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Posted Monday, February 20, 2012, at 12:27 PM

As we prepare to start implementing the socialized medicine law, the latest issue to explode is the mandate that all businesses must provide insurance, which covers contraception.

Churches are not businesses and are excluded from the requirement, but church-run schools, hospitals, food pantries, etc., must comply.

The law also defines contraception as medicines and devices that kill unborn children.

This means that religious schools, hospitals, etc., must provide abortion coverage as part of their mandated health insurance coverage.

The offered "compromise," is a distinction without a difference in that the same "coverage" is provided to all at the same price to the employer but the law "says" the church isn't paying for that part of the coverage.

The largest group of Christians in America are Catholics.

The Catholic Church presently occupies the center of this debate even though there are many other religious groups with similar beliefs.

It is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that children are a gift from God and it is inappropriate to frustrate God's will by intentionally preventing conception when a couple is in a sexual (presumably married) relationship.

Reasonable people can have differing opinions on this issue, including priests and bishops.

However, so long as this is the teaching of the church, those with church authority, such as the bishops, are expected to uphold it the same way we expect civil authorities to uphold laws that they disagree with.

It is the doctrine of the catholic Church that when the 23 pairs of human chromosomes, which, from separate sources, come together at conception, form a single genetically unique organism, life has begun.

As that life can never become anything other than a human being, it is human life.

While all life ends, human life should never be ended by human hands without just cause. That when human life is intentionally taken without just cause, it is murder.

When medications and devices which kill this unborn human life are used for the purpose of birth control, it is the commission of murder.

I do not believe a person could rise to any level of authority within the Catholic Church without sharing this fundamental view on the sanctity of human life.

If this law is implemented and the government tries to force the Catholic Church to pay for abortions, you can fully expect the Catholic Church to be in open rebellion against the U.S. Government.

You would see American Bishops going to prison for life before they ever permitted any Catholic institution to pay for anything that took innocent life.

The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the federal government from passing any law, which abridges the free exercise of religion. Presently, any person is free to do whatever they want regarding contraception and abortion.

But as an institution, the Catholic Church could no more pay for contraceptives and abortifacients than they could offer sacrifice to pagan idols. To force them to do so would be at a minimum an abridgment of their right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

But this issue is not just about contraception and abortion. As important and inflammatory as those issues are, this controversy illustrates a broader problem with the health care law. It represents the loss of individual freedom and an attempted fundamental transformation of American society as the government takes over healthcare.

Remember, the first reason that people came to this continent was to be able to follow their own religious beliefs without having to pay a tax to a state church or follow the rules of a faith they did not believe in.

Unquestionably, governments have the power to declare conduct illegal. For example, while you can believe in human sacrifice to a god or that taking illegal drugs is a religious sacrament, you are prohibited from engaging in that activity.

Governments have the right to tell you what you must do? Can the government tell you that you must participate in human sacrifice or that you must consume drugs against your will?

I am a small business owner. If the government can tell me that I have to pay for my employee's abortions, what else can they order me to do? Don't forget that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from compelling people to do things against their will.

Moreover, the 10th Amendment states that powers not directly given to the federal government are powers that belong to the states or to the people individually.

Some may say, "But healthcare is so important, there must surely be an exception. Besides, this could not possibly have been considered by the founding fathers when they wrote the Constitution."

While it is true enough that our founders did not consider health care, they also did not address food and shelter in the Constitution either. While important, these things are not the province of the government.

If we ignore these constitutional prohibitions, in the interest of health, can't the government also force us to do morning exercises? Rest is important for good health, can they mandate when to go to bed and when to get up? If you don't comply and someone "informs" on you, when you need medical care, the government can simply withhold treatment to non-conformers.

When I was in Shanghai, China, in 1990, that is exactly what I experienced. At 10 p.m., it was lights out. At 6 a.m., loud speakers would blare to awaken the populace. By 6:30, everyone was outside doing morning exercises.

The government withheld treatment for non-conformers which made bribery rampant among those who would inform on your staying out, sleeping in, or failing to exercise.

