Posted tagged ‘john jenkins’

Getting Priorities Backwards

May 22, 2012

Yesterday, 43 Catholic Church affiliated groups including universities and hospitals sued the Federal Government over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide birth control as part of health coverage.  Notre Dame headlined the coordinated court filings.

Notre Dame’s President, Father John Jenkins issued a statement summarizing his view of the Church’s position.

Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services” .

“Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives. As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs. And we believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents”.

“We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings.

Reading this, it strikes me as a reasoned and reasonable position.  It is reassuring to read that the Church is not trying to force its views on others.

Reverend Jenkins’ words also highlights to poor choice the President made in accepting a path which included existing insurance companies and companies as the main purchaser of health care plans.  A properly funded, Medicare-like universal plan, which might have had its own demons, would have avoided this conflict.

Or would it have?

The key is “properly funded”.  Healthcare must be paid for under any system.  In a Medicare-like plan, Church affiliated institutions would have had to pay part of the fees (as now) in a wage deduction scheme.  Also, were there to be a national sales tax, the church and its affiliated units would also be contributing since they would need to purchase all sorts of supplies.

Hmmm.  Sounds to me like the church in a universal healthcare system would also be supporting healthcare that included birth control methods.  A violation of religious freedom?

The Church seems to have a selective conscience.  Before the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans had no health care.  Those who were covered could be denied coverage were they to become unemployed if they had some pre-existing condition which the insurance companies did not want to cover.  Which is the greater good, providing coverage to millions and saving lives, or enforcing a religious teaching by denying birth control access?  (A person could, of course, at their own expense, obtain birth control privately.  But why should an employee of a catholic affiliated institution be subjected to these extra hurdles?)

Reverend Jenkins has not offered ideas on how to provide birth control to those employees who want it.  As a result he has left the situation to where a favorable court ruling would allow the affiliates to deny birth control coverage which would seem to me “to impose our religious beliefs on others”.

I wonder what the coaching staff of Notre Dames $65+ million annual revenue generating football team are thinking?