Sotomayor Grants Last-Minute Stay In Obamacare Challenge From Catholic-Related Groups

250px-Sonia_Sotomayor_in_SCOTUS_robe220px-New_Year_Ball_Drop_Event_for_2012_at_Times_SquareMany of us stayed up to midnight last night and watched the ball come down in Times Square. If you were still sober enough to notice, the person triggering the dissent was none other than Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It turns out that that was not the only thing that she was doing on New Year’s Eve. Late Tuesday with only hours to go before January 1st — and the activation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — Sotomayor granted a stay requested by Catholic-affiliated groups to prevent the implementation of part of the ACA to require them to supply contraceptive services to employees in violation of their religious beliefs. The decision follows a refusal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to issue a stay. The stay order by Sotomayor was requested from Catholic nuns running the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver and now joins a stay issued earlier by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The decision guarantees that no one will have morning after regrets today in allowing the law to be implemented without a final resolution of the religious freedom claims. Sotomayor could still lift the stay since she gave the Obama Administration until 10 am EST on Friday to respond to the order. Until then, the government is “temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The decision is a victory for the Becket Fund, which argued that “the ‘accommodation’ still forces the Little Sisters to find an insurer who will cover sterilization, contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices.”

The stay makes sense given the Court’s decision to hear similar arguments in the Hobby Lobby case discussed earlier. The case involves objections from businesses and individuals like David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, who insist that the Act’s required support for contraceptive services violates religious rights. Two cases were accepted: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354); and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (13-356).

Under the ACA, non-for-profit religious corporation have an exemption. However, Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company that is run according to the family’s religious beliefs. These new Catholic-affliated groups are not parts of the Church but educational institutions like Catholic University and other types of enterprises.

While the Obama Administration arranged for insurers to pay for such services for religious objectors, that compromise would still require the businesses to sign off on the payment for services in contradiction to their beliefs. Such stays are significant legally because they are granted on a view that the party is likely to prevail on the merits. Earlier a D.C. Circuit panel split 2-1 in granting a similar stay. Judge David S. Tatel dissented in the case, concluding “[b]ecause I believe that appellants are unlikely to prevail on their claim that the challenged provision imposes a ‘substantial burden’ under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I would deny their application for an injunction pending appeal.”

Putting aside that standard, the decision could reflect an accommodation for those members who granted cert in Hobby Lobby. The decision freezes the status quo and, if not reversed after Friday, would allow the Court to proceed to the merits in the Hobby Lobby case without having chaos over whether and how the provision can be enforced. That case is expected to be argued in March and decided by summer.

127 thoughts on “Sotomayor Grants Last-Minute Stay In Obamacare Challenge From Catholic-Related Groups

  1. Nothing like the privilege of being a religious organization….tax exemptions and exemptions from any other law your god does not approve of. I am sick of it.

  2. “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company that is run according to the family’s religious beliefs”, which beliefs include doing business with China. Even if we were to accept the idea that a corporation can have religious beliefs — which I do not accept — the government should not be in the role of deciding which religions and which religious beliefs are sincere enough to override law and the public good. There are thousands of non-denominational Protestant churches in the United States, all because someone disagreed with his pastor about a point of belief and went across the street and opened his own church. It’s an outrage that they get special treatment from the IRS, and now they want special treatment on the ACA. What’s next? Will they claim exemption from Medicare and Social Security for their employees because it subverts the role of “the church” to care for the widows and orphans?

  3. I will venture that someday those little sisters for the poor have some person in their neck of the woods who is poor who got raped by another poor person not a cat o lic, and now we will have a child out of wedlock for the sisters to take care of. Oh, but wait. They do not take care of anyone medically, or financially, they just pray for their souls. When Sotomayor was a kid she got her knuckles slammed around by a sister with a ruler. Of course the next thing is for the sisters to claim exemptions for social security for their employees and they don’t want to have to pay for widows and orphans and astardBay children.

  4. In what role did Sotomayor issue this ruling? Is this a Supreme Court ruling, and if so, can a single associate rule for the entire Court? If not, on what Court was she sitting? Do Supreme Court Justices remain on the bench of the Courts from which they were elevated to that superior position? If so, why?

