03 October 2011
C-I-N-O Evil: Obamacare's Devil in the Details
As Catholic institutions have been more mainstreamed in America, there are examples of glossing over religious precepts which contradict the Magestarium and are effectively Catholic In Name Only (CINO). Since Pope Blessed John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesia in 1990, there has been a struggle between fidelity to church teachings and professors who sought to preserve “academic freedom” on hot button moral issues like Abortion “Rights” and the acceptability of the homosexual lifestyle. Last winter, Phoenix bishop Thomas Olmsted felt forced to cut the cord with St. Joseph’s Hospital because of its policy on allowing for emergency abortions. But this is just inside Catholic baseball.
As jurisdictions have liberalized laws to legalize homosexual marriage and adoption, it has impacted religious dissenters. When New York passed the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, there was a carve out which preserves the right for religious groups to not perform nuptial services for homosexual couples. When the DC Council voted for same sex marriage in 2010, Catholic Charities needed to withdraw from the foster care system so as not to be forced to place wards with same-sex couples. These changes of law certainly curtails some social services in which conscientious Catholic groups can engage, but did not force them to act or essentially to disappear.
Social justice Christians cheered the concept of universal health care in general, but with Obamacare, the devil is in the 2,700 pages of details. In 2012, businesses can continue to offer their employees health care under Obamacare, but their plans need to have certain basic coverages. No surprise that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (former Democrat Governor of Kansas and someone who claims to be Catholic) ruled that all plans must include contraceptive coverage.
One would think that there is a religious exemption. After all, when President Obama gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame University in 2009, he made allusions to a drafting a sensible conscience clause. Well, there is an opt out, but those who have conscientious religious objects to insurance. This exemption covers the Amish, Christian Scientists, Native Americans and (of course) Muslims. So schools like Notre Dame are effectively faced with the Sword of Damacles–either violate the Catholic Magestarium and offer abortion inducing drugs, stop offering healthcare to its employees or face a $1 million a day fine. Well, isn’t that special?
Some common man commentators in the blogisphere think that there is a simple answer for Catholic schools who want to keep their “silly rules” about abortion and contraception–namely not to accept government money. Alas, they do not understand that it is not federal funding of research programs or student scholarships which forces this dilemma, but it is the broadness of Obamacare to set standards for all acceptable health plans. All businesses will be forced to pick up this coverage, but conscientious Catholics have moral precepts that they need to protect.
Some colleges like Georgetown and Notre Dame have shown themselves flexible on the Magestarium for the precepts of academic freedom and to strive for social justice. Thus a it is easy to envision rationalizations to agree to the HHS terms applying Obamacare to maintain health coverage for their staffs and students. But the Franciscan University in Stuebensville, Ohio is unlikely to waiver. Former Ohio Attorney General Ken Blackwell (R-OH) provocatively prognosticated that Obamacare could force Stuebensville out of business.
The United States Supreme Court has received petitions to hear cases on Obamacare based off of the individual mandate requirement. The High Court has discretionary consideration to issue a writ of certiorari unless it is settling a dispute amongst states or different circuits. So even if SCOTUS were to rule on the Obamacare individual mandates by June 2012, this provision could still stand.
The drafters of Obamacare did not follow standard legislative procedure and insert a severability clause. This leaves the tantalizing possibility that if one significant segment of Obamacare, like the individual mandate, is found unconstitutional, it could bury the behemoth in one fell swoop. Until then faithful institutions like the Franciscan University of Stuebenville are just living on a prayer.