Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HHS Mandate: Cutting through all the misinformation

Offensive political cartoon, but this is exactly how Catholics feel
 
The word "mandate" has been thrown around a lot lately when it comes to healthcare, so I want to start by defining what I mean. The mandate I'm referring to requires all employers to give their employees health care that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. There are a lot of half truths out there when it comes to this mandate, so I would like to clear some of them up. And then I will tell you what I think.

What is the HHS mandate anyway?

The HHS mandate a product of the ACA. The ACA requires all employers to provide insurance and requires that insurance to cover preventative care. It left it up to Secretary Sebelius and the Obama administration to define what constitutes preventative care. They concluded that birth control and sterilization were part of preventative care. Therefore, all employers are required to have insurance that covers birth control and sterilization.

So, what exactly is the relationship between ACA (aka Obamacare) and the HHS mandate?

The HHS mandate is not part of ACA, but ACA makes the mandate possible. The mandate was added to ACA, it was not part of the original legislation. Therefore, the recent Supreme Court decision about the constitutionality of ACA does not have any affect on the current legal battles about the HHS mandate.

Obama, I'm a democrat, I voted for you. Why do you infringe on my Church?

Isn't there an excemption for religious employers?

Here is the exception:

"The amended interim final regulations specified that, for 
purposes of this exemption, a religious employer is one that: (1) Has 
the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily 
employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves 
persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit 
organization..."
 
Many (in fact, I may argue most) Catholic employers do not qualify under this exemption. Catholic schools, hospitals and charities do not hire Catholics only, do not serve Catholics only, and their main goal is not to spread Catholicism. In the case of Catholic hospitals and charities, their main goal is usually to serve the poor regardless of their faith. I know many Catholic school students who are not Catholic.

What do I think?

I am against birth control, but not for the same reasons as the leaders of my church. Maybe I'll get into that someday, but not today.

My main issue is the HHS' infringement on first amendment rights. I might not know much, but I do know I'm a huge fan of the first amendment. There are two things I live for (other than my husband and baby):

1) writing
and
2) practicing my Catholic faith

If it wasn't for the first amendment, my head would have been put up on a stake years ago by some crazy dictator.

 Just like this evil girl just did to Santa

The first amendment states:   
 
 "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or 
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of 
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to 
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
 
The government does infringe on the free exercise of religion when the free exercise is harmful to other people. I don't think that the Catholic Church's stance on birth control is harmful for other people. Catholic employers do have exceptions for women who have a medical necessity for birth control. If there is no medical necessity, supporting birth control would be essentially supporting sex. Sex between unmarried people where artificial birth control measures are used is immoral according to the Catholic Church. Having sex isn't a necessity of life, it's a choice. The Catholic Church refusing to pay for or condone birth control when there is no medical necessity is not robbing anyone of anything they need.

Trying to add some humor.
An analogy I heard a while back goes like this:

Forcing the Church to support birth control is like forcing an Islamic school to serve pork on Fridays.

At first, I found the analogy very offensive. Who in their right mind would equate birth control and halal laws? But as I think about it more, the analogy seems apt. This analogy isn't equating birth control and halal laws. This analogy is equating two things that these religions believe are teachings from God. Just as Muslims feel it is against God's will to eat pork, Catholics feel that it is against God's will to use artificial birth control. According to the First Amendment of our Constitution, the government cannot force a religion to do something that they feel is against God's will.

And if you're going to respond, "Well, 98% of Catholics don't agree with this teaching!" I'm going to have to inform you that your statistic is flawed. The survey that led to that number eliminated all nuns/sisters, all married women, all women who are not sexually active and all women who want to have children. So if you poll only sexually active unmarried women who do not want to have kids, then of course, you'll get the number you want.

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

 
Here are some useful links for (admittedly biased) information:

Defense against frequently used arguments for the HHS mandate

Debunking more myths

Women against the ban: The article and the letter

The National Petition

Last, but not least, the official USCCB website (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? I want to know.