Denise J. Hunnell, MD

The Church should ‘stay out of the bedroom,’ but pick up the tab for what happens there?

Denise J. Hunnell, MD
By Denise Hunnell MD
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February 20, 2012 (HLIAmerica.org) - It is time to do some fact checking about President Obama’s “compromise” on attacking religious liberty.

First of all, telling Catholics to just close their eyes and keep paying their insurance premiums that will ultimately cover morally objectionable services is not addressing respect for conscience and religious liberty. No matter how you spin it, Catholic institutions will be paying for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The end result is no different than the original Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, since insurance companies are not going to just throw these services in for free.

President Obama also erroneously claims that access to these services is in the interest of women’s health, although none of these services are necessary to prevent or cure a disease or pathological medical condition. Instead, they take a perfectly healthy reproductive system and render it dysfunctional and sterile. Hormonal contraceptives are also associated with increased blood pressure, blood clots and an increased risk for breast cancer. In addition, hormonal contraceptives have been shown to double the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. No medical association recommends the use of hormonal contraceptives as routine preventive care for healthy women. They are only used for the disruption of normal fertility.

In light of these facts, it becomes difficult to argue that the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs are required preventive medicine. These are purely elective treatments that prevent the natural and healthy consequences of a certain lifestyle choice. Pro-choice advocates demand that the Catholic Church “stay out of the bedroom,” then they demand that the Church pick up the tab for what happens in the bedroom.

How did we get here?

How did these supposedly “necessary” services get included as part of the mandated “preventive care” called for under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare?

The HHS commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to draw up a list of preventive services that should be covered. There is strong evidence that the committee charged with this was ideologically biased with direct ties to the abortion industry. As HLI America National Director Arland Nichols reveals in his exposition of bias within the IOM, several committee members had strong ties to Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. In fact, eleven of the fifteen IOM committee members who supported the measure collectively contributed $116,500 to pro-choice organizations and political candidates, and there is no evidence that any of them had ever contributed to a pro-life candidate or organization.

Dr. Anthony Lo Sasso was the only member of the IOM committee to dissent from the recommendation, and he has strongly criticized the IOM’s methodology in coming up with the controversial recommendations.

“The committee process for evaluation of the evidence lacked transparency and was largely subject to the preferences of the committee’s composition,” wrote Dr. Lo Sasso.

Troublingly, the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy. An abiding principle in the evaluation of the evidence and the recommendations put forth as a consequence should be transparency and strict objectivity, but the committee failed to demonstrate these principles in the report.

The IOM proceedings were more akin to a kangaroo court with a predetermined outcome; the outcome in this case being the mandated inclusion of contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients in all insurance policies. While their recommendations were presented with the supposed authority of “science,” the actual science employed in the report is threadbare. As Nichols put it in his devastating article, instead of an objective scientific evaluation to seek the best preventive health care options for all Americans, we received “Planned Parenthood ideology.”

The 99 Percent?

Finally, it is important to address the misleading statistics that President Obama and his administration are touting to support the HHS mandate. Over and over the Obama administration declares that 99% of all American women have used contraception at some point in their lives. This comes from a 2010 CDC report, Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008. Ironically, this 99% figure includes the women who use simple periodic abstinence as well as more sophisticated Natural Family Planning methods. It also reflects the use of contraception at any point during the reproductive years and not the percentage of women currently using contraception. This statistic is meant to paint contraceptive use as universal and therefore essential. Though it is impossible to know exact numbers, the percentage of women desiring chemical or surgical contraception and abortion services at any given time is certainly far less than 99%.

President Obama is not really interested in supporting those who seek to faithfully live their moral and religious principles. Instead, President Obama is merely interested in receiving cover from his Catholic political allies and protecting his liberal base in this election year. As the New York Times reports, he sought the counsel of Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association as well as the approval of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, in looking for the so-called “compromise.” Sr. Keehan was criticized by Cardinal George, then president of the USCCB, for her failure to adequately consider Catholic teaching on life issues in her support for Obamacare. President Obama did not consult with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at all when devising this revised HHS mandate.

Fortunately, the USCCB and other conscientious objectors have not been fooled by this charade of accommodation. The USCCB issued a statement rejecting this version of the mandate as “completely unacceptable” and called all Catholics to vigorously support legislative action to rescind this mandate and to provide unequivocal protection of religious liberty. Likewise, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Catholic Medical Association, and dozens of scholars and prominent legal experts have voiced their opposition to this continued assault on religious liberty.

This revised mandate is an empty gesture which represents no substantial progress towards protecting the rights of religious institutions or individuals to freely practice their faith. As so many religious leaders have stated, Americans cannot and should not comply with this unjust mandate, and we must stand firm in our commitment to moral principles, and to the defense of religious liberty.

This article first appeared on CNSNews.com. Denise Hunnell, MD, is a Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. She writes for HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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