  5. It breaks down to the government compelling an individual to buy something they may or may not want. This is especially bad as revenues collected will also support some people who never felt compelled to buy the same product in the first place. Why shouldn’t it be that the government leave us the hell alone. If you don’t want to work at one store then work at another. A number of respondents to this blog want to bring up the “what ifs” and “it’s not fair” bs. That’s a major problem. The simple and most effective solution is not to regulate this at all. Be self reliant. If you don’t buy insurance, affordable or not, then live or die with the consequences.

    Outrage? How about this. “Someone I know” is worth about $1 Million. That person is only expected to bring in about $40K in dividends, cap gains, etc. Because this person (family) is making less than about $62K per year in 2014 they will get a subsidy of about $740 PER MONTH for their premiums. Is that fair? I think all that person should do is just get insurance on their own without a subsidy. But the government force this process to be. Oh, and all you working people will help pay for this person not to make enough income (translate: not work) to pay for these subsidies. Fair. Shut the front door!

  6. We need universal health care. The way the ACA went about attempting to make this happen is a disgrace. The law should really be called the HIPHIPA “Health Insurer and Pharmaceuticals Income and High Profits Act”.

    We have this little thing called the “Constitution”. Unlike other countries where people have rights granted by the government, we have a government that is granted governance by the people. It is high time the Courts take back their rightful position and hold the government accountable to the contract signed some 227 years ago.

    Do we need health care? Yep, was the ACA the way to do it? Not in my opinion. Health care is a bigger mess today than it was a year ago. Sad.

  7. Universal healthcare is the only way out of this ACA quagmire that is based on corporate profits and religious demands. I am again reminded why I am a retired Catholic….

  8. “The Obamacare We Deserve”

    By MICHAEL MOORE, Published: December 31, 2013


    Let’s not take a victory lap yet, but build on what there is to get what we deserve: universal quality health care.

    Those who live in red states need the benefit of Medicaid expansion. It may have seemed like smart politics in the short term for Republican governors to grab the opportunity offered by the Supreme Court rulings that made Medicaid expansion optional for states, but it was long-term stupid: If those 20 states hold out, they will eventually lose an estimated total of $20 billion in federal funds per year — money that would be going to hospitals and treatment.

    In blue states, let’s lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange — a health plan run by the state government, rather than a private insurer. In Massachusetts, State Senator James B. Eldridge is trying to pass a law that would set one up. Some counties in California are also trying it. Montana came up with another creative solution. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who just completed two terms, set up several health clinics to treat state workers, with no co-pays and no deductibles. The doctors there are salaried employees of the state of Montana; their only goal is their patients’ health. (If this sounds too much like big government to you, you might like to know that Google, Cisco and Pepsi do exactly the same.)

    All eyes are on Vermont’s plan for a single-payer system, starting in 2017. If it flies, it will change everything, with many states sure to follow suit by setting up their own versions. That’s why corporate money will soon flood into Vermont to crush it. The legislators who’ll go to the mat for this will need all the support they can get: If you live east of the Mississippi, look up the bus schedule to Montpelier.

    So let’s get started. Obamacare can’t be fixed by its namesake. It’s up to us to make it happen.

  9. I don’t like the idea of any religious institution or private company claiming religion to get a waiver on any laws relating to their employees. They should be seen as the employers they are.

  10. What I have never understood about religious folk is their need to seek government enforcement/validation of their beliefs on those who do not follow said beliefs. It is not the government’s job to validate any religion … in fact, our Constitution expressly forbids it.

    The fact that one’s religion forbids the use of contraception is fine for those who follow that religion but asking the government to forbid others who are not followers of one’s religion from obtaining contraception simply because they associate with followers of said religion is peremptoriness at its core and pure laziness in its practice.

    As a follower of a religion, it is your responsibility, not the government’s, to convince others to come into your fold and follow your religious dictates.

    So gird your loins religious ones. Get out there and do your job. Convince the non-followers to follow. Validate your own religion and stop asking the government to do it for you.

