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Since the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, the two chambers of Congress have held diametrically opposed views. The House, under Republican control since 2011, has voted many times to repeal the entire act; the Democratic-controlled Senate has resisted changes.

The Catholic bishops’ conference has not joined in either agenda. Supporters of national efforts to achieve universal health coverage for almost a century, the bishops have urged specific reforms in accord with the moral principles they articulated during consideration of the A.C.A. The bishops support basic, life-affirming health coverage for everyone, including immigrants; compliance with longstanding federal policies on abortion funding; and respect for rights of conscience.

The A.C.A. remains deficient in these areas. The bishops have urged Congress to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, including reform of the way our health laws treat immigrant families. On abortion issues—both federal funding and conscience rights—the implementation of the A.C.A. over four years has brought its defects into sharper focus.

One barrier to progress on the act’s problems regarding abortion is that many, including some Catholics, are confused about those problems or deny that they exist. Here, then, are the abortion-related problems the bishops’ conference finds in the A.C.A.

1) Under existing federal jurisprudence, federal funds appropriated by the A.C.A. are available for elective abortions. For decades, federal funding of abortion has been prevented by a patchwork of appropriations riders that must be renewed each year, as well as a few more permanent provisions governing particular programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Each provision governs only the bill it amends. The first and most important appropriations rider, the Hyde Amendment, amends the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill and prevents only use of the funds appropriated by that act from supporting abortion (except in the rare cases of danger to the mother’s life and pregnancy due to rape or incest).

The A.C.A. is unusual because it both authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars for its numerous programs. The usual process is for Congress to authorize a program, either permanently or for several years, and then appropriate that program’s level of funding for a given year through separate annual appropriations bills. The A.C.A. bypasses the appropriations process, thus bypassing the Hyde Amendment and similar riders, and for many programs it supplies nothing in their place.

It is useful to review the history of the Hyde Amendment to understand the importance of this absence of language prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion. Congress first approved Hyde in 1976, after discovering that the Medicaid program (funded by the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill) was paying for an estimated 300,000 abortions a year. The Medicaid statute, enacted in 1965 when abortion was generally a crime, nowhere mentions abortion as health care. But federal courts concluded that once legalized by the Supreme Court, abortion could be construed as part of Medicaid’s broad mandate for family planning, physicians’ services and other items a physician deems “medically necessary.” In the context of abortion, moreover, phrases like “medically necessary” were to be read in light of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions, which defined a “health” reason for abortion to include anything a physician thinks will serve a woman’s social, emotional or familial “well-being”—hence the 300,000 tax-funded abortions a year. If Congress wanted to stop this, it had to enact a provision clearly saying so. That is why it approved the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment was modified in 1993 so it no longer prohibited funding abortions in cases of rape or incest, and the Clinton administration said funding these abortions was now mandated by the underlying Medicaid law. No state could refuse to provide matching funds for these abortions, even if its state constitution prohibited funding abortion except in cases of danger to the mother’s life. The federal courts consistently sided with the administration and invalidated “life only” state laws. Under these precedents, if a new health law is not governed by Hyde or similar existing provisions and that law fails to supply Hyde-like language of its own, its funding is available to pay for abortions.

One area of concern is the Community Health Centers program. For decades these centers have offered free or low-cost medical care to Americans who may not otherwise find a provider. To qualify as such a center, a provider must offer “family planning,” “obstetrics” and “gynecology” services. Since 1976 the Hyde Amendment has prevented funding of elective abortions under such categories. The A.C.A. directly appropriates $11 billion to expand the C.H.C. program, however, bypassing Hyde while supplying no abortion limitation of its own.

President Obama’s executive order notes that an existing regulation forbids use of H.H.S. funds for abortion; but that regulation only implements the annual Hyde Amendment and relies on that amendment for its validity. The order also says that “under the [Affordable Care] Act” this policy has been extended to cover A.C.A.’s funds; but no provision of the A.C.A. does this, and the order does not create new law on the issue.

Are elective abortions being subsidized with these A.C.A. funds now? We do not know. If not, that result would seem to be only one lawsuit away.

Another A.C.A. program has a more visible record. The act appropriated $5 billion to pay for medical claims in a temporary “high risk” insurance pool for people who could not obtain health coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The program is administered by states, with H.H.S. approving the state benefits packages and providing all the public subsidies for coverage.

In July 2010, pro-life groups discovered that at least three states had included elective abortions in high-risk plans that had been approved by H.H.S. The resulting protests inside and outside Congress ultimately led H.H.S. to announce that it would exclude elective abortions—a decision criticized by pro-abortion groups, who said there was nothing in the A.C.A. requiring this result. The Congressional Research Service confirmed that these groups were right: There was nothing in the A.C.A., or in President Obama’s executive order issued at the time of the act’s approval, to exclude abortion. H.H.S. Secretary Sebelius had the discretion to refuse to fund abortions only because this particular provision of the A.C.A. explicitly authorized her to set (unspecified) additional restrictions not found in the statute. Such authority, allowing an executive decision not to fund abortions, is absent from other A.C.A. provisions, and the secretary can reverse her decision on this program at any time.

2) The act violates the policy of all other federal health programs by using federal funds for health plans covering elective abortions. Again, we need a little history. In 1997 Congress found that the Hyde Amendment was being circumvented. Some states were using their federal Medicaid funds to enroll low-income patients in H.M.O.’s, where one annual fee qualifies a patient for all medical care provided by the plan’s network. There are no bills for individual services. Many H.M.O.’s covered elective abortions and were paid by the federal government to provide them to these Medicaid patients. So Congress modified the Hyde Amendment to prevent this by barring use of Labor/H.H.S. appropriations funds to help purchase a health plan that includes such abortions. This same policy prevails in every other program where federal funds combine with other funds to buy a health plan, most notably the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. For 16 years, this has been part of what it means to ban federal abortion funding.

The A.C.A. discards this longstanding policy. Federal subsidies, in the form of advanceable, refundable tax credits, will be used to help purchase health plans that cover elective abortions. The A.C.A. calls these credits “federal funds,” and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 73 percent of the funds will be paid as checks drawn on the Treasury (because the credits often exceed enrollees’ tax liability). Each such plan must require each and every enrollee to pay a special premium solely for elective abortions, to be placed in a separate account from the federally subsidized premiums for the overall plan.

This has been called a “compromise.” But it is a compromise between the policy that every president and Congress agreed to for 16 years and a more pro-abortion agenda. It violates half the Hyde Amendment.

Supporters of the A.C.A. have said it takes power away from insurance companies and gives it back to the consumer. This provision does the opposite. The insurer alone chooses whether to cover elective abortions—and most for-profit insurers want to do so because abortion is cheaper than childbirth (and much cheaper than covering new children in a family health plan). The government then provides the same federal subsidy as for other health plans and requires the plan to collect a direct subsidy specifically for abortions from all enrollees—including those who have a strong moral objection. This is the first and only time since Roe v. Wade that the federal government has forbidden private organizations to allow an exemption for those with moral objections to abortion.

Can pro-life Americans choose a health plan in the marketplace without elective abortions? Yes, but it is easier said than done. The A.C.A. forbids insurers to inform consumers about their abortion coverage except as part of the long list of benefits provided to those already enrolling. It also forbids them to reveal how much of the enrollee’s premium will go into the separate account for abortions. Thus a common impression that enrollees will write a “separate check” for abortion, which pro-life dissenters might try refusing to sign, is apparently false—the funds are separated at the insurer’s end. Some states have said that every health plan on their exchange will cover elective abortions.

