HHS Mandate Threatens Religious Freedomby Freedom For Americans on 10/14/12
By Deacon Michael McKeating
The so-called “HHS Mandate” is the most serious threat to religious freedom in at least the last Century, and must be opposed by every thinking Christian. It is not just another issue; it is a threshold issue, which threatens to seriously narrow and restrict the meaning of religious freedom in this country.
To understand why, a little context is necessary. The HHS Mandate is an administrative regulation, which has the force and effect of law. It was promulgated by Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, as part of her “rule-making power.”
Federal laws are always drafted in very general, generic terms. After they are enacted, it then becomes the responsibility of the relevant cabinet secretary to make rules and regulations interpreting and implementing the federal statute. The HHS Mandate is part of the regulations promulgated by HHS to implement the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare).
The nefarious thing about the HHS Mandate is that it requires all employers, including church-affiliated institutions such as Catholic hospitals, schools and charities, to provide free health care coverage to their employees for artificial contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. Abortifacients are drugs which cause an abortion.
During the comment period required before any federal regulation can be promulgated, an extensive effort was made by the U. S. Conference of Bishops and other religious organizations to provide a “conscience clause” exception to the mandate for all religious institutions whom it would be a violation of their core religious beliefs to comply. Meetings were also held with the White House, but all such pleas were ignored.
The final version of the HHS Mandate exempts only churches, but does not exempt church institutions which serve people of other faiths, such as Catholic hospitals, schools, universities and charities.
be clear: the HHS Mandate is not about access to contraception. Contraception is already legal and easily
accessible to every woman in the
What is at stake here is that the Administration and the other proponents of the HHS Mandate are trying to change the constitutional definition of freedom of religion to the much narrower and more restrictive concept of freedom of worship. They are seeking to confine us to our church buildings, but to prohibit us from living and witnessing to our faith in the public square. They are saying that we can live our faith only if it does not conflict with government policy. If it does, government policy trumps.
Forty-three Catholic institutions, including hospital, universities and charities, have filed suits in various Federal District Courts seeking to have the Mandate overturned.
June 13, 2012, 150 Protestant and Jewish institutions and leaders issued a
joint statement opposing the HHS Mandate and supporting the Catholic Bishops in
their opposition. Among them were
Although many of these institutions do not agree with the Catholic Church on contraception, they all correctly see the HHS Mandate for what it is: a dangerous and unprecedented assault on religious freedom, which must be stopped.
We must all zealously work and pray to reverse the HHS Mandate, including by contacting our Congressional representatives.