While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been leading the charge in opposition to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Healthcare Mandate, one fearless academic has not remained silent.
John Garvey, President of Catholic University, testified on February 16 at a hearing of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The mandate has been referred to as a violation of religious liberty and violation of conscience and has sent many Catholics across the country into an uproar.
While the final rule includes an exemption for churches and religions, this exemption fails to cover colleges and universities, religious affiliated hospitals and healthcare systems, or religious social services.
On February 10, after much criticism, the Obama Administration announced that it would relieve some additional religious institutions from the burden of providing mandated services (while still providing those services).
Although this new accommodation has been made, Catholics shouldn’t be so quick to “rest easy,” Garvey cautioned. The fact of the matter, as Garvey pointed out, is that there’s no real difference between the first policy and the revision.
“In both cases, the cost of mandated services will be rolled into the cost of an insurance policy which federal law requires the university to buy,” Garvey said. “The only real change is that the insurance company, rather than the university, notifies subscribers that the policy covers mandated services with no co-pay.”
For those who might be thinking that Garvey is simply an extension of the United States Bishops and the Catholic Church, think again. The man has a background in law with a deep-rooted interest in the Constitution. Garvey is a nationally reknowned expert in constitutional law, religious liberty, and the First Amendment.
Before assuming his role at Catholic, Garvey was the Dean of Boston College’s Law School, a professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School and an assistant to the solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as the President of the Association of American Law Schools. Garvey argued several prominent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corporation and Heckler v. Campbell, which addressed disability regulation within the Social Security Administration.
Garvey pointed out that there are no real differences in the revisions made to the rule. He called the February 10 developments a “Shazam Theory” as the Administration has suggested that there are cost savings to employers with the implementation of this plan. “It resolves the intrusion on religious liberty by making the compelled contributions magically disappear,” he said.
He also looked beyond the actual costs of the mandate. “From a moral point of view, the administration’s cost savings don’t matter even if they are real,” Garvey said. “When a student who is enrolled in our plan purchases contraceptives at the local CVS pharmacy, CVS will seek payment from the insurance company. The payment for that service will be charged to our account, funded by our contributions. The Shazam Theory assumes that charges for other drugs and services will go down as a result of contraceptive use. But it is still true that the university and its subscribers are being forced to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortions, and those are activities we view as immoral.”
We’ve all heard the agruments that the mandate will require Catholics to violate their beliefs, but Garvey reiterates that idea in a clear and concise way. He said that the final rule will force Catholic insititutions to violate their deepest convictions in two ways. “First, it requires the University to pay for drugs and procedures that we view as morally wrong, often gravely so…The mandated services regulations order The Catholic University of America to become the provider of contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions for its students, faculty, and staff.”
He added that, “The rule forces us to deny in one part of our operation what we affirm in another. We teach our students in our classes, in our sacraments, and in the activities of Student Life and Campus Ministry that sterilization, contraception, and abortion are wrong. The rule requires our Human Resources staff to offer these very services to our students at no additional cost, as part of our health insurance program.”
There is no word yet as to whether Garvey’s testimony will have any sway in the Committee’s investigation but it’s simply a reminder that the Bishops don’t stand alone in their efforts.
“It makes hypocrites of us all, in the most important lessons we teach,” Garvey said of rule.
Surely his name has been added to the list of “Those Who Stood Up.”
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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