This is troubling in light of polling commissioned by the bishops’ conference during consideration of the A.C.A. Most survey respondents opposed measures that require Americans to support abortion with their tax dollars or their premiums; 68 percent said that if the choice were theirs they would not want abortion in their health coverage. On each question, women gave stronger pro-life responses than men. The majority of American women who oppose abortion coverage will now often face a sad dilemma: Either pay for abortions anyway or have greatly reduced options when looking for a health plan to meet their families’ needs.

An example is health coverage for members and key staff of Congress. Before passage of the A.C.A., all federal employees received their coverage under the widely envied Federal Employees Health Benefits Program mentioned earlier. Each employee could choose among dozens of health plans and receive an employer subsidy from the federal government paying up to 75 percent of their premium. No plan could include elective abortion. Federal employees in Washington, D.C., could choose among over 100 federally subsidized health plans without subsidizing such abortions. Under the A.C.A., members and key staff of Congress are transferred to their local health exchanges—where they will still receive the employer subsidy, except that this subsidy will now pay for pro-abortion health plans. Congressional employees in Washington, D.C., who do not want to subsidize elective abortions can now choose from among only nine health plans out of 121 on the district’s exchange.

Some say the elaborate “segregation of funds” exercise within health plans keeps “taxpayer funds” from paying for elective abortions on these exchanges. That statement is misleading in two ways. First, the federal tax subsidies for plans covering abortion still violate the abortion policy that prevails in every other federal program. Second, the money that Americans will have to pay for other people’s abortions, as a condition for getting the individual health coverage that meets their needs, is still mandated by the federal government—insurers that cover abortion are forbidden to let anyone opt out. And that money is earmarked more directly and specifically for abortion than any tax Americans have ever paid before. The fact that it is a mandatory premium rather than a “tax” scarcely seems relevant to the moral issue involved.

3) The A.C.A. lacks important conscience protections. This is clear from the dozens of lawsuits on their way to the U.S. Supreme Court over the mandate for covering contraception and female sterilization as “preventive services.” Even that contraceptive mandate abandons a long bipartisan tradition in Congress and the White House of exempting those with a moral or religious objection.

The “preventive services” mandate raises potential conscience problems on abortion in three ways. First, some mandated drugs and devices can prevent the survival of a new human embryo before implantation (e.g., the copper IUD) or even afterward (ella, a close analogue to RU-486). That would be an abortion in Catholic teaching and in the eyes of many others, including the Christian business owners now before the Supreme Court. Second, if the Food and Drug Administration follows the lead of the World Health Organization and accepts RU-486 (mifepristone) as an “emergency contraceptive,” the drug known worldwide as the “abortion pill” would automatically become part of the mandate. Third, arguably no language in the A.C.A. stops this or a future administration from mandating even surgical abortion as a “preventive service” (preventing unwanted births instead of unintended pregnancies). The A.C.A. says the government cannot mandate abortion as an “essential health benefit,” but that provision does not mention the distinct mandate for “preventive services.”

More broadly, the final version of the A.C.A. deleted an important conscience provision from the original House-passed bill, which incorporated the Hyde/Weldon Amendment that has been part of Labor/H.H.S. appropriations bills since 2004. That law withholds Labor/H.H.S. funds from a federal agency or program or a state or local government that discriminates against health care entities that refuse to provide, refer for, pay for or provide coverage of abortion. Like the Hyde Amendment on funding, the Hyde/Weldon policy on conscience does not govern funds appropriated by the A.C.A.

4) Finally, it has been said that federal judges in Virginia and Ohio have ruled there is no abortion funding in the A.C.A. That is not quite true.

In a Virginia case (Liberty University v. Lew), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said Liberty University had failed to prove it is forced by the A.C.A. to provide or pay for abortion coverage. In this regard the Fourth Circuit was correct. The university could purchase or sponsor student and employee coverage without elective abortions. In fact, Virginia is one of 24 states that have rejected the A.C.A.’s approach and banned most abortion coverage on their own state exchange. This case does not contradict what is said above about the A.C.A.’s own abortion policy.

In Ohio (Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus), a congressman claimed that a pro-life group had defamed him by saying during his re-election campaign that he voted for federal abortion funding by supporting the A.C.A. The trial judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case, stating that the pro-life group had not identified “any provision in [the A.C.A.] that appropriates taxpayer funds to pay for abortions.” The court did not reach a decision on the merits because the congressman’s suit was later dismissed on other grounds. But the judge’s initial comment was correct: No provision in the A.C.A. expressly appropriates money for abortions themselves. As explained above, it is the absence of an express exclusion that, under existing jurisprudence, creates the problem. And the A.C.A. does appropriate funds for health plans that cover abortions.

A proposal that would settle many such issues is the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 7, S. 946). As approved by the House in January, H.R. 7 would codify the policy of the Hyde Amendment and similar provisions, so they would no longer be subject to annual attack during the appropriations process. This policy, made consistent across the federal government, would also govern the A.C.A. and future legislation.

Health plans on the state exchanges would make this change in the next plan year, 2015; until then, these plans would at least have to disclose their abortion coverage and its cost to potential enrollees. Beginning in 2015, those wanting elective abortion coverage could purchase an overall plan that includes it, without federal subsidy; or they could purchase a plan without such abortions, receive the subsidy and choose to purchase separate abortion coverage with non-federal funds. The minority who want abortion coverage could purchase it; the majority who do not want it would not have it forced on them, either absolutely or as a condition for obtaining the health plan best for their families.

The reaction to H.R. 7 from legal experts who support abortion has been interesting. One expert, Sara Rosenbaum, has testified against the bill in Congress and had opposed the original Stupak Amendment, which H.R. 7 closely resembles in its effect on the A.C.A. The Stupak amendment was supported in 2009 by the bishops’ conference and by 64 House Democrats and approved by the then Democratic-controlled House; but it was rejected by the Senate and is absent from the final A.C.A.

Unlike some in Congress, Rosenbaum does not make the false claim that H.R. 7 bans privately purchased abortion coverage. Instead she notes that over the decades, Medicaid and other federal programs have excluded abortion from the category of health care that the government expects Americans to obtain and support. If the A.C.A. further increases the role of the federal government in health coverage and applies this same policy to federal subsidies for a broader class of Americans, this may produce a “tipping point” at which health care without elective abortion becomes the norm. Abortion and abortion coverage will still be legal and available, but rare.

To this I would add: Yes, and what is wrong with that? Pro-choice presidents have said they want abortion to be legal but rare. The great majority of American men and women do not want to support abortion with their taxes or health premiums. A recent poll of obstetrician-gynecologists showed that only 14 percent perform abortions, and the latest abortion statistics show abortion rates and the number of abortion providers at their lowest since 1973. To all but the most committed enthusiasts for abortion, that tipping point cannot arrive too soon.

