Riding a wave of reflex condemnation by the media in tandem with a coordinated assault by the GOP on the Obama administration decree mandating the inclusion of contraception in employee healthcare plans, Bishops in America have embarked on a campaign of "Proactive Religious Freedom."
Spokes-Cleric Bishop Michael Michaelson-Jones issued a statement spelling out the steps the Church would be implementing to push back against "Government trampling on the sacred right of Freedom of Religion that goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers."
At a press conference held on the steps of Our Lady of Blessed Suffering in Silence Cathedral, Bishop Michaelson-Jones read a prepared statement condemning Adminstration efforts to make contraception available to all women as part of health care coverage, stating
"An exemption for churches themselves is not sufficient; we have a vast network of hospitals, schools, social services and other programs offered under our aegis. People must understand that if you are dealing with the Church in any way - especially as an employee - there are standards that will be kept. It does not matter if you are a Church member or not. True faith admits no exceptions, and any attempt by government to come between the Church and its beliefs will not stand."Among steps that are being implemented immediately:
• Abortion coverage of any kind is not an option and never will be.
• No coverage for contraception in any insurance plan offered to employees of any institution operated or connected in any way with the Church, regardless of the source of funding for those operations.
• In addition, family coverage will NOT be extended to children conceived out of wedlock, children from marriages not recognized by the Church, or for that matter spouses.
• Any medical treatment will have to be pre-approved by a Church review board before submission to an insurance carrier; emergency treatment without prior approval will be reviewed on a case by case basis before reimbursement will be paid to the beneficiary.
• Out of network coverage - that is, healthcare obtained from non-Church approved providers - will not be covered save only for emergencies, which will be subject to review. (See above.)
• Women otherwise covered by insurance as a condition of employment will be required to submit to physical examination and investigation in the event of an unplanned termination of pregnancy (a miscarriage), in order to verify it was not the result of attempted abortion. Reimbursement for medical expenses will be contingent upon such review.
• Female employees of childbearing age will be subjected to mandatory random drug testing in order to ensure they are not engaging in substance abuse that might be injurious to fetal health, in the event of an unsuspected pregnancy.
• Diagnosis of an STD infection may be grounds for denial of coverage and possible dismissal depending on circumstances.
The Bishop concluded the press conference with a statement regretting that matters had come to this pass, but
"We should all acknowledge that sex is a blessing from Above, so long as we realize that it is the Lord's intent that it be reserved for a union blessed by the Church between one man and one women, and only for the purpose of procreation. Intrusion by government into this sacred precinct violates every understanding of the fundamental freedom of religion. Without the guidance and freedom of the Church to insist on the observance of moral values wherever and whenever possible, we will soon find ourselves on the slippery slope to perdition."* * * * * * * * * * *
The above is intended as snark: any resemblance to persons or religions currently in the news is coincidence - but if you don't think they're not out there saying and thinking things like that, you haven't been paying attention.
For some sanity on the subject from the press, Rachel Maddow was on the Today Show: check out the first half of the video clip for her conversation with Matt Lauer.
Here's an excerpt from the link:
This could mean hundreds of thousands, if not millions of American women can't get health insurance coverage for contraception. Mitt Romney wants to eliminate all federal family planning. So women have to pay for birth control out of pocket under the Republicans' plans now. All of the Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, have supported legislation that could make birth control illegal, this personhood stuff.You'd think the White House would have learned by now that trying to compromise with the GOP every time they throw a hissy fit just plays their game. But apparently not....
Was it only so far back as 1960 that John F. Kennedy couldn't run for president without pledging that the Catholic Church would not be giving him orders? When did people stop learning that Religious Freedom is as much about freedom from religion as it is freedom for individuals to practice as they believe?
Meanwhile, here's one Bishop who's really on a crusade.