Thursday, February 02, 2012

Dear Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)

To be brief, I am disturbed at the recent DHHS decision to require all health insurance plans to provide for unquestioned contraceptive benefits at no cost to the person.  It is disingenuous at best to allow (or mandate) such "free" coverage when we both know there is no such thing as "free" when it comes to health care or any other product or service.  There is always an associated cost.  If this cost is not addressed by one, it is imposed upon another.  I fail to see how "elements of this bill will drive down costs for families, small businesses, and government" (your words to me 1/7/2010 via e-mail).  The individual who receives "free" contraceptives will certainly see an immediate savings, but that "cost" will not go away and will have to be paid by other "families, small businesses, and government" you claim this legislation was designed to protect.  It is Economics 101.

I am especially concerned about this government imposition when your support for Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act was predicated on your stated belief that this legislation will "protect and expand an individual's choice of doctors and insurance plans without any government interference" (emphasis mine) as you stated.  To me, Senator Pryor, "any" government inference means "any and all" government interference.  The government is now clearly "interfering" in and infringing upon the very religious liberty expressly protected in our Constitution by making a law that forces a significant Christian population (not only Roman Catholics!) to violate its doctrines and collective conscience!  Whatever happened to the principles of a republic over a pure democracy that would protect the few from the tyranny of the many?

I hope you will give Sen. Mark Rubio's recently filed bill that seeks to address this religious-liberty violation its due consideration and not dismiss his (or my own) concern simply because we do not share your political affiliation or unwavering support for this president.  Even if you do not agree with or embrace Roman Catholic doctrine (as I suspect you do not), you must surely agree that this issue strikes at the heart of something much more fundamental, much more American, than mere religious doctrine.  I certainly do, and so do even Catholics who do not wholly agree with the Church's teaching on birth control.

Please do not allow this legislation or this administration to run away with mandates that are, at best, constitutionally suspect.  I expect that this instance is only the first of many more "surprises" we will encounter along the way if something is not done soon.  I am asking for your due consideration, and I await your considered reply.

Michael P. Daniel


cherie b said...

Mike, this is a question for clarification only: I kind of lost your line of reasoning when it comes to violating Catholic and other Christian doctrine. How does the bill do that? Does it require people to use contraceptives? I'm just trying to understand...

Michael said...

The mandate from DHHS requires hospitals and universities, as well as all employers, to provide the coverage for contraceptives. So because the individual will not have to make a co-pay or meet otherwise required deductibles, someone else will be required to pay. Essentially, then, it requires funding to cover the cost that the individual will avoid; funding that will come from the pockets of those who stand opposed to artificial birth control.

C.E. Bulice said...

Catholic doctrine states: In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods. Few realize that up until 1930, all Protestant denominations agreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning contraception as sinful (
Therefore, if a catholic hospital is required to hand out condoms or other birth control devices, then it is violating its doctrine and has had its right to free practice of religion violated.

Michael said...

Pope Paul was a man ahead of his time. It is almost chilling to recognize that some of the fear he expressed for what may come is now coming to fruition!

cherie b said...

Hi Mike,
No need to publish this. But since you didn't publish my last response I got to thinking maybe you found it offensive in some way. Perhaps you thought I was being snarky, which wasn't my intent.

Clayton's post about the Humana Vitae is kind of incomplete. After years of consideration, research, etc., the pope decided to ignore the majority report of his own huge committee (each time they brought a report he didn't like, he would increase the numbers on the committee, and they kept bringing back a report he didn't like).

The bottom line is that this ruling has been a serious bone of contention throughout the world for decades. It is ignored by 98% of Catholic women in this country and is seen, by most of the Catholic bishops in Africa as a direct contributor to the AIDS epidemic there. There is little agreement about this issue within the church itself. It is not an uncontested ruling.

So...on the other side of the could be said that the bureacracy of the Catholic church itself is violating the separation of church and state by pressuring the US government to take sides in their own political debate? By granting them exceptions in their considerable corporate presence, our government helps to enforce their religious doctrine.

We see no noisy objection to laws regarding capital punishment and war, even though both of these are contrary to official Catholic doctrine. And my opinion is that this bill does not require the use of contraceptives by anyone if it violates their religious belief. It does say that an American corporation (church based or otherwise) which enjoys the benefits of being an American corporation (and hospitals AND schools are corporations) must respect the rights of those of their employees whose religious beliefs in regard to contraception vary from their own.

Turn it around. If there were a church group that prohibited procreation and required all forms of preventing and ending of conception, would we allow their corporations to force their employees to end/prevent preganancies? Even if it was their devout belief that child birth was a sin?

There is an interpretation of separation of church and state does not mean the state will support any church doctrine but will, instead, stay out of church doctrine entirely.

Okay. Now I have said my piece. I appreciate your blog. And, again, no need to post this one, either. :)

Michael said...

Cherie, I hope you can see that your comments have been published as soon as I've gotten the notification. I will not stifle a conflicting opinion; only nasty ones and/or anonymous ones.

The one thing I see that pertains to the Church and those who protest the Church's teachings is that which most Christians fail to understand, in my opinion: the Church is not called to answer to the people. The Church is required to speak on behalf of the Lord. I believe Pope Paul was just following his conscience rather than allowing himself to be influenced by those whose intentions were more political and social. It makes me think of the elders who came to Ezekiel (14). By the way it is written, it seems they had come to perhaps ask Ezekiel to tone down his prophecies, but Ezekiel was warned by the Lord to pay attention to the Lord alone! This, to me, is the mandate of the Church.

I don't disagree with your assessment of the blatant hypocrisy that exists in any human institution, including the Church. However, this is not about physically preventing women from using contraceptives or undergoing sterilization; it is about refusing to be an "enabler". And it is consistent with other "life" and "war" doctrines that have come from Rome; it just is that the media will cover what it will cover.