Thursday, March 1, 2012

O Tempora, O Morons

In case you haven't heard, the Senate has decided that the rights of women like the Georgetown law students to receive free contraception so they can engage in Catholic-subsidized fornication roughly 2.74 times a day while they're allegedly studying law outweighs the rights of Catholics to tell them that they're immoral idiots who should be paying for their own damned (literally) recreational drugs:
A GOP-led attempt to roll back new rules requiring insurance companies to provide free contraceptive care was dismissed by the Senate -- a rejection of a Republican pivot toward conservative social issues and a victory for President Obama's healthcare law.

The 51-48 vote to table the Republican measure showed dissent among the GOP, as several Republican senators said the legislation was too broad for their support.

Republicans say the new Obama administration policy is an affront to religious freedom and an example of the administration's regulatory overreach. The U.S. Catholic bishops oppose the rule.

"The reason that this amendment is being debated right now is that the administration issued an order that's just unprecedented," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the bill's chief sponsor.
Senate to the Church: The most important freedom American women have is the right to get laid without having to buy diapers in nine months. So, you will pay for their lifestyle choices, or you will quit teaching, healing, and helping the poor and the oppressed, and retreat to the doors of the parish church.

Church (via Cardinal George) back to the Senate: be careful what you wish for:

This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.

So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

I vote for option 4, and further think that all the schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations' buildings should be rededicated as Eucharistic Adoration Chapels and the like (staffed only by volunteers), so that no secular agency can have the easy road of paying a handful of dollars for the prayers, tears, blood and sweat of our ancestors who built up these institutions.

Of course, I'm really in favor of option 5, which is when the morons in the United States Government realize that they're not going to win this religious liberty battle and that it's pretty pointless to be waging war with people of faith over forcing them to pay for someone else's lifestyle/recreational drugs. But times like ours produce morons in government (and in law schools, and in other places, too) after all.


Alisha De Freitas said...

I'm scared of option four. I spent ten days in December at a Catholic hospital receiving treatment for my autoimmune disorder. I could've been miserable. I should've been miserable, being away from my baby and dealing with a tube in my neck into my chest. But I wasn't. Because the staff were amazing. My doctor there, a Catholic, prayed for me every morning and brought me devotional books. One of The nuns who work there came to cheer me up dressed as Saint Nicholas on his feast day. Even having a crucifix hanging on the wall across from me was a source of strength.

So I hope and pray option four doesn't come to pass.

Erin Manning said...

Oh, me too, Alisha. That's why I vote for option 5. But that's also what's so galling about this: that the Dept. of HHS can look at your experience and say, "Oh, there's nothing religious going on there. It's just a hospital, no different from any secular one..."

Alisha De Freitas said...

I've never had such an experience at any medical facility. And many of the people who are patients there are very poor. Very. Or immigrants. I have insurance, thank God, but many don't. But none are turned away. What about them?

If for some reason, I don't move from my current city, k and I will most likely send Z to Catholic schools. They provide some of the best education, bar none. If they close, again, what??? I'll homeschool her before I let her go to some of these schools. Seriously.

Im becoming very disheartened by all this. Especially since I know plenty of people who actually need insurance to cover things, like their medication to control diabetes or high blood pressure, but the copy's force them into real hardships. No one is speaking up for them. No public outcry. Nothing. It's ridiculous.

JP Stone said...

while this is not the basis of my opposition i have to say a huge part of what i find objectionable about modern liberalism is the continual use of euphemism. it's impossible to be totally objective saying this but while there are obviously examples across the political spectrum it seems extremely common on the Left.

reproductive rights, marriage equality, women's health, social justice (i realize this one isn't always used in a politically leftist way and don't want to sound like Glenn Beck implying the Catholic Church is crypto-progressive, but still, regardless of intent i can't hear it without assuming) -- all of these are used to obfuscate what's actually being discussed, because liberals know that plenty of people (old fogies all of 'em) have instinctive objections when they're talked about in plain language.

