How our country and our Church arrived at the HHS Contraceptive Mandate

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How past compromises in consciences and atrocities against the dignity of human sexuality and the sanctity of life led to the current US contraceptive mandate.

A loud outcry amongst faithful Catholics, Christians, Jews and those of various beliefs has been heard around the country in response to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate requiring all health care insurance policies to cover contraception coverage in health plans at no cost with little room for any religious or conscientious exemptions.  While everyone rightfully runs around wild tearing their garments over this newest attack on religious and conscientious liberties, is it really that hard to see how we’ve gotten here considering our history as a country, as a Church, and more specifically as humans with a fallen nature?

Contraception, sterilization and abortion have been part of human history since at least 3000 years before Christ and they have been part of our American history and culture for some time now. The majority of sexually-active Americans use or have used some form of artificial birth control, including sterilization and abortion; sadly that includes many Catholics despite the Church’s strong teachings against the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion. This has contributed to many compromises in consciences and atrocities against the dignity of human sexuality and the sanctity of life. A look into some of these past allowances may explain why we, as a country and as a Church, are losing our religious and conscientious freedoms in this country.

After the revolutionary birth control pill came legalized abortion across all states, opening the floodgates to more government impositions on states’ rights and on personal conscience rights. The wide acceptance of contraception and abortion in the name of “women’s rights” and for “saving lives” ushered in more government involvement for other unethical medical research and “advancements” for “preventive health care” and “public health care” measures.

For example, around the same time as abortion was made legal in the United States, scientists began using cell lines made from the leftover body parts of aborted babies in the production of childhood and adult vaccinations for collective disease prevention. These FDA-approved vaccinations, which still contain residual amounts of human DNA from the original babies, are still used today and children and adolescents are required by state governments to be injected with these if they want to attend public and private schools or be in a licensed daycare facility. Little outrage has been heard from Catholic and other “pro-life” leaders when these state vaccination requirements lack adequate religious and conscientious exemption options and the majority of Americans, including Catholics and “pro-life” Christians, either knowingly or not continue to use these illicit aborted-fetal cell line vaccinations citing politically-correct phrases like “the common good”, “public health” and “saving lives” as their justification. This naturally granted the same validation for the creation and harvesting of human embryos for embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, the next scientific “frontier”.  Along with this, most all state vaccination requirements also include vaccinations for sexually-transmitted diseases, like Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus, often without adequate religious and conscientious exemption options or proper parental notification requirements.

With government mandates related to birth control, health care workers are already required or are heavily pressured to prescribe contraceptives and perform sterilizations and/or abortions, again without much recourse to an exemption if this violates their conscience, and many Catholic institutions already provide health care plans to their employees that, intentionally or not, include coverage for contraceptives. And now, the federal government is mandating all insurance companies to cover contraceptives at no cost and without allowing proper exemption options to “promote healthy communities and serve the common good” and to ensure that “women can have access to these important preventive health services”.

There has been much division over support of the HHS contraceptive mandate but thankfully many Americans and leaders and members of our Church are responding and fighting back. Most Americans and most Catholics seem to oppose the lack of an adequate religious exemption with this mandate yet many Americans, including Catholics, seem to be in favor of requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives at no cost. While this mandate has caused a firestorm across the nation and in the Church, the Affordable Care Act sought to include these “essential benefits for women” from the get go and we, Americans and Catholics, knew full well, what we were getting with the election of Obama and his universal health care plans. Yet Obama captured more than half of the Catholic vote in 2008 and those who support the Affordable Care Act praise and acknowledge the pivotal role Catholics played in the success of its passage.

Given this and remembering what has been allowed in the past, should we really be all that shocked with what is going on now? More importantly, where will we go from here? For now, contraceptives will only be covered by insurance companies at no cost. This country already has a history in participating in eugenic programs, such as compulsory surgical sterilization of persons deemed to be carriers of presumed defective genetic traits. What will happen when “at risk” adolescents and adults are required to use contraceptives, be sterilized, or have abortions to “save lives” and protect the “public health”?

One good thing about the HHS contraceptive mandate is that it has quickly turned a much-needed spotlight on how close we are to losing all our religious and conscientious liberties. Like those who balked at the thought of abortion becoming legal and did nothing until it was too late, many would rather remain drowsing under their bed sheets than wake up and see the mess that’s mounted up around us or acknowledge this very real threat. The time for sleeping is past. It is time to wake up, get out of bed and get to work restoring our country, our Church and our humanity.

“On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.” – Joseph Warren

Copyright 2012 Erika Higgins

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About Author

Erika Marie is a simple Catholic, Wife, and Mama. She relishes snuggles and free time with her family and enjoys reading, writing, blogging, and has a slightly obsessive addiction to creating Canva graphics. Enjoy more reflections by Erika at her personal simplemama blog.

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