In the mid-90s, my brother practiced medicine in London for two years. He saw that when patients who were fat or smokers needed treatment, or who had received the same treatment once before, would simply be told that there was nothing more that medical science could do for them and sent home to die.

It was also common for hospitals to not tell patients the full extent of their condition, send them home to save the cost of treatment and allow them to die.

Virtually everything you do has the potential to affect your health in some way.

That means that under this law, the government has the ability to regulate virtually everything you do. When the government controls health care, the government controls your life as well as your health.

It seems to me that the reason people want socialized medicine is for a sense of security. When people seek security from the government, they trade their liberty. I wonder, are we still the land of the brave and the home of the free?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

There is no such thing as a "free" government program. The government can only give you that which it has first taken from someone else.

-- Posted by hgallatin on Mon, Feb 20, 2012, at 11:12 PM

Thank you for explaining this issue very clearly. Well reasoned and well stated.

Anytime someone tells me we live in a different world than our Founding Fathers and that therefore we must disregard some element of the Constitution, my response is always that, although it may be true we live in different times, the Founders allowed for that eventuality by providing the means to amend the Constitution. That's the legitimate way to enact some program that's prohibited by the Constitution in it's current form.

My least favorite words in the English language: prohibited and mandatory. Especially when used by government!!

-- Posted by Bob E on Tue, Feb 21, 2012, at 11:57 AM

You are teliing it like it is. Well written. Thanks

-- Posted by dick tracy on Thu, Feb 23, 2012, at 9:24 PM

Charles - you're way outta line here. The far greater threat to liberty in this country is having a bunch of old white guys make decisions about womens health care. Couple things, with all due respect to you as a Catholic:

Contraceptives are not abortion pills.

No one's religious liberty is violated when Catholic women or employees at Catholic institutions choose to get a prescription for birth control. No one is forcing Catholics to do anything, other than cover a prescription thats been recognized as a basic component of healthcare since the US supreme court decided the issue in the early 70s.

Lord forbid that we allow women to have some say in when they choose to become pregnant!!

Doesnt improved access to contraceptives mean fewer abortions, which is something we can all agree is a good thing??

-- Posted by NorvalJrJr on Sat, Feb 25, 2012, at 1:32 AM

maybe a related question - who decides doctrine in a church: its members or its administration?? Polls would indicate that the majority of catholic women disagree with the Vatican on the issue of contraception, as many others do on divorce, for instance.. Certainly lots of people in Brazil and everywhere else are having sex, and lots of them dont always intend that sex to be procreative. I think that whatever choice a couple makes for themselves is best, and that a lot of people are just waiting on the Pope to come around on this issue of contraception. You probably remember, for instance, that rumor had it John Paul I was ready to issue an encyclical on the matter before he (mysteriously) dropped dead in 1978.

i was always taught that the first lesson of being a Catholic is that we're all bad Catholics, anyways. ;-)

-- Posted by NorvalJrJr on Sat, Feb 25, 2012, at 1:43 AM

Dear Norval,

Thank you for joining the discussion.

While I personally believe that God gave man a brain for a reason. I personally believe that preventing conception is no more sinful than drinking alcohol. Rather, if alcohol induces some to sin, it is bad for them. If the ability to avoid conception leads some to sin, then it is bad for them.

Nevertheless, this all misses the point. Right now, anyone is free to do whatever they want regarding contraception and abortion. Right now, everyone is free to follow their own religious beliefs. This is protected either expressly in the Constitution or impliedly in the Constitution through Supreme Court interpretation.

The socialized medicine law is attempting to change that. The socialized medicine law does not define contraception as medicines and devices that prevent conception. Rather, the definition specifically included abortifacients as contraception. Then the law requires everyone to pay for the distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients. Compelling the Catholic Church to provide these is no different than compelling them to provide the lambs to be sacrificed to an idol of Baal.

That is why our founders specifically insisted that the Constitution include the First Amendment. The first words of the First Amendment are: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . ."

That is also why our founders insisted that there be a Tenth Amendment which states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." I challenge you to find anything in the Constitution giving Congress the power to socialize medicine and make people pay for the contraception and abortions of others.