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Mike Van Vranken
8 years 6 months ago
Had we, as the Church, provided health care for the last 2,000 years to those who could not afford it, we would not be having this problem. But, we have shirked our responsibility and turned it over to a civil government. We have Catholic hospitals. But, we do not talk about generously giving to those hospitals and so their numbers have declined over the years. If we begin talking about healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned - and we start doing it ourselves, there will be no need for a civil government to be involved.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
From this very article, some truth: The A.C.A. says the government cannot mandate abortion as an “essential health benefit,”...” No provision in the A.C.A. expressly appropriates money for abortions themselvesFurthermore: The idea that insurers are offering abortion coverage because it is cheaper than pregnancy and birth coverage and cheaper than adding another child to the family coverage betrays the author's lack of understanding about how insurance works.
David Rivera
8 years 6 months ago
The ACA is built on private insurance; qualifying people get tax rebates or direct subsidies. So it's up to the insurers to pay or not pay for abortion. Given your logic, employers shouldn't pay employees because that money might go for an abortion. ACA also expanded Medicaid in states that weren't callous enough to use their poor as pawns in a political game; Medicaid already doesn't pay for abortion. If the Church wants to make abortion rare, it needs to get over its objection to contraception, given that a majority of the Catholic faithful see no problem with it, or provide comprehensive care and financial support to women who seek abortions because they really can't afford to raise a child.
Dan Hannula
8 years 6 months ago
I think this article will be interesting reading years from now. Interesting in the same way as articles fifty years ago expressing strong moral opposition by Catholic Bishops (and their agents) to the liberalization of divorce laws. Odd too, how selective the moral outrage always seems to be from our bishops. I cannot recall many articles expressing similar concerns about our tax dollars going to fight the Iraq war; a war that JPII stated his "unequivocal position [in opposition]." It appears that the distinction between private and public morality in a pluralistic society is well understood and delineated on some issues, usually the conservative ones (like the Iraq war) and not on other issues, usually the liberal ones.
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
This isn't a "careful reading" so much as a plea that any and all insurance coverage of women's reproductive coverage be scrubbed from all health insurance plans. Once you wade into the piece the author allows that ACA funds aren't necessarily being used offensive measures ("We do not know"). Mr. Doerflinger pines for the Hyde Amendment to be injected into all health care policies on the grounds that it will provide the necessarily assurances (it won't) and seems to claim that there it is a deep betrayal that it is not. The section on how the choice of plans with and without reproductive coverage somehow violates his rights since it will result in a reduced number of choices is the tip-off that any HHS compromise will never be sufficient. Unconvincing. Reading all the twist and turns of the ACA reinforces the position of those who support the single payer plan.
Richard Doerflinger
8 years 6 months ago
Thanks for all comments on the article. A few thoughts. I’m grateful to the editors for clarifying where they obtained the accompanying photo. It would have been misleading as a representation of the “surcharge” many health plans will make enrollees pay for elective abortions. That charge is required to be at least $1 a month (to increase as needed to cover any abortions performed under the plan), and the ACA forbids insurers to alert enrollees to it as a separate charge. 42 USC 18023 (b). That surcharge, by the way, goes to a separate account designated solely for such abortions, and the ACA requires that it be charged to each enrollee regardless of that person’s view. I am not aware of any other federal law forbidding private companies to honor their customers’ moral or religious objections to abortion. These factors help distinguish this situation from paying one’s general taxes, and from an employer’s provision of salaries that employees freely decide how to spend. It is true that insurers have a choice whether to cover such abortions. Until the ACA, an insurer choosing to cover them was thereby forgoing the opportunity for federal tax subsidies for that health plan. Now this is no longer true. As shown by a link in the article, the statement that insurers cover abortion because it is cheaper than childbirth comes from the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland. For sake of clarity: When I acknowledged that no provision in the ACA expressly appropriates money for abortions themselves, my point was that no such provision is needed because appropriations for family planning, ob/gyn procedures, etc. are construed by federal courts to include abortion unless there is a provision stating the opposite. My article did not discuss the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, which was not a focus of the bishops’ criticism of the legislation. Whether enrolling in Medicaid means receiving elective abortion coverage depends on where you live, both before and after passage of the ACA. Federal Medicaid funds cannot be used for these abortions due to the Hyde amendment; but 17 states add abortion coverage, using state funds. Discussing Catholic teaching on contraception was beyond the scope of the article, but the general failure of contraception and “emergency contraception” programs to reduce abortions is documented in two fact sheets available here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/fact-sheets/contraception-fact-sheets.cfm. On the Guttmacher Institute’s claim that a recent decline in abortion rates is due to such programs see http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/02/12052/.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
RE the Planned Parenthood of Maryland attribution that insurers cover abortion because it is cheaper than childbirth: Then it is also the CEO there who fails to understand how insurance works. Insurers would make money if they collect premiums to cover abortions and then people do not have abortions. They also make money when they collect premiums to cover childbirth and then the childbirth is uncomplicated or a couple uses birth control effectively. Insurers do not prefer for women to have abortions in order to maximize profits. What needs to be remembered is that each abortion is the result of an individual decision. This decision can be influenced, but it is very unlikely that the decision comes down to abortion being cheaper than adding another child to the family. It is absurd to think that if one is predisposed to welcoming children into the family, one might decide to have an abortion because that is cheaper than having the child. However, if one is predisposed to not wanting more children, then one might choose an abortion one has to pay for oneself even though one has insurance that covers childbirth. Furthermore, it is impossible to make Federal law regarding reproductive rights in such a way that it appeases the Catholic Church, because the Church teaches that a fertilized human egg is an ensouled person and completely disregards the growth that occurs and the contribution that the mother's body and soul makes while the child is developing in the womb. A conforming Federal law would be one in which the woman has no rights against the rights of an egg that was fertilized inside her body. She would not even have the right to decline its implanting in her womb.
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
Two comments: 1. The surcharge claim is one that Fox News circulated earlier this year and is simply untrue (http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/01/28/fox-revives-aca-hidden-abortion-fee-myth/197789). 2. I'm not clear about the point of this sentence: "These factors help distinguish this situation from paying one’s general taxes, and from an employer’s provision of salaries that employees freely decide how to spend." There are many taxes that are not "general" and one could oppose, say, casinos and gambling on religious grounds and not want to pay hospitality taxes. In addition, tax resisters understand the way their taxes are spent and so will accept jail (or intentionally earn a very low income to avoid taxation) in order to adhere to religious/moral principles.
Vince Killoran
8 years 6 months ago
p.s. The hospitality tax point goes to the local taxes levied to support casinos and convention centers.
Richard Stith
8 years 6 months ago
The original article stuck me as powerful and accurate, and i have not been able to understand many of the criticisms raised in the comments. For example, Marie Rehbein has repeatedly said that private health insurance companies do not save money when people choose abortion. But if you take two health care plans, each of which offers both abortion and child care, won't the insurer whose clients tend more to choose abortion be able to charge the lower premium? Isn't that why health insurance companies urge preventive care in general? Isn't that why fire insurers urge their customers to install smoke alarms? It seems to me clear that the profit motive favors insurance companies offering abortion, and thus that pro-lifers should oppose a fully free market approach to health care. Government intervention, by contrast, is one of the best ways for a society collectively to put principles (e.g. the equality of all living humans) over profits. Of course, what those principles should be has to be settled by democratic debate, but the return to an unprincipled profit-oriented market seems to me not a wise option for pro-lifers, at least in this case. What is needed instead is the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R. 7, S. 946), on top of something like Obamacare, as Richard Doerflinger so well explains.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
