The HHS Mandate

So there’s this HHS Mandate that’s made the news lately. Have you heard of it?

On January 20th, 2012, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and President Obama declared a mandate that forces private health plans to cover sterilization and contraception, including some that can cause abortion. This was done to make sure that Americans nationwide have greater access to these services, the same way that Americans have to be covered for diseases.

Yep, our president just lumped sterilization and contraception in the same category as the measles. But that is beyond the point.  …Wait, what do you mean that is beyond the point, Chris? Well, get this: the HHS Mandate isn’t about contraception, sterilization, or even abortion! Huh? Yea, that’s probably not what you’re reading from the major new sources. Just yesterday a student in the Daily Illini wrote a column about this issue, and she talked about the need for college aged women to have access to affordable birth control. Thanks, but that doesn’t even begin to help us in this issue. Thankfully, our DRE at the Newman Center wrote this rational column against the mandate, taking the mandate as it actually is and analyzing it.

The HHS Mandate debate should not be about contraception, etc. That is a topic for another day. This issue is about our freedom of religion and conscience rights. The very first Amendment of the US Constitution reads,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The second part of this Amendment is in danger today because of this mandate. Let’s take a look at what this mandate will do:

  1. This rule forces all private health plans – nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen – to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion.
  2. This rule treats pregnancy like a disease – every other mandate like this has been for diseases.
  3. This rule forces health plans to cover abortifacients, which violates existing Federal conscience laws.
  4. This rule would force insurers to include this in policies, employers and schools to sponsor the coverage, and individual employees and students to pay premiums for it. There is not an exemption in place for any of these parties.
Alright, that sounds pretty bad. But wait, didn’t he compromise? Yea, he did. So what changed? To put it plainly, nothing. Here’s Senator Roy Blunt’s quite blunt take on it:

“It’s still clear that President Obama does not understand this isn’t about cost – it’s about who controls the religious views of faith-based institutions. President Obama believes that he should have that control. Our Constitution states otherwise. Just because you can come up with an accounting gimmick and pretend like religious institutions do not have to pay for the mandate, does not mean that you’ve satisfied the fundamental constitutional freedoms that all Americans are guaranteed.I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we reverse this unconstitutional mandate in its entirety.”

This mandate means that in a year, Catholic schools (which cumulatively educate over 2 million Americans, saving our government nearly $6 billion a year! Student info, cost info), hospitals (which serve 1 in 6 Americans), charities (which provide 2.2 million free meals to the hungry in Chicago alone each year), and more institutions will choose between paying heavy fines or closing. They will not comply. Every single Catholic bishop in the US has condemned it. If President Obama really cared about women’s education, health, and the poor, he would never even think of doing something that would have such horrible repercussions. Unfortunately, many people are blind to these facts as well as the extrapolation that if this goes through, our government now in essence has given itself the right to disregard the consciences of American citizens. Have a problem with the infanticide of children? Assisted suicide? The government now has the authority to disregard your conscience. Scary thoughts, huh?

This isn’t just a Catholic issue. The Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, and more are all coming together in support of the freedom or religion and conscience. Stand up for our country. Stand up for our rights. Stand up for our constitution, and let congress know that we won’t stand for this.

“But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to God.”
“We are bound, you, I, and every one, to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience.”
“No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the “rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
– All by Thomas Jefferson

Read more:
Official Statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Charles Kadlec’s editorial, Forbes Magazine

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7 thoughts on “The HHS Mandate

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