    Of course … ahem … we non-followers know many of your followers and thus know they ignore the dictates of your religion every day, day after day, year after year which, I suppose, being aware of those failures on the part of your own followers is another reason you seek government’s enforcement/validation.

    What other alternative do you have when your own followers treat your religion as a … ahem … Hobby.

    Lobby Sotomayor?

  11. Annie,

    Each Sct Justice is over a particular circuit of the federal court system….. It is even possible that the Sct justice can sit in that circuit and then hear the appeal to the Sct….. If that justice had rejected the request then they could ask for a simple majority panel injunction …..

  12. This requirement is illegal. It is not as if the nuns are against Obamacare. I would venture a guess they support the law. It is not as if the Catholic Church just adopted this no contraceptive rule, it’s been rhythm or nothing since contraception was created. Sotomayor is not the evil Scalia you all hate. Her decision was reasonable and will almost certainly stand. I was raised Catholic. Like most Catholics, I think their contraceptive rule is stupid. But, it’s a religious freedom issue and the fact that folks can’t simply see that is mind boggling. Thankfully, Sotomayor showed her chops and put politics aside, making a decision against the prez who appointed her. This is the way it’s supposed to work. Deal w/ it!

  13. From the LA Times:

    Justice Sotomayor grants temporary Obamacare exemption to nuns

    The Catholic nuns would have faced ‘draconian fines’ if they failed to provide contraceptive coverage, as the healthcare law requires.

    By David G. Savage and Maeve Reston

    December 31, 2013, 10:33 p.m.

    WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary exemption late Tuesday to a small group of Catholic nuns that shields it from having to comply with a part of President Obama’s healthcare law that requires it to provide contraceptive coverage in its insurance plans.

    She acted on an emergency appeal from lawyers for the group who said the nuns faced “draconian fines” beginning on New Year’s Day if they failed to comply with the law widely known as Obamacare.

    Sotomayor gave the government until Friday to file a response in the case. Her order extends only to the group of nuns and does not apply more broadly to the Affordable Care Act and its requirements.,0,1578524.story#ixzz2pAfCCJEs

  14. I recall years ago, when employed by a Catholic hospital, my employer provided health insurance, covered birth control. What changed? Religious affiliated employers employ people of all religions and even atheists, why must these people’s health insurance reflect the employer’s religious beliefs? These are employers, first and foremost when it comes to their employees. However I’m glad that Sotomayer granted the stay, it should be heard by the highest court in the land and decided upon once and for all.

    I will add myself to the list of people who wish that there had been a public option. Employers should not be providing health insurance for their employees, pay them more and call it a day.

  15. OT:

    Federal Judge John Koeltl:

    December 31, 2013

    BREAKING: Lynne Stewart Freed From Prison, Granted “Compassionate Release”

    Jan. 1, 2014 UPDATE:

    “Lynne Stewart was released from prison Friday after federal Judge John Koeltl ordered her “compassionate release.” He wrote that “Stewart’s “terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested reduction [of her sentence.]… It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented and travel arrangements can be made.”” continues…

  16. Zari, I thought Sotomayor was a “Wise Latina woman.” I know she’s logical and sane as well as Blouise.

  17. The antireligionists need to remember that atheism is a belief too. I know the government has thrown the constitution out the window but I kind of like it and so should you. Of course its hard to adhere to Karl Marx and the Constitution so I guess they chose Karl Marx, even though his policies never work.

  18. I think this case pleads the wrong idea, the insurance is not being voluntarily paid for by Hobby Lobby (or the Nuns), it is no different than a tax. Nobody gets to claim they are exempt from taxes because they do not agree with some of the things the taxes are used to pay, like war, or social security, even if their religion allows that.

    And how about the rights of the employees? Why are they denied an entitlement most everybody else in the country gets, just because their employer is morally opposed? What if their employer is morally opposed to paying Social Security, unemployment, Medicare and Medicaid? What if their employer is morally opposed to OSHA?

    Providing health insurance that meets certain criteria has become a condition of doing business in the USA. The money to do that is no different than other taxes, how taxes are to be used is determined by Congress, not by individuals. Signing off on such benefits does not convey approval of the benefits, it only certifies the claim was legitimately made and paid.

