I'm a convert to Catholicism who has a high functioning autism spectrum disorder. In this blog, I write about diverse topics, such as separating the truth from the lies, new evangelization, living well with autism and growing closer in relation to Christ. I especially share experiences with contemplative prayer and thoughts about works of mystical Christianity.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Health Care, Freedom and Conscience
I'm writing this blog about something
most people don't care about and some have not even heard of. I ask
that you have an open mind about the perspective I'm about to share.
Most people don't understand the issue and/or they have dismissed it
as unimportant. I hope you will be different.
I am presenting an issue important to
both conservatives and liberals, to Christians, Buddhists and Pagans.
This issue crosses all political and religious lines, because
religious freedom is important to us all. A great many people have
heard that the issue at hand is about birth control and abortion.
It's really not. The issue is about whether a person or organization
should pay for things that strongly go against their conscience.
Atheists out there, how would you feel about having to pay for
Bibles? Orthodox Jews, do you want to be forced to offer pork in your
shops or pay a tax because you don't sell pork? You may say this can
never happen to you. How do you know that once a precedent is set, it
can't happen to you? A regulation under the “Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act” which some call “Obama-care” could open
the door to make this happen. It's called the HHS Mandate.
Economic Ethics drives this issue. The
goal of opposing this mandate is that people very opposed to an
activity shouldn't have to pay for it. Any time a person pays a
premium, co-pay or deductible, they will be partially paying for
birth control and abortifacients and sterilization. Companies and
organizations will be forced to offer this service, even if they
believe it is gravely immoral.
So, most of you may say, “Who cares?
That's dumb anyway.” I was with you, before I understood the issue.
I won't lie. I now believe that life begins at conception and that
using birth control that will prevent that embryo from implanting
flushes away a life that was meant to happen or it wouldn't have been
created. Do you have to agree? No, you don't. Can you believe I am an
absolute loony to believe such a thing? Yes, by all means. Can you
classify me as old-fashioned, too traditional, and a general
stick-in-the-mud, square sort of person? Sure, why not!
I don't care how you view me, but
don't try to take away my rights. The Amish are old fashioned and
many think their ways are kind of nuts, but does the government force
them to buy cars? I have a right to be weird and hokey.
One misunderstanding I've seen
floating around the internet is that people who oppose the HHS
mandate are trying to take away rights to birth control,
abortifacients and sterilization. This could not be further from the
truth. People in America have a right to these services by law.
People who work for an employer who doesn't cover these things are
still free to purchase insurance coverage or services elsewhere. In
addition, birth control is both ubiquitous and free in many clinics
The HHS mandate has rightly been
called a “sleeper issue,” meaning an issue that will be ignored
until it causes Obama to lose the election. Many wrongly believe that
Catholics don't agree with the Church's position and won't oppose the
mandate. Wrong. Even Catholics I know who do use birth control are
nervous about this threat to freedom. I see stats floating around
that over 90% of Catholics use birth control. These stats are wrong
because they are interviewing lapsed and inactive Catholics. The vast
majority of practicing Catholics do not use birth control. Yet,
overall, agree or not, right or wrong, their faith is critical to
most practicing Catholics, who are influenced by their bishops.
And, it's not just us. The list of
groups opposing the HHS mandate is quite long. Evangelical
Protestants, Orthodox Jews and Catholics are opposed. Also some
secularists are opposed on the logical grounds that freedom is
threatened. Where are the Buddhists on this issue? My Tibetan
Buddhist friend told me abortion is against her religion. If the
current government wants support for the healthcare plan, they will
never get it by treating religious groups like dirt. Further, HHS
shows disregard for women by forcing them to purchase birth
control/abortifacieant products against their will, whether they want
it or not. Is this fair?
I'm not sure about the other
organizations, but since I'm Catholic, I know this: The Catholic
Church won't just swallow her position and go on. No, if need be, all
Catholic hospitals, clinics and schools will close. I heard a woman
on a radio call-in show say, “I think the Catholics should stay out
of the hospital business and just handle their worship business.”
The hospital business IS our worship business. In fact, the Catholic
Church innovated the first hospitals shortly following the Council of
Nicea in 325 AD. With the exception of a few scattered examples of
primitive hospitals from 252-325, the first major hospital
undertaking was largely a Byzantine Christian effort, as hospitals
were added onto most churches and cathedrals. Serving the sick and
poor has always been a core priority for the Catholic faith, and
service IS our worship.
Under the “exceptions” of the new
mandate, if a church organization hires only church members and
serves only church members, it may be exempt from paying for birth
control and abortifacients. What church wants to do that? What church
with a conscience CAN do that? Someone comes in with a gunshot wound
and a nurse has to act if they're Catholic or Evangelical before they
can save their life? To use a colloquial expression, we are being
“blown off.” Blown off my the government, blown off by the
general public. No one really cares about us. If this precedent
is set, who will care about you?