Don't you see that if someone buys the insurance and doesn't use it, then the insurance company profits? If they lower premiums as a result, the insurance purchaser, not the company, profits. If you install a smoke alarm, you are less likely to use the entire amount of insurance you purchased. Then the insurance company profits only relatively to what they would have had to pay if your house fire had not been noticed until it consumed the whole structure. If the insurance company covers abortion separately from the other procedures, as it does under the ACA (as noted by Mr. Doerflinger, below), then it only profits if people have the abortion insurance and DO NOT HAVE the abortions. This isn't a choice between using your one policy to either have a baby or abort it. It's separate coverage for separate procedures. You have family coverage, for example, but this does not cover a facelift. If, however, there is a market for facelift insurance, insurance companies will put together a product. Then everyone might have access to facelifts, but when not everyone wants them, the insurance company profits. Assuming everyone will want abortions because they have insurance for it, is like assuming that everyone will want a facelift if they have insurance for it. You might do that, but I wouldn't. In addition, the insurance company profits by investing the premiums it collects. It might be the case that this is where it makes its greatest profits.
Angela Esker
8 years 6 months ago
My husband's employer's health insurance plan covers elective abortions (the insurer does not provide a choice of any plan that does not cover abortion). The health insurance company has told me that none of the premium goes to any abortion funding. So is what you describe below only pertain to insurance plans bought on the health care exchanges? 'The insurer alone chooses whether to cover elective abortions—and most for-profit insurers want to do so because abortion is cheaper than childbirth (and much cheaper than covering new children in a family health plan). The government then provides the same federal subsidy as for other health plans and requires the plan to collect a direct subsidy specifically for abortions from all enrollees—including those who have a strong moral objection'
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
How insurance companies makes money: mostly by investing the premiums. Rates are set based on the expectation of claims that will be paid. If the insurer covers abortions and many people take advantage of that coverage in lieu of taking advantage of the other coverage they have that covers pregnancy, childbirth, postnatal care, infant checkups and vaccination, it will not be allowed to charge the same premium as it would be if the number of claims in these two areas were reversed. So, ultimately, if your plan covers abortion and your fellow insured choose to use this coverage, it is possible for your premium to be less than the premiums in a group where the majority of people are having babies. On the other hand, if you have a large number of old smokers in your group, you are likely to pay even more than the group that has lots of healthy babies. I have moral objections to people neglecting their health and indulging in vices like smoking and drinking, and yet, I have to pay premiums based on people making medical claims due to their negligent lifestyles. What to do?
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
The following is from 42 U.S. Code § 18023 - Special rules: (D) Actuarial value (i) In general The issuer of a qualified health plan shall estimate the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on an average actuarial basis, for including coverage under the qualified health plan of the services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i). (ii) Considerations In making such estimate, the issuer— (I) may take into account the impact on overall costs of the inclusion of such coverage, but may not take into account any cost reduction estimated to result from such services, including prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care; (II) shall estimate such costs as if such coverage were included for the entire population covered; and (III) may not estimate such a cost at less than $1 per enrollee, per month. ************************************************************************************* WHAT DOES THIS SAY? IT SAYS: The issuer of a qualified health plan must estimate the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on an average actuarial basis, for including abortion coverage and may take into account the impact on overall costs of the inclusion of such coverage, but may not take into account any cost reduction estimated to result from such services, including prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care. This means that the insurance company is not allowed to set rates based on figuring HOW MUCH CAN BE SAVED FROM PEOPLE CHOOSING TO HAVE ABORTIONS INSTEAD OF BABIES. It means that the insurer still has to keep figuring that it will have to cover people having babies, so that if people decide to have babies there is enough money available to pay for it. IT MEANS that it is possible that costs due to people choosing to abort could make insurance cheaper, but the insurance companies are not allowed to bank on this and must charge at least $1.00 so that the money for abortions does not come out of actual coverage they would provide to those people who are having babies. So, how bad this is depends on what you want to see. I see that baby having is given support by these directives, while people who don't want money to go to abortion foresee insurers sending their enrollees pamphlets encouraging them to have abortions so that the insurers don't have to use the money the government mandates that they collect for the purpose of covering people who are having babies. However, if people begin to have lots of abortions and very few babies, the rates that apply to the costs of having babies would be lowered, while the rates for covering abortions would go up. Ultimately, everyone needs to understand that rate setting is a mathematical exercise based on actual past expenditures, not a scheme for getting to keep as much of the insurance premium as possible.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
The Church in the U.S. condemns the taking of any drug that is potentially abortifacient especially if the purpose is to avoid fertilization after sexual intercourse. There are no exceptions. Yet the church/magisterium has no moral issue with giving the morning after pill, a drug that is potentially abortifacient, to woman who has been raped provided that a pregnancy test is negative. The contradiction is that a pregnancy test can only detect a pregnancy "after implantation" has occurred, not within 72 hours of a rape which is the time that women are given this drug. In other words, a pregnant test will always be negative in these circumstances unless the woman was already pregnant before the rape. Therefore, fertilization may well have occurred but the test cannot detect it. Taking the potentially abortifacient drug is not immoral under this circumstance…which is somewhat of a contradiction in principle because an exception is being made to a moral absolute (which has no exceptions). On the other hand, the Church/magisterium argues that Catholics who own businesses should not be forced to do something that their faith finds immoral, such as providing coverage for contraceptive services or drugs that are potentially abortifacient. Here is an example of inconstancy and contradiction with respect to a teaching. It seems that an exception is perfectly legitimate under one circumstance, but in other circumstance there is no exception.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
This is an excellent and well-argued piece. While some below did not follow the specific details of Mr. Doerflinger's arguments and think there are contradictions when there are none, this is understandable as it is complicated. But, I think we all know certain things to be true about the political state of affairs in America. 1) The Democratic administration believes abortion to be a good moral choice. 2) They want people to have abortions and not have to pay for them. 3) They do not like the fact that millions of Americans believe it is an abomination to pay for an abortion. 4) They use their guile and intelligence to create financial shell games to make pro-life Americans pay for abortions, and 5) they lie about it all the time in public, while they say the Catholics are conducting a "War on Women" (even though more than half of those killed are females and more women are against abortion than men). So, they gave Planned Parenthood $541 million in 2013 and pretend it doesn't go to abortions (but money is fungible and can be moved around, just as the Mafia does it). Similarly, they will use every indirect means possible to pay for abortions through the Obamacare insurance system and design legislation to get around the Hyde Amendment. It is no surprise Obama used an Executive Order to appease the (ever-dwindling) naive pro-life Democrats to get their vote on the AHA, since executive Orders can be repealed at any time (without new legislation), once there is a change in the political winds. When it comes to contraception, they are even more emboldened and don't really think highly of the Christian religion or religious freedom for Christians in any case. And, it is not enough that women get free contraception, which is not expensive and could easily be paid through donations from contraceptors for that purpose. As with the gay agenda, the real goal is to change Catholic teaching by getting Catholics used to going against Church teaching. And, unfortunately, several commentators below are being used as naive or complicit tools in a charade. As regards the Church's teaching on the moral treatment of women who have been raped, here is an excellent summary to the Church's logical teaching on the subject.http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0566.html. As to the ACA "surcharge" here is the link to the CNN Money article that used this image. http://money.cnn.com/2014/02/27/news/economy/obamacare-restaurants/index.html
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
When I was in my twenties, I needed to take hormonal birth control pills in order not to have disabling periods. I had prescription coverage, but this medicine was not covered, because it was birth control. I wasn't using it for that, but it cost quite a bit of money.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - the Church has absolutely no objection to the use of the hormonal pill for such indications. But, they are not expensive today. But, in any case, even for contraceptive use today, or for, say, marijuana for recreational use, or alcohol use, or partial-birth abortion, or euthanasia, there is a big difference between choosing to pay for these things for oneself, and making someone else who has serious and long-standing moral objections pay for it. An employer who has a non-trivial but serious moral objection should only have to tell prospective employees they will not pay for the objected item, and not be compelled to go against their conscience.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
