Speak out on health care’s Trojan horse

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2011

Be warned! The health care Trojan horse is being rolled out yet again. This is how it works this time.

We’ve had repeated assurances from the president that the conscience clause was intact, which would protect health care providers and institutions form being required to provide services, pay for services or refer for procedures which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds.

Despite these promises, on Aug. 1 of this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that her department would mandate free coverage of female surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved forms of conception which includes the chemical abortifacients “morning after” pill and the infamous ella (both of which can destroy tiny developing human life days after conception) in all health care plans, even in private insurance plans, resulting in forced tax-supported abortions. This in itself is in clear violation of the spirit of the Hyde Amendment, which bans public funding of abortion, but this administration maintains that amendment doesn’t apply in the new health care program.

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Here’s where the Trojan horse comes in. The HHS Department’s mandate gives lip service to the conscience clause by allowing an exemption for religious groups, but then proceeds to effectively nullify the exemption by adding a footnote defining a religious group as one which primarily hires and serves only persons who share its religious tenets.

This would render it impossible for the group to carry out its principle function: serving the people, all of the people, because of their need regardless of church affiliation.

One glaring local example is Catholic Charities, which serves people of all faiths or no faith at all. If all Catholic Charities organizations, along with social programs of other denominations were forced to close their doors, a tremendous burden would necessarily be placed on other agencies and government services.

Since many government services have earned a reputation for waste and fraud, this doesn’t appear to be a positive move.

The same holds true for the 562 Catholic hospitals in the U.S., which serve more than 85 million people a year, one out of every six hospital patients, regardless of faith. Add to this the many very fine Baptist hospitals and those of other denominations throughout the country.

In addition, the mandate may affect the many church-affiliated universities and colleges, some of the best in the country, by placing the restrictions on hiring instructors and enrolling students.

Can it be that over long standing religious freedoms, the very freedoms our country was founded on, are in danger of being sacrificed on the altar of the president’s health care program?

We have only this one month of September to respond to this mandate, so contact your legislators as soon as possible and urge them to back the passage of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (House Resolution 1179), legislation that would prevent mandates under any health care reform laws from undermining our rights of conscience. If you are not sure how to contact them, please call me at 601-445-5783.

Virginia O’Beirne is the co-chair of Pro-Life Natchez-Adams County.