Myth-Busting the Mandate Debate


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ABSTRACT Myth-Busting the Mandate Debate: Catholic World Report HOME ARCHIVED ARTICLES EDITORIAL CWR BLOG VIDEO ABOUT US NEWS BRIEFS / RSS FREE eNEWSLETTER DONATE ADVERTISE Current Issue:   Special Report Special Report Print   /   Share   /   Send Myth-Busting the Mandate Debate June 22, 2012 From the “War on Women” to a “Catholics-only fight”—coverage of the HHS controversy is rife with distortions and misinformation. Sister Renée Mirkes Cheryl Roggensack, a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Brentwood, Tenn., says the Pledge of Allegiance during the"Stand Up for Religious Freedom" rally on the steps of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville March 23. Behind her are members of th e Dominican Sister of St. Cecelia based in Nashville. (CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register) On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issued the guidelines and regulations for women’s “protective services,” and finalized them on February 10, 2012. The final rule—popularly dubbed “the contraceptive mandate”—requires all group health plans and health insurance issuers to provide the full range of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptives/sterilizations (and associated counseling) as part of the “preventive services” for women mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These FDA-approved contraceptives include potential abortion-inducing or “emergency” contraceptive drugs, intrauterine devices, as well as surgical sterilizations, all to be made available without co-pays from employees or their dependents. The HHS mandate narrowly defines a religious employer as someone who: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization. Thus, most, if not all, religious institutional and individual employers, as well as religious insurers, are not exempt and, under this mandate, will be subject to violations of their religious liberty. The HHS mandate spawned a tsunami of debate. On one side stands the mandate’s Democratic and feminist proponents; on the other, its detractors, the US Catholic bishops (and like-minded religious and secular leaders). Here, we critique five myths that, like flotsam and jetsam, have washed up on the shores of this national controversy. Myth #1: Catholic bishops’ opposition to the HHS mandate constitutes a “war on women.” Wrong , on several counts. First, the Catholic bishops have repeatedly made it clear that their objection to the HHS mandate is not a debate over whether women ought to have access to contraception or sterilization. The bishops are not attempting to criminalize the use of contraception; they know women are legally free to obtain and use it. Nor are the bishops trying to make oral contraceptives (OCs) difficult to get or expensive; they know they’re cheap and easy to obtain. In short, the Church’s opposition to the HHS mandate is not contesting women’s freedom to access contraception or sterilization or associated counseling. The Church is upholding the principle of religious liberty as guaranteed by the US Constitution’s First Amendment. In a nutshell, the bishops contend that the Affordable Care Act’s final rule forces religious persons and institutions to provide/pay for these reproductive services despite the fact they contravene the moral convictions of conscience. Second, we have volumes of evidence to support the argument that it is the HHS-mandated national coverage of oral contraceptives for female employees and their dependents that constitutes the real war on women. Consider the use of hormonal contraception for contraceptive purposes. The November 2006 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that its review of 23 studies demonstrates that greater access to emergency contraception increased rather than decreased the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. The sad truth, then, is that the surge in contraceptive use has resulted in more unplanned pregnancies, which have resulted not only in the increased “backup-contraceptive” choice of abortion, but also in its devastating post-abortion psychological/spiritual sequelae. And, lest we forget: the highly effective “contraceptive rate” of the FDA-approved drug ella, included in the HHS-mandated “preventive services,” could only be attributed to its abortifacient mechanism.   Third, hormonal contraceptives can actually cause disease. If we examine the therapeutic use of birth control pills, we discover the pill is, well, not very therapeutic. When OCs are taken to treat any of a panoply of gynecologic anomalies—endometr.......