Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Accommodation and Leo Getz

Big stuff going down over the last week or so on the HHS mandate front. You've had Obama's campaign director basically tell Catholics to shut up. The Business Insider has run an article calling on the masses to admit the Church has been right about birth control the whole time. Ed Peters has called for an invocation of Canon 915 against Nancy Pelosi. The count of bishops condemning the president's actions went to 171.

Now, the controversy gets to start all over. As you've probably already heard, the president has offered an "accommodation" on the mandate to religious employers. Note the importance of that word. It's an "accommodation," not a compromise. A compromise would suggest either (A) giving up something of substance, (B) allowing the opposition to gain measurable ground, or (C) the administration was somehow wrong previously. Instead, there is merely an "accommodation," in which we can rejoice that our rulers have decided to scatter some largesse to the mere rabble.

What is the accommodation? I'm having a hard time figuring that out. Looking at the terms as they've been explained thus far, here's what I'm getting. From looking at the Washington Times and the new White House fact sheet, if a woman is employed by, say, a Catholic hospital, she'll be contacted by the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier will let her know that her plan covers sterilizing herself, killing babies, and so forth. The plan will continue to pay for these things, though allegedly without having the employer to pay for it as part of the plan.

The president is obviously taking his political guidance from Katherine Schori. Nobody else comes to mind who thinks Catholics are this stupid. The insurance company is just going to provide this additional benefit for free? Really? Let's be realists and just admit that what's going to happen is that they jack up the Catholic employers insurance rates so that they will have to pay for this anyway.

What you have here is Obama forcing the insurance company to play the role of Leo Getz from Lethal Weapon II. Remember that guy? He created an innovative system for laundering drug money, only to be later targeted for murder by his bosses. Let's take a look at the Getzian process proposed by Obama to "help" make the mandate more palatable to Church leaders.

The Catholic employer pays the insurance premium. The cash works it's way through the bowels of the insurance company. Once the time comes to chemically murder a child, the money pops out again into the hands of the pharmacist all laundered and sparkly clean. This way, the Church can say it was never involved with paying for the drugs or what have you. Except that it was. It paid the premium. It offered the policy. It's all the same thing, and all the semantic shell games and accounting wizardry in the world will change that. Consider that Planned Parenthood and the "Catholic" Health Association are in agreement that this is a good idea. That should tell you something, since one is a group of genocidal psychos and the other is a hodge-podge of heretics and schismatics. Nobody is really fooled by this. Even them.

You've already got people coming out of the woodwork to condemn or mock this attempt by the administration to throw a sop to the Church, whilst simultaneously working for Her destruction. Most importantly, the bishops aren't giving in. Their latest response tells the tale:

First, he has decided to retain HHS's nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:

It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer's policy, not as a separate rider.

Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

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.

Since Fr. Jenkins made another poor effort in representing ND, I'll offer this letter as an alternative. It's probably the best piece I've seen in response to the president's newest slap in the face.

To conclude, let me say that this is entirely within the bounds of our prediction that the president will not be backing down here. He's offered a turd as an olive branch. Any real backtracking and the aforementioned psychos will start to turn on him. The folks at Susan G. Komen can tell you all about that. The question will be what course of action he takes to press forward.

Keep praying for your bishops.

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