Wednesday, September 21, 2011

HHS's Plan To Contracept Conscience Rights

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges faithful Catholics, friends of conscience rights, enemies of government tyranny, and people of good will to protest the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services proposed diktat that private health plans cover contraception (including abortifacients) as preventive services for women.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued interim final rules mandating this outcome pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, i.e., ObamaCare.

There's no doubt that these "preventive services" prevent fecundation or implantation in the women who avail themselves of them.  In the case of arbortifacient contraceptives, however, they also prevent the lives of unborn women who are killed by their mothers.  The moral dimensions of this nuance have proved elusive to Liberals over the years engendering some social consternation.  Neither does everyone want to participate in the killing by subsidizing it, or purchasing a contract on someone else's life.  Another elusive nuance.

The interim HHS directive prevents citizens who think differently than Secretary Sebelius from having the choice of keeping blood off their hands: it proposes to make them pay for what they consider unconscionable.  How's that for hands-on government?

In the Statist world, only Liberals have choices.  They're entitled.  Because, that's fair.  They're compassionate.  Everyone else has duties.  It is not ours to reason why, only to do and die.  If Secretary Sebelius and President Obama have their way, we'll also be obliged to pay for the killing.  Preventing--dying--killing: that's why Pope John Paul II called it a culture of death.

“Until now, no federal law has prevented private insurers from accommodating purchasers and plan sponsors with moral or religious objections to certain services,” they wrote. “Plans were free under federal law to accommodate those objections by allowing purchasers to choose not to buy coverage for gender change surgery, contraceptives, in vitro fertilization, or other procedures that the purchaser or sponsor found religiously or morally problematic. Likewise, federal law did not forbid any insurer, such as a religiously-affiliated insurer, to exclude from its plans any services to which the insurer itself had a moral or religious objection. Indeed, the freedom to exclude morally objectionable services has sometimes been stated affirmatively in federal law.” 
Under the mandate, they wrote, this will end. “Individuals with a moral or religious objection to these items and procedures will now be affirmatively barred by the HHS mandate from purchasing a plan that excludes [contraception and sterilization]. Religiously-affiliated insurers with a moral or religious objection likewise will be affirmatively barred from offering a plan that excludes them to the public, even to members of their own religion. Secular organizations (insurers, employers, and other plan sponsors) with a moral or religious objection to coverage of contraceptives or sterilization will be ineligible for the exemption.” 
Noman considers that sufficient explanation of the proposed directive's defects, and villainy. By virtue of what exigency are citizens' traditional moral beliefs to be so peremptorily disregarded?  Economic cost-spreading rationale?  Fairness?  Concern for women--including those who object to having America perverted in their names, and those who are deprived of life?  Run-amok triumphalism?  The Anti-Catholic bigotry of self-hating Catholics and fellow travelers?

This is the way Liberals act with power.  They shove it down the throat of anyone who disagrees with them, which is why they shouldn't have it.

The directive's fig-leaf exemption covers only (1) a "religious employer" that (2) has the "inculcation of religious values" as its purpose, (3) primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and (4) is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code.  The bishops opine that so restrictive a provision would exclude the activities of Jesus Christ himself.  Perhaps that's the point.
“Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. 
“For example, under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics,” Cardinal DiNardo continued. “Could the federal government possibly intend to pressure Catholic institutions to cease providing health care, education and charitable services to the general public?  Health care reform should expand access to basic health care for all, not undermine that goal.” 
“The Administration’s failure to create a meaningful conscience exemption to the preventive services mandate underscores the need for Congress to approve the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” the Cardinal said.That bill (H.R. 1179), introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK), would prevent mandates under the new health reform law from undermining rights of conscience. 
Cardinal DiNardo added: “Catholics are not alone in conscientiously objecting to this mandate.The drugs that Americans would be forced to subsidize under the new rule include Ella, which was approved by the FDA as an ‘emergency contraceptive’ but can act like the abortion drug RU-486. It can abort an established pregnancy weeks after conception. The pro-life majority of Americans – Catholics and others – would be outraged to learn that their premiums must be used for this purpose.” 
“HHS says the intent of its ‘preventive services’ mandate is to help ‘stop health problems before they start,’ said Cardinal DiNardo. “But pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a ‘health problem’ – they are the next generation of Americans.”
The final paragraph contains the anthropological truth separating Social Conservatives from fellow citizens, and splintering American culture since Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).  "Pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a 'health problem.'"  It amazes Noman that the point should ever have had to be argued, let alone for the past 50 years.

With respect to this most recent controversy, the point is that drugs and surgeries to prevent pregnancy--at least in the eyes of those who don't consider children an eliminable health problem--are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans, including them, to purchase.  We have rights, too, Kathleen, and voices.

It is no answer to blithely observe that Democrats won the election of 2008, as if that fact affords social engineers carte blanche to transform the the culture by eliminating the conscience rights of those who disagree.  In the 1943 case of West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, Justice Robert Jackson anticipated Democrat's intended usurpation:
"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
If being forced to subsidize another's morally objectionable choices, and to purchase services one considers morally repugnant, doesn't violate the Bill of Rights, then the Constitution is meaningless.  Noman rejects the conclusion on grounds of self-evidence.  Ergo, the premise is flawed.  He pities the smallness of mind, and soul, of those who champion it.

The USCCB's formal arguments against HHS's interim final rules follows:

I. The HHS Mandate
A. Our prior comments urging HHS to limit the “preventive services” mandate to services that promote health and prevent disease should be revisited and have been reinforced by subsequent scientific studies. 
B. The HHS mandate is unprecedented at the federal level and the most radical among the States. 
C. By requiring coverage of drugs that can cause abortion, the HHS mandate violates the Weldon amendment, PPACA’s (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, i.e., ObamaCareown abortion and non-preemption provisions, and the Administration’s own assurances that PPACA would not be construed to require coverage of abortion.
D. The HHS mandate violates the Religion and Free Speech Clauses of the United States Constitution. 
E. The HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 
F. The HHS mandate violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
 II. The HHS Exemption
A. The HHS exemption is narrower than the exemptions in the vast majority of states with contraceptive mandates. 
B. The HHS exemption is narrower than any other religious exemption in federal health care law. 
C. It is unclear whether the HHS exemption even applies to sterilization and/or counseling and education about sterilization. 
D. The HHS exemption fails to encompass any individuals and most institutions with moral or religious objections to contraception or sterilization. 
E. The HHS exemption violates the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. 
F. The HHS exemption violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
The drafters conclude that if for some reason HHS will not rescind its ill-conceived final rules, it should at least (a) exclude from the mandate those drugs that can cause an abortion, and (b) exempt all stakeholders with a religious or moral objection to contraceptives, sterilization, and related education and counseling.

That sounds both reasonable, and American, to Noman who hopes that the reader finds HHS's interim final rules as deeply offensive, disturbing and revealing as he does.  They are one change Noman hopes not to see.  They are, however, among the changes that the President and his Party most passionately hoped for.

This episode illustrates the value of President Obama's word, and executive orders.  He can only be trusted by those whose agenda he shares.  He will say and do anything to accomplish it.  He is a fraud.  Q.E.D.

The public comment period on this interim final rule ends September 30.  The reader can send an e-mail message to HHS by visiting

Once comments have been sent to HHS, the reader will be automatically invited to send a message to his or her elected representatives in Congress urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Consceince Act (J.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that our Statist administrators refrain from violating Americans' moral and religious convictions.

Shame on you, Kathleen Sebelius.  May God forgive you and your Party the evil you do in the name of women's rights.  May God grant you graces to restrain your totalitarian impulses and to leave the rest of us alone.

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