Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ND and the Mandate: A Timeline

The following is a timeline on Notre Dame’s relationship and response to the HHS Mandate.

May 17, 2009. President Barack Obama delivers the 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame, during which he states: “Let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.” 

February 22, 2010. President Obama releases a proposal for healthcare reform.

March 23, 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama.

August 1, 2011. Following recommendations by an Institute of Medicine panel, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announces that among the reforms, the PPACA will require employers’ group health plans to cover certain women’s “preventative care,” including all FDA “approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” The University of Notre Dame is among the countless institutions that will be required to provide such care under the new mandate.

August 2, 2011. In an article by Catholic News Agency, Notre Dame Law School Professors O. Carter Snead and Richard Garnett are among several scholars who strongly criticize the new healthcare mandate. Professor Snead calls the new regulations a “watershed moment” and states, “Being an employee of a Catholic university that takes seriously its Catholic identity, I worry very much about what we’re being asked to do at this point. We’re being directly asked to act contrary to our deeply held religious beliefs.” 

August 3, 2011. HHS issues amendments to the interim final rules of the Affordable Care Act, including an exemption for “religious employers.” Ignoring all previous definitions of “religious employer” in current and previous federal law, it redefines a “religious employer” as one that meets the four following criteria:
·      “The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization.”
·      “The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.”
·      “The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.”
·      “The organization is a nonprofit organization as described in… the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.”
The University of Notre Dame does not qualify for this exemption.

September 28, 2011. Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., sends an open letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In the letter he writes, “In their current form, these regulations would require us to offer our students sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to induce abortions, and to offer such services in our employee health plans. This would compel Notre Dame either to pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the Church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the Church’s social teaching. It is an impossible position.” 

October 5, 2011. Responding to an alumni criticizing President Jenkins’ letter to Sebelius, The Observer, a student paper at Notre Dame, publishes “Contraception and Conscience,” a letter by the Officers of Notre Dame Right to Life. “We would like to praise Fr. Jenkins’ many continued efforts to promote the dignity of the human person, and we especially commend his letter to Secretary Sebelius. As violations of human nature, contraceptive services are contrary to what is just, and forcing Notre Dame to offer such services is unjust.” 

October 5, 2011. Claire Gillen, ND ’12, publishes and editorial in The Irish Rover, a student paper at Notre Dame titled: Dialogue between Notre Dame and President Obama on religious freedom? She praises Fr. Jenkins’ letter to Kathleen Sebelius, stating, “while Obama’s dictate flies in the face of any meaningful conception of religious liberty, Fr. Jenkins’ conduct gives us hope that Notre Dame may take up its proper role as the nation’s leading Catholic university.” http://wwww.irishrover.net/archives/1239

October 10, 2011. At a NARAL Pro-Choice America lunchean, HHS Secretary Sebelius gives a speech in which she states, “We are at war,” regarding debate over the “pregnancy prevention” issue.

October 10, 2011. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese delivers the Red Mass homily at Notre Dame, arguing that, “Assaults on our religious freedom [in the United States] appear to be growing in ways that perhaps we may never have imagined even a few years ago,” and calling upon the present “members of the legal profession, as judges, lawyers, as law students and professors, and also those who serve in public office, to join us in the defense of our religious freedom and our rights of conscience.”

October 27, 2011. Notre Dame Law Professor Richard Garnett publishes a column in USA today, arguing that the Healthcare Mandate makes “the radical privatization of faith the price of acting consistently with that faith” and it “should be scrapped.” 

November 29, 2011. Notre Dame Law Professor O. Carter Snead gives a lecture at Notre Dame, “Understanding the PPACA ‘Contraceptive Mandate.’” He discusses the Mandate’s narrow exemption clause and how they misconstrue the role of religion in society. He said, “Supporters [of the Mandate] believe that contraception is a matter of public health, but religious conscientious objections are a private matter.”

January 19, 2012. At an address before U.S. bishops in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI expresses concerns that “some current cultural trends [in the United States] contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these [unchanging moral] truths [of the Gospel], whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule” and that “they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God.” http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120119_bishops-usa_en.html

January 20, 2012. HHS Secretary Sebelius announces that “[n]onprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law.”

January 20, 2012. Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins releases a statement responding to Secretary Sebelius’ announcement: “I am deeply disappointed in a decision by the administration that will place many religious organizations of all faiths in an untenable position. This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation’s commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy. I find that profoundly troubling on many levels. Moving forward, we call for a national dialogue among religious groups, government, and the American people to reaffirm our country’s historic respect for freedom of conscience and defense of religious liberty.” http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/28479-statement-from-notre-dames-president-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c/

January 21, 2012. Dr. Carolyn Woo, former Dean of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and current President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, announces her opposition to the healthcare mandate, stating that it “would compel Catholic institutions to acquiesce to practices that run counter to our deeply held religious teaching… This is clearly at odds with our long-held American tradition of religious liberty.”

