The Supreme Court has ruled that most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare, is constitutional, with the individual mandate actually surviving as a tax.
Apparently, this decision means that the federal government can indeed force religious and other employers to cover contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures for their employees. This mandate is scheduled to go into effect on August 1st.
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement that indicates that, though the bishops have been supportive of health care reform in the United States in general, they “ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.” The bishops state:
First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions andfor plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federalpolicy.The risk we identified in this area has already materialized,particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health andHuman Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would havecovered abortion.
Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essentialconscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context.Wehave provided extensive analyses of ACA’s defects with respect to bothabortion and conscience.The lack of statutory conscience protectionsapplicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramaticfashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religiousand other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, includingabortifacient drugs.
Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their familiesfairly.ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase healthcoverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they usetheir own money. This undermines the Act’s stated goal of promotingaccess to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially forthose most in need.
The bishops conclude, “The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above. We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.”
Evil works at breaking down the trust between people. Honesty is a moral quality without which a people cannot live. When we can no longer trust that our public deliberations are meaningful, that our representatives mean what they say, many of us will be led to drop out.
We cannot afford to let that happen. What does that mean for the HHS mandate? It means we must continue to fight. I had hoped the Supreme Court would have made our task much easier by striking down the individual mandate. It didn’t. We must, as faithful citizens, insist that our political representatives work to protect our most fundamental liberty. I had hoped this would be a short term battle. It no longer looks as though that’s possible.
Over 40 U.S. Catholic dioceses and other organizations have filed twelve different lawsuits in federal courts around the country, charging the Obama administration with violation of the Church’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion.