Posts Tagged ‘HHS Mandate controversy’

Some Economic and Legal Arguments Against the HHS Mandate

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

I’ve already referred to the HHS mandate on abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception as a patented unsustainable Cook County, IL vote-buying scheme wrapped in a tangle of Illinois legislature-style unfunded mandates.

But there are also many strong economic arguments against the HHS mandate. Please see Prof. William Luckey’s 3/15/12 critique. Here’s also a short summary of related economic arguments from the Word on Fire Blog.

Here’s a 3/24/12 update on legal arguments against the HHS mandate.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Stand Up for Religious Freedom 3/23/12 Rally Locations

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Here is the link for the one hundred twenty (120) Noon, 3/23/12, Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally Locations.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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HHS Mandate Accommodation Update

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

On 3/16/12, HHS announced an update of the “accommodation” on sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception, which unfortunately still does not respect religious freedom. This document is slated to be published in the Federal Register on 3/21/12. The draft is here, for prior public inspection.

Here is the official 3/21/12 posting of the revised HHS accommodation.

Here are related CNS News stories from 3/21/12 and from 3/16/12.

For a recap of related recent events leading up to 3/16/12, see George Weigel’s 3/17/12 article.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Why Clergy Matter on Life Issues

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

After my post on Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Abortion as Murder, I searched the web for any evidence of the positive impact of Bonhoeffer’s condemnation of abortion.

I found a range of responses, but two common statements: One was that some persons who encountered Bonhoeffer’s condemnation of abortion (many have independently found this condemnation over the past several months) were in a powerful way convicted by it. Some reported breaking into tears, and experiencing a deep moment of conversion against the sin of abortion. In another response however, after a short pause barely considering Bonhoeffer’s words, one writer concluded that it still OK for Christians to be pro-choice on abortion because Archbishop Desmond Tutu was also pro-choice.

Clergy and their opinions do matter on life issues. If one clergy member of public standing and respect allows for fundamental injustice like abortion, the social acceptability of abortion grows, and it continues to proliferate. The responsibility of the clergy on this question is therefore profound. In this regard the strong unity of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate on sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception is thus so rare and remarkable.

Images of clergy standing almost completely alone against opposition are iconic in Christian culture, and such a designation is often claimed by a wide variety of clergy standing in contradiction to each other. From St. Cyril of Jerusalem, to Martin Luther, to St. John Fisher, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and even to Chicago’s Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, clergy sometimes stand alone in moral witness, if only among their own congregations and among their own circle of (sometimes former) friends.

While the lonely clerical witness is an authentic Christian cultural icon, it sometimes degrades to media cliche: every media story of clerical dissent from orthodoxy appears to grant lonely Christian witness status to the clerical media darling or stock background commentator of the moment.

But solitary witness does not in and of itself manifest truth: Judas Iscariot also stood alone, and in the end, completely alone.

Perhaps the most dramatic flip of a moral position on abortion was that of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who telegrammed to the U.S. Congress in 1977–


(Source: Colman McCarthy, “Jackson’s Reversal on Abortion,” Washington Post, 5/21/88, p. A27.)

–and who then announced a pro-choice position on abortion when he chose to run for President in 1984.

Thanks to Edwin Black’s well-documented book, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, the work of the National Black Catholic Congress, and such popular media as the film Maafa 21, which have helped make African Americans aware of Margaret Sanger’s genocidal “Negro Project,” more clergy, with the notable exceptions of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and Rev. Michael Pfleger, have spoken out publicly against abortions, especially in the African American community. (BTW, the Wikipedia entry for Negro Project has been moved into the Margaret Sanger wiki article, and scrubbed of the devastating case against Sanger that Edwin Black and others have so well documented.)

As I’ve written previously, abortion viciously and arbitrarily violates a person out of existence at that person’s supreme point of innocence and defenselessness.

In order to justify abortion, one must violate so many truths and moral principles, opening the door for the logic of violence and infanticide, that no effective tenets remain to protect innocent life in society. By accepting abortion, one immediately commits to some form of moral relativism. Widespread acceptance of abortion undermines the shared values of a life-affirming, and in the end, peacefully free society based upon shared values rather than force.

When the Christian history of this period is written, the names Jesse Jackson Sr. and Desmond Tutu for their pro-choice stands for abortion, and Michael Pfleger for his substantial public silence on the issue–unless they change their positions–despite their present public acclaim, stand to be marred for generations. I hope these men–and the many Catholic clergy who, unlike their bishops, remain silent on abortion–do change their minds and publicly stand for life, for the sake of eternity.

The clergy’s responsibility on matters of life is not only profound, but grave:

Nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
(Leviticus 19: 15)

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Expecting Misdirection

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

With the U.S. Catholic bishops in public unity on the HHS mandate, and with polls showing a significant drop in support for the President among women, I fully expect to see the misdirection card played straight out of the Chicago political playbook to change the importance of the HHS mandate question before the public mind. I expect a diversion or secondary, unrelated controversy to be introduced before the public attention that muddles the importance of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ stance.

