The HHS mandate and parental rights

Br. Thomas More Garret, a Dominican who used to work in law and as a Congressional staffer, discusses an overlooked, uh, feature of the HHS mandate:

But there is an equally serious, largely unnoticed consequence of the HHS ruling. When it is combined with already existing legislation, it has a profound impact on parental rights.

While medical record privacy laws vary in some respects from state to state, it is generally the case that, under HIPAA (the federal medical record privacy law), a minor child can restrict access to his or her medical records, as long as the health care provider concurs in the minor’s judgment. Accordingly, a Catholic private business owner will not only be compelled to provide access to contraception for his or her minor daughter, but the daughter will be able to obtain prescription contraception without parental consent, or even a parent’s knowledge. Moreover, because insurers will be required by law to provide access to these drugs and procedures for free—that is, without demanding so much as a co-payment on the part of the patient—a minor daughter will not even have to ask her parents for a few bucks before making a stop at the local community “health” clinic to pick up some birth control pills.

In the press release that accompanied the announcement about the new rules, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius remarked, “Birth control…is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.” Secretary Sebelius seems intent on ensuring that contraceptive use remains widespread and even expands, courtesy of the federal government. Never mind that they’re using your money, whether you like it not, and that they’re using it to violate not only your rights of conscience, but your parental rights as well.

And he writes this in a more recent post on the Dominica blog:

On Friday, the President stated that, under his latest plan, if a religious employer (note well: private or “non-religious” Catholic employers will still be forced to pay up directly) objects to financial participation in the federal government’s contraceptive mandate, its health insurance company will be required to contact its employees directly in order to offer contraception and sterilization coverage “free of charge.” Why, we might ask, would the insurance company provide such coverage “free of charge?” Well, as a senior administration official has explained, forcing insurance companies to provide these services will actually save them a lot of money because—get this—contraception and sterilization are a lot cheaper than pregnancy and childbirth. In other words, it is in the insurance companies’ interest to make sure that women have as few children as possible, and so it is also in their interest to sterilize as many women as are willing and, for the rest, to keep them on a steady supply of birth control drugs.

Yet, if the administration’s economic analysis is correct, why was anyone being asked to pay for contraception and sterilization coverage in the first place? Why wasn’t contraception and sterilization always free? The President might well have uncovered the greatest “fleecing” of large swaths of the American public that society has ever witnessed. Shouldn’t folks who have been actually paying for this stuff over the years rush out and ask for their money back?

Read the entire post.


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About Carl E. Olson 1122 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.