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.


Chime in, as you wish!