    A simple solution, in this case, is to let the person receiving the benefit sign under their own authority for the benefit, and demand insurance companies provide that option to employers. We sign our own tax returns, we can certainly sign our own insurance forms.

  19. Is there an English translation available for the utter gibberish of traveling limey’s nonsensical post? Being an atheist has nothing whatever to do with the subject. Atheists do not hold any writings above or more important than our secular Constitution. That fiction is exclusively the failing of religious groups and individuals. Those putting their Bible or Quran or whatever before our secular laws and thereby demanding special treatment deserve all the ill will and contempt Americans heap upon them.

  20. The government should not be forcing people or corporations to buy a product that they don’t want. If the majority of people think that everyone should have a one size fits all healthcare system, then they should vote that way and have government provide it themselves directly to the people. Personally, I think local government at the county level can provide this service just fine on their own without the need for State or Federal government being involved.

  21. I was raised a Roman Catholic and remember when catholics were forbidden to eat meat on Friday. I also remember when the Mass was celebrated in Latin. Times change. The church almost lifted its ban on contraception in the 1960s. Unfortunately, three bishops prevented that from happening


    How the Vatican Almost Embraced Birth Control
    A secret history of the papal commission that endorsed the pill
    hat endorsed the pill
    —By Frances Kissling
    | May/June 2010 Issue

    SINCE 1870, WHEN the Roman Catholic Church formally pronounced popes infallible, a lot of Vatican energy has gone into claiming that doctrine never changes—that the church has been maintaining the same positions since the time of Jesus. Of course, historians know better: Dozens of church conferences, synods, and councils have regularly revised the teachings, all the while claiming utter consistency. Thus, when the advent of the birth control pill in the early ’60s coincided with a major push for church modernization, there was widespread hope among Catholics that the reform-minded Pope John XXIII would lift the church’s ban on contraception. After all, the Second Vatican Council had explicitly called for greater integration of scientific knowledge into church teaching.

    John did establish a small commission for the Study of Problems of Population, Family, and Birth, which his successor, Paul VI, expanded to 58 members. Its job was to study whether the pill and issues such as population growth should lead to a change in the church’s prohibition on all forms of contraception (other than abstinence during periods of fertility—the “rhythm method”). The commission was led by bishops and cardinals, including a Polish bishop named Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. (The Polish government did not allow Wojtyla to attend meetings.) They were assisted by scientists, theologians—including Protestants, whose church had ended its own opposition to contraception three decades earlier—and even several lay couples. One of them, Patty and Patrick Crowley from Chicago, carried letters and stories from Catholic women worn out by multiple pregnancies, medical problems, and the financial burdens of raising large families. The commission deliberated for two years, amid much anticipation from the faithful.

    The Vatican’s position on birth control has long held something of a paradox: Catholics are encouraged to plan their families, to bear only the number of children they can afford, and to consider the impact of family size on a community and the planet. In recent years, under Pope Benedict XVI, the church has also made a major push to embrace environmental stewardship. Yet Catholicism has also been the most intransigent of the world’s religions on the subject of contraception, alone in denying its use even to married couples.

    This may have made some theological sense in the first century of Christianity, when Jesus’ followers believed he would return in their lifetime: Their mission was to prepare for the Second Coming by devoting themselves to the worship of God. Sex, they believed, was a distraction. The good life was best lived in celibacy—even in marriage. When the wait for the Second Coming evaporated, the belief that sex for its own sake was sinful did not, and abstinence remained the ideal.

    Yet by the first half of the 20th century, change seemed to be in the air. In 1930, Pius XII issued the encyclical (papal letter) Casti Connubii (“on chaste wedlock”), which acknowledged that couples could seek pleasure in their sexual relations, so long as the act was still linked to procreation. Then, in 1966, Paul VI’s birth control commission presented its preliminary report to the pope. It held big news: The body had overwhelmingly voted to recommend lifting the prohibition on contraceptives. (The former Archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Leo Suenens, went so far as to say the church needed to confront reality and avoid another “Galileo case.”)

