The Catholic Church has an extensive history of providing quality healthcare to all Americans, including the poor. It is mind-blowing to think that the Obama administration is preaching to the Church on how to “improve” its care, while the same administration encourages Americans to risk identity theft by signing up for healthcare plans on a website that security experts warn is still glutted with vulnerabilities; an administration whose signature law is so onerous, costly and anti-health that it is compelling many existing doctors to shutter their practices early—leaving fewer doctors to care for more patients.
UND and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have negotiated for over a year with the administration to protect their freedom of faith in a peaceable manner. Obama simply refuses to negotiate. Period. Obama likes to say he won’t negotiate with “a gun at my head.” But no one, especially a bishop, has ever held Barack at gunpoint.
The administration has proffered an “accommodation” on the HHS mandate for religious organizations that amounts to a false accommodation whereby religious institutions may pretend to wash their hands of questionable practices. Under the so-called accommodation, religious employers like Notre Dame still have to provide their employees with access to insurance contracts that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs for their employees—but the insurance company, not Notre Dame, has the duty of “notifying” Notre Dame’s employees that they are entitled to this coverage through an additional contraception-only plan at no cost to the employee.
So, nothing changes. Catholic employers must condone and play a role in providing their employees with alternative services that violate their faith and mission. Additionally, Catholics who work for or hold stock in insurance companies must compromise their First Amendment rights, and this “…compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all,” point out the U.S. Bishops.
University of Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins makes a strong case for why this second lawsuit has implications for all Americans that extend: “well beyond any debate about contraceptive services. …For if one Presidential Administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another Administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result that these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements. If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.”
All of us—Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Protestant, Hindu and atheist alike—have an interest in Notre Dame’s lawsuit. Let’s come together in supporting their efforts to protect our natural right to free speech and free expression.