a SAVINGS to insurance companies to provide contraception for free. The cost is NEGATIVE to them because they more than recoup it through NOT having to pay for pregnancies. Let me try to provide an analogy that illustrates this. Say I contract to provide energy for several housing units. I can either provide this energy through a coal plant or I can do it more cheaply by offering to install a PV panel on the roof of each housing unit. Let’s say I charge a blanket rate for energy of $x per kWh. Some people don’t want PV panels on their roofs. They fear their roofs will be damaged. So I say, “That’s fine. You don’t have to use them. I’ll continue to provide your home with coal-based energy.” Now the same people turn around and complain that they’re having to subsidize the solar users. For me, there is a one-time cost in installing the the PV panels and some batteries to save charge for night-time, but I recoup that cost — OVER providing coal-based energy — in, say, five years. It’s saving me money to have customers use solar energy because sunlight is free, in spite of my upfront cost of PV panel installation. Still my coal-based customers are whining that this is unfair. They think they’re being defrauded because the solar users are getting a break at their expense. So I sit them down and explain the economics to them and remind them that they are actually the ones getting the cost break. I’m keeping my costs the same for all customers, although my solar customers are costing me less. Why should that not make them shut up? In the same way, it is CHEAPER for insurance companies to provide contraception than not. In fact, the customers they provide with free contraception are heavily subsidizing the ones who have 10 children!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

        Then, damn it all, let the stinking government ITSELF provide the free pills! Let the government take that responsibility. Let THEM do it. It would be an immoral use of my tax money, squeezed out of me, but I would not be responsible for it. You want the freebies? YOU provide them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

        Aren’t you forgetting something? Aren’t you forgetting that children are people, that they provide us with great benefits, that we are blessed to have them? According to your sights, we’d all be richer if we were all sterile. It is nonsense. The people with their TEN children will be subsidizing you and me and everybody else when we’re old. The people with the big families — I am not talking about welfare cases — do more for the rest of us, with less to spend on it, than anybody. They provide our future.

        • Ford Oxaal

          Bloody well right! The selfish revolution has half the country absolutely destroying the next generation — and if they don’t kill the babies outright, they steal their legacy by getting benefits for themselves in the here and now, including the very contraception that is wiping them out!!! The next generation — the one thing we should all be focused on — is a whipping boy for the selfish perversions of a really wicked generation — the baby boomers — the most materially ‘gifted’ generation in all of human history.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

            YEA, Ford. Absolutely!!

            • Ford Oxaal

              Which I guess leaves more room for “Catholic Darwinism”. “And this year’s Darwin award goes to the selfish generation for selecting against — themselves! En masse!”

              • HeilMary1

                Yes, let’s return to the bad old times of wives abandoned by their husbands because the wives suffer smelly obstetric bladder and bowel incontinence from bearing TWENTY+ kids and half of those kids dying young because of starvation and no medicine!

                • Ford Oxaal

                  I see, so either I go along with society’s grievous error of massive contraceptives backed up by 55,000,000 slayings of innocent children in utero, or, in the alternative, I will have twenty children, and half of them will die — because they will starve and have no medicine — and then I will have to abandon my wife no less! But there is a third choice (made ever harder by this radically immoral society): raise a happy, intact family, stay true to my marriage vows, and give thanks and praise to Almighty God for having created us, and for having then humbled Himself to save us after we abandoned Him. Maybe abandonment *is* the real issue, not universal contraceptives.

        • E.J.D.

          Yes, this is true,

        • James

          So put your money where your mouth is and go adopt 10 children, Tony! Adopt 20! Until you do that, stop trying to make decisions about family size for other people. Otherwise I might have to start thinking you could be a hypocrite. And you know what? I’ll even subsidize health insurance for you and your large family. My family with our three children will pay the same health insurance premiums that you pay with your 10 or 20 children. Deal?

          • Martin

            ROFL! That is a good point, James!

