Obama Wages War on Catholicism


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ABSTRACTObama Wages War on Catholicism | Crisis Magazine Home About Advertise Contact Support A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity Get Crisis in your Inbox Daily Headlines Best of the Week Politics Business Church Art & Culture Catholic Living Features The Civilized Reader The Standard Bearers Books October 12, 2012 Obama Wages War on Catholicism by William A. Donohue A mericans who oppose abortion have learned to live with Roe v. Wade, but they (as well as some abortion-rights advocates) have never come to terms with proposals forcing them to fund abortion. This was on President Obama’s mind when he addressed the graduation class of 2009 at the University of Notre Dame. “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause,” he said. For this he was hailed by the president of Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins. Three years later the priest sued Obama for breaking his vow. The Notre Dame speech notwithstanding, the Obama administration’s willingness to violate conscience rights in pursuit of Obamacare was evident from the beginning. In 2009, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Enzi sought to include language in the healthcare bill that would prohibit public funding of abortion. It was voted down, much to the applause of the Obama administration. A similar bill by Rep. Eric Cantor went down to defeat. Sen. Tom Coburn sponsored an amendment that would provide conscience-rights protections for healthcare workers, and it too was defeated. Rep. Bart Stupak, Rep. Joe Pitts, and Rep. Sam Johnson also tried to bar federal funds for abortion; their efforts met the same fate. What was most exasperating about this entire matter was the insistence on the part of Obama officials that nothing in the healthcare bill would allow for the public funding of abortion. Then why fight with such ferocity bills designed to make sure this never happens? By the end of 2009, the real agenda of the Obama administration had become so transparent that even its friends at The New York Times felt obliged to come clean. That November the Times ran a news story showing how Obama had betrayed his promise. Reporter Robert Pear wrote that the president “was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major healthcare legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.” The pro-life community, largely faith-based, felt disabused by these shenanigans. But they had no idea how bad matters would soon become. On Jan. 20, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rolled out what would come to be known as the HHS mandate: Catholic institutions would be required to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their healthcare plans for employees. The inclusion of abortion-inducing drugs was striking. The administration could have settled for contraception, but instead it sought to stick the camel’s nose in the tent. Its real long-term interest was plain: eventually, as broached by FOCA, Catholic hospitals would be required to perform abortions. On Jan. 31, Press Secretary Jay Carney stunned even Obama supporters when he said, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here.” No one was buying it, especially not the bishops. After Catholics pushed back, a new version was introduced three weeks later. But it was a distinction without a difference: It mandated that the insurance carrier of Catholic non-profits must pay for these services. This was just a shell game. In reality, many Catholic non-profits are self-insured (for example, the Archdiocese of Washington is self-insured). Then there is the issue of Catholic entities that are not self-insured: Why should they have to pay their insurance company for services they deem immoral? Another issue that won’t go away is the right of Catholic business owners not to pay for services that violate their conscience. It is important to acknowledge that Catholics are not asking for special rights — they are simply asking the Obama administration to respect the status quo. The administration won’t budge, saying the best it will do is exempt Catholic churches. So what about Catholic non-profits? Without doubt, the most contentious, and frankly diabolical, demand of the Obama administration is the proviso that only Catholic institutions that hire and serve mostly people of their own religion are entitled to an exemption. In practice, this means that Mother Teresa’s worldwide health and social service programs that serve people of all religions, as well as non-believers, would not qualify for a religious exemption. Obama officials arrived at this conclusion by following the thinking of the ACLU (as I have recounted in two books on the organization, the ACLU has never been a religion-friendly institution). In 2000, ACLU lawyers helped devise legislation in California that took a novel view of what constitutes a religious institution. It argued that a truly religious entity had to e.......