St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why I Hate the HHS Mandate

Growing up, I never liked to be told what do to. Now as adult, there's times where I'm still like that, and I think that's okay. In fact, that's what makes me hate the new HHS mandate and the Affordable Care Act.

I have purposely been silent on this issue for a number of reasons. Every US bishop has spoken on this, so at first I thought it was an over-discussed topic. I had also thought that things would ultimately work out; after all good always prevails over evil in the movies. Finally, I hate talking politics and often avoid it. (Ironically, I was actually a borough councilman for a couple years.)

But now after several months of this, I've really seen how messed up this whole situation is, and I won't be tempted to stay silent any longer. There's too much misunderstanding and misinformation to not to say anything. There's even people who still know nothing about the HHS mandate despite all the attention it's been given. Below are several observations that I have.

People don't realize how serious this is. Abortion, sterilization, and birth control are serious issues, but I'm talking about how this is the first time our government is forcing religious institutions to violate their consciences. The separation of church and state wasn't to keep the church out of the government, but to keep the government out of the church. From the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But I guess since the executive branch isn't congress, so they don't really care about that.

"But hey, it's just the pill." That's what somebody said to me. Well no, it's not just the pill. Putting the whole forcing-religious-institutions-to-violate-their-consciences thing aside, it's also about abortions and sterilizations. Why should the Church have to pay for those things?

Is the Church really paying for them? The Church only buys the insurance. That's a great way to fool yourself. Just because there's a "middle man" doesn't mean anything. If you hire a someone to kill another, it's still murder, even if you only paid the hit man.

I'm not naive to the fact that the Church already indirectly pays for things that violate it's moral teachings. But this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. By some profound logic, I'm indirectly participating in a lot of things I don't agree with just by breathing the same air. The difference here is that now the government is coercing Church run institutions to directly cooperate in matters that it considers sinful.

But what about women who use birth control for other medical issues, not to prevent pregnancy? I have no problem with this. But we don't have to have a mandate that violates the Church's moral teachings to enable this to happen.  I'm all for expanding access to health care, but not at the cost of religious liberty, especially when the religious liberty cost isn't  necessary.

If 98% of women will have used birth control, then what's the big deal? The peer-pressure approach didn't work when I was in high school, and it doesn't apply now. Everybody doing it doesn't make it right, and it doesn't mean the Church should pay for it if it has a moral objection. Besides, if 98% of women are using it, then women who want it have no problem accessing it; so why have a mandate about it? (By the way, I don't think that 98% statistic is correct.)

I thought churches were exempt? "Religious exemption" or similar words are in the mandate, but it's very misleading. The exemption pretty much covers just the parishes. It wouldn't include any of the thousands of hospitals, social & charitable organizations like Catholic Charities, or even most Catholic schools since they don't limit their services to only Catholics.

Finally, I've also noticed that most Catholics who have no opposition to the mandate haven't actually read it! This is a drawback of having a representative democracy- the "let the other guy do it" mentality when it comes to laws and policies. Don't trust someone else to tell you what the mandate is about. READ IT YOURSELF. Of course if you've tried to read it, it's written in a way that hides all the concerns listed above, and you'll have been convinced that this is the best thing to ever happen- temptation always looks attractive.

Whether they've read it or not, there are many who support the mandate in the name of "freedom"- having the ability to access these "preventive health services" whenever they want them. Being able to do whatever you want and whenever you want sounds good, but that isn't freedom; it's licensure. Jesus Christ didn't dwelt among us so that we can have licensure; He came so that we might be free. Real freedom is being able to live as God calls us to. Real freedom is the opportunity to follow our conscience without the interference of others that forces sin or temptation. That's the freedom that Jesus wants for each of us, the freedom that ultimately leads us to eternal life with Him.

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1 comment:

  1. Great post. I too am scared of the consequences this mandate will have. Our government and it's leaders need our continual prayers. Thank you for posting! God bless.


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