Category archives: Conscience protection

Should Catholics Have a Conscience?

by Krystle Gabele

November 22, 2011

Recently, Hot Air reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesnt understand why the U.S. Catholic bishops are against requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives, including known abortifacients. She belittles Catholics who object, conscientiously, to paying for or performing services that their church teaches are wrong.

Perhaps she should consider the Catholic Catechism, which says that Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. What could be more good than defending life? And what could be more evil than to disregard it, or denigrate those who seek to uphold it.

Even though the former Speaker is Catholic, she seems to have long forgotten that Catholicism is unequivocal in support of the sanctity of human life, from conception onward. This teaching is discussed throughout the Catechism, and there is even a section regarding the usage of abortifacients, and the Catholic Churchs stance against the use.

The Churchs teaching on this issue has a direct bearing on public policy. It is convenient to say, Im personally against abortion, but dont want to use my personal convictions to make laws. This is sad and silly: Our moral convictions inform our every decision, public or private; if one avers that personhood begins at conception, and believes this deeply, it should affect the way one legislates.

But as my colleagues Cathy Ruse and Rob Schwarzwalder have argued in their recent booklet, The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences, medical science and irreducible logic demonstrate that the embryo is a person and, if a person, deserving of legal protection.

As a Catholic, I am disheartened that Mrs. Pelosi would advocate against the sanctity of human life. God created life, and it is our role to protect the born and unborn. In fact, Mrs. Pelosi should be reminded of a passage in Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

As this passage indicates, God is the Author of life. If that is true, then one of governments most fundamental duties is to protect that which He has declared sacred. It is my hope that Mrs. Pelosi will come to recognize this truth.

A Snapshot from the House Health Subcommittee Hearing on Obamacares Contraceptive Mandate

by Family Research Council

November 22, 2011

On Wednesday, November 2, Representative Pitts (R-PA), in his capacity as Chairman of the

Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health, convened a hearing to discuss the controversial HHS interim final rule on womens preventive services which forces all health plans to cover, with no cost-sharing, the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives, including drugs and devices that can destroy life.

Interesting moments from the hearing, Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care? are included below, as well as a few fact checks and a link to the full transcript.

PROBLEMATIC PROCESS:

REP. PITTS: In issuing the rule, HHS acknowledged that it bypassed the normal rulemaking procedures in order to expedite the availability of preventive services to college students beginning the school year in August… I believe that on such a sensitive issue there should have been a formal comment period so that all sides could weigh in on the issue and HHS could benefit from a variety of views.

REP. BURGESS: The decision by Health and Human Services to issue an interim final rule, while that sounds like arcane Washington, what that means is that the transparency and accountability of the normal federal rulemaking process has now been circumvented.

…it didn’t really allow for the proper input and transparency of the normal federal agency process. The Affordable Care Act is a lot of pages of very densely worded instructions to federal agencies…there’s a reason that it does that because it allows the public to comment, and…before the rule is put forward it allows for the people to weigh in on it. But in an interim final rule…this thing can come out with the force of law in a relatively condensed period of time with maybe public input, but maybe it ignores public input.

COST IMPLICATIONS:

REP. BURGESS: We live under the rule of the Congressional Budget Office, and all of us on this — both sides of the dais know, we’re not allowed to score savings; we can only talk about cost…

Can you give us an idea of what kind of the range of costs — let’s just stick with oral contraceptives for right now. I know you’re interested in long-term contraception, but just for oral contraceptives right now, there’s a pretty wide variation of cost, is there not?

HATHAWAY

(Minority Witness OBYGN, Director of OB/GYN Outreach Services for Women and Infant Services Washington Hospital Center)

The brand name contraceptives probably run in the neighborhood of upwards of $50 per month. The generics are probably in the neighborhood of $30, or somewhere in that neighborhood…

REP. BURGESS: …[T]here is a cost differential of about $20 a month for a generic Ortho-Novum 1/35, Necon…and there’s another one called Seasonique that’s, according to research done by my staff, is $1,364 a year, so about $110 a month. So that’s a pretty wide discrepancy, isn’t it?

… the Institute of Medicine and the interim final rule says without regard to cost we have to provide all methods, now, across the board.

CONSCIENCE RIGHTS:

REP. WAXMAN: The question comes down to, what is the scope of the exception that church-provided insurance need not cover family planning? Well, I dont know why that should be even an exception. I disagree with the administration in providing that exception.

STEVENS (Majority Witness MD, MA (Ethics) Chief Executive Officer Christian Medical Association)

Virtually all medical professionals and student members we recently surveyed say its important to personally have the freedom to practice health care in accordance with the dictates of his or her conscience. Over nine out of 10 say they would not prescribe FDA-approved contraceptives that might cause death of a developing embryo…

The potential religious exemption in the conception — contraception mandate, exempting only a nano-sector of religious employers from the guidelines, is meaningless to conscientiously objecting health care professionals, insurers, and patients…The contraceptive mandate rule sweepingly tramples conscience rights, which have provided a foundation for the ethical and professional practice of medicine.

FACT CHECKS:

HATHAWAY: Using contraception is the most effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Fact: Peer reviewed studies out of Sweden[1], the United Kingdom[2] and Spain [3] all agree that increased use of contraceptives coincides with an increase in abortions and sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Additionally, here in the United States, less contraceptive use correlates with fewer abortions. From 1995 to 2002, the rate of contraceptive use decreased from 64 percent to 62 percent [4] and abortion numbers decreased from 1,359,400 to 1,293,000.[5] Also see:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/greater-access-to-contraception-does-not-reduce-abortions.cfm

REPPALLONE:

[B]ased on your clinical experience, do you believe that elimination of out-of-pocket costs for birth control pills and other forms of contraception would increase their use?

