NRL News

CHA Rejects Obama “Accommodation,” Fortnight for Freedom religious liberty campaign begins this week

by | Jun 18, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. There is still time to register for the National Right to Life convention June 28-30 and to reserve a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in  Arlington, Virginia. Just go to

Catholic Health Association head Sister Carol Keehan

Opposition to the Obama Administration’s phony “accommodation” continues to widen, deepen, and harden.

In August 2011, HHS required religious institutions and individuals of conscience to pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and conscience. Faced with a tidal wave of opposition the Administration offered an “accommodation” which has been roundly criticized as inadequate and insincere.

On Friday, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) sent a five-page letter to HHS in which CHA head Sister Carol Keehan wrote

“The more we learn, the more it appears that the … approaches for both insured and self-insured plans would be unduly cumbersome and would be unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns of all of our members and other Church ministries.”

David Gibson, writing for the Religious News Service, observed, “Keehan, a crucial ally of the Obama administration in passing health care reform in 2009, had initially sounded a positive note about the administration’s proposals in February and again in March that sought to address a wave of bad publicity by accommodating religious concerns about the mandate,”

However, by last week the CHA, the network of more than 2,000 U.S. Catholic hospitals and health care facilities, had concluded, “it is imperative for the Administration to abandon the narrow definition of ‘religious employer’ and instead use an expanded definition to exempt from the contraceptive mandate not only churches, but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other ministries of the Church.”

Also last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reaffirmed its opposition at their annual spring meeting in Atlanta. In addition the “Fortnight for Freedom” religious liberty campaign begins June 21 and will run through July 4 with a nationally televised mass at the Basilica in Washington D.C. at noon.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who has been leading the “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign, made clear the bishops would not back down. “Defending religious freedom is not a walk in the park,” he said in a speech in Atlanta. “It may be tempting to get discouraged, to second-guess the effort and to soft-pedal our message, but in fact I would say this should encourage us to do exactly the opposite.”  

(NARAL Pro-Choice America, of course, bashed in the Bishops. “These next two weeks will be critical,” said NARAL President Nancy Keenan in an email sent out to supporters. “We can’t allow the bishops to mobilize without a challenge…”)

In addition, in May, 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies filed twelve separate lawsuits. They accused Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services of violating the First Amendment and federal law by requiring Catholic organization to “sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, explained why the Archdiocese of Washington had gone to court in an op-ed written for the Washington Post. He explained,

“The lawsuit is about religious freedom. As is the norm with such laws, the HHS mandate includes an exemption for religious organizations. If the religious exemption in this case were reasonable, there would have been no need for this lawsuit — after all, we are indeed ‘religious’ under any sensible definition. But this mandate’s religious exemption is the narrowest ever adopted in federal law. For example, it doesn’t include any organization that serves the general public. So under this mandate, our Catholic hospitals, schools and social service programs, which serve all comers, are not ‘Catholic enough’ to be allowed to follow our Catholic beliefs.”

National Right to Life warned of the dangers when ObamaCare was under consideration in the Senate in 2009. NRLC warned that a provision dealing with “preventive health services” would empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate coverage of any medical service, including abortion, merely by adding the service to an expandable list.

In a second-term, Obama could use precisely the same loosey-goosey statutory authority to mandate that virtually all health plans pay for elective surgical abortion on demand.

“The same twisted logic will be applied,” NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson has explained. “By ordering health plans to cover elective abortion, health plans would save the much higher costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby — and under the Obama scam, if a procedure saves money, then that means that you’re not really paying for it when the government mandates it.

And it cannot be mentioned often enough that this battle was launched by the Obama Administration. Opponents merely want traditional conscience protections restored. Out of his own political calculations, Obama chose this fight while, of course, blaming opponents.

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Categories: ObamaCare