How Obama’s new contraception mandate tramples religious freedom and violates Catholic Church teaching

Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2011 / 05:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops spoke out on August 1 against federal rules requiring nearly all new health plans, including those of most religious agencies, to cover all government-approved methods of contraception as well as surgical sterilization.

“Under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee.

“Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” the cardinal noted.

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Catholic hospital will heroically intervene to save babies lives by safely terminating 2nd trimester abortion procedures.

“Holding life sacred is a big piece of what we believe.”

A Chicago medical center has become one of the nation’s first Roman Catholic hospitals to adopt a practice of halting second-trimester abortions for women who change their minds after the multiday medical procedure has begun.

Working with two anti-abortion groups, Resurrection Medical Center, the largest hospital of one of Chicago’s largest Catholic health care systems, has put in place a practice that when a woman arrives in the emergency room with an activist seeking to stop a second-trimester abortion, she should be treated immediately. Since October, four women have arrived at the hospital seeking to halt their abortions, and three of them had their abortions stopped.

Members of the anti-abortion alliance — made up of the hospital, the Pro-Life Action League and The Women’s Center — tout the practice as a model for all Catholic hospitals. The hospitals have been under the microscope since December, when the bishop of Phoenix stripped one facility of its Catholic affiliation because doctors there terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother.

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Latest Scandal: Catholic hospital administrators shop for theologians to support practices that conflict with church teachings.

By ANNE HENDERSHOTT

The severing of ties last week between the Catholic Church and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., is the latest example of the fraying relationship between the bishops and Catholic hospital administrators. In recent years, some Catholic hospitals have taken greater liberties, authorizing abortions and sterilization procedures that the church strictly prohibits. Earlier this year, for instance, Rev. Robert Vasa, bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Ore., ended the church’s sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center in Bend over the hospital’s performance of tubal ligations.

But the Phoenix case breaks new ground. In explaining his decision, Rev. Thomas Olmsted, bishop of the Phoenix Diocese, was the first to explicitly point to the role played by Catholic theologians in providing theological cover for “a litany of practices in direct conflict with Catholic teachings.”

The break began more than a year ago, when a Catholic nun and longtime administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital gave permission for doctors to perform an abortion. She claimed the pregnancy was terminated to save the life of the mother. Sister Margaret McBride’s decision drew sharp criticism from Bishop Olmsted. After excommunicating Sister McBride, the head of the diocese then turned his attention to the role of the hospital itself.

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Catholic Hospitals’ Pro-Abortion Money Trail

Most Catholic Americans wrongly assume that Catholic hospitals are dedicated to fighting abortion. In fact, many of the most important people running those hospital systems, and representing them before government, have spent fortunes supporting some of the most powerful pro-abortion politicians in America.

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Mixed signals on health care reform from Catholic hospitals/lobbyists

The following comes from an article sent out on December 15 on CatholicWorld Report.com by Anne Hendershott, formerly sociology professor at the Universtiy of San Diego.

The battle over health care reform promises to be the most expensive one ever waged in Congress, as armies of lobbyists advance on Washington to demand that new legislation reflect their interests. Recognizing the high stakes involved, hospitals, drug companies, unions, and a host of health care providers ranging from medical device makers to Planned Parenthood have spent nearly $400 million on lobbying. All have a vested interest in “fixing” health care to their advantage.

One of the most visible activists involved in shaping health care reform is Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), an advocacy organization that represents the interests of Catholic hospitals and large Catholic health care organizations throughout the country. Catholic hospitals and health care facilities pay dues to the CHA, whose stated mission is “to promote the Catholic Church’s ministry in health care and to respond to the members’ need to practice quality health care in the communities where they serve.”

In an attempt to fulfill this mission, Sr. Keehan has been out on the front lines advocating for health care reform from the earliest days of the Obama administration. On what side of the debate Sr. Keehan’s CHA falls, however, has been unclear and a source of concern given that all reform proposals before November permitted an expansion of abortion rights.

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Catholics Step Up Fight Against ‘Unacceptable’ Healthcare Bill

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Almost 13 percent of the nation’s 4,897 community hospitals are Catholic-run and often provide a higher percentage of public health and specialty services than other healthcare providers. Catholic healthcare facilities accounted for 20 percent of hospital admissions in 21 states and the District of Columbia last year, according to CNSNews.com. 

Last year, Catholic healthcare providers saw more than 16.9 million emergency room visits and 92.7 million outpatient visits, and they admitted more than 5.5 million patients.

The bishops have forcefully stated their opposition to healthcare reform that does not specifically exclude abortion and allow for conscience protection.

Advancing their arguments is Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who chairs the pro-life committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Rigali told Congress in an Aug. 11 letter that healthcare reform must “respect human life and rights of conscience in the context of abortion.”

The bishops believe HR 3200, the healthcare reform legislation making its way through the House, could mandate abortion coverage.

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