Local Catholic healthcare providers on alert after US abortion ruling

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Australian Catholic healthcare providers and planners should be watching with interest – and possibly anticipation – after the US federal health agency determined this month that Catholic hospitals in California can be forced to provide abortions, including late-term abortions.

The ruling on 21 June by the US Department of Health and Human Services determined that the State of California can continue to demand that all health plans under the jurisdiction of the state’ – “even those purchased by churches and other religious organisations” – cover elective abortions for any reason. The coverage includes late-term abortions and “those performed for reasons of sex selection”.

The background to this particular story began in 2014, when California began demanding all health plans under its Department of Managed Health Care cover elective abortions.

Furthermore, state officials made it clear, no exemptions of any kind would be allowed. Interestingly, and ominously, the latest ruling was issued from the section of the US Department of Health and Human Services known as the Office of Civil Rights after Catholic healthcare providers had filed a complaint asserting that the demands they faced violated existing US federal legislation known as the Weldon Amendment, enacted in 2005 to protect the conscience rights of physicians and nurses who choose not to participate in abortions and hospitals that do not offer them.

Reduced to its simplest expression, the Office of Human Rights ruling effectively made it clear to all parties involved in the provision of healthcare that US law was irrelevant.

What was relevant was the demands Californian officials were intent on making.

Ordinarily, official disregard of key laws protecting religious and conscience freedoms would be considered an astonishing thing, but the really astonishing thing is that it is precisely this ideologically-driven bureaucratic authoritarianism in the name of ‘rights’ which is becoming the norm throughout much of the developed world. The demands made by Californian bureaucrats are part of the war against faith, and especially Christianity.

The current situation makes it clear now that the only chance healthcare providers have of escaping the demands of California’s health bureaucrats is by the US Congress currently passing legislation known as the Conscience Protection Act introduced into the Congress in March and designed to cover loopholes in Weldon or, if that fails, appeal to the US Supreme Court. But in neither case is success guaranteed.

The Californian case is not irrelevant to Australia at all. Because Australian legislators tend less to think in orginal terms and more strongly to mimic measures taken in the US and Europe on issues such religious rights, the US ruling indicates likely pushes in Australia in years to come to force Catholic institutions to carry out practices antithetical to their core beliefs and mission statements.

The new brutal authoritarianism of official moral vacuousness, for example, already exists in Victoria where doctors and healthcare professionals are forced by law to collaborate with the culture of death and refer women seeking abortions to pregnancy termination services. Again, no exceptions are allowed.

That such as situation could have come to exist in a country like Australia is not so much astonishing as it is a tragedy. In California and in Victoria, as in so many places around the world, officialdom has clearly declared war against those members of their societies known as Christians.