There’s much more at stake in the discussion about conscience clauses than who gets the bill for the pill.
By Ann Neumann
On January 20th Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that contraception would be covered free-of-charge in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Obama administration’s stifled, delayed-release attempt at reforming health care. The announcement included an exemption “for churches and houses of worship, but not for other religious institutions such as hospitals, universities and charities.” Women’s rights groups cheered the decision, having feared the worst after the record of “compromise” this administration has established.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not cheer; they immediately orchestrated a campaign that included letters read at mass and heavy lobbying of conservative lawmakers and activists, peculiarly claiming that the decision was an affront to religious freedom. It was yet another sparkling demonstration of the access that bishops have over health care legislation. The Pope himself took the opportunity of a visit with U.S. bishops and military leaders on January 19th to lament the erosion of religious freedom, saying:
When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey… to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.
Prohibit families from deciding when to have children, he threatened, or risk the specter of totalitarianism! Or rather, Comply with Catholic teaching and be free! Continue Reading →