I N T E N T I O N S
Well it seems the Affordable Care Act has solved one of the great dilemmas of our age: what to get mom for Mothers Day. Who knew it was this easy to make mom happy? Just give her free birth control and a mushy Mothers Day card and you're the favorite child. Maybe then a gift certificate for an abortion for her birthday?
Somehow, at least to me Mothers Day and birth control don't seem to go hand in hand. Is the White House twitter suggesting we should actually be celebrating Non-Mothers Day?
Actually this is a good opportunity to say a few things about the requirement that employers provide cost-free birth control, sterilization, and the "morning after" pill to their women employees, including employers who conscientiously object to this policy. The Church's opposition to this policy is no secret. Yet it makes a lot of Catholics very uncomfortable to have the Church wade so deeply into a political issue. But what we need to remember is that this is not a fight we picked. We are simply asking that our government respect the long held position to respect the conscience of every American. Conscientious objection is a long respected precedent in our jurisprudence and one that government can easily accommodate. What we are asking for is a return to the policy of just a few years ago that was considered unremarkable and no one was demanding employers give their employees free birth control.
At this point the new policy is tangled up in the Courts. Some Courts have put the lawsuits on hold until the policy actually is in force in a few months. Others have ruled it to be constitutional; many more have ruled that it violates the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It looks like the issue may wind up before the Supremes. And you never know how they're gonna sing.
Over the next few months the issue will more and more be front and center. It is important to remember that the issue of Religious Liberty is paramount in this debate. Will religious institutions and the religious beliefs of individuals still be able to be freely held and practiced or will they be supplanted by government policy? Our position is that religious freedom needs to stay intact and government should not place restrictions on the sincere practice of religion. Others are saying that a woman's right to reproductive choices including free birth control must come before freedom of religion and freedom of speech. That's the bigger picture we need to keep focused on and not be distracted by thinking this is simply about health care, insurance or even birth control.
The above tweet got me thinking what will the White House tweet on Fathers Day? Maybe this:
Thanks to the #ACA, 1 in 3 men of all ages no longer have to fork out money for birth control—and now have freedom from reproduction--it's our gift to you men. #HappyFathersDay
Love, Fr. John B.
>>> Want to re-read one of Fr. John's past letters?