Why can't Catholic employers comply w/ contraception mandate?

I don’t understand the nature of the “religious freedom” issue that supposedly prevents Catholic employers from complying with the contraception mandate in Obamacare.

Under the original contraception mandate, the conflict was clear: Catholic employers would have been forced to directly cover contraception for their employees in clear violation of Catholic teaching.

But then the mandate was changed: Instead of forcing Catholic employers to provide contraception coverage, the government would instead force the health insurance companies to provide the coverage.

Now, if a particular health insurance company were a Catholic business, I would understand the conflict. But the “religious freedom” complaint still seems to be originating with the Catholic employers, as if their paying for the policy, which the government is mandating must cover contraception, constitutes a breach of morals. I don’t understand that position, given that (1) it’s the health insurance company that is providing the coverage, not the employer, and (2) it’s up to the individual covered by the policy whether or not to actually obtain the contraception.

Consider a similar situation: Many covenience stores sell condoms and other forms of contraception. So if a Catholic shops at Walgreens, for example, that Catholic is giving money to a company that provides immoral services. After all, it’s not like the Catholic can say, “I’ll pay $2 for this bag of chips, but you have to promise me that this $2 won’t go toward the condoms in aisle five.” Rather, that money goes into the pool with all the other money earned by the store, and part of that money will go to buy condoms for aisle five, which perhaps some people (perhaps even people employed by a Catholic organization) will purchase. Does this mean Catholics can never shop at any store that offers contraception (or pornography, or anything else a Catholic should frown upon)? If that’s not the case, and Catholics can indeed purchase goods and services from convenience stores that offer immoral products, what’s the difference between this situation and the health insurance situation?

Cardinal Raymond agreed that it was a sin for an employer to comply with the mandate in this intereview

lifenews.com/2012/04/10/catholic-cardinal-a-sin-to-cooperate-with-obama-mandate

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”

Responding to the comments, Giroux says, “This comment by a high ranking Cardinal is the clearest explanation to date on the issue of an employer’s culpability when providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug options in the insurance plans for employees.”

If a black business owner was told he had to pay for Klansmans robes, would it make him feel any better if a garment business did the actual garment distribution and then just charged him for it?

Do people have access to contraceptives and abortifacients when the Catholic company is paying for health insurance? Yes. Do they have access to contraceptives and abortifacients when the person is unemployed? No. Ergo, the Catholic company is paying for contraceptives and abortifacients regardless of the paper trick Obama tries to pull

The direct object of giving the store money is to obtain chips, not to buy condoms, so a Catholic is morally blameless. The support of condoms is only a possible, indirect outcome. This moral question does not relate to the HHS mandate.

But isn’t this still morally permissible under a “double-effect” standard? The Catholic company is required by law to provide health insurance for its employees (and obviously has no problem doing so when contraception isn’t involved). Then the government says that all health insurance must cover contraception now. Wouldn’t the Catholic company continue to purchase health insurance for its employees not because it wants employees to use contraception but because it wants its employees to be covered in case of illness or injury? Isn’t this the same as removing a cancerous uterus with a baby still inside because you’re trying to save the mother, not kill the baby?

Also, Catholics pay taxes, right? Surely government will occasionally use those taxes to do immoral things, like send troops to unjust wars and given benefits to gay marriages. But that doesn’t make paying taxes immoral, does it, since the tax dollars also go to other morally legitimate services?

Except that contraceptive coverage is a definite outcome of buying insurance and not a possible outcome of buying insurance.

Taxes are the governments money to spend as they wish. When we pay taxes, the money goes into a giant pot to be spent with the money everyone else ponies up…we do not get an itemized list of everything that our tax dollars are spent on. Besides, once the government takes it, it is no longer our money…it belongs to the government.

But if no individual actually uses the coverage – obviously a stretch, since Catholics reportedly use artificial birth control at the same rate as non-Catholics (90-ish%?) – then no actual wrong is done. I.e., “coverage” is not the same as action.

Taxes are the governments money to spend as they wish. When we pay taxes, the money goes into a giant pot to be spent with the money everyone else ponies up…Besides, once the government takes it, it is no longer our money…it belongs to the government.

