The president of the Catholic Medical Association has attacked the principles behind Health and Human Services' federal contraception mandate in Feb. 6 statement.
“This 'preventive services' rule constitutes bad logic, in defining pregnancy as a disease to be prevented; bad medicine, in holding that providing oral contraceptives and sterilization will enhance women’s health; and bad public policy, in thinking that this strategy will prevent unplanned pregnancies,” wrote Dr. Maricela Moffitt.
The Catholic Medical Association president, who is also a board member of the Catholic Physicians Guild of Phoenix and a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said the Obama administration has violated religious freedom for the sake of an impractical and immoral policy.
“The decision to impose this requirement even on institutions which have an ethical objection to providing contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients, is an unprecedented attack on the Catholic Church and on religious freedom more generally,” Moffit said in her statement, released by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.
“Never in our history has the federal government demanded that private insurance plans include benefits that violate an institution’s conscience.”
The federal rules, confirmed on Jan. 20, require many types of religious employers to make sterilization and contraception available to their employees without a co-pay. Only organizations primarily hiring and serving members of their own faith, for the purpose of promoting religious values, are exempt.
Non-exempt religious institutions will be granted an extra year to comply, during which they must offer referrals for the services they refuse to subsidize.
Moffit said this supposed accommodation was an “attempt to compel speech, and make Catholic institutions complicit in the referral process,” in violation of the First Amendment's “free speech” clause.
The Catholic Medical Association is urging its members to take several steps immediately. These include contacting their federal representatives in Congress, to urge support for the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” that would amend federal health care reform to protect institutions' rights.
Catholic medical professionals should also speak with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, explaining their reasons for opposing the mandate.
Moffit stressed faithful physicians' duty to pray, do penance, and support the U.S. Catholic bishops in their stand against the Obama administration's move.
Catholic Medical Association members, she warned, “should realize that this mandate is only a first step.”
“Now that these preventive services have been mandated, it will not take long for the federal government to declare that all physicians and health care providers must perform or refer for them.”