On September 26th, the bishops of Florida wrote a letter to Health and Human Services director Kathleen Sebelius, in an attempt to dissuade her from implementing the mandate that all healthcare providers (insurance companies, hospitals, physicians, etc.) provide birth control pills, morning-after (abortion) pills, and other contraceptives and abortifacients.
The mandate states that insurers must cover “women’s preventive services”. This is a broad umbrella that encompasses breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.
The letter from the Florida bishops comes at the same time that the Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal DiNardo wrote the annual “Statement for Respect Life Month” to all U.S. Catholics. Both of these letters come on the heels of a September 15th letter to the HHS by Bishop Zubick of Pittsburgh, as well as the September 21st letters by Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn and the bishops of California.
The message in each of these messages is the same: the mandate violates freedom of conscience.
True, there is a “religious exemption” stated in the HHS mandate, but the exemption is extremely limited: religious institutions may be exempted from this mandate, provided they neither provide services to nor employ those of other religions or denominations. As Cardinal DiNardo puts it:
It has been said that Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.
Of course, the stance of so many bishops – standing in united opposition to this mandate – will be spun as a “patriarchal system insensitive to women’s needs”. Additionally, anyone who stands with the Catholic bishops will be branded as hating women and will be portrayed as perpetuating domestic violence because they oppose this coverage.
These charges are patently false, but that will not prevent them from being stated anyway. However, the charges being hurled against the bishops and their supporters could easily be turned against those who promote the contraceptive/abortion culture.
The evidence from the abortion clinics themselves show that most women coming in for abortions were already using birth control pills or some other form of contraception in the month they got pregnant. And there is no greater form of domestic violence and abuse than the death of a child – even one unborn – and the amount of pressure both women and men feel from each other to get rid of that child. (Many mothers feel pressured that the man will leave her if she doesn’t abort; many men are left powerless to perform their primary fatherly duty – to protect their child – because “it is not your body and you don’t get a say”.)
Pregnancy is not a disease to be “prevented”; therefore “preventative care” shouldn’t cover things that inhibit the natural, proper functions of the human body. And mandating this coverage, while throwing in a bare bone of a “religious exemption” clause, does nothing to promote health. It promotes the culture of death, while sacrificing one of the founding principles of our country: religious freedom.
If you’d like to voice your opinion to HHS Director Sebelius, you may do so at http://www.votervoice.net/core.aspx?APP=GAC&AID=720&IssueID=26144&SiteID=-1