Fort Wayne, IN – The Northeast Indiana Guild of the Catholic Medical Association strongly supports the recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Special Message on the HHS Mandate. We agree with Pope Francis that that “In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide.”
The U.S. bishops have been united and outstanding advocates for religious freedom, not only for Catholics, but for all citizens. Both they and we find the current impasse over the mandate frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care.
Make no mistake, the Obama administration’s continued enforcement of its coercive mandate should alarm all U.S. citizens. The HHS mandate constitutes a direct assault on the rights of religious liberty of millions of American citizens who reject abortion-causing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. It undermines the widespread respect for religious freedom in American law and culture by drawing an unprecedented line between churches and religious ministries such as religious schools and hospitals. It also ignores the religious freedom of owners of non-religious businesses to run their businesses according to their consciences.
This coercive mandate provides for drugs and procedures which are inimical to preventive medicine and to women’s health. Finally, the HHS mandate also undermines parents, as all of these drugs and procedures can be made available to teenage girls without parental knowledge or consent.
Healthcare professionals in particular should be concerned and vigilant. As three of us guild members told a crowd of several hundred at the steps of Immaculate Conception Cathedral on July 2, a President who is willing to violate the rights of religious freedom, conscientious objection, and free speech of thousands of religious institutions and conscientious business owners will have no qualms about ordering healthcare professionals to participate in contraception, sterilization, and abortion even if it violates their ethical and professional judgment.
– – Thomas W. McGovern, MD, President, Doctor Jerome Lejeune Northeast Indiana Catholic Medical Guild, a chartered guild of the Catholic Medical Association