Anonymous said...

Erin: At first I was outraged too by Ms. Fluke's demand for birth control coverage from her Georgetown-sponsered health insurance plan. But a commentator at Rod Dreher's blog pointed out that it's the student that pays the full freight! Georgetown pays nothing, so, in fact, Georgetown is not subsidizing Ms. Fluke's apparently active sex-life. If birth-control coverage was included in the plan, then the premiums would be higher.

My question also would be this: how about Ms. Fluke's cheapskate boyfriend(s)? Maybe they could buy condoms? I have no idea what that would cost, but I would think it much less than $3,000 over a three year period.

And, finally, as a registered and pro-life Democrat, I am very disappointed to see the President inject himself into this situation!


JP Stone said...

it's sort of pointless to align yourself with the Democratic Party if you take the pro-life issue seriously.

i don't mean this to say that Republicans are infallible, that they never exploit the issue for electoral gain like all politicians, or to question your sincerity. it's just that, the old broad Democratic coalition that included orthodox Catholics no longer exists. they will never agree to even minor restrictions on it because they see it as a fundamental right, a core tenet of feminism, and the few national pro-life Democratic politicians that exist are symbolic tokens, of the Mario Cuomo "personally opposed, but who am i to judge?" hip-Catholic variety.

i'm kind of monomaniacal on this point...i don't think people have to love the GOP, but for all his blunders we have two conservative justices on the Court thanks to Bush, and without the Court narrowing or overturning Roe there is not a whole lot the GOP about something forcibly removed from the legislative process. and with all the people who say how impossible Roe is to overturn, it almost was in 1992. i don't view this as one issue out of many so it's pretty much a dealbreaker for me ever voting for a Democrat.

bill bannon said...

Option 4 should happen with our colleges but advanced theology should be then mandatory in a parish class for their age group. Since the Newman Society commissioned study of several years back said that 50% of Catholic college girls and 41% of same males were having pre marital sex, our colleges are not candles in a dark world....they are not leavening the world as a whole witness even though the other 50% of Catholic girls therein are. So as corporate entities, they are not beacons anyway. They are a mix of Christians and MTV valued young people. Count the hours the
young have watched MTV per week versus the hours spent by them attentive to Christ in any form. There ya go.

bill bannon said...

Option 4 should happen with our colleges but advanced theology should be then mandatory in a parish class for their age group. Since the Newman Society commissioned study of several years back said that 50% of Catholic college girls and 41% of same males were having pre marital sex, our colleges are not candles in a dark world....they are not leavening the world as a whole witness even though the other 50% of Catholic girls therein are. So as corporate entities, they are not beacons anyway. They are a mix of Christians and MTV valued young people. Count the hours the
young have watched MTV per week versus the hours spent by them attentive to Christ in any form. There ya go.

The Sicilian Woman said...

Of course Obama would inject himself into this situation. He supports women (/scarasm) and anything that they want to do, including having all the sex-without-consequences (even though there are always consequences, sooner or later) they and their partners want, and including having the Church pay for it.

This was a golden campaign opportunity for him, and he took full advantage of it.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but I have to ask... did Blogger eat my comment AGAIN?

Erin Manning said...

I just checked, Siarlys--I don't see any comments of yours being held in the spam or moderation folders. Sorry! I know how frustrating this is.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Oh well, the last missing comment turned up. As you might expect, none of options 1-5 made sense to me. In my seldom humble opinion, the Catholic institutions you are talking about have already secularized themselves.

Catholic orders didn't open hospitals in order to run a lucrative medical care delivery business. I get that. I even respect it. This is part of the mission of service to humanity and witness to Christ.

But these days, the order that runs the hospital might contribute a few administrators. The rest of the order is not generally structured around hands on service in the wards. They hire the doctors, the nurses, the nursing assistants, the janitors, the data entry clerks... Once upon a time, the members of the order did it all. That WAS their service to God and to the patients.

