January 20th, 2012, the Constitution of the United States of America was attacked at its most fundamental principle. Because of P.L. 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved forms of contraception must be covered, including sterilization procedures, drugs that terminate early pregnancy, and birth control.
There are only a few exceptions for religious organizations to the HHS Mandate. First District Congressman Visclosky’s position on this matter fails to support a bill which would uphold the long tradition in this country of respecting religious liberty (which has its roots in the First Amendment) and respecting the conscience of those who disagree with the mandate on moral grounds.
Congressman Visclosky in a letter to a constituent explains the series of events that allowed his decision:
“Under P.L. 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required to determine what preventative services will be included in the coverage of all insurance providers. On January 20, 2012, HHS determined that the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved forms of contraception must be covered…”
These services are to include sterilization procedures, drugs that terminate early pregnancy, and birth control. Not only did the ruling say that they must be provided, it also said they must be provided at no cost to the recipient.
There are some exceptions for religious organizations to the HHS Mandate, for instance Amish Communities are not bound by it. So too, are faith communities who only serve people from their own faith. The Catholic Church’s service institutions were not granted any such exemption, because the Catholic Church and its hospitals, nursing homes, schools, universities, and charitable organizations serve people of all faiths or no faith at all.
In Congressman’s Visclosky's own words he said, “I support the Department's decision. This decision will ensure that women have full access to legal, FDA-approved services.”
Congressman Visclosky’s failure in his duty is seen in his failure to support a bill which would have upheld the long tradition in this country of respecting religious liberty (which has its roots in the First Amendment) and respecting the conscience of those who disagree with the mandate on moral grounds. Again in the same letter to a constituent he explains the amendment which would have protected the constitution.
“Specific to your concerns, Rep. Fortenberry has introduced H.R. 1179, which would amend P.L. 111-148 to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, other entity offering the plan, or purchaser, without penalty. The measure also would declare any such plans to have fulfilled the requirements of P.L. 111-148.”
There has also been talk in the days following this mandate of a compromise by the Obama Administration and church leaders. The compromise alleges to excuse the Catholic Church of following this order by saying, the church does not have to provide and pay for any morally objectionable services, but the insurance companies they contract with must. This fails to take into account that some Catholic Institutions self-insure, so they are one in the same. Neither was it a compromise, for the definition of such is when two parties reach a mutual decision, this compromise was from one side only.
I encourage all residents to sign, even if you are unconcerned with religious liberty provided in the constitution.
Our great country has become so because of the freedoms which we are afforded in this document. If one of the constitutions most fundamental liberties can be thrown aside, what will come next? Free speech, the right to assemble, the right to pursue happiness, life, or liberty.
We the undersigned petition you to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, which has been assaulted through recently enacted legislation, namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (otherwise known as Obama Care), which authorized the Department of Health and Human Services, to order all health insurers to provide contraceptive drugs and sterilization procedures (free of charge) to all their insured.
We recognize this mandate as unconstitutional because it fails to respect the first amendment which states:
..prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, or impeding the free exercise of religion.
This mandate fails to consider the religious values of the people and institutions which are ordered to provide these services.
Furthermore, we reject the notion that this is a woman's right issue. Nor is it strictly a Catholic, Democrat, or Republican issue; rather it is first and foremost a constitutional issue.
Being forced to violate one's conscience does not fit with the values upon which our great country was founded. As Bishop Timothy Dolan so eloquently stated, “Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America's cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”
Therefore we ask you to rethink your failure to support HR 1179 (which would have protected those with conscientious objections), and your support of the HHS Mandate. Furthermore, we ask you to stand up for our constitution and vote in favor of all bills which recognize and protect the fundamental freedoms of our constitution.