The Catholic Voices Blog
VP debate reaction
In last night's debate, Vice-President Biden made an assertion that was just plain wrong:
With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.
As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops quickly replied:
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
Vice-President Biden serves in an administration that, rather than follow long-standing conscience protections, has forced Catholic institutions large and small to use scare resources pursuing lawsuits to vindicate their legal rights. Last night Biden could have stood with other Catholic Democrats -- like long-time administration ally Sister Carol Keehan -- and called for a return to common-sense conscience protection for his fellow Catholics.
That was left to Congressman Ryan, who contended that "our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties." Ryan also stood up for his pro-life beliefs, demonstrating that he's part of the "sonogram generation" of younger Catholics who increasingly recognize the importance of protecting life in the womb. Biden, on the other hand, demonstrated that he's part of an older, Mario Cuomo-influenced generation, managing to square a personal belief that abortion involves the taking of a human life with an unwillingness to "impose that on others".
Nonetheless, the Vice President has no problem imposing non-abortion-related Catholic beliefs on others:
I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And [that] has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who -- who can't take care of themselves, people who need help.