Moral Choice Amendment Blocked by Senate

Steve O'Keefe

Moral Choice Amendment Blocked by Senate

March 5, 2012

The U.S. Senate voted last Thursday against an amendment to a transportation bill that would have allowed health care providers to opt out of offering services they find morally objectionable.

The bill was sponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt after recent objections by the Catholic Church to requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that the church provide contraceptive services through its extensive medical facilities. The Fiscal Times reports that the Catholic Church accounts for about 15 percent of all U.S. hospitals:

The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion.

In a message to parishioners last week, Francis Cardinal George, Chicago’s ranking Catholic, indicated he would shut down the church's medical facilities rather than violate the core doctrine of the church. A loss of the church's medical facilities would create a $100 billion nightmare for the federal government. About 30 percent of the church's hospital admissions are Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The Blunt Amendment would have allowed the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups offering health insurance or medical services to opt out of providing a wide variety of medical services, including various prenatal screenings, diagnostic tests and vaccinations.

"This issue will not go away unless the administration decides to take it away," Blunt told the Chicago Tribune. As we reported here last week, seven states have sued the federal government over the contraception provisions of the ACA.

The debate over contraception is just the tip of the iceberg. The ACA requires the federal government to establish one national standard of health care, trampling over the interests of individual states, private parties, religious institutions and other major players.

Source: "Senate rejects Republican birth control challenge," Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2012.
Source: "Obama Risks $100 Billion If Catholic Hospitals Close," The Fiscal Times, March 1, 2012.
Photo of Senator Roy Blunt courtesy of Gage Skidmore used under its Creative Commons license.

Steve O'Keefe is a freelance writer, author and book editor.