In Defense of Life, Love and Freedom
Cinops be gone – Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Prof. Helen Alvare discusses religious liberty and the effect of a 50-year social experiment shaping views about human life and sexuality. By Alton J. Pelowski, K. of C. Columbia – January 2012 – Questions & A.
“In September, the U.S. bishops formed an Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to address concerns affecting religious liberty and conscience protection of individuals and religious institutions. The committee, chaired by Supreme Chaplain Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., has focused on a number of recent public policy concerns related to the Church’s teachings about human life and sexuality.
“For example, the U.S. bishop’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services was recently denied federal funding for its services, due to new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations requiring that contraception and abortion be made available to victims of human trafficking.
“To explore the implications if such policies, Columbia interviewed Helen M. Alvare, an associate professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in Fairfax, Va., and the former spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
Columbia: How does the Department of Health and Human Services mandate for insurance coverage of contraception and sterilization in virtually all private health insurance plans relate to religious freedom and to public health?
Helen Alavare: What the U.S. Department of Health and Services did was to mandate coverage of contraception, sterilization, and some emergency contraceptions, sterilization, and some emergency contraception that can act in an abortifacient way, under the rubric of “preventive health care services.” They provided what they called a “conscience clause,” but framed it so narrowly that any religious entity that either serves or employs people of other faiths cannot take advantage of this exception… on current scholarship indicating convincingly that the HHS mandate is not “preventive health.” To the contrary, it could even have the effect of introducing unintended pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births and abortions. This is due to phenomena called “risk compensation,” whereby, when the federal government floods the population with birth control, more people engage in the risk of sex outside of the committed relationship of marriage. The notion that this mandate is “preventive” is really absurd.
Prof. Helen Alvare’s answers other questions:
1) We have an opportunity right now about the fact that the Catholic approach, which is based on natural law, is actually the better path for happiness, for authentic equality between men and women, for the well being of children, and for the health of society. It is a different approach to sex, to marriage, to parenting that people will find attractive, because they have new evidence and have seen the government experiment go terribly awry…
2) It is very important now for all Catholics to know what the Church teaches about human sexuality, marriage and family, and to recognize that this teaching has to do with human happiness and freedom, the wellbeing of the vulnerable and the equality of men and women. The health of their own family communities and really their nation is at stake. Catholics need to take these teachings seriously and seek out candidates who support this view of the human person. They also need to contact members of their federal and state delegations, because there is a tremendous amount going on right new with regard to marriage, respect for life, health care and educational policy that closely relates to whether or not Catholics will even be permitted to act publicly, or even speak publicly, about their convictions in these crucial areas. …
George H. Kubeck