Exactly – that’s basically the same as my example with Walgreens. We give them $2 for a bag of chips, and they use the money to buy condoms to sell to the next person. But how is that any different from the giant pool of money into which health insurance premiums are paid? The moment a company signs up with an insurer, that company gains access to whatever giant pool of money that insurer has built up to pay claims. Just as when I sign up for auto insurance today, it’s not like I can’t make a claim tomorrow for $5000 in repairs because I haven’t put in $5000 yet – my premiums go into a big pool of money from which I’m now entitled to draw from in case of a claim.

Presumably yes. Remember, 26 states already have some form of contraceptive mandate, and some of those have no religious exception (Georgia, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, etc.)

Catholic institutions have been providing employer provided health coverage in those states. Even in states with a religious exception, it has sometimes not been exercised. For example, some institutions opted for non exempted plans because they were cheaper in New York, under then Archbishop Dolan.

The reasoning voiced previously has generally fallen into 3 basic areas. Double Effect, like you describe, it is a requirement of secular law with no intention of support. Proportionate Reasons, as in the reason that institutions have been purchasing plans with contraceptive coverage even when they have a more expensive option not to are doing so because health coverage is already outpacing inflation and incurring higher costs on this principle would adversely effect more pressing and controllable moral demands. Third, the absence of intrinsic evil. Contraceptives themselves are not evil, specific applications are. There are cases where things like oral contraceptives can be used licitly (but they are very narrow and specific situations).

A reasonable point, and one which many respected Catholic theologians have raised as well. The principle even applies to health care. Catholics are already paying for insurance plans for their priests that include viagra and some fertility services for parish staff which we believe are gravely immoral.

Many of us who follow the actions of the hierarchy closely had hoped for more clarity after the last conference of US bishops. Prior to that the messages had been mixed. Statements by a few high profile members of the college, like Cardinal Dolan have been widely covered in the press. But other members have made some lower key public statements and interviews. Some appeared to agree with resisting the mandate, but suggested that ‘religious freedom’ was the weakest theological argument against it. Others questioned the jump to litigation, particularly in advance of a collective conference.

One concern is that the matter has been challenged legally once before at the state level, and the plaintiffs lost. Those bishops appear to be of a mind that negotiation should have been exhausted first.

At least one bishop raised the issue of timing. This is not purely an invention of the Obama administration. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, and 7 republican co-sponsors in the senate proposed a national mandate back in 1997. The response at that time from the USCCB was much more restrained and not framed in the context of “religious freedom”. The concern raised was not that peers in the college were acting incorrectly, but that the timing, in the middle of a national election, could give the perception of partisan activity and undermine the local princes’ authority.

I am Catholic, so I recognize the bishops as “authentic teachers”, so I have an obligation to strive to bring my “religious will and intellect” into communion with them. But you are raising some concerns that even members of the college have, albeit in a very low key way, also raised and only a small subset of Diocese and Catholic institutions have joined in the path of litigation, even after their last collective meeting. So I am not sure, until we have clearer guidance from the Magisterium acting in a collegial way, that you are going to hear many arguments that you find compelling.

The objection is providing the access to the contraception regardless if anyone uses it. Would you be okay with paying for weed to be handed out to all elementary age kids? Or how about something legal like guns. You don’t know if they are going to use them or not. So why should you care if the government says you have to pay for it with your own money?

Exactly – that’s basically the same as my example with Walgreens. We give them $2 for a bag of chips, and they use the money to buy condoms to sell to the next person. But how is that any different from the giant pool of money into which health insurance premiums are paid? The moment a company signs up with an insurer, that company gains access to whatever giant pool of money that insurer has built up to pay claims. Just as when I sign up for auto insurance today, it’s not like I can’t make a claim tomorrow for $5000 in repairs because I haven’t put in $5000 yet – my premiums go into a big pool of money from which I’m now entitled to draw from in case of a claim.

It’s different because every bag of chips doesn’t come with a mandated pack of condoms taped to the side that you have to buy whether you want them or not. You have the choice to buy just the chips.

When you pay taxes you aren’t buying something and you don’t have a choice whether you give them money. There is no contract per se between you and the government. The government doesn’t have to give you anything in return for those funds.

