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Reaction to Obama’s “Compromise”: “Doublespeak” and ‘Accounting Gimmick”

by | Feb 11, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

While President Barack Obama’s “tweaking” of the HHS mandate compelling Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception  predictably satisfied organizations such as Planned Parenthood, it did not address the concerns of pro-lifers and defenders of religious liberties. In fact, National Right to Life dismissed the President’s move as “doublespeak.”

The revised  mandate still requires religious groups to contract with insurers to offer birth control at no cost. The “difference” is that  the insurers that cover their workers will be required to offer birth control directly to women working for the religious employer.

As a single-issue organization, National Right to Life examined  the logic behind the policy and concluded, “President Obama today promulgated a scam that, if he is re-elected, will allow him to mandate that every health plan in America cover abortion on demand.” (See “New Obama Scam [You Must Pay, But Nobody Pays] Lays Groundwork for Future National Abortion Mandate”)

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, issued a  statement which included the following:

“The Catholic Church and others in our nation’s religious community are not yet convinced the president’s mandate doesn’t constitute an attack on religious freedom, which has been a fundamental American right for more than 200 years. It’s clear that these organizations were not included in developing the so-called compromise offered today. The president should take up the Bishops’ offer to find a resolution that respects all Americans’ Constitutional rights. In the meantime, the House of Representatives, led by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will continue to work toward a legislative solution that achieves that same goal.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska is House author of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act that is supported by NRLC. He said,

“The President still doesn’t understand that religious institutions will still be unacceptably entangled–financially and provisionally– with drugs, procedures, and services to which they may have religious and moral objections, in violation of their long-held rights of conscience.  Moreover, this announcement still does not get to the very core of American distress: religious freedom and conscience rights are natural rights as enshrined in the Constitution.  The government does not confer them and must not force persons to violate them by paying for things to which they have reasoned religious or moral objections.”

Senator Roy Blunt, who introduced of the  Respect for Rights of Conscience Act in the Senate, said

“Just because you can come up with an accounting gimmick and pretend like religious institutions do not have to pay for the mandate, does not mean that you’ve satisfied the fundamental constitutional freedoms that all Americans are guaranteed.”

Pro-life Congressman Chris Smith characterized, “The so-called new policy” as ‘the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else,” adding, “It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naïve or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.”

Today’s announcement, Smith said, “is a political manipulation designed to get Obama past his own self-made controversy and past the next election. The White House Fact Sheet is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction.”

Smith also noted that, that religious employers “will not” have to pay for sterilization and contraception, but their “insurance companies” will. “Who pays for the insurance policy?,” he asks. “The religious employer.”

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had this to say:

”Southern Baptists and people of other various faith communities are outraged with President Obama’s so-called compromise on his administration’s abortion mandate. In his attempt to mollify his radical pro-abortion supporters, President Obama has declared that individual conscience is subject to government edict.

“The president’s failure to grasp the seriousness of this issue reveals a dangerous presidential blind spot concerning First Amendment constitutional religious free exercise guarantees. It also highlights the wisdom of our forefathers who bequeathed to us a legislative system that is supposed to pass laws with the consent of the governed through their elected representatives, rather than being governed by executive branch imperial edicts passed down from on high. If these issues had been subjected to the legislative process as our political system intends, then the problems we are currently facing would have surfaced and been dealt with in ways that would have truly respected both individual conscience and the health needs of our citizens.”

A letter from former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton Prof. Robert George, Notre Dame Law Prof. Carter Snead, Catholic University of America President John Garvey, and Ethics and Public Policy Center Fellow Yuval Levin concludes

“This so-called ‘accommodation’  changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy.  It is certainly no compromise.  The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust.  Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement which included the following:

“We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

“We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.”

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Categories: ObamaCare