Obama’s “unconscionable” birth control mandate on Catholic hospitals and colleges

Amidst the good news about the large number of young people from Boston who went to the March for Life, the bad news is the Obama administration announced last Friday that faith-based entities like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities will have to provide employees with free birth control as part of their insurance packages. The mandate will also force such groups to pay for sterilizations and FDA-approved abortifacient drugs such as Ella under the umbrella of “contraception.”

BCI is posting on this topic with a message to Boston Catholics and Cardinal O’Malley because his words in reacting to such news were disappointing, and we hope for the sake of the unborn and the archdiocese that he will adopt a different approach in the future.  Our Cardinal walks in the annual March for Life, but outside of that, he does not always walk the talk.  Keep reading.

USCCB President, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, called the Obama administration rule “literally unconscionable.”  It is exactly that.

Here is a short video statement by Cardinal-designate Dolan. He sharply dolancriticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.”

 “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.

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

Here is an excerpt from the National Catholic Register, “HHS Secretary Sebelius: Church Groups Must Provide Contraception.”

WASHINGTON — Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed today that church-affiliated hospitals, agencies and universities will be required to provide contraception and sterilization in the health insurance they provide employees.

However, nonprofit religious institutions will receive an additional year to accommodate this controversial regulation covered under the new health bill, with an extended deadline of August 2013.

In a blow to the U.S. bishops and Catholic institutions that had lobbied for a broader exemption for church-affiliated organizations,  the HHS secretary released a statement Jan. 20 approving the final rule for mandated preventive services for women. Houses of worship are exempted from the rule.

“I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services,” Sebelius said. “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good. And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws and regulations give to health-care providers.”

The secretary’s judgment was broadly contested by a range of Catholic leaders and religious-freedom advocates.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a statement.

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

The suggestion by Sebelius that this move respects religious freedom is nothing less than fallacy. And Sebelius considers herself “Catholic.”

This Catholic college said they would shut down before submitting to the abortifacient mandate.  Read this article, “Sebelius in trouble with Catholic Church” for more about how Kathleen Sebelius has already been admonished against receiving Communion by two archbishops.

This piece in First Things give yet more color to the issue:

“…the Obama-Sebelius HHS rule forces countless Americans to purchase health insurance that violates their religious beliefs.  And it forces religious organizations that seek to do good in the world–universities and schools, hospitals and clinics, adoption and social-service agencies, soup kitchens and clothing banks–to violate the consciences of their religious communities if they want to continue to do all these good things.  Cover abortifacients and sterilizations in your employee health plan, the little Christian school down the road from you will be told.  The choices will be a) violate your conscience, b) drop your health coverage and propel your employees into the government-run “exchanges” awaiting them with all the tender mercy of federal bureaucrats, or c) close up shop.  Some choices.”

BCI agrees with Archbishop Dolan this move is unconscionable. Frankly, it is outrageous. It is oddly coincidental how the announcement was timed two days before the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade and three days before the March for Life.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley posted on his blog about the move. In a post entitled, “Literally unconscionable,” he said “we are distressed” to learn about the requirement by the Obama administation,  and “I join Cardinal–elect Dolan in expressing deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country.”  Later in the post, he urged readers to contact elected officials and urge them to protect our right to religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Some may accuse BCI of parsing words, but words can be powerful.  It is the observation of BCI and others that the Cardinal O’Malley has a pattern of expressing mere “disappointment” with those who advocate for abortion or infringe on the rights of Catholics to practice our faith (instead of “outrage”), but his language has been much more strident to pro-life Catholics when he is crossed by them standing up for Catholics beliefs and principles.  For example:

  • In writing about his presiding over the Ted Kennedy funeral on his blog in 2009, Cardinal O’Malley said of Kennedy, there is a “tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn.  To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment…”  In the words of the Cardinal, it was a “lost opportunity” and “great disappointment” that Kennedy actively supported the killing of more than 50M unborn babies in the womb, but in the same blog post, Cardinal O’Malley used harsh language to criticize pro-lifers who complained about the funeral, saying, “At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another.  These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.”
  • Cardinal O’Malley allowed a 2010 Boston Social Justice Conference to feature a BC priest, Fr. Thomas Massaro SJ, who signed a public letter supporting Kathleen Sebelius for HHS Secretary. According to published minutes of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting, the Cardinal dismissed complaints by council members about this matter, saying  he “takes Fr. Massaro’s work in the context of the priest’s life of service to the Church.” Now that same HHS Secretary, Sebelius, is forcing an unprecedented infringement on our religious liberty.
  • Cardinal O’Malley still retains Jack Connors as Boston Archdiocese Finance Council member, fund-raiser and adviser while Connors raises  millions of dollars for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history and while Connors works against the Catholic Church by chairing Partners Healthcare, one of the largest abortion providers in the commonwealth. Yet Cardinal O’Malley fails to try and rally Connors to support abortion alternatives in Boston, or to insist that his advocacy for those who support abortion is incompatible with him serving in a senior advisory and fund-raising role.
  • Back in 2009 when pro-life Catholics complained that the proposed Caritas Christi arrangement with the Commonwealth Care program would result in referrals to abortion providers, the Cardinal reacted on his blog by criticizing pro-life Catholics for “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.”

In view of this latest news, Cardinal O’Malley will have his work cut out for him as the chair-elect of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. This LifesiteNews article published shortly after he was elected to the role sums it up nicely:

“In recent years Cardinal O’Malley has had an at-times strained relationship with the United States’ pro-life movement. While known for his doctrinal orthodoxy on life and family issues, he has also been criticized by pro-life and pro-family leaders for certain prudential decisions.”

Cardinal O’Malley will need to take strong, decisive action to oppose the latest move by the Obama administration.  He spoke to President Obama at the Ted Kennedy funeral about ObamaCare, which now, forces Catholic institutions to violate their moral principles on contraception. What will be next?

Beyond the symbolic gesture of leading the pilgrimage of young people down to Washington for the March for Life and beyond the blog post, what else will the chair-elect of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities due to rally Boston Catholics to address this new unconscionable policy by the Obama administration, the ongoing evil of abortion and the damage abortion does to women, and the continued unconscionable retaining of a Finance Council member/fund-raiser who supports politicians and institutions that work against the Catholic Church?

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25 Responses to Obama’s “unconscionable” birth control mandate on Catholic hospitals and colleges

  1. Bill Redmond says:

    BCI you make many good points. I hope you get a response from the Cardinal. One point you make is that words matter, so I have to comment on these words: “Beyond the symbolic gesture of leading the pilgrimage of young people down to Washington for the March for Life.”

    I was not part of the group of Boston pilgrims, but I did lead a group of young people (my family and a couple of friends) to the March for Life. In my case, or rather in the case of my wife and me, we are simply fulfilling our duties as parents when we educate our children on the evil of abortion and lead them to be strong pro-life advocates. I assure you that leading young people to the march is strong and decisive action against the evil of pro-death ideology. Do you know something about the Boston group’s trip that makes you think it was just a symbolic gesture?

    • Bill, Thank you for your message. We do not expect to get any direct response from the Cardinal.

      Just to clarify, BCI is very supportive of the March for Life and was pleased to see so many young people went! The reason for our words that you referenced was not about the trip by the Boston group, but rather was because of the bulleted points in our post, some of the prudential decisions referenced in the LifeSiteNews article, and the pattern of the Cardinal using harsher language in criticizing pro-life Catholics than he uses in criticizing those who advocate for abortion.

  2. jbq2 says:

    With your article, I would say that the “glass is half full”. ABs Dolan and Chaput are “on the march”. The “Ides of March” are upon us with the coming election. It is becoming more than obvious that “deals have been made” by certain Catholic leaders with the U.S. Bishops Conference in order to convert the president to a more Christian line of thought while at the same time reaping lots of education money for Catholic schools. Maybe they forgot to tell Dolan and Chaput and maybe Dolan and Chaput are just more aware of their Christian leadership responsibilities. Nevertheless, the Son of St. Patrick and the Last of the Mohicans are definitely making their point.

