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Archbishops, Politicians Bear False Witness

By Kevin Osborne · February 8th, 2012 · Porkopolis
Don’t believe the tall tales spouted by Newt Gingrich, Steve Chabot or Dusty Rhodes.

Despite what some overly excitable white, middle-aged men will tell you, recent federal rule changes that mean women will be able to get free birth control don’t infringe on religious liberty.

That’s “don’t,” as in, “do not.”

The conservative politicians listed above all are parroting the line fed to them by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is trying to work people of faith into a frenzy to serve its own interests. The group is upset that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — known informally as “ObamaCare” — would require nearly universal coverage of contraception.

The new rule becomes effective Aug. 1, 2012, for most insurance plans. But it is delayed a year — until Aug. 2, 2013 — for certain nonprofit religious employers.” Generally, that means some religious hospitals and schools.

Under the rule, birth control is reclassified as a preventative health measure, which means most employers must cover contraception in their insurance plans with no cost-sharing like co-pays or deductibles.

Catholic teachings prohibit the use of artificial birth control such as birth control pills, condoms and intrauterine devices.

Contraception isn’t being singled out. Other items that the feds are mandating must be provided for free to women include screening for gestational diabetes; testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) as part of cervical cancer screening for women age 30 and older; counseling and screening for HIV; and counseling on domestic violence.

The items were included after a review by the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government.

When it comes to matters of science and public health, I will defer to the guidance of doctors rather than priests or archbishops, thank you. The former has expertise with matters of the body, and the latter (presumably) with the soul.

Here’s what the rule actually states.

“Specifically, the Departments seek to provide for a religious accommodation that respects the unique relationship between a house of worship and its employees in ministerial positions,” it reads.

“Such an accommodation would be consistent with the policies of States that require contraceptive services coverage, the majority of which simultaneously provide for a religious accommodation.”

Later, the rule adds, “Consistent with most States that have such exemptions, as described below, the amended regulations specify that, for purposes of this policy, 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 under (the tax code).”

In other words, churches, synagogues and mosques won’t have to cover contraception for their employees. But if a religious organization operates a service that isn’t explicitly religious in nature, or mostly employs or serves people of other faiths, it would need to include birth control in its coverage.

That exemption, however, wasn’t enough for Catholic bishops.

“Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle,” wrote New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in The Wall Street Journal.

Dolan added, “Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries — so that they will fall under the narrow exemption — or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.”

What Dolan doesn’t mention is individuals aren’t compelled to consume birth control. Even if it’s included in a plan, the devout will refrain. The legislation is aimed at insurance companies, not at religions; the central issue is equal treatment for employees.

As one online critic of the church has noted, “Look at it another way: In states with the death penalty, the church is being ‘forced to pay’ for executions via payroll taxes. Is that also a violation?”

If Dolan is so concerned about the rule, he can advise Catholic hospitals and social service agencies to stop employing non-Catholics and stop accepting non-Catholic patients.

Dolan won’t, of course, because that would make the Church even more irrelevant to society and drain revenues provided by federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal officials have said contraception’s inclusion is designed to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, which make up almost half of all pregnancies in the United States.

Please note: Birth control used by women who do not want to become pregnant is a cheaper alternative than unintended pregnancies. And it’s much cheaper than having a low-income woman and her child use government services like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Nevertheless, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is urging his flock to write to Congress and ask for legislation to overturn the rule. Schnurr’s faithful servant, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), already has complied.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes — another West Side Catholic and allegedly a Democrat — said he wouldn’t vote for President Obama in the fall. He told The Enquirer, “Obama’s declared war on my church.” (Hey, Dusty: Churches are exempt.)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other progressive groups say politicians like Chabot and Rhodes are distorting what the rule requires.

“To be clear, the rule does not require churches or other houses of worship that hire people of the faith to carry out religious practices to purchase birth control coverage for their employees,” said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director.

It does require organizations like hospitals and universities that operate in the public sphere to play by public rules.”

That seems entirely fair and reasonable to me.

PORKOPOLIS TIP LINE: pork@citybeat.com



02.09.2012 at 07:31 Reply

Fair ?    Your wrong. 

Contraception is evil.  

It desecrates the marital bond, offends against chastity, and is a menace to public morals.  It is reprehensible to engage in contraceptive acts or to cooperate in them in any way.  This is a matter of natural law; it has nothing to do with religion.  Public bodies should not be promoting or enabling this sin.  Neither Holy Mother Church, nor any other group, religious or secular, nor any individual should be forced by government to divulge funds for such wicked purposes.

The amazing chutzpah of those who say, “Whether I contracept is none of your business” while holding a gun to our heads and demanding we pay for their contraceptives is truly breathtaking, particularly since they are not only robbing us, but forcing us to violate our consciences while they do it. Contraceptives are cheap as dirt and common as water. Let those who want them get them themselves and not gratuitously force those who think them immoral to pay for them. Painting this as “the Church imposing its morals” on them is like accusing the pistol-whipped victim of armed robbery of lack of charity. This is an act of war against Catholic conscience and religious liberty and a naked act of malice from the Obama Administration. There must be no compromise. It must be utterly defeated.


02.14.2012 at 01:23

What part of democracy do you not understand?  Keep your religious voodoo if you wish, but do not force that stuff on the rest of us.

We the people elected a President who said he would reform health care.  Whether you like it or not, that is the deal.  Fair does not come into it.  Elections have consequences.

Furthermore, if the Catholic Church wishes to be taken as a credible spokesperson for the public's morals, they need to stop molesting children before they cast stones at others.


02.10.2012 at 05:59 Reply

Then why is White House even addressing this issue, and as it seems now, backtracking on it?

It all seems rather boring.


