Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

[Jesuit Santa Clara and Jesuit Loyola Marymount are not exactly the best plantiffs for such a suit]

Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the employer has a religious objection to abortion.

“The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law, and this time in the most unimaginable way,” said Casey Mattox, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the complaint along with the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “Churches should never be forced to cover elective abortion in their insurance plans, and for 10 years the Weldon Amendment has protected the right to have plans that do not include coverage for abortion-on-demand.”

“But the state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law,” he said.

Two Jesuit universities, Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University, had opted against covering abortion-on-demand in their insurance plans.

Santa Clara University decided in February 2014 to drop insurance coverage for abortion beginning in 2015. Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Finocchio Jr. said at the time that the decision “flows from the university’s identity and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”

SCU President Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J., wrote to faculty and staff that “our core commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university’s health plans.”

But in August 2014 the state government, under Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, required that all state insurers cover both “elective” or “voluntary” abortions alongside “therapeutic” terminations. The order applied to both Jesuit schools.

“Abortion is a basic health care service,” Michelle Rouillard, the director of the state’s managed care department, wrote in a letter to the schools’ insurers at the time.

“All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally,” not favoring birth over abortion, the letter read.

With the ADF’s assistance, the universities objected that the state’s action violated the federal Weldon Amendment, a 2004 law that prevents the government from discriminating against health care providers that refuse to perform or participate in abortions.

However, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ruled on Tuesday that the amendment protects only insurers and physicians, not those who pay the insurance premiums. Nor does it apply if the insurance companies are willing to provide coverage for all abortions without any religious objection, they maintained.

Jocelyn Samuels, who leads the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights inside HHS, wrote that the rule was inapplicable, because the insurance companies “have no religious or moral objection to that procedure.”

She noted that Anthem Blue Cross asked for, and received, an accommodation to provide insurance plans that cover only “therapeutic” abortions.

The universities’ attorneys vowed to fight on, appealing to Congress to take action if necessary.

“The administration’s refusal to enforce this law continues its pattern of enforcing laws it wants to enforce, refusing to enforce others, and inventing new interpretations of others out of whole cloth,” Mattox said.

The decision drew immediate outrage.

“Today in a meeting with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Director of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Joceyln Samuels, I and my pro-life colleagues expressed our strong disagreement with the Administration’s outrageous misinterpretation of the Weldon Amendment,” said Rep. Chris Smith, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus.

“In a more than hour long discussion, HHS doubled down on its decision to unilaterally rewrite the law – the Weldon Amendment – to allow California to continue to discriminate against pro-life plans. California has been violating the Weldon Amendment for nearly two years with impunity – forcing churches that purchase health plans to cover abortion,” said Congressman Smith, R-NJ. “It is outright discrimination to force a health plan to cease to exist because it doesn’t include abortion.”

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5 comments on “Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

  1. Leaving aside the issue of whether these “Catholic” universities have preserved their Catholic identity in accord with Ex corde Ecclesiae and canon law, this tyrannical ruling violates the free exercise clause of the U.S. Constitution and is contrary to Natural Law (a teaching of the Catholic Church). The current regime is at war with Christianity and the Catholic Church, while importing homicidal anti-Christian barbarians in large numbers. Yet, none dare call it treason….

  2. [Phil Lawler agrees that Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount were not the best plantiffs for such a suit; rather by the action of faculty members demanding abortion coverage and the university administrations providing it as well as by inaction by the universities (and Amchurch bishops) concerning their Catholic identity, they made the government’s case]

    Catholic institutions cleared the path for the latest assault on religious freedom

    Catholic Culture
    Jun 24, 2016

    As a result of the latest federal ruling against religious freedom—and pending the result of what seems an inevitable court challenge— Catholic churches in California are now required to provide abortion coverage in their employees’ health-insurance programs. The US Catholic bishops are rightly outraged. It’s easy to blame the Obama administration, which has been so consistently hostile to the claims of religious freedom. But probe a little deeper, and you realize that the American Catholic bishops themselves deserve a goodly part of the blame, for a failure to implement a clear Vatican directive 25 years ago.

    This week’s ruling from the Obama administration comes on a complaint lodged by the Catholic bishops of California, along with religious-freedom activist groups, against a ruling by California regulators. That ruling, issued in 2014, stipulated that health-care insurers must include abortion coverage. Predictably, the Obama administration sided with the abortion industry; it always does.

    But take a closer look at the 2014 decision by California regulators. Why did the Department of Managed Care issue any ruling at all on the topic? A Los Angeles Times story answers that question: “The issue arose when faculty members at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University objected to this limitation [the absence of abortion coverage] in their insurance plans.”

