In the News: Prisons Churches, Museums, and, of course, Hobby Lobby

A round-up of recent religion and media stories in the news. Continue Reading →

The Conscience Clause: It's Not Just About 750,000 Hospital Employees

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 →

The Conscience Clause: It’s Not Just About 750,000 Hospital Employees

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 →

An Authentically Catholic Hospital

In November of 2009 Sister Margaret McBride was fired and excommunicated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. As a member of the ethics board at St. Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, McBride had authorized an abortion to save the life of a 27 year old mother of four.  The young mother survived.  In May of this year when the story was broken by The Arizona Republic, a local newspaper, Olmsted stated about his decision, “An unborn child is not a disease … the end does not justify the means.” Continue Reading →

Robert Edwards' Nobel and the Medical Right

Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards developed in-vitro fertilization more than 32 years ago, marking a new era of reproduction with the successful birth of Louise Brown. They were funded not by the British Medical Research Council, which, under pressure from the Vatican and other conservative groups, declined support for the researchers, but by private money. Edwards has now received the 2010 Nobel prize in medicine for his breakthrough (Steptoe died in 1988; the Nobel committee, since 1974, does not award prizes post-humously).

While it’s not uncommon for individuals to be recognized by the awards committee long after their milestone discoveries, this award works to show in many ways how quickly controversial scientific developments over the last 40 years have become common practice (for good and bad) — developments that have, for the first time in human history, changed the definition of life and death. Continue Reading →

Robert Edwards’ Nobel and the Medical Right

Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards developed in-vitro fertilization more than 32 years ago, marking a new era of reproduction with the successful birth of Louise Brown. They were funded not by the British Medical Research Council, which, under pressure from the Vatican and other conservative groups, declined support for the researchers, but by private money. Edwards has now received the 2010 Nobel prize in medicine for his breakthrough (Steptoe died in 1988; the Nobel committee, since 1974, does not award prizes post-humously).

While it’s not uncommon for individuals to be recognized by the awards committee long after their milestone discoveries, this award works to show in many ways how quickly controversial scientific developments over the last 40 years have become common practice (for good and bad) — developments that have, for the first time in human history, changed the definition of life and death. Continue Reading →