Fridays are always good days for such misdirections, since they carry over into the pundit shows on Sundays.

If not this weekend, then perhaps next. . .

I’m waiting. . .

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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United for Religious Freedom

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Please see the 3/14/12 statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, “United for Religious Freedom: A Statement of the Administrative Committee Of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops March 14, 2012.”

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Douglas Kmiec on “The Fictitious War on Religious Liberty”; George Weigel’s Differing View

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I attended the talk entitled untitled, “The Fictitious War on Religious Liberty,” by Prof. Douglas Kmiec on 3/14/12, sponsored by the Catholic Studies Program of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Kmiec is presently the Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University.

Prof. Kmiec, a leading Catholic supporter of Barack Obama’s 2008 candidacy for U.S. President, had released a letter criticizing the President’s original HHS mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients on 2/6/12, but had backed away from this position after the 2/10/12 “accommodation.”

Prof. Kmiec said several interesting things on 3/14/12, but did not connect the dots to show how the current HHS mandate controversy involves a fictitious war on religious liberty. He claimed that prior to the HHS mandate being announced, he advised the Administration to grant the widest possible exception or accommodation to Catholics, but his advice did not prevail.

It is hard to make a claim that a war on religious liberty is fictitious when the very person making the claim had himself advised on broader rights and was rebuffed.

Kmiec took up, but never completed his answer to the question: Since the government must respect religious liberty, is there a reciprocal obligation on the part of religious believers to moderate their views for the public good?

Sometimes conversation supersedes formal argument in turning history. Prof. Kmiec’s asides and digressions were therefore quite revelatory. His aside on the unfunded mandate for contraception: a suspension of the rules of Adam Smith?

Prof. Kmiec also reported that in an early conversation with then Senator Obama, the Senator asked Prof. Kmiec if he was happy when he found out that his first child was coming. When the Professor said yes, the Senator said that some single mothers, alone and afraid, do not have Prof. Kmiec’s benefits and resources, and see abortion as the only option.

This point made by the Senator was the classic “bourgeois morality” argument made by George Bernard Shaw in his plays and by a long line of Marxists and progressives: that only the well-off can “afford” morality. This point is disproved by millions of very poor Catholics worldwide every day. I recall especially the lines in Matthew 11: 2-6:

When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.

Although Jesus fed the poor, the “signs of the Kingdom” reported by Jesus to the Baptist’s disciples put the Gospel message first. Jesus preached the Gospel to the poor before he fed the poor. The miracles of the loaves and fishes, the only miracle stories to be contained in all four Gospels, show the feeding second or contemporaneous to the Gospel proclamation and healing (Matthew 15: 32-38, Mark 8:1–10; 6:31–44, Luke 9: 11-17, John 6: 1-15).

The preservation of life is therefore not a luxury item. No matter what our station, we are called by God not to kill just as we are called by God to feed the hungry.

I’ll continue to add to this post with more detail over the next few days.


BTW, George Weigel’s 3/14/12 essay, his 3/12/12 essay, and his 3/8/12 essay are worth a look.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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E.J. Dionne, Jr. Beats Up the U.S. Catholic Bishops, Then Cedes Their Point

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Washington Post and Commonweal Magazine columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., one of America’s most humorously self-contradictory of pundits, has done it again with his partisan attack on the U.S. Catholic Bishops on 3/12/12, which followed his attack on President Barack Obama on 1/29/12.

As many have learned over the years, the best answer to Dionne is usually a previous Dionne column, or sometimes Dionne later in the very same column. He confirmed this “Dionne rule” again on 3/12/12.

After flailing the bishops on 3/12/12, Dionne then wrapped up his column by conceding their point on the HHS mandate:

The bishops have legitimate concerns about the Obama compromise, including how to deal with self-insured entities and whether the wording of the HHS rule still fails to recognize the religious character of the church’s charitable work.

Nevertheless, Dionne angrily demanded that the Bishops end their protests based simply on a non-existent concession from the President.

Dionne, then agreeing with the Bishops on substance–just like the anonymous Jesuit America Magazine editorial writers–further went on to criticize the U.S. Catholic Bishops on style.

Not a single bishop would give even an anonymous quote to Dionne in support of Dionne’s analysis. Dionne’s contrived attack on Cardinals Dolan and George therefore lacks credibility in trying to frame the U.S. Bishops’ unity on this HHS mandate matter as partisan.

As even Dionne conceded the Bishops’ point, the Bishops are not about to accept an empty promise from the President when he has already put the HHS mandate on sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception as originally framed into law. The President also promised a “sensible conscience clause” in 2009 at Notre Dame, and has yet to deliver on that promise either.

It is therefore not the U.S. Catholic Bishops who lack credibility on this matter.

Ever since the President announced the HHS mandate “accommodation” on 2/10/12, the President’s Catholic health care team has been trying frantically to execute a political Zavanelli maneuver–to push, as it were, the anti-religious freedom monster baby back into the womb–and to start the question of conscience protection for religious institutions all over again. It’s not working. They might as well try to unfry an egg.