    Catholics rejoiced, and many began using the pill at once. But their hopes were dashed when, in July 1968, Paul VI released an encyclical titled Humanae Vitae (“on human life”), reaffirming the contraceptive ban. It turned out that three dissenting bishops on the commission had privately gone to plead with the pope: If the position on contraceptives was changed, they said, the teaching authority of the church would be questioned—the faithful could no longer trust the hierarchy.

    Ironically, it was the prohibition on contraception that would help erode the church’s power with European and American Catholics. Laypeople overwhelmingly disregarded it, and bishops throughout Europe undermined it with statements reassuring couples to “follow their consciences.” American bishops were more circumspect, but a survey of Catholic priests in the early ’70s showed that about 60 percent of them believed the prohibition was wrong. Father Andrew Greeley, a noted sociologist, traces the decline in church membership and even vocations to the priesthood in the mid-1970s to Catholics’ disillusionment with the church’s integrity on birth control.

  22. The Catholic Church allowed pedophile priests to rape children. The church covered it up and moved the guilty priests to other parishes–where many continued their fiendish acts. But…allowing Catholics and other people who work for Catholic organizations to get contraceptive benefits from their healthcare providers? That’s a violation of the church’s religious beliefs!

  23. I am not Catholic, but I agree with the Catholic church’s logical position concerning contraception. I think contraception is a personal choice people have to decide about for themselves. I do not believe that government should prohibit contraception. On the other hand, it is outrageous to me that the government thinks they can force people to facilitate contraception in opposition to their personal convictions. The government should be neutral and let people make up their own minds about it.

    If the Catholic Church has a position against contraception, we should respect that position enough not to force them to violate their conscience. Government should find ways to act respectfully, without force, so everyone can be free to explore these questions for themselves without coercion.

  24. Elaine M – to be fair, SOME Catholic priests were involved in the cover-up. Others were rooting it out like a bad cancer. Pedophilia is contrary to the church’s religious beliefs just like contraception is. They don’t force everyone to comply with these beliefs. They teach them, and some embrace the beliefs and others do not.

  25. NO ONE has been tougher on the Catholic Church than I. I worked pedophile cases. I was a source for the Boston Globe reporter who broke the Cardinal Law story. You are comparing apples and oranges. The priests, bishops, cardinals, parishes and the Church have been paying civil damages for decades. FINALLY, there are now criminal charges flooding the priests and hierarchy. They are not immune to criminal law. And yeah, those Little Sisters of the Poor are evil!!!

  26. David,

    There once was a pope that resigned …. That allowed some of its priests to continue in the same roles or reassigned to other missions… When it came out about role as cardinal in ordering the cover up…. His tenure turned into manure…. But what can one say about a pope that held positions in the good ole boy origination named youths for hitler….

  27. I fervently hope the SC puts this issue to rest – that someone’s personal beliefs does not trump other’s beliefs. Horrible enough that the religionists want to interfere with contraception, but what the hell is going to happen when they own all the hospitals and some woman bleeds to death because she cannot get proper treatment or a rape victim is unable to obtain morning-after protection.

    Further, I question the motives of the Church and believe that much of this is political. Church employers had been covering contraception in the past – what has caused this sudden “crisis”? Additionally, the government has offered work-arounds, but the Church refuses. Disgusting hypocrisy. But why should we be surprised? They protected child rapists (to protect their gold) and forbid the use of condoms in AIDS ravaged Africa.

  28. pdm, Protecting child rapists didn’t “protect their gold.” It caused them to forfeit MORE of their gold. But again, apples and peaches.

  29. The government shouldn’t force people to…… Man that list is endless unless you’re in the insurance racket…. Then….. You’re home free…. Kinda like the golden kid …. They write their own meal ticket….

  30. The Boston Globe had a team of investigative reporters investigating and reporting on clergy sexual abuse in Massachusetts. It wasn’t just one reporter. There were hundreds of stories on the subject printed in the Boston Globe. I was very close to someone who worked in the mental health field who helped uncover what was going on. Some of the clergy involved in the scandal lived in “my back yard.”