    • jbq2 says:

      In regard to the March on Washington, a Catholic news source stated that ABC, NBC, CBS, and the New York Times all ignored the event completely. How many times does the “cock have to crow” before the sons of St. Peter take heed?

    • David S. says:

      While in their public statements Dolan and Chaput throw red meat to those of us seeking to be faithful to the Pope and Magisterium, to my knowledge neither of these men have excommunicated nor enforced Canon 915 in regards to the pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians in their dioceses.

  3. David S. says:

    I am not sure how we can reasonably we expect individual Bishops to stand with the Pope and Magisterium with this nonsense coming out of the USCCB. Check out this link:

    http://www.usccb.org/about/justice-peace-and-human-development/catholic-social-ministry-gathering/

    As you can see, in February 2012 the USCCB is holding a “Protecting Human Life and Dignity” conference. One of the speakers is David Brooks.

    According to an article in the NY Times (11/22/2003), Mr. Brooks writes in regards to homosexual marriage:

    “We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity…. It’s going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage.”

    According to another article in the NY Times (4/22/2007), Mr. Brooks writes in regards to abortion:

    “If we could get this issue away from the abortion professionals and their orthodoxies, we could reach a sensible solution: abortion would be legal, with parental consent for minors, during the first four or five months, and illegal except in extremely rare circumstances afterward.”

    Please join me in calling the USCCB at (202) 541-3000. Ask to speak to the Justice, Peace And Human Development Committee (which is the group organizing this event) and express your concerns.

    I guess the Latin expression “Piscis primum a capite foetet” sums up the current situation.

  4. Stephen says:

    Psst.
    USCCB is a sham they have no ecclesial authority.
    Bishops must stand alone.

  5. I don’t get it. Was Cardinal Sean saying he’s more concerned about the “irreparable damage” done to the communion of the Church by pro-life Catholics complaining about the scandalous Ted Kennedy funeral than he was about the irreparable damage done to the 54 million babies killed since Roe vs Wade and the associated emotional/physical damage done to the mothers?

    By the way, the PST proposed plans are out. When will BCI get back to that topic?

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Nothing is more important than the “protection of life”. Secondarily, from our “leaders”, nothing is more important than pontificating about it but, bottom line, is that we will be doing the same and nothing will change in our lifetime. All the Cardinals know that; however it makes for good press so they voice their “concerns” and “outrages” while, at the same time, recognize basic facts: the Courts, the Legislatures, and the Electorate will always respect a woman’s right to choose. There is no pressure on anybody to accept it or agree with it or recognize it. It’s there and will remain there. Think back – what Court has overturned Roe v. Wade?

      • Stephen says:

        Absolutely classic!
        “…nothing will change in our lifetime”
        “…All the Cardinals know that”
        “…recognize basic facts…the Electorate will always respect a woman’s right to choose”

        Watch the 180 movie, you crusty progressive has-been.
        Get with the program.

        Jack – you are so right.
        The time to excommunicate has come.

    • Jack O'Malley says:

      BobofNewtn,

      You continually tout a “woman’s right to choose”. What do you mean by that? You were challenged in a previous thread and you should put your cards on the table.

      Do you mean she has a right to choose to keep her legs together? Surely that right need not have been denied in the Constitution even by loose constructionists.

      Roe v. Wade was judge-made law (like the rectal marriage law passed in Massachusetts). It can be overturned tomorrow but for the ball-less bishops who will not excommunicate even lowly legislators let alone Supreme Court “justices” for their scandal to the law of God.

      We are in the Barney Frank era. The rectum is a two-way street deserving of privilege in law. The human foetus is a disease to be prevented. And for all we know, “cardinal” O’Malley agrees with the infamy. Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        Although I think we are getting a little nasty here I nevertheless understand your frustration and sense of helplessness.