Whether something is expensive depends on how much money you have to spend. While it might not be expensive for someone earning a doctor's salary, it can be for someone earning an entry level salary, and it certainly is for someone earning minimum wage. I think you are incorrect in equating contraception with recreational marijuana. There are many medical reasons why someone would want to avoid pregnancy. You would be on firmer ground equating Viagra use and recreational marijuana, and yet no employers seem to object to covering Viagra. As to a point you seem to make frequently: women don't want abortions and don't want other people to have abortions, but they also don't want people telling them they must have them or may not have them. The solution most women would prefer is, in fact, widespread availability of contraception and for people to have sufficient income to support the number of children they would like (an economic policy response to the problem of abortion). Finally, this article purports to solve a problem. However. that problem does not really exist.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Contraceptives cost $15 a month and many places provide it for free for those with low incomes (part of their plan to cull the herd). But, if something is used by choice, then it is not insurance, just a subsidy. As for poverty, I think one who demands other people go against their conscience are poor indeed, no matter how much money they have.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
So, the contraceptives cost the minimum wage workers two hours of their before taxes pay each month. Maybe contraceptive costs should be based on the purchaser's income. Maybe if your family encountered a need like this, the contraceptive should be priced at, what?, $200.00 a month?
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Why not have Planned Parenthood or another organization give out free contraceptives to the poor? Oh wait - they do. Why do you want Catholics to be forced to pay for it?
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
I think the poor should be able to get the same health care by way of the same agencies as the rest of the population. The dream of the so-called pro-life activists is, of course, to shut down Planned Parenthood and other places where the poor go for reproductive health care. Your dream is far more likely to be realized if the poor are able to go about their medical business just like anyone else. You did not notice my comment about Viagra being covered, I guess.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Yes. I want PP shut down because it kills children. But, you and others say most people believe contraception is a great good. So, how come these many people are so cheap they can't support an organization that provides contraception but not abortions?
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
I would ask that also. Why don't those who oppose Planned Parenthood compete with them by offering all the same health care, including contraceptives, but minus abortions, instead of simply trying to do away with Planned Parenthood when it is obviously the only available care in some populations?
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Tim O'Leary offers a link to an article in order to justify giving the morning after pill to a rape victim but fails to understand precisely what the article actually said. This is another way of blindly arguing or being misguided by ignorance. The article makes clear that "appropriate testing" must be given to ensure that fertilization has not occurred before the pill can be given to a rape victim. Further, the article makes clear that healthcare providers must administer a Luteinizing hormone dip test or a progesterone blood level test to reasonable ensure that ovulation has not occurred. If it has, then fertilization may have occurred and the pill must not be given to the rape victim. This procedure of giving a ovulation test was what bishops in the U.S. used to follow but the Archbishop of Connecticut and others argued in a famous rape case that a pregnancy test was reasonable given state and federal law. In other words, they caved in to state and federal law which authorized a pregnancy test but not a ovulation test. If Catholic and other hospitals did not abide by the law they might lose federal/state funding etc. Thus, I repeat….a pregnancy test is not an appropriate test to reasonably ensure that ovulation did not occur by a rape victim. A pregnancy test will only be positive after implantation has occurred or if the rape victim was already pregnant before the rape. The case in Connecticut was also followed in another state where the bishop had no problem with a pregnancy test. This is not only inconsistent and contradictory with USCCB guidelines but it is a sham. The argument that I made in my previous comment, and the Connecticut case, was the subject of a contentious theological debate that went on for many years. The bottom line is inconsistency and contradiction with respect to a moral teaching. By the way, I do believe that a rape victim should be given the pill because of many reasons, the least of which is the fact the the sexual intercourse was aggressively forced upon the victim against her will and most likely under the threat to her life. Rape is a horrific crime.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
It is characteristic of authoritarian institutions and individuals to make the rules and to make exceptions to them while not allowing others to do so. There is a difference between the ideal, which could be achieved in a perfect God-pleasing world, and the real, which involves coming up short and requiring forgiveness.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - it is characteristic of pro-abortion commentators like yourself to think pro-lifers arguments are illogical or motivated by self-interest. Why can't you just be honest and say our differences hinge on the timing we believe ensoulment occurs. I believe it is most logical that it occurs at conception. So does the Church. I am not 'blindly' following anyone, as Michael insists. It is just that I find that the most reasonable stance. Maybe, you can say when you think ensoulment occurs and/or when an unborn human becomes worthy of full human rights?
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
You have asked me that before, and I answered, but perhaps you missed it. I believe that the soul develops along with the fetus and that it sprouts shortly after the embryo implants. I also believe that our souls are developing throughout our lives.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - a soul has no parts and so cannot develop as you seem to think. It is either existing or it isn't. It cannot be killed, either. Only the body can be killed. And where did you come up with the idea that it "sprouts" at implantation, as if this was a physical process? And what do you mean by "shortly after" implantation? I marvel at your understanding of science and philosophy. In any case, when do you think an unborn human being should have a right to life independent of the mother's wishes? At birth? If the latter, does it have any rights at all beforehand? Is our right not to be killed somehow proportional to our level of independence from another person? Have you considered the rights of conjoined twins?
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
Well, Tim, a lot of the people whose lives you hope to control do not even believe in souls. No one, not you, not anyone representing the theology of the Catholic Church, has any reason for believing what they believe about souls that is not simply accepting what someone else has speculated it must be. As you may know, it is believed that souls continue through a purification process after one dies. I take this to imply that souls continue to develop. Tim, I am afraid that you are a concrete thinker even about philosophical matters. This is why you believe there is science involved in beliefs about souls. I guess you believe that a woman must continue to play host to a child that, for example, has what should be its brain "developing" outside of its skull rather than ending such a pregnancy in the third trimester. I believe that a healthy fetus should never be aborted in the third trimester given that if it were to be delivered, it stands a chance of surviving outside of its mother. I hope that comforts you, though I suspect you preference is to despise anything offered by someone who does not fall into lockstep with your beliefs.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Your second sentence contradicts your third. And your idea that a mother is just "playing host" as if a child is a parasite, is sad. Not concrete, though. Just sad. Marie - I know you think in a very different way ethically than I but I still do not despise you at all, no matter what you think.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
