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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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