February 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As the backlash against an impending mandate for all employers to pay for birth control continues to grow, the loyalties of Catholics who went to bat to support the administration as it pushed the federal health reform law are beginning to disintegrate.
Now the Catholic nun who was perhaps the bill’s most symbolically important supporter has said in an interview that the Obama administration can expect to be hit with a lawsuit over the mandate should negotiations and legislative fixes fail.
Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association, to whom Obama gave one of the pens used to sign the bill as a token of gratitude two years ago, said that the mandate could bode very ill for Catholic healthcare down the road.
“This has real potential for serious problems, and its immediate problem is the federal government for the first time telling the Church that it has to buy drugs that ... the Church has said it does not believe are moral,” Keehan told Vatican Radio on Wednesday.
Keehan, who said in a recent press release that news of the mandate “jolted” her organization, said that CHA had tried but failed to persuade the administration to use the normal definition of religious employer in the new health insurance rules, which would have included Catholic universities, hospitals and charities in addition to houses of worship.
“People that have worked for our hospitals, universities and schools have been able to buy those drugs for themselves, if that’s what they wanted to do. Now for the first time we’re being told that we have to buy them,” she said. “That has a lot of potential in a country with very loose abortion laws, very loose euthanasia laws, and with some of the other medical things that are coming down, it’s got a lot of potential to ... take away the protections we have.”
Keehan said that court action was one “major avenue” Catholics may have to pursue to defend themselves against the government. Meanwhile, “as civilly, as Christianly as we can, [we will] try to work with the powers that be to have them understand that this was not a good call,” she said
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Keehan and CHA had strongly supported the health care reform law even as pressure mounted from bishops to shoot down the measure for its potential to increase abortion and lack of conscience protections. In 2010 Cardinal Francis George, then head of the U.S. Bishops Conference, said that Keehan was “to blame” for the massive bill’s success and had dealt a “wound to Catholic unity.” http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2010/jun/10061705
In the months following passage, CHA continued to support the bill - even as recently as September - and received a video message from President Obama thanking Keehan for her “extraordinary leadership.”
Keehan isn’t the only recent Catholic defector from the administration.
Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), a Catholic who lost her seat after her 11th-hour vote for the health care bill, said recently that she never would have supported it had she known about the birth control mandate. Doug Kmiec, a prominent conservative law professor who drew major criticism as the flagship Catholic “apologist” for Obama’s 2008 campaign, has said that the mandate has left him “without a candidate.”