More HHS Mandate Considerations

Just when you thought that maybe we could forget all about it!

…Cathleen Kaveny of Commonweal has written an illuminating essay, which I commend to your reading.

Points she has made well:

1. She distinguishes: On the one hand, the Church’s teaching, as an expert analyst of human morality, that any sexual act is unchaste and wrong if it is intentionally rendered fruitless by human intervention. This applies in every case–Catholic, non-Catholic, Jew, Quaker, Presbyterian. No one will ever be able to stand before God and defend him- or herself for turning sex into an act of mutual masturbation.

cathleen-kavenyOn the other hand: the Church Herself does not propose that we should live under ecclesiastical secular rule.

We live in a republican democracy. The Church made Her case that the healthcare law should not include artificial contraception. Our duly elected leaders chose otherwise (having received, as Kaveny points out, the counsel of supposed experts–in other words, the government did, in fact, do its due dilligence). Result: they made a law that includes artificial contraception.

[Now, Kaveny does ignore one big elephant in the room here, namely that hormone contraceptives cause early abortions–or at least appear to do so with some frequency. Which means that, from a moral point-of-view, the issue at hand must be considered to include not just immoral sex acts, but also embryo-icide, which is a far graver moral evil. But let’s let that pass for now…]

2. She–to my mind, decisively–points out that “clarion calls for religious freedom” do not serve any real purpose in this context. The whole business must be analyzed in minute detail in order to arrive at a just conclusion.

In the first part of her essay (the link above is to Part II), she points out–again, quite decisively–that any claim by our Church to the effect that co-operating with the mandate is immoral cannot withstand scrutiny. Because we have already co-operated with such mandates in numerous states. Money in the coffers of Catholic institutions already winds up in other coffers that pay for artificial contraceptives, and it happens because of state and local laws that govern what healthcare coverage must include.

Now, perhaps this means that the moment has arrived for a careful scholar to outline precisely the moral problem with this phenomenon (of money moving in this way). I will be glad to read it. I haven’t yet come across it. And I have looked.

To my mind, the fact of the matter is: money moving in this way does not necessarily implicate anyone morally. It implicates only those who intentionally use artificial contraceptives, and those who wrongly counsel them to do so and facilitate their doing so.

But obeying a law about where I am required to send money to cover my employee’s government-mandated health services does not implicate me in any immoral use of that money later on.

So, in fact, there really is no moral problem for the institutions, businesses, employers, etc. So, in fact, there is no real religious freedom claim to be made.

IMHO.

Chime in, as you wish!

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3 thoughts on “More HHS Mandate Considerations

  1. As written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church…the citizen is obligated in conscience NOT to follow the directives of civil authority when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. REFUSING OBEDIENCE to civil authorities, when their DEMANDS are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds it’s JUSTIFICATION in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. “We MUST obey God rather than men”:

    When citizens are under the OPPRESSION of a public authority which OVERSTEPS its competence, they should not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to DEFEND their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the ABUSE of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.

  2. Would you argue that even the initial, narrow exemption to the HHS mandate is unnecesary, since you maintain that there are no religious liberty concerns at stake? Would this be true no matter what medical procedure was part of the mandate?

    I eagerly await hearing more about your “tragic hipster” phase, by the way . . .

  3. With so much at stake, is it wrong for the church to employ a strategic argument that may have greater resonance? If the average pew dweller bristles at the concept of big government dictating how to run agencies of the church; then I say Amen! Give it everything we’ve got to get this mandate reserved. A win on a technicality is no less a win.

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