Monday, September 17, 2012

The HHS Mandate Controversy Grows

"I'm Catholic, I'm pro-abortion, and I'm proud of it!"
Earlier this month, Caroline Kennedy was a speaker at the Democrat National Convention. Many found this DNC speech to be  extremely troubling. In her 6 minute speech, Kennedy invoked her Catholic faith as justification for her stance on women's reproductive rights. "As a Catholic woman, I take reproductive health seriously," Kennedy said, "and today, it is under attack. This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women's access to reproductive health care. That's not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters." That's the most despicable part of her speech. Luckily, her droning was so unappealing that the audience barely claps at anything that she says. Indeed, Jesse Jackson is shown making a grand entry with is entourage, and he looks about as interested in her speech as a sleeping cat would have been. [Aside: It's funny that Democrats have complained so vigorously about Mitt Romney refusing to release more of his tax returns when they have members like Kennedy who refused to release ANY financial records back in 2008 when she sought the appointment to fill Hilary's Clinton's Senate seat.]

The more interesting video to watch is this clip from Bill O'Reilly wherein he, as a Catholic himself, expresses his shock over Kennedy invoking her Catholic faith as justification for the reason she supports abortion. Sure, she calls it "reproductive rights," but that is simply the Democrat's' politically correct term for abortion, or baby murder. Here is the O'Reilly clip.

Like Bill O'Reilly, I find it stunning that Kennedy thinks that her position on supporting abortion is somehow in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I stopped trying a long time ago to understand such deluded thinking. Anyone who heard her speech and thought, "Oh, Caroline Kennedy is a Catholic, so if she thinks abortion is okay, then it must be okay and now I can vote for Obama," is just as delusional as she is.

Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois
What is clear, however, is that issue of the HHS mandate on employers to cover all the needs for women to get free "reproductive care" is becoming even more of a hot button issue. Most Catholics think the mandate goes too far and infringes upon religious liberty. Trying to fend off at least one of the many lawsuits that have been filed against the mandate, the Obama administration tweaked its existing exception in order to get one lawsuit dismissed. Wheaton College in Illinois had filed a lawsuit earlier this year because it did not fit the religious exemption that the administration originally  laid out for employers who objected to the mandate. So, in late August, the administration amended the mandate yet again so that it covered Wheaton College's situation. But this change is only a temporary "fix," as it merely extends the time which the college has to comply with the mandate -- to next August (2013), along with the other religious employers who fall under the exemption. This "tweak" succeeded in making the college's claim not yet ripe, so the judge dismissed the lawsuit. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the college, will have members speaking at a Catholic parish in my area this coming Saturday morning, so I will be spending part of my weekend there to ask questions and hear the latest news.

55 plaintiffs filed 23 federal lawsuits earlier this year. New plaintiffs have also filed since the initial filings.

Another of the battles that is finally being waged in the war against the HHS mandate is that of the rights of "non-religious" employers. This includes employers who run secular businesses but who seek to follow their religious beliefs in the way they run their businesses. EWTN reports on this latest piece of the mandate controversy.
A lawyer challenging the Obama administration's contraception mandate said that employers should not be forced to compromise religious beliefs in order to run a for-profit company.
"The idea that just because you open a business, you leave your religion at the door is not supported by anything in our law," said Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.
Manion told EWTN News on Aug. 23 that while it is common to see employers in America separating their religious beliefs from their business practices, they are not required to do so.
The Supreme Court and other U.S. courts have consistently recognized corporations as persons with "the same rights as anyone else," he explained.
In defending the controversial federal contraception mandate, the Obama administration has argued that "for-profit, secular employers not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment.”
But Manion pointed to the landmark 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech.
This ruling was consistent with 100 years of precedent in America, Manion said, and if corporations have a right to free speech, they should also have a right to religious freedom, which is also protected and given a position of priority in the First Amendment.
Manion is currently involved in defending a for-profit company from the contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs even if doing so violates their consciences.

Read more:

Similarly, a businesswoman from Chicago is also standing up for her religious rights and fighting the mandate because she "believes that the government must respect her identity as a Catholic woman as well as a business owner."

Mary Anne Yep, co-founder and vice president of Triune Health Group [...] told CNA on Aug. 23 that she cannot separate her identity as a woman, a business owner and a Catholic. The government cannot expect her to “carve out a portion” of herself during working hours, she said.
Yep helped found Triune Health Group in 1990, along with her husband, Christopher, who serves as the company’s president and CEO.
The company was recently named the Best Place to Work for Women in the Chicago metro area by Crain’s Chicago Business.[...]
The Yeps and their business are suing both the federal government and the state of Illinois for infringing upon their religious freedom in their business decisions.
An Aug. 23 statement announcing the lawsuit explained that the Yeps “view business as a form of religious stewardship and an integral part of their lives as faithful Roman Catholics.”
Read more:
But the biggest entry into the fray is probably the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, which announced last week that it is filing suit against the Obama administration over the HHS mandate. The owners of Hobby Lobby are not Catholic, but they are Christian. They are represented by the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty. Hopefully they will update us this weekend on what is going on in the case.

So, this coming Saturday, after I attend the meeting at St. John the Beloved Parish in Arlington, VA, I will head over to Hobby Lobby to pick up some decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then I will hit Chick-Fil-A for some delicious chicken. On Sunday, the Church will be open, but the other two businesses will be closed.

St. John the Beloved Catholic Church, McLean, VA


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