The HHS contraception mandate puts Catholic college and university presidents in peril because it forces them to choose between obeying the law and disowning their Catholic faith which they have sworn to uphold, Thomas More College President William Edmund Fahey said.
Fahey said in a Feb. 2 letter to New Hampshire’s legislators in Congress that each year he and his college’s faculty profess an oath to follow the Catholic bishops “with Christian obedience” and that the bishops are speaking with “one voice” against the mandate.
“I will stand by my oath and with my bishops. I hope that in so doing I will not be forced to stand against my own country,” he said in a Feb. 2 letter to Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Frank C. Guinta.
“Is such a dilemma now to become the norm for men and women of conscience and religious faith within the United States of America?”
The New Hampshire Catholic college president’s letter adds to the many responses to the Jan. 20 Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement of a final rule that mandates that employers provide “preventive care” insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including an early abortion-causing drug.
The mandate’s narrow religious exemption does not include most Catholic health care systems, charities and educational institutions.
Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, N.H. responded to the mandate in a Jan. 26 letter saying “we cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law.”
Fahey characterized the Obama administration’s actions as “an insult to and direct attack against long-standing practices of the Roman Catholic Church.” The mandate “calls into question the administration’s willingness or ability to work within the western tradition of constitutional and natural law principles.”
The requirement “chiefly targets Roman Catholics,” he charged. Because the mandate requires a Catholic community to violate its faith in order to provide medical benefits, it “effectively prevents the full practice of its religion.”
“No public case was ever made; no public consensus called for this mandate. Its introduction clearly creates an undue burden without any sign of compelling interest.”
The depiction of birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as health care is also false, he stated. Human life and pregnancy are not diseases to be prevented and the “beauty and goodness of human sexuality” should not be reduced to “an individual, utilitarian and dangerous act.”
“Human life itself is now placed into a category of social burden, which the government now claims the competence and authority to control and define,” he continued. “Human life itself, by being put under the same category as heart disease, cancer, or syphilis, becomes a threat to health. By promoting this mandate, the (HHS) Department plays a treacherous game with language and the very meaning of health.”
Fahey urged members of Congress to eliminate the mandate.
“I hope that you will see that the mandate attempts to force self-identified and faithfully Catholic organizations to compromise central tenets of their belief or drop health care coverage for their employees,” Fahey told the legislators.
“Furthermore, I hope that you will see that the mandate undermines the Constitution, compromises the integrity of the government, and abuses the foundational principle that free associations form an essential part of the social fabric of the United States.”