When you buy insurance there is a contract between you and the insurer that says I will give you money for X coverages (chips). These chips do come with a mandated pack of condoms taped to the side. If you want chips, you have to have condoms.To buy such a policy knowing that it comes with said coverage is cooperation.

But providing access to do wrong is not the same as making someone do it. God gave Adam and Eve unrestricted access to the Tree of Knowledge even though He commanded them not to eat from it.

Would you be okay with paying for weed to be handed out to all elementary age kids? Or how about something legal like guns. You don’t know if they are going to use them or not. So why should you care if the government says you have to pay for it with your own money?

Well, if an elementary school said, “If you want your kid to be educated here, you have to pay into this fund that we’re going to spend on books, pens, paper, teachers, rent, and – if your kids ask us for it – weed and/or guns,” then I would have to make a choice about whether or not to educate my kids there, especially given that the statistics show 90-ish% of the kids at that school will ask for weed or guns. But still, they are the ones who must ask for weed or guns, not me. As difficult as it might be to weigh all the costs and benefits of putting my children in a situation where they might have access to both helpful things (e.g., an education) and harmful things (e.g., weed and guns), it would not be immediately wrong for me to put my children in that situation if there were no better choices available.

It’s different because every bag of chips doesn’t come with a mandated pack of condoms taped to the side that you have to buy whether you want them or not.

But there is no mandate for anyone to actually buy contraception in the contraception mandate. If a Catholic company’s health insurance policy covers contraception, but none of the company’s employees choose to buy contraception, there is no actual sin being committed by anyone. And the only way for an actual sin to be committed is for a covered employee, not the Catholic employer, to choose to buy contraception, so the culpability for the sin ultimately lies with the employee, not the employer.

Whether any employee actually uses the contraception coverage (and assuming they would not is naive and unrealistic) is irrelevant. The point is that the government is forcing a Catholic organization (school, university, hospital) or a Catholic business owner to offer something that violates their religious convictions. This is abhorrent. In many instances, religious organizations self-insure, so the religious organization is, indeed, being forced to pay for it.

To me, this is like the government forcing an Orthodox Jewish grocer to sell - or, worse, give away - pork products.

This is part of not-so-subtle efforts to narrowly define religious freedom as “freedom of worship”; it is fine for you or me to go to Mass or attend the church of our choice for worship services, but we are otherwise expected not to “force our religion on others”. In other words, we are on a slippery slope towards confining “freedom of religion” to our church buildings or our homes and keeping it out of the “public square” entirely.

I have read some of the opinions on this topic expressed by those with anti-Catholic and anti-religious sentiments; the vitriol and downright hate towards the Church is chilling.

But when the Catholic employer and the health insurance company are two different entities, this is really not the case. Rather, the government is forcing the Catholic employer to purchase health insurance for its employees, whereas the government is forcing the health insurance company to offer the contraception coverage.

To me, this is like the government forcing an Orthodox Jewish grocer to sell - or, worse, give away - pork products.

Well, I don’t think that’s really an apples-to-apples comparison, but in my opinion the federal government shouldn’t be telling insurance companies what and what not to cover either – not on account of “religious freedom,” though, but on account of economic freedom. The government should have a good reason to butt into the economic choices of an insurance company, and an idealistic notion that all women should be on free contraception is not it.

In many instances, religious organizations self-insure, so the religious organization is, indeed, being forced to pay for it.

I can see your point here because the Catholic employer and the health insurance company are in this case one and the same. And likewise, if there were a Catholic health insurance company, I could definitely see a violation of religious freedom there. It’s only when you have a decided split between the two entities – one paying money into a pool, and the other using the money in the pool in certain ways – that I think the “religious freedom” issue really doesn’t arise.

The government isn’t God.

Well, if an elementary school said, “If you want your kid to be educated here, you have to pay into this fund that we’re going to spend on books, pens, paper, teachers, rent, and – if your kids ask us for it – weed and/or guns,” then I would have to make a choice about whether or not to educate my kids there, especially given that the statistics show 90-ish% of the kids at that school will ask for weed or guns. But still, they are the ones who must ask for weed or guns, not me. As difficult as it might be to weigh all the costs and benefits of putting my children in a situation where they might have access to both helpful things (e.g., an education) and harmful things (e.g., weed and guns), it would not be immediately wrong for me to put my children in that situation if there were no better choices available.