January 24, 2012. More than a dozen Notre Dame alumni publish a letter in The Observer, calling upon Fr. Jenkins “to clearly announce Notre Dame’s intention to disregard the HHS regulation as an infringement of the freedom of religious exercise and to state in succinct terms that there can be no compromise on this particular issue.

January 26, 2012. A Notre Dame student publishes a letter in The Observer defending contraception as necessary health care for women, arguing “that anything short of providing comprehensive health care for women… is ‘literally unconscionable’” and calling “upon Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s women (and all the men, to) to disregard disregarding the mandate.”

January 31, 2012. The officers of Notre Dame Right to Life publish a letter in the Observer to “articulate and defend the Catholic Church’s clear and unchanging rejection of artificial contraception, arguing that “institutions that seek to promote the good of humanity have a responsibility to condemn and oppose sexual activity [such as the use of artificial contraception] that is contrary to the dignity of the human person.”

February 4, 2012. In a post on “regrounding the HHS mandate debate,” Right to Life contributing blogger Michael Black writes about how to debate this issue. “For Notre Dame to offer contraceptives is not an issue. If she wants to maintain her role as a Catholic university, she cannot compromise. What is at stake here is not the right of one to use or not use a contraceptive; in this country, that is already the case despite the great danger a contraceptive culture can do to a society. What is at stake here is a question of religious liberty. Notre Dame does not and would not be forcing those in disagreement into agreement with Her Teachings.”

February 5, 2012. The Observer publishes a letter by Notre Dame Junior Elliott Pearce, in which Pearce argues, “Women do not need artificial birth control to protect themselves, plan their families or affirm their dignity. They can avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs by abstaining from sex before marriage and regulate the births of their children within marriage by using NFP. They can better respect themselves by embracing their ability to bear children as an important part of their nature than they can by denying the beauty and significance of one of the greatest abilities of any human person, which they alone happen to possess. The only thing women (and men) ‘need’ artificial contraception for is to have sex whenever they want and with whomever they want… Those of us who believe sex is a total, loving and fruitful gift from one person of incommensurable dignity to another believe sex was meant for something more.” http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/viewpoint/contraceptives-and-control-1.2765919#.T9uspitYucc

February 10, 2012. President Obama announces a “compromise” on the mandate, announcing that religious organizations will not have to directly pay for contraception, sterilizations, or abortions, but that their insurance providers will finance this “preventative care.” Notre Dame informs the White House that, as a self-insured institution, this “compromise” fails to protect its religious liberty.

February 10, 2012. More than ninety faculty and staff members from the University of Notre Dame join “over 300 leading scholars, university presidents and other administrators, activists, and religious leaders from a multitude of faiths… in a statement rejecting the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide, directly or indirectly, insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives, and also rejecting President Obama’s so-called ‘accommodation’ of religious liberty as a mere ‘accounting trick’ that changes nothing of moral substance.”

February 11, 2012. Responding to recent articles in The Observer, Right to Life contributing blogger Michael Black writes on “The Dignity Question,” arguing, “We engage in sex because it feels good but not only because it feels good; that leads very dangerously to using the other as merely a tool for my own sexual pleasure. In a contraceptive culture, the other merely becomes a tool and in that, we are incapable of recognizing one’s dignity in ‘their intelligence, in their determination and drive in their kindness and loyalty’ or more importantly, in the fact that they are an image of the Creator.”

February 15, 2012. In a New York Times blog post, Notre Dame Philosophy Professor Gary Gutting argues against the absolute authority of the Bishops in the Church. “The mistake of the Obama administration… was to accept the bishops’ claim that their position on birth control expresses an authoritative ‘teaching of the church’… The issue has been settled by the voice of the Catholic people [who use and accept birth control.]”

February 16, 2012. In an editorial in the Irish Rover, Notre Dame Senior Katie Petrik discusses the Church’s teaching on contraception.

