Tough Pill Bill to Swallow

National Catholic Register
Commentary & Opinion
August 25 – 31, 2002

Reproduced with permission

Michael J.  O’Dea*

Regarding “N.Y. ‘Pill Bill’ Puts Church in Tough Spot” (July 28-Aug. 3):

Passage of New York’s Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage (EPICC) bill forces New York’s fully insured health plans to subsidize all FDA-approved contraceptive pills and devices. In addition to violating religious liberty and an individual’s right of conscience, this law undermines parents by expanding government control of American children’s sexual and reproductive health. How dare Ms. (Assemblywoman Deborah) Glick get away with her comments in this article. The bill is not about religious freedom, she says, but about individual choice and health care.

This bill is not about individual choice nor health care. It is about state and federal control of our children and what we finance in health care. This is a totalitarian agenda, proposed by Planned Parenthood and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. How does the Church get out of cooperating with a state law that interferes with parents’ right to shape the conscience of their children? The Catholic Church still does have options   of setting up self insured plans that are regulated by ERISSA, the federal law that frees self-insured health plans from state contraceptive mandates. However, if Sen. Kennedy and Congressman Bonior get their way with S 104 and HR 1111, those options will quickly vanish. President Bush could be forced to use his veto power – or every private and public health insurance plan that has prescription coverage will force employers and individuals, through taxes and insurance premiums, to confidentially fund unhealthy and morally objectionable contraceptive chemicals and devices  for children, without parental consent or knowledge.

In addition to challenging this insidious N.Y. EPICC legislation in the court and teaching the intrinsic evil of contraception, Catholics must unite to establish, administrate and control financing in their own self-insured Catholic health plan. Catholics must also unite with other faith-based organizations and defeat EPICC. If EPICC is not defeated, what will employers and individuals be forced to pay for next – euthanasia, artificial insemination, invitro-fertilization, cloning, and coverage for unmarried and same-sex partners?  America prides itself on assuring parents the opportunity to raise children without government intrusion and interference. A nation with the greatest political freedom is being undermined by a few powerful political interest groups. At this critical time, when the health and welfare of the American family, our nation’s future and our political freedom are all at stake, it is time for allChristians, particularly those in positions of leadership, to take charge of what we pay for in health care and “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is Gods.”

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