            • James

              You know what, Martin? I’m going to help Tony with this. I read about a family of seven African American siblings that is having trouble finding a foster/adoptive home because all seven of them want to stick together. I’m really happy to announce that I’ve found these kids a home with Tony and his wife. Tony’s going to be delighted! He knows kids are a blessing! They’ll have a father and a mother! He’s open to the gift of life! They’ll look after him when he’s old! Hey, Tony? Dude? Just send me your address, and I’ll ship these guys on out. And folks? Because Tony is such a stellar guy, do you know that he’s going to pay for all their healthcare Out. Of. Pocket? He doesn’t hold with this business of covering healthcare for other people. Our Tony’s decided he’s not gonna let me and others help him with his new blessings. No Sirree Bob! No subsidized healthcare for Tony’s new blessings. He’s going to pay for it all himself.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                You are so off the issue here. Why can’t you stay on track?

                • Augustus

                  James is employing straw man arguments because he is incapable of refuting objections to the HHS mandate. Contraception is cheap. Everybody who uses it knows it. This mandate is a political decision of the ideological Left, a raw exercise of power against those who dare to resist their anti-life, anti-family agenda. The Left seeks a monopoly of power and will do anything to neuter mediating institutions that seek to preserve their freedom and independence from unconstitutional overreaching by the state. The state already provides “free” (that is, tax-payer subsidized) contraceptives. This isn’t about family planning. It’s about the state violating the consciences of a free people. James obviously is willing to give up his freedom for a false sense of security. (What does he think threatens his security? Too many people. No wonder he agrees with the most pro-abortion president in our history. The Irony: Too many people, especially lower income people, is often seen by population-controllers as necessitating a larger welfare state which they claim to oppose. Obama’s anti-family policies have not reduced the welfare state. His policies have had the opposite effect, resulting in rising poverty rates and growing dependency on the state.) The founders would see this as the beginning of the end of their experiment in ordered liberty.

                  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

                    Very good. Thank you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306493603 Noreen McEnery DiDonato

            “Other people” can do whatever they want. It’s a free country. WE DON’T WANT TO PAY FOR THEIR BIRTH CONTROL. This is not a question of economics, it’s a question of faith. If you had some, you’d understand this whole issue.

          • KT

            :-) Now, now, James. Be nice, be nice.

      • E.J.D.

        KT, you may get your Pill for ‘free’ from the insurance company, but the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the Pill doesn’t give it away for free. Someone must be paying the pharmaceutical company to go through all the trouble to manufacture the Pill. They’re in the business of making lots of money; they’re not in the business of helping insurance companies save lots of money. Even if it’s a savings to insurance companies to provide the Pill for free to customers, that doesn’t mean the pharmaceutical company gives it to the public or insurance companies for free. So the question for you is: who pays the pharmaceutical company for the Pill?

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The insurance companies pay for the pills just as they pay for the free fire alarms and smoke detectors they give policy holders. The money comes from the money they save by having fewer claims.

        • HeilMary1

          We women actually pay for those “free” contraceptives just by paying monthly insurance premiums. Would you want to pay for a policy that excludes treating cancer and organ failures? Contraception saves women from fatal childbirth sepsis, multiple organ failures, and divorce-causing bladder and bowel incontinence. Contraception saves insurance companies BILLIONS in obstetric complications.

    • KT

      HigherCalling writes, “The entire notion of Obamacare or any government takeover of healthcare is radically incompatible with the Catholic view of man and society. ”

      This is where you are 100% wrong and you completely contradict Catholic teaching. John Paul II recommends in Laborum Exercens that employers should be provided with benefits such as health insurance, pensions, accident insurance, and time off. Please don’t pervert Catholic teachings to support your own opinion. That would be extremely dishonest. The provision of FREE contraception by health insurance companies is something they have decided to do as a cost saving device. As pointed out, this divorces provision of contraception from the employers’ opinions on the subject and moves all moral culpability for contraception to where it should be — on the shoulders of the patient. If you want to make arguments that OPPOSE contraception or that the Catholic Church is wrong to support universal health care, go ahead. This claim of having to “pay” for other peoples’ sexual choices, however, is fraudulent. Nobody is having to do that.

      • HigherCalling

        How wonderful that Mr. Obama is implementing Catholic Social Teaching! And I did not know that JPII recommended that employers [sic] should be provided all those goodies from the federal government. I’ll eagerly await Mr. Obama’s encyclical on Subsidiarity and the importance of Catholic principles regarding imposing “health care” across the nation — which, by the stroke of a pen, if not complied with will make millions of people instant criminals in the eyes of the virtuous federal government.