February 16, 2012. In an Irish Rover article, various members of the Notre Dame community provide their perspectives on how Notre Dame should respond to the HHS Mandate. Rev. William R. Dailey, C.S.C. of the Law School suggests that “at this point we should be behaving in such a way as to signal the importance of this teaching [regarding contraception] to us as an institution, and our grave reservations about being forced to behave in a way that compromises our deep moral commitments.” Gerard Bradley of the Law School calls upon the university to “live out its call to be a witness to the Gospel, and refuse to cooperate with the Obama administration’s oppressive policy.” Lauren Rasch, a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies, states, “the new law is problematic because it seeks to define what is or isn’t a primarily religious organization or ministry not only be the demographic that the institution employs but also by the demographic that it serves… I think that we might benefit from a broadening of the health care exemption.” She is also concerned about this rule putting the Affordable Care Act in danger. “I think losing the Affordable Care Act all together would be a tragedy.”  Mazen El Makkouk, a PhD Candidate in Literature, calls upon Notre Dame “to dissociate itself from protests that have narrow and hypocritical political ends. If it wants to be a witness to truth, let it be to larger truths.” 

March 1, 2012. On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Notre Dame Law and Theology Professor Cathleen Kaveny discusses the role of Catholic bishops and the Church’s teaching on a variety of issues, including contraception and the death penalty.

March 2, 2012. Notre Dame Law Professor gives the opening lecture for a medical ethics conference sponsored by the Notre Dame Alumni Association and the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. At the lecture, Snead discussed the HHS Mandate and the importance of religious liberty. http://wwww.irishrover.net/archives/1710 http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/news/professor-lectures-on-ethics-of-hhs-mandate-1.2807714#.T9uzwStYucc

March 23, 2012. South Bend joins 140 U.S. cities in the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rallies.” Many Notre Dame students and staff participated in the South Bend Rally, including Right to Life President Samantha Stempky. Quoted in an Irish Rover article discussing the event, Stempky stated, “Young people especially need to resist this mandate, because we are fighting for the future of the nation and society in which we will (or will not) be free to live out our Catholic faith.” http://wwww.irishrover.net/archives/1705

March 27, 2012. Notre Dame Right to Life hosts a panel discussion on the HHS Mandate in which Carter Snead of the Notre Dame Law School, Richard Garnett of the Notre Dame Law School, Lisa Everett of the Office of Family Life of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and Notre Dame Senior Gabby Speech discussed dangers of, concerns about, and disagreements with the legislation. 

April 12, 2012. In the “Cheers and Jeers” section of Notre Dame’s Irish Rover, Notre Dame Theology criticizes the February 15 blog post by Notre Dame Philosophy Professor Gary Gutting, stating, “Professor Gutting is not a trained ecclesiologist so perhaps he may be forgiven for making a mistake. I am not an ecclesiologist either, but I doubt that even the most liberal ecclesiologist could agree that the theory of authority implied in his statement is authentically Catholic. It is neither intrinsically impossible or even improbable that large numbers of people can be in error and can reject the truth, authoritatively taught. It could be that large numbers of people do not understand what they are rejecting.”

April 2, 2012. Notre Dame Theology Professor David Clairmont discusses the HHS Mandate at an event to raise awareness of the Mandate, sponsored by Notre Dame Campus Ministry, the Center for Ethics and Culture, the Center for Social Concerns, the Gender Relations Center, the Institute for Church Life, and University Life Initiatives.

April 14, 2012. At a homily in Peoria, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC called upon those present to “stand up for what we believe and always be ready to fight for the Faith,” and warned, “Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.”

April 23, 2012. More than 130 Notre Dame faculty and staff members sign a letter in The Observer condemning Bishop Jenky’s comparison of “the president’s actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people” and calling upon Bishop Jenky to resign from Notre Dame’s Board of Fellows and the University to “definitively distance Notre Dame from Jenky’s incendiary statement.”

April 26, 2012. In an Irish Rover editorial, Notre Dame Junior and new Rover editor-in-chief critiques the April 23 letter by Notre Dame faculty, taking “a closer look at Bishop Jenky’s homily… Bishop Jenky’s homily does not link Obama with genocide. Instead, his recounting of history draws a comparison between the potential closure of Catholic hospitals, schools and ministries as a result of the HHS mandate.”

May 21, 2012. The University of Notre Dame joins forty-three dioceses and Catholic organizations in lawsuits against HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Treasury. Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins releases a message to the University regarding the lawsuit.

June 28, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality Affordable Care Act a tax.

July 27, 2012. A Colorado District Judge rules that Hercules Industries, a company owned by a Catholic family, does not have to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The temporary ruling declares that, based upon religious grounds, the company does not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.

August 1, 2012. Under current law, the HHS Mandate goes into effect for new and significantly changing healthcare plans that do not qualify for the religious exemption. Those qualifying for exemption have a one-year “temporary enforcement safe harbor.”

August 1, 2013. Under current law, the “temporary enforcement safe harbor” period ends.

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