    How the Boston Globe exposed the abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic church
    The tenacity of Boston Globe journalists in uncovering the scandal of widespread sexual abuse by priests led to the current crisis in the Catholic church. And there’s more to come, as Jon Henley reports
    Jon Henley
    The Guardian, Wednesday 21 April 2010

    In June 2001, Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop of Boston, perhaps the most staunchly Catholic of all America’s big cities, filed a routine court submission in response to a number of allegations contained in lawsuits brought against one of his former priests, Father John Geoghan.

    At the time, sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clerics was not a widespread topic of discussion, in the US or anywhere else. Cases would surface, and sometimes be quite extensively reported: in 1981, Father Donald Roemer pleaded guilty to child molestation in Los Angeles; in 1985, a Louisiana priest, Gilbert Gauthe, was convicted of similar offences against 11 boys. But they were seen, for the most part, as isolated incidents. There was no convincing evidence of any consistent pattern of clerical abuse, still less of a sustained attempt by the church to cover up such behaviour – by simply moving priests on without informing the authorities.

    Cardinal Law’s seemingly innocent court filing, though, was about to change that. Buried somewhere in it was the admission that when, in 1984, he had assigned Geoghan to St Julia’s church in the Boston suburb of Weston, he had done so knowing that the priest had, in his previous parish, been accused of molesting seven boys from the same family.

    With fresh allegations of abuse and cover-ups now surfacing almost daily, and calls in the UK for Pope Benedict to be arrested, something resembling the worldwide crisis facing the Catholic church would surely have happened sooner or later. But it is possible it would not be happening now, on such a large scale and with such potentially disastrous consequences for the church, had it not been for the work of a small group of journalists – the majority of them Catholic – from the Boston Globe newspaper, who were the first to spot Cardinal Law’s startling admission.

    “I think we all had a sense, even before our first story came out, that this was an explosive subject with huge potential impact,” says Michael Paulson, the paper’s former religious affairs correspondent, who helped the paper to win the 2003 Pulitzer prize for exposing both the full extent of sexual abuse by Boston Catholic clergy, and the shameful response to it of Cardinal Law and his bishops. “But I think we were still all taken aback by how quickly and dramatically it exploded – first here, then across the country and around the world.”

    For Michael Rezendes, a member of the Globe’s Spotlight investigative team and lead writer on the first story in the paper’s prize-winning series, “There’s no question in my mind that our work was the spark. We were the forerunners. Given that Boston is the largest Catholic city in America, it was quite courageous of the editors – we could have alienated a lot of readers. But the court cases we won, the church documents we got released, became precedent; they encouraged other papers and other lawyers in other cities to follow suit.”

    Walter Robinson, then Spotlight editor, says the paper’s reporting “put the match to some very, very dry tinder”. That’s certainly true: within two years of the first of the Globe’s 800 articles on the scandal appearing in January 2002, Rezendes notes, Cardinal Law had resigned, 150 priests in Boston stood accused of sexual abuse, more than 500 victims had filed abuse claims, and church-goers’ donations to the archdiocese had slumped by 50%.

    In Sin against the Innocents, a 2004 book on clerical sex abuse by a range of experts, Rezendes also notes that over the same period, across America as a whole, more than 450 priests and four bishops resigned, and several states, including Massachusetts, introduced new laws obliging clergy to report any knowledge of child sex abuse to the civil authorities. And yet, he adds today, “We’re still far from knowing the full story.”

    Law’s initial argument was that when he transferred Geoghan to his new parish, neither he, the Catholic church, nor indeed society as a whole, understood how difficult it was to change the behaviour of child sex abusers. But, Rezendes writes, “We found, within a matter of days, that Geoghan was only one of a large number of priests who had sexually molested children and been given new assignments.”

    The Globe reporters were also quietly told of many dozens of cases over the previous decade or so, in which the church had settled claims against molesting priests privately, often including a clause that barred the victims or their families from ever talking about it. Concrete evidence of those settlements, however, would be harder to find.

  31. I had phone contact w/ Rezendes and email contact w/ another reporter. I don’t feel like researching it. It’s still apples and grapefruit. Thanks for the informative links!!!