        • William

          “How wonderful that Mr. Obama is implementing Catholic Social Teaching!”
          Read the encyclical KT recommends. It will open your eyes to Catholic social teaching and teach you that many of the Obama administration’s policies are indeed congruent with Catholic teaching. Yes, our previous pope spoke up for workers’ rights as follows:
          “Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in health care, especially in the case of accidents at work, demand that medical assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible it should be cheap or even free of charge. Another sector regarding benefits is the sector associated with the right to rest. In the first place this involves a regular weekly rest comprising at least Sunday, and also a longer period of rest, namely the holiday or vacation taken once a year or possibly in several shorter periods during the year. A third sector concerns the right to a pension and to insurance for old age and in case of accidents at work. Within the sphere of these principal rights, there develops a whole system of particular rights which, together with remuneration for work, determine the correct relationship between worker and employer. Among these rights there should never be overlooked the right to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers’ physical health or to their moral integrity.” (From Laborem Exercens, Encyclical Letter, John Paul II, 14 September 1981)

          • HigherCalling

            I missed the part where it must be imposed by a Godless federal government under the force of law (ie. at the point of a gun). The goal of socializing health care, being attained incrementally by the administration, is against Catholic teaching. We can get into an encyclical debate about Catholic Social Teaching, but be sure that the Church expressly and explicitly condemns Socialism. The two fundamental social teachings of the Church that trump all others center on the defense and protection of life and family. A federal takeover of health care in any huge, pluralistic society like ours must violate those two teachings (witness Obamacare), making the entire notion of universal health care a violation of Catholic teaching. It also fundamentally violates the principle of Subsidiarity, getting things out of their proper order. Such disorder always ends in a loss of human flourishing and only advances the culture of death.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              In Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI said, “Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (35) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.

              It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.”

    • MRzeppa

      Contraception is not healthcare.

    • Tony

      The arguments presented by Reese, Dionne and Winters are absurd and sophomoric. The opinion writers in most media outlets are mostly incapable of logic. Dionne conveniently forgets that the majority of this country did not support this legislation when it was passed and still does not support this legislation. So, under his notion of logic – since we are a democracy – the legislation should be withdrawn. Winters obviously buys the Planned Parenthood lie that their funds are segregated and public funds are not used for abortion services. This is exactly the same ridiculousness thast argues that if I provide health insurance to my employees, and contraception and abortifacients are provided for “free” that I am not paying for that inclusion. Do these people ever actually read what they write? Reese would do himself well if he would read the Catechism. And please, Mr Esolen, if the “free” provision of contraception and abortifacients was financially sound for the insurance companies, their armies of actuaries and accountants would have had them providing this service well before the government required it.

    • Robert

      Obama will use this to force coverage of contraception and more things for the gay rights agenda.

    • Anders13

      A nation that ceases to be responsible for producing, and preparing it’s next generation for it’s civil and moral future is committing suicide. The secular humanist faction in this country has already slaughtered 55 million of our next generation and is now trying to make sex the state drug. Striping away the fundamental purpose of sex transforms it into a drug. Everything is being done to prevent a next generation by promoting and distributing the sex drug ; we have government subsidized abortion, government forced contraception, same sex “marriage”, no-fault divorce, and pornography everywhere. Women are being made into toy women by deceiving them into believing that the purpose of sexuality is power so that they can be used to merchandize toys and sex as a toy. Add to that an education system that provides indoctrination in place of education and the national debt they will inherit , whatever meager generation we manage to produce will live all the days of their lives in slavery.

      Our current government has placed it’s own authority and agenda above fundamental moral values. It is aiding in the destruction of our children’s future and it is time for good men to rise up and put a stop to it.

      Temporal life time is but an instant compared to the time that the universe

      exist; but the time that the universe exist is but an instant compared to eternity or

      eternal life.

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    • Uuncle Max

      Keep Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, John Kerry, Martin O’Malley, the Kennedy family and the Cuomo family in your prayers.