Catholic World News

Bishop Lori rips HHS mandate in House Judiciary Committee testimony

February 29, 2012

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on February 28, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport blasted the absurdity surrounding the HHS contraception mandate.

“Ever since the mandate has been announced, fair is foul, and foul is fair,” he noted.

“First, ‘without change’ suddenly means ‘with change.’ On Friday, February 10, 2012, the Administration finalized--and I quote from the rule itself, ‘without change’--the interim final rule imposing the mandate, which was announced initially in August 2011. In fact, the February 10 action uses the phrase ‘without change’ four separate times … Despite this, a surprising number of those who objected vociferously to the August 2011 rule were suddenly and completely satisfied. Indeed, based on their reaction—rather than on the text of the rule itself—one could be forgiven the impression that there was a major change in the rule, rather than none at all.”

Bishop Lori continued:

The reason for this confusion is that the finalized rule also announced what it described as an “accommodation.” But this “accommodation” would not change the scope of the mandate and its exemption, which, as noted above, have now been finalized with the same language as in August 2011. Instead, it would take the form of additional regulations whose precise contours are yet unknown, and that may not issue until August 2013, about 18 months from now …

In sum, for present purposes, the “accommodation” is just a legally unenforceable promise to alter the way the mandate would still apply to those who are still not exempt from it; moreover, the promised alteration appears logically impossible. Meanwhile, the mandate itself is still finalized “without change,” excluding in advance any expansion of the “religious employer” exemption. In the world-turned-upside-down that we have all entered since the mandate issued, this is not merely “no change,” but is heralded as “great change,” for which the Administration has been widely congratulated.

“Second, ‘choice’ suddenly means ‘force,’” he continued. “This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government--to our great dismay, there is already widespread government funding of contraception, at all levels of government, across the country. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.”

“It is a matter of acknowledging the basic fact that government is forcing religious people and groups to do something in violation of their consciences,” he added. “And yet, listening to the public discourse about the mandate, it is easy to get the impression that the Catholic bishops were somehow on the cusp of prohibiting the use of contraceptives nationwide. Only in our new world-turned-upside-down does freedom require the denial of freedom; only in the post-mandate world is access to contraceptives somehow prohibited unless government begins forcing religious people and groups to fund and facilitate it.”

Bishop Lori also discussed how “liberals have suddenly abandoned liberalism” and how “sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients are essential, but ‘essential health benefits’ are not.”


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Mar. 01, 2012 12:19 AM ET USA

    When there is no right and wrong - well, my right is as good as your right - right? Neither of us is wrong unless you don't agree with me - see. ...doesn't this all make sense. Mr. Kafka was on to something - the Metamophasis is happening before our very eyes.

  • Posted by: Dalaigh - Feb. 29, 2012 8:17 PM ET USA

    "Religious persecution does not consist in thumbscrews or fires of Smithfield; the essence of religious persection is this: that the man who happens to have material power in the State, either by wealth or by official position, should govern his fellow citizens not according to their religion or philosophy, but according to his own." G.K. Chesterton, "All things considered"

  • Posted by: - Feb. 29, 2012 9:57 AM ET USA

    Bishop Lori really effectively skewers the Orwellian double-speak that dominates the public discussion of the HHS mandate (and many other issues - the same-sex 'marriage' follows the same Alice-in-Wonderland lines - love is hate, good is bad, etc.). "We've always been at war with Eastasia."