  32. I remember him being a good reporter. I’ve dealt w/ my share of print and broadcast journalists and most are less than impressive and a-holes.

  33. Nick, you are ,,,,ahem…mistaken. They did protect their gold. Do you suppose they had no attorneys advising them thirty – forty years ago? Do you suppose that no bishops called their attorneys for advice when the first Mom called to complain about Father Mike putting his hands on her son?

    Fukc! Aren’t you the guy who always says follow the money? Are you the guy that always told us government can’t be trusted? All bureaucrats are corrupt? And isn’t the Church just one great big rich “government” run big great big rich privileged corporation men? Or do you believe they were pious, loving, caring men whose first thought was to “suffer the little children to come unto Him”? And gave not one thought about their liability should they be sued but ran to consult the Bible?

    How about a “Nick” argument? I’ve had many a beer with a RC priest. And they have all admitted that the Church’s first concern their wealth. Should I further support my unassailable “Nick” argument that my cousin was a priest and that’s what he told me? Or how about I once worked in a parish office so I know all about this. Or maybe the fact that I once lived down the street from a RC church? Or that my dear old dad always said to me “the nuns are wonderful but watch out for the priests”. Or that my sister’s first grade teacher’s boyfriend went into the priesthood and he was an a**hole, so there’s that. Or once when I was having tea with the Queen she said that the Tudors had the right idea. That was after I had just come back from interviewing Mother Teresa and I wasn’t too impressed with her. Or maybe you would be more convinced if I told you that Valerie Jarrett worked for the Chicago (natch) cardinal and she got him to hire the Black Panthers as security guards for the piles of gold stored under the cardinal’s mansion. I could provide you with all sorts of documentation, but I know you’re not into that stuff that the elites call “research”. I trust you’ll be content with those delicious kumquats and pitted prunes.

  34. Ah, who needs documentation when you have the word of the most experienced well traveled, all around expert on all things’ word? I asks ya.;)

  35. pdm wrote: “I fervently hope the SC puts this issue to rest – that someone’s personal beliefs does not trump other’s beliefs”

    I agree with this statement, but probably in the opposite way to how you mean it.

    A person’s personal belief that contraception is fine should not trump the beliefs of the people who hired that person to work for them.

  36. rafflaw wrote: “It is an abuse for allow any employer to exempt themselves from the law that also impacts non believers of that employers religious beliefs.”

    Or you might consider that if people have to lay aside their constitutionally protected rights in order to employ others, or to buy and sell products, then maybe something is wrong with the law and not with the people yelling ouch!

    If the abusive law were not in place to being with, nobody would have to be exempted from anything. This is the problem with all laws that start with exemptions. Exemptions are created within the law from the very beginning to hide their abusive nature and garner enough votes to get them to pass. If one thinks about it, exemptions imply that the law is a law of INEQUALITY.

    Once these class based laws are passed, that does not mean they are good law. From the perspective of Natural Law Theory, they would be no law at all if they violate a fundamental right of someone. From the perspective of the evil politicians passing these laws, the law is a stepping stone to their nefarious objectives.

  37. Lew wrote: “You are free to practice the religion of your choice as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s right to practice theirs. By manipulating how, or on what your employees compensation is spent, based on your religious views does not constitute freedom of religion. In fact it is the very opposite as the employer is forcing their religious beliefs on someone else, taking their freedom of religion. The fact that someone needs to work for a living does not give a wealthy man the right to force his religious views on him.”

    So an employer offers you a job to work for them, and you claim that the employee has the right to force the employer to compensate him with medical insurance? I don’t think that is right at all!

    If you don’t like the wages or benefits offered by an employer, don’t take the job. Period. End of discussion. If you go work for a church, expect that the doctrine and beliefs of the church are going to govern how you are compensated. If you don’t like that, then don’t work for the church. Nobody is forcing you to work for them.

    For you to take the job and then complain about their religious beliefs and then call upon government to spank them and force them to give you the immoral things that you want, I would consider you to be among the most evil of men.