Seventy years later, our nation insisted on strengthening individual liberty by passing the 13th Amendment. The first sentence of which states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

While our liberal friends are trying to frame this issue as a "freedom of choice" issue, the truth is that it is a liberty issue. The government wants to do something that restrained governments are not often permitted to do; compel people to engage in activity against their will. That is why there are so many amendments to the constitution prohibiting exactly that. And that is the problem.


-- Posted by Charles Hear on Sat, Feb 25, 2012, at 11:19 AM

Charles -

Again, I have to respectfully disagree with you.

You say that "Compelling the Catholic Church to provide [contraceptives] is no different than compelling them to provide the lambs to be sacrificed to an idol of Baal," but that again assumes that practicing Catholics think contraceptives are sinful. Recent polls would suggest otherwise!!!

A poll published by USA Today (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2012/02/contraception-catholic-bishops-obama-hhs/1#.T0nB5flaeuI) on Feb 5 said that:

"58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.

61% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say employer plans should cover contraception.

50%of white mainline Protestants want the coverage. However, for evangelical Protestants, that drops to 38%."

This doesn't even really consider how many non-Catholics work for or study at Catholic institutions (like universities or hospitals). The law merely mandates that those institutions should provide the same coverage as any other employer in the country. I know several women (Catholic and Protestant) who live in Brazil and work at St Mary of the Woods in TH that are cheering about this - if they want to get birth control, who are you to tell them that they're wrong or not Catholic enough?? Their husbands might also get pretty angry if they suddenly had to start wearing condoms because birth control in pill form became too expensive!!!

Another way of looking at it - What if prostate exams were considered sinful, even though its a regular health concern of men? Should a religiously-affiliated employer who decides that prostates are evil be allowed to not pay for regular prostate exams, by claiming that it violates their freedom of religion? Hardly!! They should be held to the national standard that also says you must provide building access to the handicapped, cannot discriminate by the basis of gender or race in employment, etc... These things might not be in the Constitution, but legislators and the courts have decided over time that they are common-sense equalizers and protections for American workers.

Much related, a position eerily similar to your defense of Catholic institutions on this issue was taken after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated desegregation for public accomodations like lunch counters - some wondered how the government could force private businesses to do something its owners might believe was harmful to society, or even sinful. But the proposition that "all men were created equal" tells us that this was the right thing to do.

This is why Republicans might win Clay/Vigo Counties (and our embarrassingly high teenage birth rates), but they'll lose the national election. Most people (besides angry newspaper columnists like you) just don't care about this issue anymore. Moderates and women voters are fleeing from increasingly radical, offensive, and out of touch Republican candidates.

I want to hear the Republican candidates talk more and smarter about the economy!! But could the GOP's hesitation to present a coherent plan be because the economy is doing better all the time, with unemployment down, manufacturing going back up, and the Dow flirting with 13,000 for the first time in years?? I voted for McCain last time, but i think Obama's gonna get my vote this time around. I don't trust Romney, Gingrich is an idiot, and as you might have guessed - Santorum's pretty far out there for me and a lot of other moderates on many issues. He said that world was going to end soon, and appears to think more about gay sex than most gay people. Also some weird stuff comes up when you google him.

But back to my point - When even a healthy majority of Catholics think that birth control, which is used by 98% of women at some point during their lifetimes, should be covered by the insurance provided by Catholic employers like universities or hospitals - you know its time to find a new issue, fellas! Sorry, but the GOP loses on this one. Contraception is not the issue thats gonna put a Republican back in the White House in 2012.

-- Posted by NorvalJrJr on Sun, Feb 26, 2012, at 1:08 AM

I believe in separation of church and state, but there are many instances where Government has come between a religious tenant and law. We outlawed polygamy, Jehovah's Witnesses' children can be forced to have blood transfusion. I am sure there are many more. This is just another doomsday scenario put out to scare voters into voting for a Republican. Ohhh be scared, President Obama is going to take over your church. Hogwash!!!

-- Posted by alwaysopenminded on Mon, Feb 27, 2012, at 8:27 AM

Christians are not the only people that live in America! We the people determine the balance of separation of church and state....And I say KEEP religion out of our government. Mr Hear I thought you are a dem???