        I think we are all in the same boat – we condemn abortion! However, I can understand that it frustrates you because Church leaders do nothing to act against those who support a woman’s right to choose. I merely state a fact: our leaders never will act! And BTW Jack, if the USSC overturns Roe v. Wade, the issue returns to the individual States so abortion will not end by an overturn at that level. Regards to all.

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        BobofNewtn,

        Since you have in a past thread expressed your “admiration” for Barney Frank, and since you persist in referring to “a woman’s right to choose” as if there were any such right (i.e. without the quotes), is it unreasonable to doubt your fidelity to Catholic doctrine?

        The battles will be fought where the enemy forces have mustered. If that means excommunicating legislators or Obama cabinet flunkies or governors soft on queers, so be it. Let the pagans serve Caesar but let them be expelled from the house of Christ.

        And if it means excommunicating USSC justices who refuse to overturn the unconstitutional Roe v Wade decision based on a fictitious right never envisioned by the framers, so be it.

        And if Roe v Wade were overturned, it is not necessarily true that abortion would continue in the individual states. If the Supreme Court declared there is no right to abortion and that abortion is the unlawful premeditated taking of a human life, viz. first degree murder, then any state law allowing abortion could be declared null and void as violating the federal constitution.

        I agree with BCI about our poor “distressed” and “disappointed” cardinal. He’s a prime specimen of the New Age Catholics. It’s all about how he “feels”. Since he only associates with the sycophants who acclaim his courage, he would not know that there are many who are “distressed” and “disappointed” and who decry his pusillanimity.

        A stand has to be made. The entire USCCB should corporately excommunicate Sebelius and declare that the Obama law will not be allowed to be implemented in Catholic institutions. Not now nor a year from now. Then take the issue to the Supreme Court where they may possibly get the directive overturned. Not because of the majority of Catholics on the bench, but because the Court has unanimously upheld the right to religious freedom. If Roberts can rally the troops against the EEOC, he should be no less effective against HHS. Obama and his turncoat Catholic kiss-ass Kathleen Sebelius can be checked. The advance halted. A battle won.

        You can step to the front and fight the good fight, BobofNewtn, or you can “admire” Barney Frank. You just have to know the front from the rear. Or the good from the evil.

  6. Bob,
    Can you explain why you keep using that expression “respect a woman’s right to choose”?

    http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/march-for-life/#comment-5464

    BCI commented in response to your odd use of that expression a few days ago. Before BCI or others go further in responding to you, it would be helpful to understand your viewpoint and perspective on abortion. Do you personally support “a woman’s right to choose”? If so, have you yet watched the 180 Movie BCI posted a few days ago?

    You stated as “basic fact” that “the Courts, the Legislatures, and the Electorate will always respect a woman’s right to choose.” That strikes BCI as an rather presumptuous statement which actually has no basis in “fact.”

    Just today, 3 bills passed in the Florida House that would restrict access to legal abortions in the state:

    http://floridaindependent.com/65911/three-anti-abortion-bills-pass-house-health-committee

    Back in 2003, 62 percent of Americans favored banning late-term abortion. Congress passed legislation to ban partial-birth abortion on more than one occasion (the Partial Birth Abortion Act) and the act was upheld by the Supreme Court.

    BCI would ask you to be more careful with expressing your viewpoints as “fact” when they are merely opinions.

  7. BCI asks that name-calling and personal attacks be avoided in the comments.

    Bob, it seems that you continue to avoid directly answering the questions posed to you. You said, “I think we are all in the same boat – we condemn abortion!” Can we avoid the proverbial “we” and focus on your position?

    What is YOUR position on abortion? Do you personally believe abortion is morally evil and abortion-on-demand should be illegal?

    And if you personally oppose abortion, why do you continue in every comment to keep talking about “a woman’s right to choose”?

    Have you watched the 180 movie in its entirety? If not that one, then try Eclipse of Reason. See link below.

    Please take 30 minutes to watch either movie before posting on this topic again and let us know what you have concluded after watching the movies.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      I condemn abortion and I support the excommunication of those politicians who vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. I don’t think I have to be any more specific than that. As far as watching the movies, I am disinclined to do so. And, since my stance is clear and unequivocal, I think it is unnecessary that I do. BTW, I am unclear about the purpose of the inquiry: is BCI filtering out those who may hold alternative opinions on the subjects discussed? Kind of scary if that is the case.

      • BCI is not filtering or screening comments for agreement or disagreement with BCI.

        BCI has never heard a pro-life Catholic use the expression “respect a woman’s right to choose.” There is a natural law “right to life.” Catholics should all support the right to life, from conception to natural death. “A woman’s right to choose” is the language of those who support abortion on demand. That you continue to use that wording suggests strongly that you are “pro-choice.”

        You thought Barney Frank was doing a good job–he rabidly opposed the Catholic Church on abortion and “gay marriage.” If you in fact also support “a woman”s right to choose,” then your comments need to be viewed through that lens.

      • BobofNewtn says:

        I am a pro-life Catholic and I elect to use the term “a woman’s right to choose” and that is the way it is! When the excommunications begin, I will consider changing my choice of words.

        I think Barney Frank did and does a good job for his constituents (and I am one of them). On the gay rights and abortion issues, he voted the same way as others in the Massachusetts delegation (including Ted Kennedy, a Senator who had as his devotees several members of the Catholic clergy). Incidentally, I do not support his stand on abortion no more than he supports my stand on fiscal matters.

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        BobofNewtn,

        If I may importune upon your good graces, would it be possible for you, as an admirer of Barney Frank, to wheedle me an invitation to his and Jim’s wedding?

        Mind you, my interest is purely sociological. I do want to see who makes the first move when the “minister” (?) “rabbi” (?) “yogi” (?) says “you may kiss the bride”. Also, which one throws the garter belt.

        I do wish them every joy of holy matrimony. At least in their case they won’t have to worry about an abortion if the artificial contraception fails. Yoo hoo, lovebirds, why weren’t you at the March for Life?

        You are going, aren’t you, Bob? I’ll bet Tommy Menino and his lovely heterosexual bride Angela will be right up front. Scandalizing their children and grandchildren. And John Forbes Kerry. Good Catholics all. Is my long lost cousin Seáno invited? You can’t not invite Obama’s favorite cardinal! How about Jackie Connors and his clique of six-figure salaried doting Democrats at 666 Brooks?

        I sure do love a traditional wedding. Do you suppose they have avoided the temptations of the secularist modern world and are both virgins? How would you tell?

  8. Anni says:

    I had Dan Rea’s show on WBZ on the radio ini the car last night and the topic was the HHS edict and Cardinal-Elect Dolan’s comments. I did not hear all of the show and discussion; I missed the first 10 minutes or so and then I missed the end because I was going to a meeting. The overwhelming comments that I heard from people who called in was in support of Arch. Dolan. This seemed to be Rea’s position as well. A number of people who called in said they were not Catholic but that they supported the right to conscience in this matter. So there is some “good” news, I guess.

    • BobofNewtn says:

      Hi Jack – In answer to your off-topic questions and request, the shart answer is “no”. Enjoy the weekend.

  9. Bill Redmond says:

    Yesterday was the feast of early bishops Saints Timothy and Titus. I find Father Mitch Pacwa’s homily from yesterday applicable to this topic. If you wish to listen, this link should bring you to it for the next week or so: http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/multicast/audio/mp3/th_thursday.mp3

  10. Bill Redmond says:

    Switching to politics for a bit.

    I would encourage everyone to contact their US Rep and Senators, and ask them to co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Senate bill is S.1467, House is H.R. 1179. I’ve called Mr. Keating, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Brown’s offices. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for them to sign up as co-sponsors. But I do think if they get calls, they will realize that the HHS mandate has gotten people’s attention.

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