HATHAWAY: Most definitely. Most definitely.

Fact:A survey of sexually active women conducted by the Guttmacher Institute shows only that 12 percent report lacking access to contraceptives due to financial or other reasons.[6]

REP. BURGESS: Can you tell us, between Title X, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, how much money is spent on family planning by the federal government every year?

HATHAWAY: I dont know that number.

Fact: Contraceptives are widely available in the U.S. and already are heavily subsidized by the federal government; total public expenditures for contraceptive services were $1.85 billion in 2006. [7] Medicaid family planning costs during that time totaled $1.3 billion[8]. States additionally contributed $241 million for family planning in fiscal year 2006. Also in the same fiscal year, Title X, an additional funding stream for family planning, contributed another $215 million of taxpayer dollars for family planning services. [9] In more recent years, Title X costs have been as high as $317 million annually.[10]

Contraceptives are also covered by most insurance plans; nine out of ten employer-based insurance health plans cover the full range of contraceptives. [11]

READ FULL TRANSCRIPT

Click here for a more in-depth background on the topic see the FRC written testimony.

Click here to read FRC comments to HHS on the interim final rule.

Click here to read the FRC fact sheet.



[1]

Edgardh, K., et al., Adolescent Sexual Health in Sweden, Sexual Transmitted Infections 78 (2002): 352-6, http://sti.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/78/5/352

[2] Sourafel Girma, David Paton. The Impact of Emergency Birth Control on Teen Pregnancy and STIs.Journal of Health Economics, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2010.12.004

[3]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21134508

[4] Contraceptive Use, Facts in Brief, The Alan Guttmacher Institute (March, 2005), http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html. These numbers represent use among all women age 15-44, and thus, because many women in this age group would not be sexually active, the rate of use among sexually active women would be higher.

[5] L.B. Finer and S.K. Henshaw, Estimates of U.S. Abortion Incidence, 2001-2003, The Alan Guttmacher Institute (August 3, 2006) http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/08/03/ab_incidence.pdf

[6]R. Jones, J. Darroch and S.K. Henshaw Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 34 (Nov/Dec 2002): 294-303

[7]A. Sonfield, C. Alrich, and R.B. Gold, Public Funding for Family Planning, Sterilization and Abortion Services, FY 19802006, Occasional Report 38 (Jan 2008): 28-33.

[8] Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States (August 2011): p. 1 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contraceptive_serv.html).

[9] Ibid.

[10]Title II of Division D of The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), 123 STAT 3239.

[11]Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States (June 2010): p. 1 ( http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html).

A Primer on Conscience Protection

by Jared Bridges

March 9, 2009

Conscience protection is in the news again, and not just on this blog.  On our sister blog at FRC Action, FRCA’s newly-minted Senior Vice President Tom McClusky has posted a primer on what these regulations are, and whom they protect:

These conscience protections are important because powerful interests are inclined to force health care workers and others to participate, directly or indirectly, in morally controversial procedures. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others have been denied employment, dismissed, or penalized because of objections to abortion, contraception or the morning-after pill. The same pressure will almost certainly be applied to force conscientious objectors to participate in reproductive technology, eugenic screening, and in euthanasia and assisted suicide, particularly where such things are legal or are tolerated.

Read the rest here…

FRC Submits Comments to HHS on Conscience Protection

by Chris Gacek

October 5, 2008

      On August 26, 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) asked the public for comments about rules it proposed to protect the rights of conscience of health care providers - in particular, to permit them to refuse to assist in, provide, or refer patients for abortions.  These conscience rights were created by three historic federal statutes known more commonly as the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments.

     The Family Research Council and several other groups filed comments on September 25th responding to HHS.  Get a copy of them here.

     Here is a summary of our main points:

  • HHS’s proposed rules (regulations) are needed because many participants in the health care system are violating the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments. Many intended beneficiaries of these landmark civil rights laws - intended to protect health care providers’ right of religious and moral conscience - do not know their rights under the law. HHS regulations are needed to clarify the extent of these statutory protections.
  • HHS should adopt a fertilization-based definition of pregnancy (and thus abortion) because that is consistent with the prevailing medical dictionary definitions, religious thought, and medical science on when life begins: these are, after all, conscience protections, so they should protect the conscience’s of the various health care providers.
  • Even if HHS does not adopt a fertilization-based definition of pregnancy, it should reject the implantation-based definition in HHS’s human-subject regulations for a number of reasons.

 o   For example, non-uterine, ectopic pregnancies demonstrate that uterine implantation cannot define the onset of pregnancy.

  • As a final alternative, HHS should recognize that the reasonable, subjective religious or moral conviction of the individual or institutional health care provider should govern, given the statutory focus on protecting conscience. Religious freedom and conscience in this country plainly reflect the views of the individual or institution, not the views of third parties.
  • Recognizing a right of conscience does not discriminate against women or violate any concepts mandated in Roe v. Wade and its progeny which do not purport to require any particular health care provider to participate in abortions.
  • HHS should enforce the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments in the same manner as it enforces other civil rights statutes, like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
  • HHS’s Title X regulations, which require grant recipients to counsel and refer for abortions, appear to violate the law as set forth in the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments.

 

 

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