Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Am I Supposed to Say "Thank you?"

A little while ago, the White House released this statement.  

I *think* I'm supposed to be grateful for this "clarification," but honestly, it's just not coming.  
Let's take it point-by-point, shall we?  (My comments will be in red)

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans will cover women’s preventive services, including contraception, without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August, 2012.  This new law will save money for millions of Americans. But more importantly, it will ensure Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy. Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible.  But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.  Umm...not exactly true.  Contraception isn't just going to miraculously appear on the shelves, for free.  SOMEONE is going to be forced into paying for it, and who do you think that "someone" might be?  Let's see:  oh yeah, the CATHOLIC CHURCH.

On January 20th, Secretary Sebelius announced that certain religious organizations including churches would be exempt from paying their insurers to cover contraception. (Only those who have a stated mission of the inculcation of their faith are exempted.  In layman's terms, only organizations who have the stated goal of increasing believers in their faith are exempted.   Last time I checked, the Catholic hospitals and charities who serve the poorest in our country did not withhold care until the recipient converted).  Other religious organizations, including those that employ people of different faiths, can qualify for a one-year transition period as they prepare to comply with the new law. In recent days, there has been some confusion about how this policy affects religious institutions. We want to make sure you have the facts:
  • Churches are exempt from the new rules: Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception.  Okay, great.  What about Catholic schools (and universities), hospitals, and charities?
  • No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The President and this Administration have previously and continue to express strong support for existing conscience protections.  For example, no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription for contraception. Only half true.  While it is true that, at this time, no Catholic doctor is "forced" to write a prescription for contraception, last year (May 2011), the Obama administration rescinded the conscience protections that legally protected doctors who chose to not violate their consciences.  As a wife of one of these doctors, this entire so-called "fact" is extremely offensive.
  •  No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This rule only applies to what insurance companies cover.  Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible.   But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.  Again, like I pointed out above, this is not quite true.  Will an individual be forced to buy or use contraception?  No, they won't  - and that point of this "fact" is actually true.  But, does Obama honestly think that these pharmaceuticals are going to just magically appear on people's medicine cabinet shelves without any money being exchanged for them?  Someone IS being forced to pay for them:  THE CATHOLIC CHURCH and other religious institutions that are opposed to contraceptives.
  • Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy:  Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions.  This one is blatantly false.  All birth control pills include three mechanisms of action.  They are:  1) to suppress ovulation, 2) to thicken cervical mucous, causing it to be less likely that sperm will actually make its way into the uterus and Fallopian tubes, and 3) create a "hostile" environment within the uterus, prohibiting a fertilized egg from being able to implant.  The pharmaceutical known as "Ella" will also be available under this HHS mandate.  "ella" is touted as an "emergency contraceptive" that can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex has occurred.  Guess what?  At 5 days post-conception, a fertilized egg is implanting into the walls of the uterus, and the gender of that new life can be determined.  If "ella" is not an abortifacient...I'm not exactly sure what it truly is. 
  • Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: Several of these States like North Carolina, New York, and California have identical religious employer exemptions.  Some States like Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemption at all.  Honestly, my gut reaction to this one is "So what?"  Remember when your mom used to say, "If everyone else went and jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"  This is the same thing.  So, what Obama is telling us here is that because individual states are restricting the religious liberties of their's okay for the federal government to do it too.  Seems to me that the federal government  should be in the business of protecting individual liberties.....not restricting them.
  • Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception. Oh, I have so much to say about this one, but in interest of keeping it relatively clear, I'll be brief.  Here goes:
    • The Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood makes the majority of their profits because of the millions of abortions it performs a year.   Now, the definite majority of abortions are due to "failed contraception."  Do we really want to believe the organization that profits on abortions (due to contraceptive failure) that contraception is a "normal" and "good" thing?
    • Notice the verb use in this statement.  I fully believe it is because the administration recognizes the flaws of the GI's study, and does not want to really stand behind the statistics (rightfully so).  Notice how "Contraception IS USED by most women" and then, later on, "98 percent of Catholic women HAVE USED contraception."  Want to know why the verb tense was changed?  I suggest you actually look at the GI study.  The questions were worded in a way that any Catholic women who either 1) used Natural Family Planning to prevent pregnancy for a grave reason (which is okay according to the Church), or 2) ever used contraception in the past (say, before converting to Catholicism, or "re-verting" to authentic Catholic life, or used contraception before learning about treatments such as NaProTechnology to treat an actual reproductive disorder) would have to answer in the affirmative.  Seems to be purposefully done to raise the statistic, wouldn't you agree?
  • Contraception coverage reduces costs: While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges from $30 to $50, insurers and experts agree that savings more than offset the cost.  The National Business Group on Health estimated that it would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of potentially unintended and unhealthy pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.   This "fact" also offends me.  It implies two things:  1) religious liberties can be traded for a quantifiable amount of money, and 2) that those future lives that result from an "unintended" pregnancy will never pay money into our American economy.  I'd like to remind Obama that he himself was an unintended pregnancy...and now is the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.  It seems a bit hypocritical, coming from him, that religious liberties are worth less than "15-17% of business costs."  I wonder if his own mother would value his worth at less than 15% of her costs?
 The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue. The Administration has provided substantial resources to Catholic organizations over the past three years, in addition to numerous non-financial partnerships to promote healthy communities and serve the common good. (Is this a threat to remove financial support that goes to serve the poorest of the poor and the neediest of our country?  Seems a bit hard-hearted from a Democrat, wouldn't you think?) This work includes partnerships with Catholic social service agencies on local responsible fatherhood programs and international anti-hunger/food assistance programs. We look forward to continuing this important work.

I urge all of you - Catholics and non-Catholics - to see through the blatant half-truths and skewing of the facts for what the HHS mandate truly is:  an attack on the religious freedoms of Americans.  Write your senators and congressmen.  Please. 

It's the Catholics now.....who will it be next?