No doubt they still provide charity care, but its not because a patient's tale of woe brings tears to a sister's eyes and she makes a spontaneous decision. It's because the application went through the same standardized, computerized process that is used at public hospitals.

These hospitals don't take patients, no questions asked, then say "Pay us what you can, when you can." They bill the patient, the patient's insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, and anyone else they can bill, they take various kinds of government funding. Some years back, as medical care delivery was transitioning from mostly non-profit to mostly for profit, there was one Mother Superior who was known for the slogan "Mission plus Margin." I don't doubt that mission is still a consideration, but its mostly margin these days.

Oh, and don't forget the other layer of strictly business bureaucracy that joins these once-independent, once-local institutions into big competitive chains like Wheaton Franciscan. (I don't approve of the secular chains like Aurora either).

So, in so many ways, its mostly business, not mostly mission. Maybe they had to go that way, because the financing required to run a modern medical facility is beyond what the traditional cloistered nursing sisters could deliver. But, whether it was necessary or not, it is the reality today.

The order is more an employer than a provider of hands-on service. If they want to be free to practice according to Catholic teaching, all they have to do is fill up the hospital with sisters and brothers who are there primarily for the mission, probably under a vow of poverty, certainly paid no more than a stipend.

Monasteries that run mail-order fruitcake businesses or vineyards and brandy distilleries pay taxes on the income. Monasteries that run farming operations to grow and prepare their own food do not. The latter don't have to comply with labor laws either. The legal precedents are fascinating, and have uses for secular voluntary organizations that value their independence too. Oh, but as I recall, the Christian Brothers don't actually make the brandy anymore -- they just license their name for a fee to some company that bought their operation. Sad, if true.

eulogos said...

Actually the quote was "no margin, no mission" from a Daughter of Charity. Meaning, you can't run such an institution with no money. Still, they do subsidize hospitals which do not run at a profit, if they are the only hospital, or even the only Catholic hospital, in their area. I know from experience that their treatment of those with no insurance, and of those with no place to go when they leave the hospital, is very different from that of many secular institutions. This was sometimes the reason why the particular hospital ran in the red some years.

It meant a lot to me to work in a hospital with a crucifix in every room. When you stood waiting for an elevator, there was a sign saying Caritas Christi urget nos -The Love of Christ impels us. It was always there to remind one that working there was not just a job.

When I first went there they had the Angelus at 6 am, noon, and 6pm, and I once saw a sister fall to her knees in the hall to say it. That did go by the wayside when the Catholic switchboard operator retired and they hired a Protestant; then they had the Our Father over the loudspeaker at those times.

I think it made a difference to our care.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Susan, YOU may have heard a Daughter of Charity say "No margin, no mission," but I read an article quoting a hospital administrator, from an order I don't recall the name of, proudly and repeatedly saying "Mission plus margin." Neither one is necessarily "THE quote."

I can understand how you would appreciate the features you speak of, and I know they have historically been part of the operation of Catholic-affiliated hospitals. It would be a comfort to many patients also. It would not be an instant breach of Catholic identity that a Catholic switch board operator was paid a legal wage for her work either. Churches generally turn to their own membership for a church secretary, but do pay them something (often not much over the minimum).

But, the change in program when they hired a Protestant switchboard operator does hint at what I'm talking about. So does the increasing reliance on a flow of non-Catholic patients, funded by insurance or Medicaid.

Anonymous said...

Erin,'re not going to vote Republican in order to vote against Obama? We just HAVE to get that evil man out of there, no matter what!
Just saying. You don't have to actually answer this.
Kim D in WI

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Seriously Kim D, I have been tempted to ask Erin if she wouldn't vote for Obama to keep those evil Republicans who don't keep their promises from slipping another patsy into the White House who will break all his promises.

But she won't, and I know it, and she has principled reasons she won't vote for ANYONE she can't trust to keep promises to deliver what she believes is important. Obama isn't that for her, but neither are the Republicans.

Eugene Debs once said, "I would rather vote for something I want, and not get it, than to vote for something I don't want, and get it."