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Obama's HHS Mandate Revision Will Still Force Catholics to Fund Contraception, Abortifacients

It's a Friday afternoon. There must be some bad news coming out of the Obama administration. They do this, of course, to limit the amount of media coverage they get from their actions.

So today the Administration gave some long-promised revisions to the HHS contraceptive mandate. For months, the Administration has been arguing in court that nobody can sue over the mandate because there was a revision coming. They were pretty successful in getting judges to throw out lawsuits from Catholic organizations, especially colleges, that the lawsuits weren't "ripe" because they hadn't fixed it yet.

Well now the "fix" has been announced. And it doesn't seem much of a fix, according to some. The responses have been...underwhelming.

Fox News reports:

"After over a year of litigation, our clients and many others like them were hoping for much, much more from the administration," Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said on a conference call. The group has represented several religious-affiliated schools suing over the rule.

Duncan also said in a statement that the proposal "does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans."

"The rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby are still being violated," he said.

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List also panned the announcement. "There must be no religious 'test' by the government as to who, and what type of entities, are entitled to a conscience," President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. Her group said "non-religious entities" such as their own should be taken into consideration.
Nobody seems to know for sure if this new exemption applies to Catholic colleges yet. As you remember, many Catholic colleges including Ave Maria, Belmont Abbey College, and The University of Notre Dame have sued to prevent from being forced to cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.

But a Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said "No nonprofit religious institution will be forced to pay for or provide contraceptive coverage, and churches and houses of worship are specifically exempt."

That would seem at first glance to include Catholic colleges but not businesses like Hobby Lobby. So it would certainly appear that in America you cannot be a faithful Catholic and a business owner. It's a sad day for America. A separate wrinkle will be those Catholic colleges that are self-insured. I'm sure lawyers are going through all of this attempting to make sense of it. I'll keep you informed when I learn more.

Brooks-LaSure strangely added that the rule is "not yet final." By that, I assume that means that this is not the final rule change which is a way of saying the Administration is going to continue to attempt to have lawsuits dismissed on the grounds that the rule could still change. If this is true, this would be a terribly disingenuous act in that for months they've promised the revision to finalize the mandate's rules but then they offer a revision and say but it's not yet final?

It's a sad day when the government of the United States mandates that religious believers must act against their own faith.


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Gail Finke said...

From the fact sheet the gov't links to:

"The NPRM also proposes that an eligible religious non profit organization that is an institution of higher education that arranges for student health insurance coverage may avail itself of an accommodation comparable to that for an eligible organization that is an employer with an insured group health plan."

As the part immediately before it was about non-profit organizations having to "hold themselves out as religious" before qualifying for the exemption, that would seem to indicate that hte exemption would apply to colleges.

The fact sheet also says that the insurance companies in these cases would have to provide separate policies to all those insured by the "exceptions" and absorb all the costs, which (if that's even legal) means that all the employees would still be covered, but that in theory the employers wouldnt' be paying for it.

Gail Finke said...

More: http://thecatholicbeat.sacredheartradio.com/2013/02/01/hhs-announces-proposed-changes-to-mandate/

matthew archbold said...

Thanks guys.

Wayne said...

I read through a chunk of the proposed rule change (which, as you have already stated, is proposed and open for comment from the public - as was the original proposal - which didn't change after much criticism). They seem to be offering major exemptions, but as Dennenfelser says accurately, the government has no right to define what constitutes a religious organization nor define who is allowed to follow his conscience as an employer who is religious.

Additionally, they are attempting to allow those organizations who fit the new exemptions to also not be responsible for the payment of the "contraception (or what I call, "Life prevention") services". They are making it clear that the only ones responsible for those services will be every single taxpayer - as the insurance companies apparently are not allowed to charge anybody for these services.

Micha Elyi said...

If putting up a copy of, say, the Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Steal" is an establishment of religion under the First Amendment, then every honest business by virtue of practicing that religious injunction is likewise an establishment of religion and therefore beyond the Obama Administration's reach!

Think about it. And further consider this: our pro-life Catholic Churches don't hire persons regardless of their faith. They only believers in the goodness and desirableness of life for if someone works to feed the poor, they are acting pro-life toward the poor. If someone accepts aid from the Church, that someone is pro-life for that is the purpose of all Church aid. Even if a Church employee claims to be working only for the paycheck, the proceeds of that check will further the life of the employee. Thus, by definition, all employees and clients of the Church's charitable works are of the pro-life faith. The same logic applies to businesses believed to be totally secular. They too are acting to further life. (Even Ayn Rand agrees! Don't believe me? Go read her books. Carefully.) Let Obama's pro-death administration and legions of lawyers chew on that!

Emm T. Nester said...

A very very sad day indeed.

America deserves what it gets. We elected him.

MrBlogger said...

It looks like this latest "compromise" might have made things worse, and that Obama & Sebelius may have pulled a fast one:


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