While the nation’s Catholic bishops issued a somewhat tepid response saying they are still “concerned” about the revised pro-abortion HHS mandate President Barack Obama leading pro-life Catholics groups are visibly upset.
CatholicVote.org, a leading national grassroots Catholic advocacy organization, denounced President Obama’s empty ‘compromise’ on the HHS mandate.
“President Obama has introduced an accounting gimmick to appease voters over his recent Health and Human Services mandate. The so-called compromise announced today will continue to force virtually all employers, including religious institutions, to pay into insurance policies that cover abortion drugs and other immoral medicines and procedures,” CatholicVote.org President Brian Burch said. “Separating the premiums paid to insurance companies does not change what these policies will cover. The policies funded by religious institutions will continue to cover contraception, birth control, and abortion drugs for every employee of these organizations. To pretend, by an accounting gimmick, that the premiums paid by the employer will not subsidize these services is simply absurd.”
“All Americans should shudder at what has just transpired. Despite repeated promises during the healthcare debate in 2009, the President of the United States has ordered all insurance companies to pay for abortion drugs. And all religious institutions will be forced to pay into these plans,” Burch added. “The Catholic Church in America has been reduced to begging for the freedom to continue to carry out its mission, effectively turning the First Amendment on its head. The president owes every American an apology, not an accommodation. We urge Congress to immediately introduce legislation that will protect the conscience rights of all Americans.”
He concluded, “Catholics don’t want an accounting gimmick. They want freedom.”
Matt Smith, President of Catholic Advocate, also condemned the revised mandate:
First off, in anticipating this type of compromise, a spokesman for our Catholic bishops said, it’s as if the White House is saying, “Sure, you don’t have to include the coverage, you just have to send all your lay employees and women religious to the local Planned Parenthood clinic.” He continued: “That would not be a compromise. In some ways it would be worse.”
As you know well, our religious liberties are an inalienable right, not a privilege that can be changed on a whim. Our faith-based institutions should not be forced by this administration or any in the future to violate their beliefs. We are disappointed that today appears to be an attempt to fix a political problem in an election year. As some media outlets are reporting, White House staff was reviewing polling data before the HHS mandate was released on January 20. Their thinking was focused on 269 days from now — and not the 220 years of our Bill of Rights.
If the President is serious about protecting religious liberties, than he should signal to Congress he will sign into law the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act so no executive branch action or future action can trample on our rights in the same manner.
The Cardinal Newman Society, which works to monitor Catholic colleges and universities, also described it as something pro-life advocates can’t support.
It is quickly becoming clear that President Obama’s revised mandate for insurance coverage of abortifacients, sterilization and contraception amounts to nothing more than political theater. The mandate remains. And so our fight continues.
Under terms of the revised mandate, students at Catholic colleges and universities will still be provided free abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception. And Catholic colleges and universities will still be compelled under the force of law to pay for such coverage for their students and employees if they offer a health plan.
Faithfully Catholic colleges and universities cannot violate their Catholic mission. The President’s goal of free abortion, sterilization and contraception for all Americans is directly opposed to that mission. Any government mandate for Catholic colleges and universities to participate in this social engineering plan is unacceptable and unconscionable.
The Cardinal Newman Society will continue to work with Catholic colleges and universities to find the most acceptable solution to this violation of their religious liberty. But there can be no compromise that does not eliminate the mandate.
Priests for Life also weighed in, with Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, denouncing the Department of Health and Human Services contraception and abortion ruling as an abomination that must be immediately repealed or rescinded because it violates everything our country stands for.
“Despite the alleged compromise or accommodation, this is NOT just about ‘religious’ employers being affected,” Father Pavone said. “This is about ALL Americans being forced to pay for something that may be directly opposed to their moral convictions. There are many non-religious reasons to object to the Obama Administration’s policy. Chief among these is the basic American principle of freedom of conscience. That means the government must NEVER do ANYTHING that requires people to violate their conscience
“For tens of millions of Americans, the abortion pill is utterly repugnant. Being forced to PAY for it — that is, so it can be provided for FREE to anyone and everyone via health insurance policies — is clearly an outrageous abuse of government power.”
“Religious freedom is not just for religious groups,” Father Pavone said. “It is for every American.”