-- Posted by Combat VET on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 9:37 AM

Dear WeThePeeps,

I have always believed that the ultimate power of a government is derived from the people who are governed. However, one of the beautiful thing about our Constitution is that it severely restricts the government so that power remains with the people, not the government. When the Constitution was presented to the States, the states insisted on 12 amendments to specifically constrain the government. 10 of those amendments were passed and we now call them the Bill of Rights.

The term "separation of Church and State" was first written by Thomas Jefferson, putative founder of the Democratic Party, in a letter written by him to the Baptist Church of Danbury Connecticut. The purpose of the letter was to assure the congregation that under the First Amendment to the Constitution, the federal government does not have the power to interfere with their religious practices.

The letter from Jefferson states: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

While today many of us want to keep religion out of government, it is no less important that government stay out of religion.

According to the plain and ordinary meaning of the words of the First, Tenth, and Thirteenth Amendments to Constitution, the socialized healthcare law is plainly unconstitutional. Among the most egregious violations of this law, is the violation of the First Amendment right that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

If the people allow the government to violate the constitution to do something they like, there is nothing to stop the government from violating the constitution to do things we don't like. If it is that important, then Congress and the states should amend the Constitution.

-- Posted by Charles Hear on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 12:07 PM

But Charles this rule will not apply to all religions in this country and you know this.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 6:03 PM

Why should it? That is what freedom means. I make my choices, you make yours.

Forcing me or you to do things against our will is tyrany. No one is equal when you try to make everyone the same.

-- Posted by Charles Hear on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 8:41 PM

You are missing his point. We do not allow 'you' to make your choices and pursue your religions if we deem them socially unacceptable. In its most libertarian phase the Supreme Court admitted laws outlawing polygamous marriages were infringing upon the religious rights of Mormons, but they felt that society had good reasons to do so. Those screaming about religious freedom now are not demanding those laws be overturned. They are not demanding that blood transfusions not be covered because it might infringe on LDS.

They are complaining about a law that is already enacted in over half the country on contraception(btw your description was very propaganda-esque).

And referring to a bill essiantly modeled after the Heritage Foundation's plan, Mitt Romney's plan(which Gingrich and Heritage along with most conservatives praised), and Paul Ryan's Medicare plan as 'socialized medicine' is propaganda.

Socialized medicine is the VA or the UK. We can debate the merits of 'ObamaRomneyCare' and whether it makes an improvement over the status quo. But we can not have this debate relying on hyperbole and appeals to emotion, but on logic and evidence.

As an attorney I know you are experienced in both, but are capable of the latter.

-- Posted by abdcd on Sun, Apr 1, 2012, at 7:59 PM

Dear Abdcd,

Thank you for your thoughts. I like your analytical approach and direct way of expressing yourself.

I never said that Romnycare wasn't socialist. It is. You are right that the Heritage Foundation had a similar plan. I can't pretend to understand why.

Medicare and Social Security are also socialist in nature and deter the free market from coming up with better solutions.

Unfortunately, we as Americans have sacrificed much of our liberty for many socialist "programs." Apparently, the fear of uncertainty is stronger in many people than the desire for liberty.

It is said that soldiers have two opportunities to die for their country. Once on the field of battle. The second time in the VA hospital. The VA under-performs the free market precisely because it is government run.

If the term "socialist" is emotional or propaganda-esque, I can only say that I try to call them the way I see them.

Government treats everyone the same (theoretically). However, one size doesn't fit all, it fits no one.

I believe that logic dictates that ordinary people striving for personal success will always outperform the greatest geniuses with the power of government to impose their brilliant ideas. Moreover, the evidence of history appears to be clearly on my side on this point.

Finally, I cannot see how the federal government has any authority to regulate marriage under the U.S. constitution. The ruling on polygamy you refer to is as far outside the Constitution as the ruling on abortion. Both are purely state issues as is any regulation of health care, care for the aged and poor, and so many other things that the federal government has usurped.

-- Posted by Charles Hear on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 8:48 AM

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