By Teresa Welsh |
The Health and Human Services Department headed by Kathleen Sebelius has become, in effect, the first government Death Panel, a concept that was popularly dismissed as ridiculous. The first victims are pro-life organizations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the American Family Association, and other Christian institutions. HHS has attacked these Christian organizations by adopting as an HHS regulation the position lobbied for by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, requiring religious organizations to cover their employees with insurance that pays for every contraceptive method, including those such as Plan B, the "week-after" Ella pill and IUDs (intrauterine devices) that work by inducing abortion.
Although the HHS rule allows a narrow clergy exception, it makes no accommodation for Christian organizations such as schools, hospitals, rescue missions, or crisis pregnancy centers that believe that human life is sacred and that elective abortion is murder. Consequently, to comply with the HHS regulation such groups must violate their conscience by providing insurance that covers baby killing or they must violate their conscience by paying a fine. If they choose to pay a fine, the employees are enrolled in a government insurance plan that still covers baby killing. The only other alternative for these Christian ministries is to operate strictly with volunteers or shut their doors. The HHS Death Panel has supplanted Free Exercise of Religion in America with religious persecution and pre-paid baby killing!
HHS could have easily adopted a different regulation that would have implemented the statute and accommodated religious liberty. Former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, states that she was assured when voting for ObamaCare that the law does not require religious organizations to provide contraceptives, including those that induce abortion. The HHS policy choice is a naked exercise of government power to impose the pro-death views of abortion advocates on pro-life religious organizations. It attempts to leave them no escape.
HHS has adopted a cynical delay until Aug. 1, 2013, for implementation of the rule by nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan. The delay postpones the crisis date until after the 2012 elections. HHS Secretary Sebelius stated, "This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule." Does she expect the Catholic Church to flex on its doctrine and condone the use of contraceptives? Does she expect crisis pregnancy centers to embrace some forms of abortion during that year? Of course she does not. However, Secretary Sebelius apparently believes that she has the power to force those organizations to compromise their beliefs and go along with the pro-abortion agenda.
Media coverage of this issue has highlighted the furor over contraceptives and the Roman Catholic Church. However, the government's assault on religious faith and practice is much broader and deeper. Approximately one-half million Evangelical, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox leaders have signed the Manhattan Declaration that concludes with the following pledge: "Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions … or any other anti-life act…. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's." Pro-life Christians will not disobey God by complying with this regulation. The edict of the HHS Death Panel cannot stand.
About Patrick Vaughn General Counsel at American Family Association
Hannah Smith Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Jeanne Monahan Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council
Nancy Keenan President of NARAL Pro-Choice America