Glendon, George react to Obama’s “morally obtuse”, “insult to the intelligence”, and “cheap accounting trick”

CatholicVote has been doing us all a great service these days in tracking Pres. Obama’s attack on the Catholic Church and on the 1st Amendment rights of all Americans in his pursuit of power and his agenda.

The following letter, which I saw on CatholicVote was signed by former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton Prof. Robert George, Notre Dame Law Prof. Carter Snead, Catholic University of America President John Garvey, and EPPC Fellow Yuval Levin.

My emphases.

Today the Obama administration has offered what it has styled as an “accommodation” for religious institutions in the dispute over the HHS mandate for coverage (without cost sharing) of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services. Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things.

This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy. It is certainly no compromise. The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust. Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.

It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not “paying” for this aspect of the insurance coverage. For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers. More importantly, abortion-drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives are a necessary feature of the policy purchased by the religious institution or believing individual. They will only be made available to those who are insured under such policy, by virtue of the terms of the policy.

It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers.

The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept as assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.

Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty. The administration still fails to understand that institutions that employ and serve others of different or no faith are still engaged in a religious mission and, as such, enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.


John Garvey
President, The Catholic University of America

Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

O. Carter Snead
Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Yuval Levin
Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Emanations from Penumbras, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jim Ryon says:

    In the meantime, the network are reporting that both side are happy because PP and Pope Keenan approve.

  2. Margaret says:

    I just to be sure I’m crystal clear on this. We buy insurance coverage for our employees, but “don’t pay” (wink) for contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization services. The insurance company turns around and “gives” these services to our employees “for free.” (wink wink nudge nudge.)

    Is that the Obama-proffered “compromise?” Is there some subtlety here that I’m missing??

    [“Shut up!”, he explained.]

  3. Wade says:

    The last sentence is really the key – the focus on what is and is not an authentic religious mission. Obama would like to limit the religious exemption to an organization that (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a nonprofit organization. “Organizations” following Isaiah 58:6-12 and Matthew 25:31-46 are truly “engaged in a religious mission.” Most, though, would only satisfy the 4th HHS criteria for exemption.

  4. dep says:

    One thing we’ve all missed: this is actually worse, because by paying someone else to commit a grave sin, we become guilty of scandal.

  5. tealady24 says:

    What can any of us possibly expect from a secular-atheist? He practices no faith, (don’t be fooled by those pics of him in front of crosses et. al.), nor do any of the deceivers in his venue, and he is rearing up his spawn to be just like him.
    Government is full of this stripe; rife with those who long ago sold their souls.
    If this is the new America, you can keep it.

  6. rodin says:

    Once there was a Great Communicator, now there is a Great Prevaricator in his place who believes that if he says often enough that “it is a compromise” we will be persuaded. Lets not permit our bishops to return to their somnolence. No bargaining with the devil means no compromise.

  7. chantgirl says:

    Bishops, please have some spines and don’t abandon the people in the pews on this one just because Obama provides you with some “cover “! I do have to wonder, though- now that the insurance companies are being forced to provide these “services” free, does this strengthen a Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare? Can the govt. force a company to give away something for free?

  8. vmanning says:

    So, in picking a fight with the Church,the Obama regime differs from the French Revolution, the Soviet Revolution, the Chinese, the Viet Namese how?If the federal government decided that to defray the cost of lethal injection drugs in federal executions (think Timothy McVeigh), all insurance premiums will include a tax for that purpose to be paid by the insuror from premiums,the difference between that and this “compromise” is what?And if “women’s access to preventative services” is so important, how can the regime justify making them wait 18 months?The election is not about the economy, but liberty;not birth control,but religious freedom.I assume now that Sr. Keehan has given the regime what little cover she has left to give, we’ll hear from the tortured soul of Doug Kmiec. As for Fr. Jenkins and Fr. Pfleger, silence. Why?

  9. Johnno says:

    Well at least Obama is being consistent with his logical worldview…

    If Catholics don’t control the insurance details, and the insurance companies do, then Catholics don’t have a choice, and therefore can’t morally choose to violate their consciences!

    Likewise, if women don’t see or know the details or facts that their babies are living human beings, and you can’t hear them scream and poverty or psychological conditions and social pressures push them into abortion, then it’s not murder! They have a choice in so much as they have no choice!

    There’s no such thing as sin, just whether or not your interpretation of reality feels right, so long as everybody ‘defined as human and alive by consensus majority’ gets to feel right too!

    It’s all consistent! And I fully believe Obama thinks he’s being fair here!

  10. Mrs. O says:

    The only thing missing from Obama’s “compromise” is a cigarette to go with it. Since those two, cigarettes and ABC, are known carcinogens, I think they should start giving them out freely….

    Let me rant for a minute about our Health Care in America. Do you realize that right now, I can NOT take medicine for RA (rheumatoid arthritis) because I am considered to be actively trying to conceive? They deduced this because I will not take ABC but practice NFP. Do y’all realize if they are not confronted, the trickle effect it has on us all? THEY TRULY BELIEVE THIS IS HEALTH CARE!

  11. Supertradmum says:

    This is patronizing behavior on the part of the Admin and eyewash. I think the USCCB should have had answers ready to combat any new move. There is still a strategic move which states that if one takes the lead, then one has the advantage.

    The bishops are still acting naive and unprepared.They have had since 1973 to work on combating the lack of religious freedom.

  12. Elizabeth R says:

    I noticed also that Obama’s statement mentioned charitable organizations and hospitals. It is unclear to me whether schools would be included or not in the exemption. Not that I like it even if they are…

  13. MisterH says:

    The Church is absolutely right on the issue of birth control.

    For those who wish to learn why the Church is correct on this issue, an excellent commentary and further resource links can be found here:

  14. Shamrock says:

    I have read at least a dozen or more well-developed responses from solid Catholics regarding the “accomodation” the President announced at noon today. What is taking the USCCB so long?
    Are they really so naive to think they need to “study” this for several days to find the deceptions
    here that are so obvious to all thinking individuals? I know the wheels of justice turn slowly but
    come on….saying” ..this is a step in the right direction”! is not what freedom consciencious Americans are wanting to hear!

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