I happen to know of a woman who chose to terminate a pregnancy due to the fetus being hopelessly deformed. I assume that you would feel that she needs to let nature take its course even though by doing what she did, she was able to have a healthy child sooner. I am not sure where you see a contradiction. I can think as if souls are real, but I can also think how people who don't believe it do. It's all speculation, nevertheless. If I choose to believe something about souls, I try to consider what others believe and why they might believe that. If I'm talking souls, I look to Biblical evidence that suggests they exist and alludes to the nature of them. I certainly like to be consistent, but that does not mean being inflexible.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Michael - you are always characterizing your opponents arguments as blind when you obviously do not understand them. I know you are stretched to your intellectual limits (to put it mildly) in understanding the Church's teaching but you are just being lazy in constantly repeating these characterizations. You are in serious need of help. It is not reasonable to think that all the orthodox theologians in the Church are contradicting themselves in their logic or cannot understand the subtleties of the arguments. I recommend that anyone reading this go to the link and not rest their interpretation on Michael's characterization. It does not mention the Connecticut Bishops' argument and does not use their faulty reasoning, which was criticized as caving to politics at the time. Here it is again .http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0566.html. A rape is violence expressed sexually. Humanae vitae strongly emphasizes that a women and a man should only give themselves in full freedom. Pushing a rapist away, or putting an obstacle between the rapist's sperm (including a chemical obstacle) and the women is completely legitimate and moral. What is not moral is to kill a new human being, if one is sure a new human being has been formed (I believe from previous comments that Michael thinks killing such an innocent human is morally permissible). If there is doubt, or uncertainty in a specific situation, one must try to do what is right. One should defend but not kill.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Tim, You conflate and misrepresent what I say to support your extreme positions and orthodoxy. To you, anyone who disagrees with a Church/magisterium teachings is doing the devils work or is not Catholic enough, or is leading good Catholics in the morally wrong direction. I made a legitimate point about the Archbishop of Connecticut's decision as an example of inconsistency and contradiction, but you deflected from this fact and moved to reaffirm your point about that article which you did not fully understand, nor did you relate it to my argument. If the Bishops can give the morning after pill to a rape victim based on a negative pregnancy test that will be alway negative because a pregnancy test cannot detect ovulation or fertilization or pregnancy until "after implantation", then how is the administration of the pill in these circumstances not potentially killing an innocent human being (your argument)? Your own argument falls under its own weight as misguided and wrong. If my judgment in the case of rape and the administration of the pill is morally wrong, according you and the magisterium, then I am in good company for the majority of Catholics feel the same way. My judgment of conscience is not supported by an opinion poll but supported by legitimate philosophical and theological arguments. Tim, you will always deflect and misdirect when anyone offers a reasoned position that is in tension with a church/magisterium teaching or a contradiction in principle which was my point.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Michael - you never address your own inconsistencies. To be "in good company" with any group is not an argument for anything but popularity. Can't you just address my question regarding why you think both that 1) human life and ensoulement begins at conception and 2) it is morally right to kill them if they have been conceived by rape or incest? Or just admit you are being inconsistent. You fancy yourself an educated moralist but you can't address questions a freshman student would have to face.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
I think Michael is saying there is no difference between preventing an embryo from continuing to follow the natural course of events and intervening to stop the natural course of events. You are saying that a woman has been identified by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as having a right to defend herself from becoming a host to an individual who was conceived due to rape, but does not have a right to stop being a host of such an individual if it implanted itself and began using her body's resources to develop even when she did not have to opportunity to defend herself from that development. You are also saying, if the Magisterium of the Catholic Church says something is so, it is absolutely so, and you are not recognizing that the Magisterium has changed teachings of matters of reproduction and not seeing that this means that its teachings on these matters is never absolute.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - your first sentence is a whopper, ethically speaking. You're not helping Michael, who does not think human life begins at implantation. But, at least no one can accuse you of concrete thinking. I think he might have a more logical response, if he gives one.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
Tim, I am afraid that I have to agree with Michael that you tend to misinterpret what people are trying to say. I am saying that Michael is saying that there are logical inconsistencies in the teaching of the Catholic Church. They state principles and then make exceptions for real life situations. However, the exceptions are not nuances of the principles, they contradict the principles. So, if you say life begins when the sperm and egg combine and that this happens because it is God's will that the new individual be given a chance for life with all the help humans can give, then logically you should not do anything to prevent implantation; it's no different than terminating a pregnancy, logically speaking. In my opinion, the Church should revisit its logic about the sacredness of embryos. From what I have gathered, the only Scriptural foundation for what it teaches is a verse in which God says he knew someone before he was born. If there is anything else, I'd love for someone the explain it. However, that passage from the Bible, I think, speaks to God's omniscience, and those who interpret it have somehow premised that interpretation on a human understanding of the sequence of events. I don't know if Michael agrees with that or not.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - your idea of a developing soul is a logical problem so to go along your way of thinking a little, the Church would have to separate ensoulment from human conception. It was science that proved the human being's body begins at conception. The Bible teaches multiple places that directly killing innocent humans is evil. The Church would have to find a time later in gestation that humanity appears. Implantation makes no sense as it is just a source of nutrition to a living embryo. The old idea of quickening (40 days) has been discredited by modern science. One could try to come up with a time of development of the brain. At another extreme, one could push ensoulment to post-birth, connecting it with development of reason, as Peter Singer at Princeton does. But, the Church cannot just make this kind of thing up, as a university philosopher can. It must seek the Truth as it really is (as God means it). The Church has taken such a definitive stance on ensoulment that if they abandoned that now, you may as well throw out its whole teaching. I note that the Didache, from the first century, calls abortion evil. The Hippocratic oath considered abortion evil. And, even if one could move ensoulment later, it would not change the Church's teaching on contraception. But, maybe, his logic is too concrete for you.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
The Church's teaching on contraception is not based on the humanity of the embryo. However, the political objections of some non-Catholics to some forms of contraception, when on the whole they have no objection to the practice, is based on believing what the Catholic Church teaches about the humanity of the embryo. I still contend that the soul is not necessarily a complete thing, and I like your suggestion that one could see the first sign of brain development as being significant. In my theory, this would be an ideal time for the soul to begin growing, as well. The Church has, and will continue, to make this kind of thing up. It thought it was on stable ground with the moment of conception, because this was considered scientific and science was the new truth. However, identifying the moment of conception as so significant that the fertilized egg is considered a full human being is in error, because, quite obviously, it is not a full human being. There is so much more that goes into making the person out of the directions that are found in the embryo, that it seems obvious to me that the Church will need to change its teaching. The directions for making any person are found in any cell, really. Combining genetic material from two cells of different people is not beyond the capabilities of scientists. Declaring that each time something like this is done, we have a sacred moment and the equivalent of another new human being is ludicrous.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Marie, Thanks for your thoughts about my interlocutor, Mr. O'Leary. As for ensoulment, we know that the Catholic Church believes that ensoulment occurs at conception. Other Judeo-Christian religions do not have a definitive dogma on ensoulment. As you pointed out, there are many theories and the Church/magisterium has changed its beliefs about ensoulment from ancient times to the recent present. The issue of ensoulment continues to be a mystery. When I argue about a specific issue, my position is the framework for making ethical and moral right decisions, which is the field of moral theology/moral method. In other words: how does one determine what is right or wrong behavior/actions in concrete circumstances where often there is moral dilemma. Historically, the Church/magisterium has issued juridical, legalistic and absolute norms of right and wrong behavior, often in the form of sins. In other words, one must always do this, and not that. In early times, a moral manual of these so-called sins were developed to guide priests in confession to determine if a sin was committed and if so, the appropriate penance. However, a listing of sins were not so easy to follow when confronted with the ever-ending multitude of circumstances, ends and intentions of the person. Sometimes doing the so-called right thing resulted in some evil, and doing something that was considered evil for a good was morally justified (e.g., killing a person to safe-guard justice). Thomas Aquinas tried to resolve this dilemma by formulation a moral method which in part, but not always, is followed today by the magisterium, although there are several interpretations of what Aquinas meant by certain terms and things he wrote about in the Summa Theologia. Nevertheless, it is a sound moral method for ethical decision-making that most theologians consider in theological debates especially on specific issues, such as contraception, terminating a pregnancy that is threatening the life of the mother, etc. To demonstrate how complex, and not absolute, some teachings are is to understand that traditionalist theologians who argue in support of magisterial teachings, also disagree on many complex issues, such as, whether it is morally right to terminate an unviable fetus that is threatening the life of the mother. Such prominent theologians that argue for the teaching on contraception, such as Germain Grisez and Martin Rhonheimer, "disagreed" with the decision of the Bishop of Phoenix and the magisterium over the Phoenix case where the procedure to terminate the pregnancy to save the life of the mother was not direct abortion (as the bishop and Rome argued), but indirect abortion and morally permissible. Of course, Mr. O'Leary will argue that the magisterium is protected from error on all moral teachings claimed to be the truth. In any case, the issue of ensoulment was not a morally determinative factor relative to the moral analysis of the direct-indirect abortion issue in the infamous Phoenix case. This does not mean that ensoulment was not important but that it was not determinative in moral decision-making. For these reasons, I hope you can appreciate my reluctance to argue over the issue of ensoulment. It is not the right question or issue to debate when it comes to determining the moral species of voluntary human action.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
