The Catholic Church has unleashed a firestorm of opposition to the Obama Administration’s announcement last month that it will require religious-affiliated organizations to provide coverage by next year for contraception — including controversial drugs that can abort an early pregnancy.
This is an outrage that started with a decision by the Obama Administration last summer listing the “preventive” services that must be covered by health plans under the president’s health overhaul law without any charge to patients.
The list included contraception and sterilization — yet another assault on the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the federal regulation an “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”
The ObamaCare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the law’s employer mandate.
The administration gave religious organizations a very narrow exemption, allowing a waiver only if the institution’s employees are primarily of one faith and primarily serve members of that faith. The administration thought it would appease Catholics by giving them an extra year to comply with the mandate.
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Belmont Abbey, a private Catholic college located in North Carolina, is being joined by several other universities in suing the government over the mandate. The USCCB also has pledge to sue the government over the violation of its First Amendment rights.
Belmont Abbey says that Catholic universities that employ non-Catholic professors or Catholic hospitals that provide care to non-Catholics don’t qualify. Even Jesus wouldn’t qualify as religious under the regulation’s definition, the Bishops wrote in earlier comments about the rule!
Archbishop Dolan has established a Bishop’s committee on religious liberty, headed by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The committee is going to have a great deal of work to do in defending the faith against ObamaCare’s many assaults.
There is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function. The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.
The healthcare law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.
This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. Every institution in the country is now wondering whether they will be the next target of the ObamaCare assault on freedom. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized government control over health care decisions, must not stand.
Published in the Canada Free Press, February 2, 2012.