Catholic scholars are up in arms about the latest interim rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, which is alleged to provide First Amendment protections to religious entities involved in health care, health insurance, and other programs impacted by the mandated distribution of contraception.
In a letter signed by more than 20 such individuals, the point is made that, Catholic charities and Catholic hospitals do not fit the rule’s definition of religious organization. Catholic schools, colleges, and universities also might not fit the current definition.
In light of the First Amendment’s protection of religious practice and of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s forbidding of discrimination for religious belief and insistence on accommodation of religion in the workplace, we propose expanding the definition of religious organization in the final rule to extend conscience protection to religious charities, religious hospitals, and religious schools in regards to mandated health insurance coverage.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of the General Counsel sent a strongly worded letter to DHHS stating, in part, “[W]e urge HHS to rescind the mandate in its entirety. Only rescission will eliminate all of the serious moral problems the mandate creates; only rescission will correct HHS’s legally flawed interpretation of the term ‘preventive services.’”
Following on this strong rejection of the very idea that government should be requiring anyone to have access to dangerous chemicals and other methods designed to render the patient sterile, the letter does suggest that, barring rescission, it must address the draconian tone that places religious institutions on a collision course with the government.
Those who have taken the time to dig deeper into the question of federal government bias against conscience rights among members of the medical profession have a prescient view of why this current interim mandate should not shock any of us. In examining the “case against pro-life physicians,” Daniel Kuebler writes,
Given the climate of discrimination, particularly in the OB-GYN field, it is essential that strong conscience-protection laws are put in place and that these laws are vigorously enforced. Unfortunately, the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction, as the Obama administration’s dilution of conscience regulations earlier this year demonstrates.
Among other problems, the watered-down regulations do not protect doctors or pharmacists who morally object to prescribing or dispensing contraceptives, and they do not protect doctors who refuse to refer patients who request abortions.
While it seems to protect doctors who morally object to performing abortions, it is unclear if the regulations will be enforced vigorously by a Department of Justice that is run by appointees of a pro-abortion president.
Indeed, if one looks carefully at the record of the Obama administration, taking into account that, in many instances, the policy making is done by Planned Parenthood puppets, it is clear that those in the various medical professions who have a properly formed conscience based on right reason and a love of truth are being surreptitiously railroaded out of health care.
Now is the time to take action. We cannot permit the government to continue what it perceives as its rights to squash right reason.
And, lastly, please remember the importance and strength of prayer. Pray fervently and daily for our country and its leaders.