As you say, Michael, the issue of ensoulment will never be resolved. It is a matter of faith and guesswork. Unfortunately, I believe the current Catholic position on the matter is an obstacle to a compassionate position on the matter of contraception to a large extent, abortion to a degree, and IVF in the extreme. Your comment brings to mind a topic that I recall from my teenage years in religious education. This was situation ethics. Our instructor was a non-Catholic seminarian who gave many examples of situations in which right could be wrong and wrong could be right. I was not comfortable with this simple approach to ethics, because determining whether an outcome was good or bad would require a kind of omniscience that humans clearly do not have. Nevertheless, one cannot rule out consideration of which likely potential outcome best conforms to the overall sentiment expressed in Jesus Great Commandment when one makes a moral choice. Clearly, in the example to which Tim gave a response above, the choice Tim said he would make conforms to this teaching of Jesus.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Marie - you say no one can know when ensoulment occurs but also that the Church is in error on this point. So, here I think you are again contradicting yourself. You say the Church is making things up about ensoulment and Michael does not say he disagrees with you, but I think he does. In any case, I only respond here to correct your and Michael's misinterpretation that I was advocating for the morality of my two hypothetical points (notice the word "if"). It is NOT my suggestion that brain development is a good way to determine a right to not be killed. That is a terrible idea (one who had a stroke would lose their humanity, some born children with brain defects would be deprived of a right to life, just as the nazis advocated). Also, I would hope I would not kill my child in the case discussed (hence, I used the word just). I can see e face of one of my children now and I could not kill them and think it is morally good, even if it saved their mother. It would be a terrible "Sophie's choice" but I cannot think Jesus would want me to kill a child, even to save her mother. God does not always provide a way for us in life to avoid tragedy and loss. But He does not want us to do one wrong to avoid another.
Marie Rehbein
8 years 6 months ago
Of course, the error is that the Church is saying it does know when ensoulment occurs, but it has nothing with which to substantiate that. It is no more valid than my suggestion for a later time, which I believe because of how many fertilized human eggs never develop into babies no matter how much the potential parents want them and other observations that I will not go into here. I realize that you did not suggest brain development being a good guess for an ensoulment point. You simply prompted me to consider that option. You take my suggestion further than I would, however, and seem to think that I am linking the quality of the brain development with the quality of ensoulment. I can see why you might think that, but there is no reason to assume it. Souls are a given in Christian belief; otherwise, what goes on to be with God after death? However, the things that supposedly impact the condition of the soul do not rely on intelligence, but rather love or lack thereof. My understanding is that this impulse to love comes from deep within the brain -- in the amygdala -- and is moderated by the cerebral cortex. Of course, as you know, there are all kinds of exceptions for culpability in sin including a person's capacity to comprehend. Therefore, nothing is lost by saying that a soul develops as a fetus develops. And, given that a lot of tempering supposedly happens to the soul after death, the loss of various brain capabilities due to stroke would mean absolutely nothing, since in death there is no brain function at all. With regard to the hypothetical scenario posed to you by Michael, I would add that I see the matter as you do. It's not necessarily the only right choice or the only wrong choice. As Michael keeps saying, though, your conscience is guiding such a choice, which must mean that when you make it you believe you are making the best of choice from the choices available to you and not that you are saying you don't care what God thinks about this and so will do what works out best for yourself.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Tim, Since this is Lent I will try to be clearer about my argument which you deflected from and did not understand, nor address. My comments pointed to inconsistency and contradiction to the teaching about taking actions to prevent fertilization from occurring after a rape. The teaching of the magisterium, in particular USCCB guidelines, say that an ovulation test is to be administered to the rape victim. If this test is positive, it means that ovulation has occurred and that fertilization is possible, and the morning after pill cannot be given to the rape victim. That is the teaching of the magisterium. While I can argue over the moral justification of administering the morning after pill to rape victims, I felt a much stronger argument was to point to the inconsistency and contradiction of this teaching. This is why I explained the issue about using a pregnancy test by bishops (e.g. the Archbishop of Connecticut and other bishops) because it is a sham as "an appropriate test". In other words, a pregnancy test will "always be negative" unless the victim was already pregnant or the test was administered after implantation occurred (about 3 weeks after fertilization occurs)…which is not the case because a pregnancy test is administered usually within 72 hours of a rape. When a teaching is not the "absolute moral truth", you get moral dilemma in concrete circumstances that causes one to try to resolve the dilemma by trying to justify an exception. In rape cases, the problem manifests itself as a contradiction in principle when you try to justify the teaching by using a pregnancy test (and not an ovulation test). This casts the teaching as a sham. In other words, the underlying principles and philosophy that underpin the teaching cannot be a moral absolute (e.g., where under no circumstances, ends or intentions can you perform the act). There are exceptions that can be justified. Don't you get this? The teaching must be responsibly reformed or the bishops must be instructed by the CDF to stop the use of the pregnancy test and use an ovulation test. This has not been done. Nor has the magisterial addressed other cases of moral dilemma where a teaching is causing unnecessary and harmful burdens for many people and families. Hence, when a pill that is potentially abortifacient is used because a pregnancy test is negative (usually administered within 72 hours of a rape and always negative unless the woman was already pregnant), then you get a contradiction in principle because you are preventing the fertilized egg from implantation which is according to the magisterium killing an innocent person. The USCCB said nothing. The CDF said nothing and you said nothing about the fact that many bishops morally authorize to use a negative pregnancy test to justify administering the morning after pill to rape victims. As usual Tim, you did not address my argument but repeated your questions. The reason you did not respond to my argument is because you have no adequate answers. My argument is only one argument, and not the only argument, for justifying the administration of the morning after pill to rape victims. When you refuse to address my argument Tim, we go around in circles. I have pointed this issue out to you on previous occasions with examples, and all you do is continue to deflect, misdirect and avoid the major point of my argument. This is also why debating with you Tim becomes unproductive. Your style of argument is similar to the magisterium when they do not adequately address the many moral dilemmas, problems, inconsistencies and contradictions in existential reality. Some of these problems are profoundly complex and cause serious and unnecessary burdens for many Catholics. This is why Pope Francis called a Synod on the Family to try to adequately address some of these issues. I do not fancy myself as anything other than an educated and informed Catholic. Trying to nail down you to the points in an argument is like trying to nail jello to a wall.
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Michael - there you go again. Avoiding a clear simple question on your own inconsistency. You are the cause of the circles, repeating a third time in the same detail your complaint of inconsistency in the CT bishops with the Magisterium. Maybe they were inconsistent. I do not disagree on this point (I do not follow their arguments blindly, as you claim). I am not even defending the Magisterium in this case. I just want to know what your position is regarding a human being conceived in a rape. You say you think it is morally good to kill such an innocent fetus (surely you have a better argument than an appeal to popularity - "I am in good company with a majority"). Even Marie attempted to answer for you (mercifully, in less words), which should have made you blush. I cannot believe her interpretation of your argument - that you think that killing an embryo or preventing it from being conceived are morally equivalent (see next comment). That would put contraception as morally equivalent to abortion, undermining your life's work! Or do you agree with Marie's argument that all conceived humans begin with minimal human rights that grow with gestation (and beyond that to adulthood) of their bodies and their souls? Or just admit to your inconsistency. To paraphrase Jesus in Mt 7:3, address the huge inconsistency in your own eye before you attack the small inconsistency in others.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Tim, I would like to make a few points for your consideration and reflection. 1. You commentaries continue to have a very negative and almost hateful undertone. You seem to on a self-appointed crusade to defend the magisterium regardless of the reasons or points of counter-argument. Any person who argues against a teaching is the enemy or someone that is leading good faithful Catholics in the morally wrong direction. Therefore, any strategy you choose to employ to counter these evil opinions is justified. In your world, whatever the magisterium says is the absolute moral truth is so…end of discussion. Contradictions, inconsistencies, and sound arguments that point to legitimate reasons for a responsible change in a teaching are not important or misguided. Somehow these arguments are not seeing the real truth. This is what the Church/magisterium and traditionalist apologists have been doing for the past 50 years on the contentious issues of sexual ethics. Trying to have a civil and respectful conversation with you is almost impossible. This does not mean that I think you are ignorant or not asking good questions, but that your style of argument eventually leads nowhere, unless things change. 2. I clearly see what you write and when I determine you are going off-point or not addressing my argument, I try to bring you back to the points I am making. A debate is a two-way street. If one is constantly ignoring the other's points, and insisting that only their questions be answered, then this becomes a one-way street. I don't want to, nor will I, chase your style of argument all over the place inclusive of your questions that try to box your interlocutors into some type of checkmate illusion. If you adequately address the points I am making, I will answer your questions or try to explain why your questions are not being framed correctly. There is very little give-and-take between us. I choose not to be forced into your alleys of argumentative questions if you do not respectfully consider and adequately address to the points I am making. 3. An example of your conflating things is your statement that I am using opinion polls or appealing to popularity as a basis for my augment. I specifically said in the next sentence where I mention that I am in good company with the majority of Catholics on this point about rape, that I use legitimate philosophical and theological arguments for my viewpoints. Yet, you chose to ignore this fact in the very next sentence, a fact that I deliberately made because I thought you might make a claim that I am using opinion polls. You then stayed true to your style of argument and picked a few words of mine out of context to drive home your erroneous accusation that I am appealing to popularity. Shame on you! Don't you realize Tim that people see right through you and these tactics? 4. You say there may be inconsistencies with the teaching on rape and the use of the morning after pill. You say you are not defending the magisterium on this point. Ok, then you must also see that many bishops are doing what you seem to condemn, namely, that giving the morning after pill to a rape victim based on a negative pregnancy test is tantamount to killing an innocent person! The actions of bishops in these cases are in contradiction to magisterial teachings. If you agree, then you must also agree that something is seriously wrong with the teaching or the moral methodology that is being used by many bishops and the magisterium. If you agree with this conclusion, then say so. Then, we can move the conversation forward to address other related questions. There is the issue of double effect as well as the moral method of Aquinas that justify the administration of the morning after pill to rape victims. This case is no different from terminating a pregnancy where the life of the mother is threatened by an unviable fetus. I ask you Tim: if your wife was in this situation, would you let your wife and the unviable fetus die, or would you save your wife's life by terminating the pregnancy, preserve your marriage, give your existing children the benefit of a mother, and look forward to another day when your wife might had another child?
Tim O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Michael - while you avoided for the 4th time to directly address the humanity of the child conceived by rape, I think the gist of your response is that you agree you too are inconsistent on this issue. Ok, but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. So, all I am suggesting is that you realize your dissent from Church teaching is itself filled with gaps and inconsistencies. That should lead to a much more humble expression of disagreement when you perceive the Church is not satisfying your charge of inconsistency. You did ask one direct question to me at the end. In some very rare situations, more common in the past or undeveloped world, an unborn child can pose a risk to the life of the mother if carried to term. It is almost certainly in the late third trimester that this risk can be known with high certainty (like Eclampsia as happened to Sybil on the Downton Abbey series). They portrayed it like it really is, a true risk to life for both mother and child. In such a terrible situation as this, I would pray to God with all my might that both would make it through the birth but I would hope I would never kill my child directly. If I did, I would fall on my knees for my sin and humbly ask God for forgiveness, through the sacraments of the Church. I would never become a dissenter campaigning for the Church to change its teaching just to assuage my pain in the tragedy. The Magisterium has faced all the tragedies of two millennia, and they, like us, must look at real tragedy and dilemmas in its human face when they use the power Jesus gave them to bind and loose and the promise the Church would not teach error. I do not have that promise, and neither do you. That is my faith.
Michael Barberi
8 years 6 months ago
Tim, Your logic and arguments are full of hot-air assertions without any examples and descriptions to back up you erroneous accusations. This is you style of argument and this is why our discussion go around in circles and are unproductive. I am consistent on all issues and offer details in argument. For example, I explained to you how you take things out of context, and make erroneous accusations, such as your claim that I am appealing to opinion polls as a basis for my disagreements with certain Church/magisterium teachings, when I clearly said no such thing. In fact, I fully explained the basis of my arguments. So, what do you do? You do nothing!! You ignore what is blatantly obvious to anyone reading this blog because you don't want to admit you exaggerate and distort what I write in an effort to claim some type of foolish superior argument. You simply move on to your hot-air accusations and erroneous assertions without anything remotely substantial and intellectually persuasive. You provided no details of my so-called gaps and inconsistencies. It does not matter what I say. You just ignore anything that you can't argue against. I disagree with certain Church/magisterium teachings for legitimate philosophical and theological reasons. Kindly get that into your head. I have explained myself, in detail, many times on this point. As to your response to my last question, your answer is the answer you were seeking to the questions you posited to me. Yet, you are blind to this. The fact that you would save your wife's life and terminate the pregnancy in this case where an unviable fetus and pregnancy is threatening her life is exactly the point. You think you gave a good answer, but you failed to see your own inconsistency and contradiction. Your hypothetical decision in this case is the right one…make no mistake about it. When our informed conscience tells us what is true are right, we always should pray that we are not offending God because we only see a partial truth. However, that is not the point!! We should never go against our informed conscience, and your hypothetical decision is an example of that. It is not in weakness that you would have made that hypothetical decision, it is through strength of your faith, love of God, reason and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that your informed conscience directed your judgment and actions. I would make the same decision but for legitimate philosophical and theological reasons that inform my conscience. I would also pray, seek priestly advice, et al. Granted a woman threatened by a pregnancy is not a frequent occurrence, such as the Phoenix Case. However, what you fail to understand is moral theology/moral method and how principles and philosophy are used to substantiate and justify certain moral teachings. The Church/magisterium cannot issue a moral absolute and then allow exceptions. But this is exactly happens such as in the case of rape and the Connecticut Archbishop's decision regarding the use of a pregnancy test as justification for administering the morning after pill to the rape victim within 72 hours of the rape. It is a sham and you know it because such a decision is killing an innocent person…based on their definition and teaching. You either fail to see this or minimize it. That is your problem, not mine. I disagree with this teaching for good reasons. You don't, but you can't justify the inconsistency and contradiction and you will never see this as the problem with the teaching. Such inconsistencies and contradictions point to the fact the something is wrong with the teaching or the moral method being utilized. You don't go there or try to address it because you don't like the implication and the sham. You merely move on to argue a different point. You can pontificate all you like about quoting Scripture but all you are doing is what is commonly referred to as proof texting, not to mention your misunderstandings. Lastly, you like to use demeaning language a lot, such as calling anyone who has a legitimate disagreement with a church/magisterium teaching a "dissenter". Such disparaging language weakens your argument. I think we are done here Tim, unless you have something substantive to offer. God bless.

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