The HHS final rule on qualified health plans imposes a Contraception Mandate that poses a poison pill for faithful Catholic and other institutions that believe that life begins at conception. Mark Rienzi, the Becket Fund For Religious Liberty attorney who represents Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University and ETWN , is confident that the outcome in federal courts will come out the right way and protect religious liberty in America. However, if Rienzi’s optimism is misplaced, he believes that Catholics could end up engaging in civil disobedience against an unjust law.
The civil disobedience with religious liberty protestors will not be like the sit-ins of the civil rights movement. Instead, Rienzi anticipates institutions not paying for the contraception, sterilizations and abortifacients. This would lead to crippling fines which eventually would put the charitable and educational missions out of existence.
In a perverse way, such a shuttering of Catholic identity might be the aim of the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration budgetary proposal for FY2013 sought to limit the deductability of charitable contributions for those making over $250,000 a year, exactly the demographic which makes substantial gifts to non-profit causes. As for Catholic hospitals, they make up 15% of all bed-space in America and they are often the only provider in rural regions. If conscientious Christians cede the field due to the Contraception Mandate (or being fined out of existence), the federal government will dominate the health-care playing field and be a major step towards a single-payer system.
It is not fine to force charitable institutions from living their faith by penalizing them for not acquiescing. It may be time to recall the Man of All Seasons, St. Thomas More who was a martyr for not submitting to an unjust law proffered from English King Henry VIII, the secular power that be.