Why the HHS “Compromise” Doesn’t Work

The announced HHS “compromise” requiring insurance companies, rather than religious institutions, to pay for abortion, contraception, and sterilization, may be a step in the right direction, but it still has huge problems that need addressing:

  • Caspar Isenmann, Betrayal of Christ (15th c.)

    The Church will still be footing the bill: Fr. Andrew’s initial response to this was perfect: “Do insurance companies have magic money they don’t get from clients?” So Catholic institutions will still be paying for abortion, contraception, and sterilization, just slightly less directly.  We went from paying for abortion to paying someone else to pay for abortion.  That’s supposed to assuage our consciences?

  • This makes it illegal to be a pro-life insurance company.  Instead of violating the consciences of pro-life religious organizations, the government will now violate the consciences of pro-life insurance companies.  So if you want to start a health insurance company, but don’t want to fund abortion, sterilization, and contraception, forget it.
  • This still tramples the rights of businesses and individuals.  Plenty of ordinary businesses operate consistent with their religious principles, from Chik-fil-a to Walmart.  A bevy of individuals running smaller businesses fit this description as well.  As announced, it appears that these employers are ineligible for any sort of exemption.
  • Pieter Pietersz,
    The Three Young Men in the Blazing Furnace (1575)

    This still gives the HHS the right to favor certain religious institutions over others.  One of the most troubling (and obviously unconstitutional) aspects of the HHS mandate was actually the exception itself.  As Bishop William Lori explained in a Washington Post editorial, “for religious institutions to claim this exception, they must serve primarily members of their own church, synagogue or mosque, and so choose not to feed or clothe, heal or educate practically anyone of another faith or creed.”  The supposed compromise actually makes this worse: it provides this compromise for certain “non-exempt religious groups,” reinforcing the government’s ability to favor specific religious groups over others.  Specifically, it favors non-evangelizing religious groups over evangelizing ones.

    Today, at Mass, Cardinal Wuerl pointed out the absurdity of forcing Catholic homeless shelters to stop people at the door to ensure they’re Catholic before helping them.  But the USSCB has pointed out a greater absurdity: that even  “Jesus and his apostles would not have been ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they healed and served people of different faiths. The exemption provides no protection at all to sponsors and providers of health plans for the general public, to pro-life people who own businesses, or to individuals with a moral or religious objection to these procedures.

  • This is divide and conquer.  Let’s not be naive.   When even the Administration’s senior officials deny that it’s really a compromise, it’s not a compromise.  Instead, the Obama Administration is seeking to fracture the united opposition to the HHS Mandate from Catholics, Evangelicals, and people who care about religious freedom.  As a divisive tactic, it seems to be working
In addition to all of this, there’s still the fact that the government is now encouraging mortal sin through the power of the State.  And, of course, it’s still claiming that contraception is a preventive service, treating pregnancy as a disease.  As the USCCB notes:

The Institute of Medicine committee that compiled the “preventive services” list for HHS said in its report that unintended pregnancy is “a condition for which safe and effective prevention and treatment” need to be more widely available – setting the stage for mandated coverage of abortion as the “treatment” when prevention fails. Note that women who suffer from infertility, which really is an illness, were ignored in this mandate.

This isn’t an olive branch. It’s a smallpox blanket. It looks like this fight is far from over.

Update: The USCCB, after reviewing the proposed compromise, rejected it for all of the reasons listed above.


  1. So now the institutions are forced to buy a policy that covers insurance, but the insurance company won’t give insureds the full coverage unless they specifically ask for it? Seems like they’re trying to pull the wool over our eyes. And nobody – I mean nobody – pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini, especially this one.

  2. In the announcement today, the POTUS stated, “So last week, I directed the Department of Health and Human Services to speed up the process that had already been envisioned. We weren’t going to spend a year doing this; we’re going to spend a week or two doing this.”

    No year to discuss anymore. This is it, folks. Lord, have mercy.

  3. Fake. Illusion. This administration has shown its true character and it will stoop to lies and distortions to lull us into ignoring them. So, Catholics are now off the hook but someone else (insurance companies and small businesses) is extorted for money? And this is good, how? Baloney. They will do whatever to get re-elected and then once their power is assured, BAM, the hammer will really fall. No – vote them out of office and elect people dedicated to the Constitution and to serving, not lording over, the people.

    Holy Spirit please guide us. Help the Bishops see the danger. Grant us discernment to understand the truth and give us courage to fight evil.

    Bob S. in NC

  4. This issue also shines the light on Obama’s violation of the ‘rules’ by which regulations get implemented.

    No required advance posting, No required comment period.

    Just a simple decree by our Dictator-in-Chief.

    This tyrant and his court must be impeached and removed.

  5. Truly, truly it’s a fake compromise.

    Obama is posturing so he and his minions can say every morning, “We offered a compromise but those mean ol’ Catholic bishops are bitter clingers…”

    The faux-compromise only fools the dupes who want the fig leaf of pretending to have been fooled.

  6. Read IRS Publication 502, we are already paying for it through the deductions being allowed. Birth control and abortion are tax deductible, hence the tax payor has an increased burden, in my mind this is the same as us paying for these services. This mandate only makes a more public statement, and today’s compromise only tries to pull the wool over our eyes, but the Catholic blogosphere has a keen eye on this one.

    We must continue to fight for morality in this country as it has become absent. St Michael, pray for us as we see Satan’s grasp all around us. I hope and pray our Church and the USCCB doesn’t stop on this one. We need to put our foot down and fight for a return to morality in this country. This crosses party lines, ethnic lines, and genders, it is about secular believes to do what you want when you want, and moral doctrine that attempts to preserve the gifts of the Father.

    I worry for my daughters and what signs this type of behavior will illicit in the future. The sexual embrase of man and woman in the holy bonds of marriage is a gift from our Creator. When we remove the morality from sex, we hide the nature of the gift and never realize the power of the gift. We also weaken ourselves further to the temptation of the evil one. I sin enough the way it is, I don’t need anymore temptation.

    It amazes me that Humanae Vitae can be seen as almost a prophetic work in these troubling times. While I prefer a more Conservative Church than what Vatican II brought us, Pope Paul VI did at least bring such a wonderful encyclical about the beauty of our sexuality and what a wonderful gift from God it is, one that our government is trying to squander by calling this “preventative health” and “women’s health”.

    God help us,
    Mary, Mother of God, pray for us,
    St. Joseph pray for us,
    St. Michael pray for us

  7. In fairness to the Obama administration and HHS, we should acknowledge that making exceptions to general rules — however valid the exceptions may be — creates difficulties for the entire movement toward health care reform. It will be difficult for HHS to grant an exception to the Catholic Church without justifying other demands for exceptions, of various kinds for various groups and institutions.

    There is no evidence that the Obama administration is “waging war on religion” or attacking the principle of religious freedom. They are trying to preserve the health care reforms made by the Affordable Care Act. They are right to do so.

    The health care reforms instituted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the whole deserve the support of Catholics and all people of faith. Harvard researchers have estimated that by bringing health insurance within reach of millions of previously uninsured Americans, it will save nearly 45,000 lives a year. That is 15 times the number of people who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    The Catholic Church should keep pressuring the Obama administration for a satisfactory adjustment of the ACA’s insurance requirements, while remembering that the Church, too, has an interest in making the ACA fulfill its promise of bringing health care to ALL Americans.

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