Aug 11, 2013

The Disputed Question Regarding Compliance with the HHS Mandate

["You are the Salt of the earth...You are the Light of the World."]*

Whether or not we, as Catholics, "cannot, will not comply" with the HHS-mandated cooperation in abortion and sterilization? [—Is that a loaded question, or what?]*

1.  It seems that the principle of "double-effect" can be invoked in order to justify compliance with the HHS Mandate.

ON THE CONTRARY: The principle of double-effect can only apply to a single act, which must be good in itself. It cannot be applied to two separate acts, one of which is good and the other of which is bad, because an objectively evil act cannot be justified (We cannot choose to do something evil so that something good might come from it). Caring for the health of a person is a good act, and we must do this. But choosing a means to pay for healthcare services is a different act, and must be regarded as a separate act. Consider that the dignity of the human person demands that the person be cared for regardless of their own ability to pay.

Furthermore: The choice to buy an insurance product (which is designed to use the collected funds to make payments for healthcare services on behalf of those who have bought the product) is, in a sense, a choice to help others to pay for the healthcare services that they receive.

One problem: Abortion, contraception, and sterilization are not healthcare services. They are objectively unhealthy, contrary to the natural functioning of the body and to the very lives, health, or eternal salvation of each person involved in these acts. The choice to buy an insurance product that covers abortion, contraception or sterilization is a choice to help other people pay for these "services" and it is a choice to cooperate in these objectively evil acts. We have, not only the right, but the duty to refuse to cooperate. Consider that our freedom depends entirely on our moral adherence to the truth.

2.  It seems that the concept of "duress" can be invoked in order to justify compliance with the HHS Mandate.

ON THE CONTRARY: The circumstances of duress can indeed lessen moral culpability, but they cannot make an evil act good. Even when people seem to be "forced" to act against their conscience, such a situation is a very great evil, and in a certain sense, it is even "worse than killing them." (YOUCAT, 296) It follows that it would be better to die a martyr than to comply with the HHS mandate, even under "duress." Consider that the early Christians refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols, even to the point of martyrdom—Nor would they agree to burn a single grain of incense to an image of the emperor as if he were God.

3.  It still seems that we are not responsible for the abortions funded by our insurance product.

ON THE CONTRARY: suppose that there is a girl considering abortion, who is covered by an insurance product which we have bought. If she ultimately makes her decision based on whether or not the abortion would be covered by the insurance, and if she therefore chooses to have an abortion, then the insurance product would be "necessary" with regard to the procurement of the abortion, and we [would all be, as a whole, responsible for that abortion, in a "network of complicity" (please see Evangelium vitae, 58-59). Furthermore, those of us]* who knowingly chose this insurance product that pays for abortions, would be formally cooperating in that abortion. This is so serious that we would be automatically excommunicated [if we are aware of this specific penalty]*, so as to bring us, without delay, to repentance, and to the peace of reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession. (please see Evangelium Vitae, 62)

4.  It seems that we have no other options than to buy insurance that violates our conscience.

ON THE CONTRARY: I, personally, was not happy with my insurance before the Affordable Care Act was signed into Law. In fact, it [literally]* made me sick to find out that my plan was paying for abortion and contraception. But when I sat down to read the new law, I discovered that there are alternatives to health insurance called "health sharing ministries," and that members of those ministries will be exempt from the individual insurance mandate. Thanks to this provision in the law, I, as a Catholic and as an individual, have been able to avoid cooperating in what I clearly understand to be a grave evil. Please promote this option to other Catholics and people of good will who object to the insurance mandate on grounds of conscience, and it would go a long way to restoring peace in our nation.

Furthermore: If we, as a nation governed by law, can show respect for the conscience rights of individuals, it wouldn't seem to be too difficult to make provisions that respect the conscience rights of various groups of people as well. With groups of people, there is more than just immoral cooperation to consider. These groups, whether they be religious organizations or family-run businesses, have the right (and the duty) to prevent harmful things from falling into the hands of their children, and this duty is so profound and such an intrinsic aspect of society that society itself cannot survive without it.

In Conclusion:

Some things will never be in our control (or under the control of the government, for that matter). One of those things is the conscience of the people, which is free insofar as it is informed by the Truth, which is not something that we can create on our own, but something which we receive from God and through the natural order of Creation. Let us then be willing, even to the point of laying down our lives, to defend this authentic freedom for every human being, which is the crown of glory given to us by God.

PLEASE, SAY SOMETHING:  A good place to engage in the nation-wide dialogue about this question is on the USCCB Facebook Event Page which was launched for the Fortnight for Freedom. You could also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.