It is time to do some fact checking about President Obama’s “compromise” on attacking religious liberty.
First of all, telling Catholics to just close their eyes and keep paying their insurance premiums that will ultimately cover morally objectionable services is not addressing respect for conscience and religious liberty. No matter how you spin it, Catholic institutions will be paying for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The end result is no different than the original Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, since insurance companies are not going to just throw these services in for free.
President Obama also erroneously claims that access to these services is in the interest of women’s health, although none of these services are necessary to prevent or cure a disease or pathological medical condition. Instead, they take a perfectly healthy reproductive system and render it dysfunctional and sterile. Hormonal contraceptives are also associated with increased blood pressure, blood clots and an increased risk for breast cancer. In addition, hormonal contraceptives have been shown to double the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. No medical association recommends the use of hormonal contraceptives as routine preventive care for healthy women. They are only used for the disruption of normal fertility.
In light of these facts, it becomes difficult to argue that the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs are required preventive medicine. These are purely elective treatments that prevent the natural and healthy consequences of a certain lifestyle choice. Pro-choice advocates demand that the Catholic Church “stay out of the bedroom,” then they demand that the Church pick up the tab for what happens in the bedroom.
How did we get here?
How did these supposedly “necessary” services get included as part of the mandated “preventive care” called for under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare?
The HHS commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to draw up a list of preventive services that should be covered. There is strong evidence that the committee charged with this was ideologically biased with direct ties to the abortion industry. As HLI America National Director Arland Nichols reveals in his exposition of bias within the IOM, several committee members had strong ties to Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In fact, 11 of the 15 IOM committee members who supported the measure collectively contributed $116,500 to pro-choice organizations and political candidates, and there is no evidence that any of them had ever contributed to a pro-life candidate or organization.
Dr. Anthony Lo Sasso was the only member of the IOM committee to dissent from the recommendation, and he has strongly criticized the IOM’s methodology in coming up with the controversial recommendations.
“The committee process for evaluation of the evidence lacked transparency and was largely subject to the preferences of the committee’s composition,” wrote Dr. Lo Sasso.
Troublingly, the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy. An abiding principle in the evaluation of the evidence and the recommendations put forth as a consequence should be transparency and strict objectivity, but the committee failed to demonstrate these principles in the report.
The IOM proceedings were more akin to a kangaroo court with a predetermined outcome; the outcome in this case being the mandated inclusion of contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients in all insurance policies. While their recommendations were presented with the supposed authority of “science,” the actual science employed in the report is threadbare. As Nichols put it in his devastating article, instead of an objective scientific evaluation to seek the best preventive health care options for all Americans, we received “Planned Parenthood ideology.”
The 99 Percent?
Finally, it is important to address the misleading statistics that President Obama and his administration are touting to support the HHS mandate. Over and over the Obama administration declares that 99% of all American women have used contraception at some point in their lives. This comes from a 2010 CDC report, Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008. Ironically, this 99% figure includes the women who use simple periodic abstinence as well as more sophisticated Natural Family Planning methods. It also reflects the use of contraception at any point during the reproductive years and not the percentage of women currently using contraception. This statistic is meant to paint contraceptive use as universal and therefore essential. Though it is impossible to know exact numbers, the percentage of women desiring chemical or surgical contraception and abortion services at any given time is certainly far less than 99%.
President Obama is not really interested in supporting those who seek to faithfully live their moral and religious principles. Instead, President Obama is merely interested in receiving cover from his Catholic political allies and protecting his liberal base in this election year. As the New York Times reports, he sought the counsel of Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association as well as the approval of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, in looking for the so-called “compromise.” Sr. Keehan was criticized by Cardinal George, then president of the USCCB, for her failure to adequately consider Catholic teaching on life issues in her support for Obamacare. President Obama did not consult with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at all when devising this revised HHS mandate.
Fortunately, the USCCB and other conscientious objectors have not been fooled by this charade of accommodation. The USCCB issued a statement rejecting this version of the mandate as “completely unacceptable” and called all Catholics to vigorously support legislative action to rescind this mandate and to provide unequivocal protection of religious liberty. Likewise, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Catholic Medical Association, and dozens of scholars and prominent legal experts have voiced their opposition to this continued assault on religious liberty.
This revised mandate is an empty gesture which represents no substantial progress towards protecting the rights of religious institutions or individuals to freely practice their faith. As so many religious leaders have stated, Americans cannot and should not comply with this unjust mandate, and we must stand firm in our commitment to moral principles, and to the defense of religious liberty.
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