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Sisters issue statement on Patient Protection, Affordable Care Act Print
Guest column
Written by Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church   
Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Following is a response of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Sisters minister in the Diocese of Madison at St. Elizabeth Home in Janesville and St. Elizabeth Manor in Footville.

The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church publicly and without reserve support the Catholic Bishops of the United States in opposing the Health and Human Services mandate requiring that all group health plans and health insurance issuers provide the full range of contraceptive methods and services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).

We joyfully serve the poor and are deeply concerned about the need for universal healthcare for all Americans, rich or poor, working or unemployed, young or aged. We are, nevertheless, firm in our conviction that no law, even one purportedly aimed at the “common good,” can be seen as “good legislation” if it opposes the moral law, requires persons of faith to betray their consciences, and is in flagrant violation of the freedom of religion clause of the Constitution of the United States.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBCenter) underscores this by pointing out that “the Rule [sic] is creating new law in terms of mandating contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization coverage with no co-pay by the enrollees.”

To mandate that faith-based organizations would disregard and contradict their belief in the moral law protecting human life at all stages, by offering health care coverage to their employees that subsidizes the destruction of or interference with the creation of human life is “literally unconscionable,” as Cardinal designate Timothy Dolan of New York, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has publicly affirmed.

The disconnect between the professed intent of the PPACA and the actual effect the Rule has on faith-based organizations is an obvious and disconcerting one. This mandate is “well beyond the provisions of the PPACA, and the statutory intent at the time of its adoption” which was “to cover screening and prevention of pathological conditions of women” (in NCBCenter letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, September 27, 2011).

Pregnancy has never been seen as a pathological event, but rather a normal physiological process (NCBCenter). Mandating Catholic and other faith-based organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices as well as abortifacients and sterilization would require us to violate our moral consciences and our fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church support our Bishops in our opposition to this. We cannot in conscience participate in carrying out this HHS ruling as it now stands.

Catholic social service agencies, healthcare facilities, and schools serve millions of Americans each year. The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church perceive our participation in the various ministries carried out in the Church to be a sacred task entrusted to us by God. Our mission is to build up the Body of Christ in a culture of life through education, healthcare, and service to the poor.

This federal mandate, on the contrary, threatens the very sanctity of life itself by promoting what the late Pope John Paul II so aptly termed The Culture of Death. The HHS Rule countermands both the Gospel of Jesus, which is a Gospel of Life, and the right of every American citizen to the free practice of religion and protection from any prohibition of the free practice thereof (First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States).

We ask all who cherish the freedom of religion given to us by the Constitution, and who stand in opposition to a federal mandate to provide insurance that covers most forms of contraception, to join the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church in earnestly beseeching Almighty God, Source and Protector of all created life, that He will inspire our legislative and executive leaders to reverse this onerous decision that threatens the very soul of our nation.

Praised be Jesus Christ.