The drumbeat of deception by
supporters of President Obama’s mandate attacking religious freedom is
breathtaking. And the deception starts at the top, with President Obama
Last November, Cardinal Timothy
Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), met
with President Obama to express serious concerns about the proposed mandate
under Obamacare that forces all insurance plans (including those of
religious organizations) to pay for sterilizations and contraception,
including abortifacient drugs. President Obama assured Cardinal Dolan that
he would make changes to address those concerns.
However, Jan. 20, the president
announced his contraception mandate would go into law without
any changes. Only after a firestorm of protest by conservatives and
liberals did the president announce Feb. 10 that he would make "an
accommodation" for religious groups that oppose the mandate. Incredibly—and
unknown to most Americans—on the very same day that the president announced
to the country his (completely inadequate) accommodation, his Administration
quietly finalized the mandate into law without any changes. That
duplicitous act by our president was the height of deception.
In a March 2 letter to his brother
bishops, Cardinal Dolan announced that although the bishops had accepted an
invitation from President Obama to "work out the wrinkles" in his mandate,
"this seems to be stalled: the White House Press Secretary, for instance,
informed the nation that the mandates are a fait accompli (and,
embarrassingly for him, commented that we bishops have always opposed Health
Care anyway, a charge that is scurrilous and insulting, not to mention flat
Cardinal Dolan also reported that
at a meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House
staff, the bishops’ staff was told that revisiting the mandate or broadening
the religious exemption was off the table. "So much for ‘working out the
wrinkles,’" Cardinal Dolan lamented.
Even more galling, Cardinal Dolan
said the White House staffers told the bishops’ staff that they "should
listen to the ‘enlightened’ voices of accommodation" coming from liberal
Catholic publications. Cardinal Dolan cited a "hardly surprising yet
terribly unfortunate editorial in America."
"The White House seems to think we
bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a
cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated
its own handpicked official Catholic teachers," the Cardinal said.
The deception by this White House
and supporters of its mandate has spilled into the debate over legislation
in Congress to provide proper conscience protection in Obamacare.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced the Respect for Rights of Conscience
Act (H.R. 1179) in the U.S. House and Sen. Roy Blunt introduced its
companion in the Senate (S. 1467).
Last week, the Senate narrowly
defeated Sen. Blunt’s effort to amend S. 1467 onto a Transportation bill.
The debate over the Blunt amendment produced some incredibly irresponsible
For example, some tried to portray
the Blunt/Fortenberry conscience act as "your boss getting to decide which
prescriptions you can get filled and which medical procedures you can have."
Among the most asinine comments I saw was this from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA):
"Women are not going to be dragged backward to the days when they were
denied access to contraception and other essential services."
These accusations overlook one
simple fact. The Blunt/Fortenberry bill does not modify state or federal
laws that are now in effect. It only amends the new mandated benefits
provisions in Obamacare with the same conscience protection found in
other federal health programs. Let me repeat: Blunt/Fortenberry merely
applies the same conscience protections to Obamacare that have been a part
of other federal health programs for many years.
In closing the letter to his brother bishops,
Cardinal Dolan said "we know so very well that religious freedom is
our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief, both as loyal Catholics and
Americans. There have been many threats to religious freedom… but
these often came from without. This one sadly comes from within. As our
ancestors did with previous threats, we will tirelessly defend the timeless
and enduring truth of religious freedom. Stay tuned and informed by
checking online at www.usccb.org/conscience.