    Notice that both Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara are Catholic universities; both are Jesuit institutions, in fact. And notice that the call for abortion coverage came from “faculty members”—not janitors or cafeteria workers, but professionals hired to instruct students at these Catholic schools. Finally, notice that neither of the schools balked at providing abortion coverage; it was left to the California bishops to lodge a protest.

    Why are professors at Catholic universities demanding abortion coverage in their health-insurance plans? Didn’t they realize, when they joined the faculties of these religious institutions, that they were under some obligation to promote the schools’ Catholic mission—or, at a bare minimum, not to fight against that mission? Why hadn’t the schools made it clear to their faculty members that they were expected to respect the institutions’ Catholic identity? Why hadn’t the universities taken a stand, and fought against the state regulators who undermined that distinctive Catholic identity?

    The sad truth, in answer to all those questions, is that Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara are not distinctively Catholic institutions, and do not serve an evangelizing mission. And that fact, in turn, points toward the failure of the American hierarchy to ensure that Catholic colleges and universities are truly Catholic.

    In 1990, St. John Paul II issued his apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, underlying the importance of a fully Catholic academic tradition. Among the points stressed in that document were these:

    – Every Catholic University is to make known its Catholic identity, either in a mission statement or in some other appropriate public document, unless authorized otherwise by the competent ecclesiastical authority. The University, particularly through its structure and its regulations, is to provide means which will guarantee the expression and the preservation of this identity….
    – Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected.
    – All professors must exhibit not only competence and good character but respect for Catholic doctrine.
    After nine long years of inconclusive discussions about the papal document, the US bishops finally announced in November 1999 a plan for “The Application of Ex Code Ecclesiae for the United States.” The bishops’ document confirmed that Catholic universities should uphold their religious identity, and that faculty members must respect Catholic doctrine. Sadly, those standards, which are so clear on paper, have been routinely ignored in practice. So it has become commonplace to find avowed enemies of Church teachings on the faculties of Catholic schools, and rare—especially at the largest and most prestigious Catholic universities—to find administrators willing to fight to maintain their institutions’ Catholic identity.

    Thus it may be shock, but it should not be a surprise, that California’s Department of Managed Care did not see it as a violation of religious freedom when they required Catholic universities to provide abortion coverage in their health-care plans. The schools themselves had hired teachers who supported legal abortion, and wanted abortion coverage in their benefits packages. The California bishops, the guardians of the Church’s mission, had not rebuked the schools for hiring these professors, or stripped the institutions of their Catholic identities. The universities themselves had meekly acquiesced to the regulators’ demands.

    The “culture of death” has been steadily pushing, and encountering little or no organized resistance from the largest Catholic universities. Administrators and the bishops who theoretically watch over them have excused their inaction with appeals to religious freedom, and claims that they cannot force the consciences of dissident scholars. Now, with one final push—and an active assist from within the institutions—the state has arranged to force the conscience of all Catholics.

    This federal ruling—so disastrous, so unjust, but so sadly predictable—was issued just as the US bishops began their annual Fortnight for Freedom. “Hold firm, stand fast, and insist upon what belongs to you by right as Catholics,” the bishops’ statement proclaims. Yes, and one of the things that belongs to us by right as Catholics is the existence of authentically Catholic universities, which serve the mission of the Church and promote her teachings.

  3. The apostate pro-abortion faculty members were hired under the anti-Catholic deception and chicanery of the Trojan Horse of the Land O’Lakes conference agenda, the alleged purpose of which was to make “Catholic” universities more prestigious and relevant in the eyes of that banal Spirit of Vatican II modernist, Theodore Hesburgh, an Illuminati puppet and useful idiot for the Rockefeller Foundation and the population control lobby. The plot follows Hegelian and Marxist dialectic for the Long March: Problem-Reaction-Solution (right out of the Illuminati playbook for the “planned crisis” scenario for destabilizing Western societies with Tavistock, Fabian Socialist, Alinskyite, and Frankfurt School social engineering of the Cloward–Piven strategy ). When a Catholic university is loaded up with enough anti-Catholics, liberals, and secular progressives on its faculty it reaches a tipping pint where it ceases to be a Catholic university in any sense of the term and the rabid anti-Catholics on the faculty and in the administration begin making their demands. That is what has happened at these ridiculous and absurd anti-Catholic Frankfurt School zoos like Loyola Marymount, Georgetown, Marquette, and the rest of them. There is nothing subtle about this agenda.

  4. There is another aspect to this scandal that should not escape attention: these anti-Catholic, pro-abortion faculty members are so vulgar that they see nothing shameful (or “wrong”) about demanding abortion coverage at an allegedly “Catholic” university. Now, when a society reaches that stage of decadence, vulgarity, and moral depravity, how long can it expect to last?

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