Thursday, August 04, 2011
And what will that mean to America's health care system? America's economy? America's morale?
The Obama administration has released an amendment allowing religious institutions the choice of whether to cover contraceptive services. However, the exemption applies only to non-profit religious employers whose purpose is “the inculcation of religious values.” Exempted employers must primarily employ persons who share their religious tenets and must primarily serve those who share those beliefs.
“The so-called ‘exemptions’ are extremely narrow,” Snead said.
“This category does not cover virtually any Catholic institution that serves or employs non-Catholics. Accordingly, Catholic universities, Catholic social service agencies, and even perhaps the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be required to provide contraceptive coverage (including abortifacients like the recently FDA-approved ‘Ella’),” he explained.
Notre Dame Law School professor and associate dean Richard W. Garnett also criticized the exemption. It is not broad enough “because it excludes those religious institutions, employers, and ministries that are engaged actively in the world, providing care, services, and education to a diverse group of people, besides our fellow Catholics,” he told CNA.
Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University who formerly worked with the U.S. bishops’ pro-life office, said the regulations threatened religious freedom and respect for conscience.
“This regulation breaks a long-held, bipartisan understanding about who we are as a nation. We were founded on the basis of freedom of conscience, and that it's an important part of our overall level of freedom, not to mention peaceful coexistence,” she said.
All levels of government have understood the need to protect religious providers who “take up work others fail or refuse to do.”
“Their work is good or superior to other providers. At some level people understand that it is the moral commitments and views (including the deep respect for sex shown by our teaching on contraception) that undergird this,” she told CNA...
The Health and Human Services (HHS) rule follows a long period of activism from feminist and pro-abortion rights groups. Alvare said that the rules gave Planned Parenthood “everything they have asked for.”
“Planned Parenthood lobbied for exactly this outcome,” she said.
Snead said the rules’ possible effects on Catholic social services made it appear that President Obama has “chosen the agenda of Planned Parenthood over caring for the poor.”
He noted that the rule was announced in the form of a “final interim rule” which goes into effect before comments are received and evaluated. This avoids the usual course of proposing a rule, seek comments and offer responses, then issue the final rule.
“HHS chose a more aggressive course here,” he said. “That signals, I think, a strong normative commitment to promoting contraception (including potential abortifacients) that makes it unlikely that HHS will soften its stance.”
Here's more of this excellent (and frightening) Catholic News Agency article.