Planned Parenthood and friends today are celebrating what they perceive as a victory over the U.S. Catholic bishops. In truth it’s an attack on religious liberty and more Catholic and other freedom-loving Americans need to make their voices heard. And as lay Catholics we should be outraged by both what Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan calls a “foul ball” by the administration but by the characterization — that he or we are trying to force something on others, when the bigotry is just the reverse here.
Jeff Fortenberry, a Catholic congressman from Nebraska is among those who have and continue to. In a statement today he says:
“Americans should not be forced by the strong arm of government to pay for drugs and procedures that are not medical necessities and unrelated to America’s health care challenges. This mandate drives up health care costs and is perniciously targeted at religious providers, who selflessly and compassionately serve the poorest and most vulnerable. Under this rule, within the year, religiously-affiliated medical providers would have to fire and refuse to treat persons of other faiths in order to uphold their own deeply-held beliefs—or be forced, by order of Secretary Sebelius, to close their doors rather than violate tenets of their religion. This is forced discrimination. This is wrong. No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job.”
He continued: “This Administration’s conception of religious liberty is so far out of the mainstream that all nine Supreme Court justices ruled against it just days ago. Yet rather than adopt the wisdom of the Court’s unanimous decision, the Administration moves to further suppress religious liberties in a politically-calculated decision just days before the nation’s largest gathering of pro-life youth in Washington.”
Fortenberry is author of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which would repeal the mandate to preserve conscience rights for health-care professionals, patients, and institutions.
Ed Mechmann, a lawyer in New York, working at the Catholic chancery office, writes:
Religious organizations of all denominations had denounced this plan, and had called for a broader exemption, in order to respect the conscience rights of those who object to being forced to pay for morally offensive drugs and procedures. Yet the Administration disdained their request, and made no changes in the proposal.
Again, you could not ask for a clearer example of the hostility of this Administration towards religious freedom. The secularist, anti-life ideology of our rulers will not compromise, and will force all others to conform.
Fortenberry, Mechmann, and Turner are three lay Catholics trying to do something about this administrations disregard for conscience in the public square. How about we join them? As Mechmann puts it: Elections matter.