"Does the HHS Mandate Include Abortifacients?"In a 4/3/14 fact sheet, the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro Life Activities rhetorically asks, "Does the HHS mandate include abortifacients?"
Acknowledging the abortifacient potential of "the copper IUD and Ella," the fact sheet indicates that the "'contraceptive' mandate also raises an abortion problem." Though the fact sheet references Rebecca Peck, M.D.'s and Rev. Juan Vélez, M.D.'s “The Postovulatory Mechanism of Action of Plan B: A Review of the Scientific Literature” (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2013), it only meekly notes that "the abortifacient potential of Plan B is disputed but cannot be dismissed."
The USCCB fact sheet fails to note that Doctor Peck and Father Vélez have taken a comprehensive look at the research and have no doubt as to "the abortifacient potential of Plan B" (to say nothing of hormonal contraceptives in general!).
Doctor Peck and Father Vélez also maintain that Catholic hospitals must cease using Plan B as a so-called emergency "contraceptive," for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault.
Even if the "Contraceptive Mandate" Did NOT Raise "An Abortion Problem" (and It Does), We MUST Oppose It!
Responses from America's Catholic bishops to coercive government interference in the lives of Catholics and Catholic institutions appear to have grown much more timid over the past half century. One incident is particularly instructive.
After having been shamefully exploited for contraceptive testing, "Colonialism, Catholicism, and Contraception" (Annette B. Ramirez de Arellano and Conrad Seipp, University of North Carolina Press, 1983) describes how Puerto Rico's reigning political powers were advocating for population control and contraceptives in 1960:
"a group of Catholic laymen organized the Christian Action Party (CAP)....The appeal of the new party was based almost exclusively on its support of religious instruction for public school pupils and its objection to existing legislation on birth control and sterilization....
"Bishops James P. Davis of San Juan and James E. McManus of Ponce issued a pastoral letter describing the CAP as `the answer to the intolerable attitude' of the island's established political parties....
"Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York visited Puerto Rico....Spellman was asked to comment on the bishops' involvement with the CAP. Spellman's diplomatic [sic] reply was, `I keep out of politics. It is outside my competence and will,' thereby implying that Davis and McManus should do the same.
"Scarcely a week later, ...[Bishops Davis and McManus] issued a pastoral letter prohibiting Catholics of Puerto Rico from voting for [CAP's opposition]....John F. Kennedy, who aspired to be his country's first Catholic president, quickly reacted to the pastoral letter, calling the bishops' action `wholly improper'.... the Kennedys attempted to quarantine the Puerto Rican dispute. Subsequent declarations of several distinguished Catholic prelates accomplished [such]" (pp. 150 - 153).
"The Broken Path"No one describes our current situation more magnificently and forthrightly than a lay person who was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI:
- "the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops...has taken the moral currency of Catholic doctrine and, to a large extent, squandered it on securing seats at the table of the political and cultural powebrokers in America....Catholic structures, such as schools and hospitals, have grown dependent on government financial support....An ordained priest, including Catholic bishops, cannot feed the hungry soul when he is more interested in playing footsie with politicians" (Judie Brown, The Broken Path, American Life League, 2011, pp. viii - xii).