02.11.2012 at 09:59 Reply

Looks like the sheep got out of the pen.  Chabot and others have no right do deny coverage, including family planning, to any one or family that wants it.  The compromise yesterday is fair to all.  Despite the fact a bunch of old unmarried men are having a "cow", the regulation will reduce abortions which they claim they detest as well.

As usual the goofy right wing in this country makes us look like fools in much of the advanced world.  "Heathen" nations such as Germany, Britain, France and more provide this and they're "Christian" as well.

It's all part of a pattern.  My parish in northeast Hamilton County made no mention of the bishop's letter from the pulpit except to say that it was available at the exits.  I saw no one pick one up upon leaving.  Nice to see an excercise of independent thought and reasoning.

As usual, Chabot, Rhodes and far too many of the West Side stay firmly in the 19th century and the rest of us pay the price.


02.14.2012 at 12:10 Reply


Contraception and sterilization are sins. Why? What part of Genesis 1:28 do you NOT understand?

"Be fruitful and multiply."

You don't get to sterilize yourself. You don't get to use a condom. You don't get to take an anti-fertility pill. You don't get to shove something up your vagina to prevent conception. If you do any one of those things, then you will evenutally create a living hell for yourself here on this Earth, and if you die without repenting of your evil behavior, then that hell will continue for all eternity without letup. 

Here's the bottom line: you are not a wild animal. God gave you brains. So use them. If you don't want a baby, then you men, keep your pants zipped up, and you women, keeps your legs closed. Don't go around saying how much you revere science, reason and logic when you can't even use a little bit of self-control to forego the titillation of your genitals. What are you? A wild baboon addicted to mindless pleasure without consequence? You won't die from lack of sex, but you could die from veneral disease or AIDS transmitted through promiscuous sexual behavior. And if you're married and you use contraception or had yourself sterilized, then you have separated the procreative from the unitive in the conjugal act, and your marriage is on very precarious ground indeed. Don't call yourself Christian if you have bought into this contraceptive mentality. It goes directly against God's command in Genesis 1:28.


In the debate about whether state and federal law should mandate contraceptive coverage, advocates have made numerous false claims about the supposed need for and effects of the mandates:

Myth: "Failure to cover contraception constitutes sex discrimination."

Facts: Most health plans do not cover purely elective procedures or services. Some health plans do not cover contraception or sterilization procedures for either men or women. These plans are not discriminatory, because they treat men and women equally in terms of coverage of benefits. 

Proponents of contraceptive mandates argue that because some health plans voluntarily cover Viagra all health plans should be required by law to cover contraception. But Viagra, used properly, treats a medical condition and restores reproductive function while contraception does just the opposite. 

Myth: "Contraceptive mandates will reduce the abortion rate by half."

Facts: More than half (58%) of all abortion patients were using contraception during the month when they became pregnant.

1 Only 11% of abortion patients have never used a method of contraception.

2 Moreover, studies have shown that once contraception is more widely available, abortion rates may actually rise.

3 In Maryland, for example, the first state to enact a contraceptive mandate, the number of abortions rose by 1,226 the year after the mandate took effect.

4 Myth: Contraception is basic health care.

Facts: Contraception is an elective intervention that stops the healthy functioning of healthy women's reproductive systems. Medically it is infertility, not fertility, that is generally considered a disorder to be treated. 

Contraceptives also have numerous side-effects and risks of serious complications.

The side-effects of the pill include headaches, depression, decreased libido and weight gain.

6 Documented serious complications include heart attacks,

7 cervical cancer

8 and blood clots.

9 Recently, a class-action lawsuit, brought by 123 English women against three pharmaceutical companies, alleges that a form of the pill -- the "third generation pill", -- has caused death, strokes and life-threatening blood clots.

10 Proponents of contraceptive mandates have also obscured important consequences of many of these mandates. Most contraceptive mandate laws and proposed legislation, including the proposed federal mandate ("EPICC") would:

(a) Violate rights of conscience. Seventeen states have passed contraceptive mandates and one state has adopted such a mandate by administrative regulation. Of these eighteen states, only one protects the moral and religious beliefs of individuals and entities who object to contraception. Thirteen protect the conscience of religious employers but of these, six have adopted such narrow definitions of "religious employer" that many Catholic organizations do not qualify for the conscience protection. The proposed federal mandate would explicitly override existing conscience protection in the state mandates, requiring all religious employers (including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) to provide contraceptives.

(b) Cover so-called "emergency contraception," which has primarily an abortifacient effect. "Emergency Contraceptives" are multiple dose oral contraceptives taken after intercourse. The pills have four possible mechanisms: (1) suppressing ovulation,

(2) altering cervical mucus to hinder the transport of sperm,

(3) slowing the transport of the ovum and

(4) inhibiting implantation of the newly conceived human embryo. This last mode of action ends the life of a developing human being and is therefore abortifacient. In fact, "[t]his mode of action could explain the majority of cases where pregnancies are prevented by the morning-after pill."

11 Because of its misleading nomenclature and its approval as a "contraceptive" by the FDA, "emergency contraception" is mandated by almost all state contraceptive mandates. Only one state (North Carolina) has expressly excluded "emergency contraception" from its mandate.

(c) Undermine parental rights. Once contraception becomes a mandated prescription benefit, the benefit will apply to all beneficiaries of the health plan, including minor children. And in many cases, physicians are allowed to provide contraceptives to minors without parental consent, so children will often be able to obtain contraception covertly.

12 In HMOs, where a family is covered for all services by one capitated fee, parents may not receive any notification that their child has been given a prescription contraceptive drug.


02.14.2012 at 12:16 Reply

Protesting Catholic, 

Please listen to Father Barron

Fr. Barron comments on the HHS Mandate: Anti-Catholic and Un-American