A Careful Reading: Could federal health care money be used for abortion?

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.

Mike Van Vranken
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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 themselves Furthermore: 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
3 years 2 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.
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Here's another careful reading, this time of America Magazine and this article. America Editors and Mr Doerflinger - Which of you came up with the photo accompanying this article? I started to read the article as a means of identifying the source of the "receipt" in the photograph. And then I stopped. Because I realized that the photo itself is almost certainly propaganda. That is almost certainly not a real receipt. That is almost certainly another faked receipt created to inflame and outrage. And that tells me this article is almost certainly propaganda. I am a careful reader and, thus, I stopped reading Mr Doerflinger's article in the middle of the first paragraph. And, because I am a careful reader, this may be the last time I read America. One could say a truly careful reader would parse the article to determine whether it explains the accompanying photo. Hogwash. In a world awash with reliable information sources, careful readers don't need to waste time on text accompanied by slick photo journalism which, however au-courant and clever, is almost certainly photoshopped. Thanks but no thanks, Editors of America and Mr Doerflinger. Jean Brookbank
Tim Reidy
3 years 2 months ago

Apologies, this caption should be included with the picture above:

A surcharge for the affordable Care act, popularly known as Obamacare, is seen highlighted on the dining bill of a reuters correspondent in Clermont, fla. Diners at a florida restaurant chain are being asked to pay a health insurance surcharge on their meal tabs. 
Marie Rehbein
3 years 2 months ago
I wonder if this isn't illegal. The Treasury Department or IRS should look into how the money collected by way of the surcharge is spent. My guess is the proprietor has an ax to grind with President Obama and believes he is simply making a statement.
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Hi Tim - I appreciate the response. I had searched the article for a caption and the lack of one certainly added to my appraisal of the photo and the accompanying text. Where is the remainder of the receipt? What is the name of the restaurant? What is the date of the receipt? Can America document its source for the photo? (what you offer in the late caption is the equivalent of "my friend a janitor named joe gave it to me in texas") Without that standard journalistic information, my appraisal remains that this is an example of slick photo journalism and propaganda. Additionally, my skepticism remains: this does not look like a photo of a real receipt. Where is the subtotal, the tax, that subtotal, the "tip" line, the total? This does not appear, to me, to meet any standard for restaurant businesses practices. My appraisal remains that the photo is an example of "yellow journalism" every bit as powerful and problematic as any "yellow" text. Jean Brookbank
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Oops. Not such careful reading on my part this time. The receipt does have the subtotals, tax, etc. My apologies. And still completely irrelevant and, thus, slick. jean
Dan Hannula
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 months ago
p.s. The hospitality tax point goes to the local taxes levied to support casinos and convention centers.
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Richard - I too am grateful for the editors' response to my question about the accompanying photo. See my response to their explanation below. Nonetheless, the photo - as an accompaniment to your article - remains propaganda. It is not relevant in any way to your accompanying text. But, in your comment, you note "It would have been misleading as a representation of the 'surcharge' many health plans will make enrollees pay for elective abortions." No "would have been" about it, Richard. The photo WAS and IS misleading. The explanation offered by Tim Reidy does nothing to address the fact that the photo is not relevant though it sure as heck was inflammatory and sexy. I am glad I checked back to see these responses and I am grateful to know that the editors and the contributors respond to comments. However, neither the Editors' response nor yours suggests that an understanding of the public trust violated by that slick photo and the corrective offer of a journalistically inadequate caption. My basic concern remains. Jean Brookbank
Richard Stith
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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?
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Tim, I am grateful for your link to a Gator's receipt showing that specific restaurant owner's surcharge. It would make a mighty long receipt and a failed business, wouldn't it, if the owner elected to charge its customers for ALL the costs incurred by those who seek to operate legal businesses in the United States (otherwise known as "the cost of doing business"). Again, what is confirmed for me is that America's editors engaged in slick photojournalism: they used an uncredited and irrelevant photo of an isolated act of political speech by a business owner to accompany text about an issue on which American discourse tends to be obscured by inflammatory rhetoric. The USCCB - to their credit - made an effort to engage the topic in a respected magazine. America - in an over-the-top effort, perhaps, to demonstrate lockstep sympathies? - did some slick journalism with that photo. When their unprofessional and slick decision was challenged, they made a sloppy and unprofessional effort to provide the missing photo caption. The author replied with gratitude for the after-the-fact caption/credit, noting that - without that caption - the photo would have been irrelevant. And that begs the question: does the late caption establish that the photo was relevant to the text or does the late caption confirm the slick yellowness of the original choice? The answer, I think, is yes: the photo remains irrelevant and slick.. Thank you for your qualifying "I think" before you wrote: "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." I do not know that. "Good moral choice" is very specific and context-rich language, Tim. Can you provide me with the source for that very specific language? I think - qualifier acknowledged - that it would behoove pro-life Americans to challenge themselves to speak - through photos and specific word choices - with much more forethought. Your word choice strikes me as highly propagandistic, just like the accompanying photo. Jean
Tim O'Leary
3 years 2 months ago
Jean - I was giving the Democrats the benefit of the doubt by saying they supported abortion because they thought it was a morally good choice. But, you are possibly right that they support it knowing it is an evil choice. Here is a link to a book "abortion is a blessing" http://ffrf.org/legacy/books/AIAB/. See who praises it. And here is another from the Episcopalians http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/21537. And Planned Parenthood claims it is a moral good too. And Democrats give them lots of money, so I suppose they agree with them. Here is a feminist site arguing that abortion is morally good. http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/02/23/abortion-is-a-moral-good/ As to the choice of words, aren't you using "highly propagandistic" words such as "yellow" or "slick" journalism? It seemed perfectly correct to me to connect the photo to the article, but that is because I know there is a type of "surcharge" in ObamaCare for some businesses. Isn't it more honest that the public should see the impact of their choices, just as we see Medicare as a separate line item in our W2 forms?
J Brookbank
3 years 2 months ago
Tim - I agree. My use of the words "slick" and "yellow" to describe this photo journalism were "highly propagandistic". Thank you for calling my attention to it. "Misleading" would have sufficed. Please read my statement again. Nothing in it justifies this summary of my words or beliefs: "But, you are possibly right that they support it knowing it is an evil choice." Given that misleading summary of my statement, I see the writing on the wall: this will not be a productive discussion. You ask: "Isn't it more honest that the public should see the impact of their choices, just as we see Medicare as a separate line item in our W2 forms?" I think you are mixing apples and oranges there, Tim. An apples-to-apples and, thus, pertinent question is why the restaurant has not and does not include an explicit surcharge for every cost incurred due to legislative regulation of legal businesses? Peace to you. Thanks for the response.
Michael Barberi
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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
3 years 2 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.

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