You’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter where you send your kids to school, you have to pay for it to be provided to every child. And the school is going to encourage them to use it because of all of the beneficial properties. At what point would you say enough? Would you be okay with providing crack to kids? Or how about a death drug so they can commit suicide whenever their little hearts desire. The government would save tons of money on education and welfare.

But there is no mandate for anyone to actually buy contraception in the contraception mandate. If a Catholic company’s health insurance policy covers contraception, but none of the company’s employees choose to buy contraception, there is no actual sin being committed by anyone. And the only way for an actual sin to be committed is for a covered employee, not the Catholic employer, to choose to buy contraception, so the culpability for the sin ultimately lies with the employee, not the employer.

Granted, but failing to restrain someone from doing evil isn’t the same as doing evil. And remember, contraception itself has legitimate medical purposes, so it’s not like we’re talking about Catholic employers’ providing something intrinsically evil to employees. Even weed and guns aren’t intrinsically evil – it depends on what they are used for, right? Same with contraception. My understanding is that some women have a perfectly legitimate need of contraception to alleviate certain medical conditions. So if the employer isn’t going to – and it really shouldn’t – get between a woman and her doctor and scrutinize the reason the doctor prescribes contraception for her, then it shouldn’t have a problem with authorizing the insurance companies to pay for contraception if prescribed. Rather, the employer should simply make it known to its employees, “This is what we expect from you where contraception is concerned, and if you violate this, we’ll terminate your employment with us.”

I don’t see the conflict either. No matter what the HHS does, some people just don’t want this benefit available. It’s the same as paying taxes, a portion of which helps pay for ABCs. You don’t see people refusing to pay their taxes because a portion of it goes to pay for ABCs.

No, it’s not. At all. I’ve always had contraceptive coverage and I’ve never used that benefit at all. Making something available doesn’t mean everyone will use it.

Covering medically necessary uses is not the issue. Cooperation with evil is.

No one is trying to restrain anyone from doing evil. We don’t want to be commandered to participate in evil, which is what the government is requiring us to do.

It’s nice of you to decide for others what their beliefs should be. Have you thought of working for the government? :stuck_out_tongue:

Ummm…you might want to re-read what I wrote. I didn’t say anything about using the coverage, only that you have buy the coverage.

Most people have to pay for a portion of their insurance coverage.

Are you really contending that then Archbishop Dolan (who oversaw Church institutions that did not take advantage of a religious exception in New York state law) and other members of the college whose diocese are in the states like Iowa, Georgio, Virginia, and Washington, that already mandate coverage with no religious exceptions are/were engaged in a non-remote cooperation with evil?

Or are you arguing that something has changed to make remote cooperation no longer possible?

The point of standardizing coverage was to permit the creation of exchanges so free market pressures could help contain costs in medical care. The USCCB, CHA, and numerous other Catholic Religious orders have agreed with this in principle, at least as a positive first step, even though there is contention over this specific policy.

More importantly, starting with the 1963 Encyclical “Peace on Earth”, Pope John XXIII identified health care as a basic human right that flows from the dignity and sanctity of human life.

vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem_en.html

This has been reiterated in stronger and stronger teams by every Vicar of Christ since. Blessed John Paul even created a pontifical council 27 years ago to focus on it. And Pope Benedict XVI called a Vatican Summit on Health Care in 2010 to affirm the Church’s belief that justice requires universal health care for all:

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004736.htm

The USCCB has written at least 3 pastoral letters on this subject, promoting these teachings to US Catholics (1981, 1983, and 1991), and the USCB reaffirmed and cited these pastoral documents when it wrote to the US Congress with regards to health care reform in 2010.

So for 30 years Rome and the local princes have advocated a universal health care system in the US, somewhat modelled after Medicare, which would be government standardized coverage.

But you seem to have disdain for the very idea. Are you in dissent with the Magisterium on this?

If so, that is your right. No Catholic can disobey the certainty of his or her moral conscience (CCC 1790). But if so, I am a bit confused by the arguments presented so far. That is, what is the criteria by which Church teaching is being accepted and rejected and why would it be selectively reflected in secular law?

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