Tuesday, 06 December 2011

Pelosi: Catholic Bishops Are “Lobbyists”

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Confronting elements of President Obama’s healthcare legislation that are so fundamentally restrictive of religious freedom that Jesus “would not qualify as ‘religious,’” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been engaged in a protracted struggle to defend the integrity of Roman Catholic doctors in the face of a federal government seemingly bent on requiring them to act against their consciences. As a reward for their labors, House Minority Leader — and self-proclaimed “devout Catholic” — Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has belittled the bishops as nothing more than “lobbyists in Washington, D.C.”

As reported in late September for The New American, the USCCB objected to the law passed in March 2010 intended to socialize healthcare (legislation that is popularly known as “ObamaCare”) because it would require healthcare providers — including Roman Catholic hospitals and doctors — to provide birth control, abortifacient drugs, and abortions, even though providing birth control and performing abortions runs counter to Roman Catholic teaching. As noted in September, when the legislation was passed into law, it purportedly contained language specifically intended to serve as an exemption from requiring religious institutions to provide services that were fundamentally at odds with their principles.

However, pro-life news outlets were already raising concerns in July that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would push for a mandate for birth control and abortion being imposed on religiously oriented healthcare providers. At that time, a report from the Institute of Medicine that was commissioned by HHS touted — in the words of a report from LifesiteNews.com — “the medical benefits of birth control drugs as ‘the ability to plan one’s family and attain optimal birth spacing,’ and secondarily, as treatment for conditions including menstrual abnormalities, ‘acne or hirsutism,’ and ‘pelvic pain.’”

However, Pelosi is dismissing the concerns of the leadership of the church of which she is ostensibly a member as nothing but “lobbying.”

An article by Edwin Mora for CNSNews details the reasons why any Roman Catholic — including, presumably, Nancy Pelos — would find such federal regulation of religious belief offensive:

The proposed regulation, scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, 2012, would require every health-insurance plan in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives (which include abortifacients) without charging any co-pay. The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics cannot be involved in them.

In a Republic governed by a Constitution that includes the free exercise of religion among the enumerated rights of its citizens, such a gross violation of conscience ought to be beyond consideration. CNSNews confronted Pelosi with a direct question to this effect: “In August, HHS issued a proposed regulation under the new health care law that would require that all health care plans cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives. The U.S. Catholic bishops have called the regulation an unprecedented attack on religious freedom and have asked HHS to drop it. Do you agree with the bishops?” According to CNSNews, Pelosi’s answer was evasive, at best:

“I don’t know if I agree with your characterization of what the HHS put forth,” Pelosi said, “but as a mother of five children in six years, as a devout Catholic, I have great respect for our bishops when they are my pastor [sic]. As lobbyists in Washington D.C., we have some areas of disagreement."

Pelosi’s response raises important questions regarding her candor, and her ability to comprehend the legislation that she oversaw during her time as Speaker of the House. A bulletin insert that was to be distributed at worship services in Roman Catholic parishes throughout the United States explained the grave moral difficulties posed for parishioners — including Pelosi — by the requirements of “ObamaCare”:

The new rule would force insurance plans to cover “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage....

Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase. Please remove sterilization and prescription contraceptives from the list of ‘preventive services’ the federal government is mandating in private health plans. It is especially important to exclude any drug that may cause an early abortion, and to fully respect religious freedom as other federal laws do. The narrow religious exemption in HHS’s new rule protects almost no one. I urge you to allow all organizations and individuals to offer, sponsor and obtain health coverage that does not violate their moral and religious convictions. [Emphasis in original.]

As noted previously, one need not agree with the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church to understand that the principles which are at stake in this controversy involve the free exercise of religion in this country. HHS is attempting to overturn the religious freedoms of citizens for the sake of imposing socialized medicine, and the result of their efforts has been the alienation of the leadership of the largest religious group in the United States.

Jaded politicians can try to dismiss matters of conscience as mere “lobbying,” but by doing so they may discover that many Americans will stand up for the freedom of conscience of their fellow citizens, and will be appalled by the efforts of Leviathan to impose its will contrary to a fundamental right of all citizens.

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