Protection of Conscience Project
Protection of Conscience Project
Service, not Servitude

Service, not Servitude

Re: Michigan House Bills 5006, 5276, 5277, and 5278

Testimony before Michigan House Committee
23 March, 2004

Michael J. O'Dea *

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before this committee, to review House Bill Nos. 5006, 5276, 5277, and 5278 introduced and referred to the House Health Policy Committee.

First, I want to congratulate Reps. Richardville, Gleason and Hummel and all our legislators for their leadership in protecting the fundamental basic "right of conscience" of individuals and organizations responsible for designing, implementing, managing, financing and providing health care for the people of Michigan.

I am Michael O'Dea of Rep. Paul Condino's home district in Southfield, MI. I have been in the health care business for 34 years as a sales manager for Dow Chemical, when they were a leading provider of diagnostic, laboratory and pharmaceutical products; as an independent health care benefits consultant; and as the Executive Director of the Christus Medicus Foundation (CMF), a not-for-profit organization, focused on educating Americans on the urgent need to reclaim faith based healthcare by reforming corporate and public policy to allow people a "conscientious choice" in selecting health plans. I also co-founded and continue to be involved with Mother & Unborn Baby Care and Casa Vitae, both non-profit charitable organizations that assist mothers faced with a crisis pregnancy. I am an MBA graduate from the University of Detroit. I entered the United States Army in 1967 as a Private, attended Officer Candidate School, where I was commissioned in 1968. I served both in the United States and Viet Nam, where I was awarded the Bronze Star.

Although I am proud of my career accomplishments, I am most proud of my role as husband and father. I am married and father of seven children, of which five are adopted, and two biological. It is the gift of freedom that my family and I have enjoyed; and the protection of that freedom for my children and our nation's children that brings me here to testify in support of this most important Health Care Right of Conscience legislation. My testimony will pay particular attention to the right of conscience for those who finance health care, which is ultimately each and every one of us through our employers, insurance companies, individual health plans, union plans, and government plans. We either pay through private health premiums or taxes.

The most fundamental freedom that is at issue in our health care culture today is the freedom of an individual to exercise a "conscience choice" in health care. Powerful political interest groups, such as Planned Parenthood (PP), Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), National Organization for Woman (NOW), and National Abortion Rights League (NARL) have intimated and manipulated private employers and policymakers into believing that state and/or federal law should require confidential payment for unhealthy, and costly non health care procedures that are contrary to most Americans moral, ethical and religious convictions. In states these special interests groups have imposed their agenda to force millions to violate their "right of conscience". Forced cooperation in the funding of abortion, sterilization, contraception for minors without parental consent, domestic (same sex) partners, in-vitro-fertilization, and artificial insemination are on the top of their list.

Here in our own state, MIChild, Michigan Children's Health Plan requires the use of tax payer's dollars to promote and provide contraceptive and abortifacient chemicals and devices to minor children, without parental knowledge or consent. A health care provider that wants access to MIChild funds must agree to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to minors, without parental consent. BCBS of Michigan is now requiring small groups to provide a rider to pay for domestic partner relationships. What will Michigan people be forced to pay for next? Will health premiums require payments for domestic partners, invitro-fertilization, cloning, infanticide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide in all health plans?

It is incredible to think that health plans in Michigan force individuals to use their hard earned money to violate their conscience and to confidentially pay for contraceptive and abortifacient procedures that kill babies, cause infertility and are dangerous to our children's health and welfare.

On March, 1, 2004 California Supreme Court ruled that Catholic Charities Health Care Plan must include contraception, for workers even though it is morally opposed to contraception. This is only the beginning of the attack on religious liberty in health care. Not only will the Catholic Church be attacked but so will Evangelical Protestant churches and other faith based organizations. This judicial tyranny should be a wake up call to all who believe in freedom.

The proponents of abortion and an anything goes lifestyle are demanding their outrageous agenda as part of their civil rights and freedom "to choose". Choice however is only for them. Catholic and other faith based employers are given "no choice." Health care is quickly becoming a major battle for freedom in the war between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death".

During the late sixties, many patriotic Americans, including myself, volunteered to put our lives at risk for freedom. I served as infantry officer in Vietnam. I also had a brother that served in Vietnam as a machine gunner. Many of our buddies died for the freedom to exercise our "right of conscience". From the very beginning of this great nation up to and including our present "War on Terror" , many men and women have died and continue to die and put their lives at risk to keep us free.

"[O]ur rules can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God." --Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Passing House Bills 5006, 5276, 5277, and 5278, will put Michigan on the cutting edge of: 1) pre-empting judicial tyranny, like happened in California, and 2) set a precedent of protecting Michigan citizens from special interests groups imposing, one size fits all, private and public health plans that violate the "right of conscience" of most Americans.

I applaud you for your efforts here, today. Now is the `time for all of us to cry out for freedom and pass legislation that allows the people of Michigan the ability to exercise their "right of conscience" in health care.

Thank God for the great people and system of government we have in this country to protect our freedom, and thank God for the wonderful legislative leadership we have here today.

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