I fully expect that desperate reporters will begin making up false anonymous quotes from non-existent dissenting bishops in their panic to break the unity of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate.

The unity of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate has been remarkable.

Please see George Weigel’s 3/12/12 response to E.J. Dionne, Jr.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Thousands Answer: Where are the Women? We are Here.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 is a web petition initiated by Helen M. Alvare, JD, and Kim Daniels, JD, that has been signed by thousands of women who answered the question, Where are the women?, by saying, Here we are, “Women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life. Most of us are Catholic, but some are not.” To sign the petition, click here.

For more about Helen M. Alvare, please see minute 24:18 and forward of her 3/8/12 interview on EWTN, and here, and here, and here.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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How Prof. Cathleen Kaveny Didn’t Explain it All on the Daily Show

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

M. Cathleen Kaveny, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Commonweal Magazine contributor, John T. Noonan, Jr. protege, and Humanae Vitae critic, appeared on the Daily Show on 3/1/12.

Daily Show host Jon Stewart asked a great “man on the street” question in his mostly straight-up interview of Prof. Kaveny: Why all the apocalyptic language from the U.S. Catholic Bishops about the HHS mandate?

Prof. Kaveny did not directly represent the point of view of the Bishops in answering the question, but stuck to the Commonweal, or as I like to call it, the Cogleyweal narrative of urbane dissent from Humanae Vitae. This urbane dissent undermines the ground around Humanae Vitae’s teaching while not directly challenging it, in part by illustrating in various ways that not all Catholics view this matter the way the Bishops do.

A more direct and complete answer to Mr. Stewart’s question might have been this:

1. The Bishops see abortion as a most fundamental and total crime against a single human because it viciously and arbitrarily violates that person out of existence at that person’s supreme point of innocence and defenselessness. Abortion in the eyes of Catholic teaching negates every principle on which other acts of simple justice and social justice rest, and therefore must be opposed in a fundamental way.

2. Many forms of artificial contraception prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, and are thus also forms of abortion.

3. Because Catholic teaching sees these acts, including sterilization, as immoral in a fundamental way, therefore Catholics have built religious institutions, including hospitals and clinics, where Catholics can perform acts of charity while not participating in actions they consider immoral.

4. Civil libertarians, especially in President Obama’s home state of Illinois, who formed the core group advancing his political career and who have key posts in his administration, have long pressed the government to remove the above independence from Catholic institutions.

5. By posting the HHS mandate to the Federal Register without modification in “45 CFR Part 147 [CMS–9992–F] RIN 0938–AQ74 Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventive Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the White House has given the original mandate the force of law without any “accommodation.” Talks between the staffs of the White House and the U.S. Catholic Bishops about the details of this “accommodation” are not substantively progressing. At this point, the “accommodation” is nothing more than an unfulfilled promise in a string including the “sensible conscience clause.”

6. The White House’s proposed “accommodation” would still force religious institutions that are self-insured to pay for sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception that in some instances acts as an abortifacient. (Somehow, the anonymous Jesuit editorial writers at America Magazine and some Commonweal Magazine personalities think that the mere offer of an “accommodation” makes everything OK now, and are back to supporting the White House instead of the Bishops based apparently upon another unfulfilled promise).

7. The U.S. Catholic Bishops, in order to not participate in supporting a grave evil of sterilization and the distribution of abortifacients, see that it might be necessary to close Catholic hospitals and clinics, built with great sacrifice over the course of many generations, rather that follow the law as it is now written, since the law as written forces Catholic institutions to violate the very principles on which they were founded.

8. In 2009 at Notre Dame University, President Obama promised a “sensible conscience clause” to Catholics. He has not delivered on this promise, it is not contained in the HHS mandate, and it has not been provided in the recent “accommodation.” It is thus reasonable for the Bishops to continue to press for such conscience protection.

9. Therefore, we have heard absolute, life and death, “apocalyptic” language from the U.S. Catholic Bishops.

As long as the public view of this question is that this matter is only about birth control, but not also equally about human life and religious freedom, the Bishops haven’t broken through sufficiently into the consciousness of the public. To the extent that Prof. Kaveny did not help articulate the Bishops’ view, she assisted in undermining the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ position.

Jon Stewart’s question is a good one: Why the apocalyptic language from the Bishops in this issue?

Much rides now on whether the U.S. Bishops can answer Mr. Stewart’s question effectively in public square, and for the Catholic “man and woman on the street” and others of good will to learn how critical it is to support the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ stand for life and liberty.

The very existence of Catholic institutions, free to follow Catholic consciences, is riding in the balance. Prof. Kaveny, at least in her Daily Show appearance, despite being highly qualified to do so, apparently did not vigorously help to defend the moral independence of Catholic institutions in a free society.

Seemingly yet another case of Notre Dame’s Forgotten Freedom!

For more on the intellectual origins of Prof. Kaveny’s position on Humanae Vitae, please see my scholarly article on Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand.

For a response to Prof. Kaveny from Fr. Robert Barron and the Word
on Fire blog, see this link.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved