Category Archives: HHS Mandate

Open-Enroll in Ethical Health Care


A Message from Bishop Soto…

My Dear Parishioners,

Out of his pastoral concern, Bishop Soto asked me to share the following with you.  Have a Blessed New Year!

– Father Jeremy Leatherby, Pastor


To:                           Priests and Deacons

From:                       Bishop Jaime Soto

Date:                         December 10, 2014

Subject:                    Open Enrollment: Abortion Coverage in California State Health     Exchange

A year ago, I sent information to assist you in responding to parishioners’ questions about registering for the health insurance program in California, called “Covered California,” part of the Affordable Care Act.

The Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage is from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Those who have insurance will be asked to re-commit to their present insurer or to move to a new provider before mid-February. I thought it prudent to update the information from last year for the benefit of you and your parishioners.

It is a helpful service to remind people of their legal obligation to register for health insurance and to advise them of the moral questions they face in choosing a health care program for themselves and their families.

1. All Californians are required to sign up for some form of health plan by February 15, 2015. If you haven’t enrolled by then, you will be unable to purchase coverage until the next Open Enrollment period.

2. Access to good health care for our families promotes human dignity and serves the common good of society. Abortion is not good health care. Catholics should not utilize abortion services or other morally objectionable services that may be included in insurance plans.

3. Every state is required to offer at least one plan that does not cover elective abortions. In California, that plan is offered by Anthem Blue Cross. There are two Blue Cross options available in our diocesan area that do not provide abortion coverage: Silver 70 PPO and Gold 80 PPO.

4. We have been told that while these plans are available, you may have to be very persistent to be able to register for one of these plans. If you need assistance in registering for health insurance, you may call GFBB Benefits at 916 740 2400.

5. If it is discovered that you or your family does not have health coverage during 2015, you may have to pay a fee that is 2% or your income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child (whichever is more).

6. While undocumented immigrants may not be eligible for all services, US born children are eligible and can be registered for Medi-Cal. Sacramento ACT and Placer People of Faith Together have been providing workshops in parishes to register eligible children for insurance. Sacramento ACT personnel can be reached at 916 447 7959. Placer People of Faith Together number is 530 401 3768

7. If you have questions about any of this, you can contact Rich Fowler at 916 733 0262.

Media’s Hobby Lobby Reporting Repeatedly Deceived Public on Abortion

by James D. Agresti | Washington, DC | 7/29/2014

In the buildup to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, and even more so in its aftermath, prominent news outlets have been aggressively spreading falsehoods about key aspects of the case. Beyond logical fallacies about who is imposing their will on others, many reports and commentaries also contain statements that are discredited by the scientific facts at the core of this case.

Although journalism standards give commentators “wide latitude” to express their views, this is not a license to mutilate the truth. In the words of New York Times deputy editorial page editor Trish Hall, “the facts in a piece must be supported and validated. You can have any opinion you would like, but you can’t say that a certain battle began on a certain day if it did not.”

Yet, the New York Times and other media outlets have repeatedly broadcast demonstrably false claims about the Hobby Lobby case. Among the most frequent of these are as follows:       As detailed below, all of those claims are deceitful and derived from politicized, unauthoritative sources. In reality, data from highly credible sources shows that:
  • Medical science shows that the Obama administration’s “contraception” mandate has nothing to do with abortion.
  • The Hobby Lobby case concerns the destruction of living, viable human embryos.
  • IUDs don’t terminate human embryos.
  • IUDs terminate viable human embryos.
  • Morning-after pills don’t kill human embryos.
  • Morning-after pills may kill embryos, and claims that they don’t are based upon crass distortions of scientific studies.

What follows is the documentation of these facts, along with the details of how media outlets have flouted basic standards of journalistic integrity in their coverage of this case.

What is an embryo?

As explained in the medical textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, an “embryo” is formed at “fertilization” and marks the “beginning of a new human being.” Per the American Heritage Dictionary of Science, the earliest stage of an embryo is also called a “zygote” or “fertilized egg.”

Continue reading

Obama Nominates “Religious Freedom” Ambassador Who Called Protecting Hobby Lobby “Deeply Troubling”

by Steven Ertelt | | 7/28/2014

President Barack Obama has nominated a new “Religious Freedom Ambassador,” but his nominee opposes protecting the religious freedoms of the owners of Hobby Lobby, who don’t want to be forced to pay for drugs for their employees that cause abortions.

davidsaperstein2Obama announced that he will nominate Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department. Saperstein is a longtime pro-abortion advocate whose group has opposed pro-life legislation.

“I am grateful that Rabbi Saperstein has chosen to dedicate his talent to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead,” he said. Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, is subject to Senate confirmation.

Secretary of John Kerry also introduced him at a press briefing late Monday morning, saying that religious freedom is an “integral part of our global diplomatic engagement.”

However, Saperstein is strongly opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision protecting Hobby Lobby’s religious freedoms and, in an interview, Saperstein called the decision “deeply troubling.”

DavidSaperstein-marqueedavidsapersteinThe Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has also been a long-time abortion supporter and officially co-sponsored a pro-abortion march in 2003. The Union for Reform Judaism and its Washington-based Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism have agreed to be co-sponsors, as have the American Jewish Congress’s commission for women’s equality and Hadassah. Continue reading

Science Ignored: Dissecting Pregnancy as a Disease

Life is not a “Disease” for which Death is “The Cure”

By Anne Roback Morse | Population Research Institute | July 1, 2014

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and ruled the federal government could not require closely-held corporations to provide no-cost contraception for their employees. Although that was the question before the Supreme Court, there were many things the Supreme Court didn’t have the jurisdiction to rule on yesterday. And the most important of these issues–the basic premise at the root of the case’s ideological divide–was not up for debate: that contraception is preventive health care.

Yes, contraception prevents pregnancy–that’s the whole point–but why is pregnancy considered to be a disease? It is an odd disease that is frequently welcomed by women.

Every Child IS a Wanted Child, 'Cause, If God Didn't Want Them, He Wouldn't Have Made Them

Every Child IS a Wanted Child,
‘Cause, If God Didn’t Want Them,
He Wouldn’t Have Made Them

Contraception as preventive care was not actually written into the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA simply states that health insurance must cover ‘‘such additional preventive care and screenings” as are ordered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The HRSA didn’t define contraception and sterilization as preventive care either. Instead, they consulted the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which wrote a 250 page report entitled “Clinical Preventive Services for Women.” This report recommended that the HRSA adopt contraception and sterilization as preventive care to be provided under the Affordable Care Act.[1]

The 250 page IOM report included a page on the “prevalence/burden” of unintended pregnancy and concluded with: “Recommendation 5.5: The committee recommends for consideration as a preventive service for women: the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity.”

Noticeably, the report doesn’t consider all pregnancies as an ailment to be avoided. The report doesn’t mention hemorrhaging, pre-eclampsia, or any significant maternal health problems. Ignoring legitimate maternal health issues, the IOM only considers unintended pregnancies an ailment. Their prescription? Contraception and sterilization.

Women whose pregnancies are unintended, the report states, “are more likely than those with intended pregnancies to receive later or no prenatal care, to smoke and consume alcohol during pregnancy, to be depressed during pregnancy, and to experience domestic violence during pregnancy.”


I Will Give You a New Name
I Will Wipe Away Every Tea

The IOM ignores the fact that many women who experience unintended pregnancies belong to demographics that disproportionately suffer from domestic violence. No amount of condoms in the world will end domestic violence. Nor is synthetic progesterone a magic pill that will prevent immoral men from harming their partners. No matter–the Institute of Medicine has prescribed contraception and sterilization to those women suffering from domestic violence.

The report also blissfully ignores the fact that sex can result in pregnancy even if partners are using contraceptives. According to a study published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: “Contraceptives were used during the month of conception for 48% of the unintended pregnancies that ended in 2001”[2]. That is, almost half of all unintended pregnancies in the United States occur among women actively using contraception during the month of conception. This puts the IOM report in the awkward position of recommending as a remedy the contraceptives that allowed half the unintended pregnancies in the first place. (Ironically, this study is selectively cited several times in the Institute of Medicine’s report.) Continue reading

OB-GYN group changes its ‘facts’ when needed to protect abortion

Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, USCCB (LifeSiteNews)

“Were you lying then, or are you lying now?” So asks an outraged defense lawyer in the great courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution, when his star murder witness reverses her testimony. In light of recent events, some may want to ask the same question of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

ACOG presents itself as a defender of scientific truth about human reproduction. “ACOG firmly believes that science must be at the core of public health policies and medical decision-making that affect the health and life of women,” the organization has declared. It is purportedly in this spirit that ACOG has offered, in friend-of-the-court briefs, to show the Supreme Court how to resolve pending lawsuits that say the Administration’s contraceptive mandate infringes on religious freedom. Yet a look at ACOG’s factual claims before the court, and the claims it is making in other forums about the very same facts, raises troubling questions.

Powerful and once-respected medical organizations are simultaneously insisting that certain birth control methods both do and do not have post-fertilization effects [they’re abortifacient]—based solely on which factual claim will thwart pro-lifers on any given day, or in any given context.

ACOG’s Friend-of-the-Court Briefs

First, the court cases. Hobby Lobby and other companies owned and operated by devout Christians have urged the Court to exempt them from covering four specific birth control methods—those that attack the newly conceived unborn child, by preventing his or her implantation in the mother’s womb. The cited methods are the “emergency contraception” drugs Plan B and Ella, as well as two types of IUD (hormonal and copper). The owners do not object to contraception; that is, to drugs that prevent ovulation or fertilization. But they do object to abortion, and believe that any attack on a new human life after fertilization constitutes abortion. Forcing them to facilitate such attacks would gravely burden their freedom to practice their faith.

In an October 2013  brief urging the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case, ACOG and other “pro-choice” medical groups offered to help Hobby Lobby get its facts straight. They did not challenge “the sincerity of the owner’s belief that the use of such contraceptives would be wrong.” However, they said, Hobby Lobby’s claim about how these drugs and devices work is “a scientific matter” subject to verification. According to ACOG and the other signers:

Respondents’ claim that Plan B and Ella prevent implantation is not supported by current scientific data or by evidence in the record below. To the contrary, scientific research shows that Plan B and Ella both function by inhibiting or postponing ovulation; they do not prevent fertilization or implantation. . . . Equally unsupported is Respondents’ characterization of any of the FDA-approved contraceptives or emergency contraceptives as “abortifacients.”

Once the Supreme Court accepted the Hobby Lobby case, ACOG and other medical groups submitted a   brief on the merits of the case, again urging the court to act on the factual claims in their earlier brief.

This seems straightforward. ACOG is saying that Hobby Lobby was simply wrong to think its religious convictions about respect for nascent human life were implicated here. “Scientific research shows” that these methods don’t work after fertilization.

Contradictory Claims and Word Games

humpty-dumptyBut here’s where the problem arises: ACOG and some of these other medical groups have been publicly declaring, at the same time, that “science” shows exactly the opposite to be true. They argue that, because a variety of commonly used birth control methods do attack embryos after fertilization, legislators and voters should defeat efforts to declare legal personhood for human beings from fertilization onward.

ACOG’s current public position is that these initiatives “would make condoms, natural family planning, and spermicides the only legally allowed forms of birth control.” In other words, ACOG says that a ban on killing embryos after fertilization would ban all the contraceptive methods covered by the HHS Mandate. Continue reading

Get ready for an even bigger threat to Obamacare

by | June 30, 2014

Frankenstein_kill-the-billNow that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act will shift a few blocks away to another Washington courtroom, where a far more fundamental challenge to Obamacare is about to be decided by the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Indeed, if Hobby Lobby will create complications for Obamacare, Halbig vs. Burwell [previously called Halbig v. Sebelius] could trigger a full cardiac arrest.

The Halbig case challenges the massive federal subsidies in the form of tax credits made available to people with financial need who enroll in the program. In crafting the act, Congress created incentives for states to set up health insurance exchanges and disincentives for them to opt out. The law, for example, made the subsidies available only to those enrolled in insurance plans through exchanges “established by the state.”

But despite that carrot — and to the great surprise of the administration — some 34 states opted not to establish their own exchanges, leaving it to the federal government to do so. This left the White House with a dilemma: If only those enrollees in states that created exchanges were eligible for subsidies, a huge pool of people would be unable to afford coverage, and the entire program would be in danger of collapse.

Indeed, the Halbig plaintiffs — individuals and small businesses in six states that didn’t establish state exchanges — objected that, without the tax credits, they could have claimed exemption from the individual mandate penalty because they would be deemed unable to pay for the coverage. If the courts agree with them, the costs would go up in all 34 states that didn’t establish state exchanges, and the resulting exemptions could lead to a mass exodus from Obamacare.

The administration attempted to solve the problem by simply declaring that even residents of states without their own exchanges were eligible for subsidies, even though the law seemed to specifically say they were not. The administration argues that although the statute’s language does limit subsidies to residents of places with exchanges “established by the state,” that wording actually referred to any exchange, including those established by the federal government. In January, a district court judge upheld that interpretation, allowing the subsidies to continue.

But the D.C. Circuit Court may see things quite differently, especially in light of recent Supreme Court opinions holding that the Obama administration has exceeded its authority and violated separation of powers.

In Michigan vs. Bay Mills Indian Community, for example, Justice Elena Kagan noted that “this court does not revise legislation … just because the text as written creates an apparent anomaly as to some subject it does not address.” In Utility Air Regulatory Group vs. EPA, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, stressed that “an agency has no power to tailor legislation to bureaucratic policy goals by rewriting unambiguous statutory terms.” And a third strike came last week in National Labor Relations Board vs. Canning, when the Supreme Court unanimously found that President Obama had violated the Constitution in circumventing Congress through his use of recess appointments.

The D.C. Circuit Court is expected to rule any day now on the Halbig case, and supporters of the Affordable Care Act are growing nervous. In January, an Obamacare advocate described the Halbig case to a reporter for the Hill as “probably the most significant existential threat to the Affordable Care Act. All the other lawsuits that have been filed really don’t go to the heart of the ACA, and this one would have.” And in a fraught oral argument before the D.C. Circuit Court, the administration seemed to struggle to defend its interpretation.

If the ruling goes against the White House, it’s hard to overstate the impact. Without subsidies, consumers in 34 states would face huge additional costs and, because of those costs, potential exemptions from the law. And voters — a substantial percentage of whom have never liked Obamacare — would be further alienated from the Democratic Party just in time for midterm elections.

Moreover, a ruling against the administration would mean that Obama has been responsible for ordering what could amount to billions of dollars to be paid from the federal Treasury without authority. And it would mean the administration has committed yet another violation of the separation of powers.

The administration’s loss in the Hobby Lobby case is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is not a lethal threat to Obamacare. For critics of the law, Halbig is everything that Hobby Lobby is not. Where Hobby Lobby exempts only closely held corporations from a portion of the ACA rules, Halbig could allow an mass exodus from the program. And like all insurance programs, it only works if large numbers are insured so that the risks are widely spread. Halbig could leave Obamacare on life support — and lead to another showdown in the Supreme Court.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of law at George Washington University and has testified in Congress on the executive orders under the Affordable Care Act.

After Hobby Lobby, Another Part of the Obamacare Mandate Could Fall

Elizabeth Slattery / @EHSlattery / June 30, 2014

The Acrobat FileSupreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which are for-profit companies, raises questions about the fate of the HHS mandate accommodation for which certain religious non-profit employers are eligible.

RFRAUnder the accommodation, non-profit employers self-certify to their insurance provider or third-party administrator that they have a religious objection to providing or paying for certain drugs and devices, and this initiates the process of the insurance company or third-party administrator providing the mandated coverage to employees. Just like the HHS mandate itself, this accommodation has been challenged by dozens of employers for violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the government from substantially burdening free exercise unless it can show that the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest.

In the Hobby Lobby ruling—which only deals with closely-held corporations—the existence of this accommodation was proof to a majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court that there are less restrictive means for the government to advance the compelling interest behind the HHS mandate. The Supreme Court did not reach whether the accommodation itself complies with RFRA, since it was not an issue addressed by the parties. Further, a hallmark of the Roberts Court is taking incremental steps toward an eventual goal (as it did in recent years with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act). Thus, in the long run, the Court may likewise rule that the accommodation violates the free exercise of non-profit groups.

It may not be long before the issue is before the Justices. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision was released, an Acrobat Fileappellate court cited the Hobby Lobby decision when it granted the Eternal World Television Network’s motion for an injunction pending appeal in its challenge to the accommodation. Continue reading


Women Hold Protest of HHS Mandate in Washington

Women Speak for Themselves, a grassroots organization of more than 40,000 women for religious freedom, gathered at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. to protest enforcement of the Health and Human Services mandate, which requires employers (including some religious institutions) to cover contraceptives for employees. The mandate has been in effect for for-profit organizations for more than a year.

“I went to Georgetown Law. But my classmate Sandra Fluke does not speak for me … I can speak for myself. And I speak for religious freedom,” said Maya Noronha, an attorney, to applause from the protesters.

The group of women rallied in the square to hear an hour of brief speeches from women of varied backgrounds. Afterward, some protesters went to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress to urge them to fight the mandate.  Continue reading

Does Ms. Justice Elena Kagan UNDERSTAND the difference between Administrative Rules and Constitutional Law?

Justice Kagan’s fundamental confusion that HHS’s Administrative Regulation for Mandatory Contraception Coverage is Statutory

March 30, 2014 | Did Justice Kagan embarrass herself during the Hobby Lobby oral arguments? Thomas Lifson |

If Betsey McCaughey is correct (and I bet she is, because she has not only read the entire ObamaCare bill, she has written a book about it), Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan publicly humiliated herself during the oral arguments on the Hobby Lobby case, revealing that she either did not read the law, or failed to comprehend it if she did so.

Writing in the New York Sun [Startling Rift on Supreme Court Springs From Error by Kagan On Text of Obamacare Law, below], McCaughey lays out what is wrong with the Justice’s declaration about Obamacare: she asserted that the statute itself mandates provision of birth control.

Not one word in the Affordable Care Act guarantees health plans will cover birth control products. There is no “right”. President Obama and his Secretary of Health and Human Services added that requirement by regulation. Women have a constitutionally protected right to use birth control, but nothing guarantees that they can get it from an employer.

It was shocking to hear Justice Kagan make the same spurious claim — that women are entitled to employer provided contraceptives — during oral argument: “Congress has made a judgment and Congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage.” Wrong, Justice Kagan. Did you also forgo reading the law, like most members of Congress?

The distinction between a regulation and a law is no small matter. As Hobby Lobby’s lawyer stressed in his closing statement, a statute, in this case Congress’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, trumps a regulation.

Continue reading