  38. Since 6 of the nine justices are catholic, this decision is really not surprising. They are older and hold a certain fondness for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  39. Archbishop started the trend of sheltering as much money as possible in new ways and declaring bankruptcy.

    “Then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan tried to protect money from claims, records show”

    “Four years before the Archdiocese of Milwaukee filed for bankruptcy, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan sought Vatican approval to move nearly $57 million in cemetery funds off the archdiocese’s books and into a trust to help protect them “from any legal claim or liability,” according to documents made public Monday.”

  40. David: “For you to take the job and then complain about their religious beliefs and then call upon government to spank them and force them to give you the immoral things that you want, I would consider you to be among the most evil of men.”

    Variation #218 of “Sandra Fluke is a slut” from Limbaugh’s little red book of ‘Religion is Being Attacked Because it Can’t Discriminate Against Women’.

  41. pdm, Call an anger management clinic. I worked civil lawsuits. I’ll be brief. Up until the 1990’s,[varied according to parishes], the “gold” came from insurance companies. If you followed these cases, the vast majority of claims came from before the 90’s. In the 90’s, the Catholic Church could not find any insurance companies to insure them as the lawsuits started to rise exponentially. I believe they bankrupt a couple of regional carriers. One case I worked involved the full range of defendants, the local church, the diocese, the order of the priest, the priest himself, and the rehab clinic the Catholic Church operates in NM. It was this case I provided background to the Globe. When the “gold” started coming out of the Church’s till, they still tried to protect it, using the same shuffle and cover up, but the Globe and an aggressive plaintiff’s law firm out of the Twin Cities[I worked adverse to them..they’re good], changed that. The key now are priest and Bishops[Philly I believe] going to prison. Cardinal Law has sanctuary in The Vatican, he will burn in hell. So, take what you may possibly know about this issue, and multiply it by ~250, and that’s how much I know.

    On a personal level, a kid I played high school football w/ was molested by a local priest that I know. His name is Kevin Zile. The Hartford Courant did a full spread on him back in maybe 2005-6, so releasing his name is cool. He wanted his story out there. Kevin was a very emotional kid back in the 60’s when I knew him, and would sometimes just cry. When I read his total account[this priest abused several other boys as usual] it all made sense, and I cried. I have meant to reach out to him but never have. You may be able to put aside your anger and relate to my reticence. Maybe, thanks to you I now will contact Kevin. I love to take a negative and turn it into a positive. So, on a legal, personal, and emotional level you are not worth even discussing this further. And, you obviously don’t understand the utter contempt I have for how the Church handled this, so maybe a reading comprehension class also? Nice rant, though.

  42. lotta,

    You know that only evil temptresses use immoral things like contraceptives. Only a slut would use birth control…and expect their healthcare providers to help defray the cost.

  43. As this concerns health matters, then all the religiously affiliated hospitals should be allowed to forbid to treat patients from other religions or no religions, if we take this logic a bit further. The Catholic Justice Sotomayor should have also added that in her stay.

  44. Teji Malik wrote: “As this concerns health matters, then all the religiously affiliated hospitals should be allowed to forbid to treat patients from other religions or no religions, if we take this logic a bit further. The Catholic Justice Sotomayor should have also added that in her stay.”

    You use a very broad brush when you say “health matters.” Is assisted suicide a “health matter”?

    Up until modern times, all physicians would take an oath that included the following:
    “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”

    The overall moral code of physicians use to be to promote life and never death. In modern times that moral code has been abandoned by many but not all physicians.

    A contraceptive is something which prevents life. It acts contrary to life. Contraceptives sometimes actually work by terminating life through removing its ability to receive nourishment from the mother. This is considered immoral by a large number of people.

    Should physicians and hospitals be allowed to have a policy of not assisting people with terminating life? Yes, I think so. The person seeking such assistance can find someone else who agrees to do it rather than forcing another human being to do that which is against his or her conscience.

  45. will there be a litmus test for non- religious based employers, company owners to ascertain their claim to religiousness or is it enough to claim to be an “X”,
    be it a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or whatever ? Whose religion, and their tenets, are used to receive an exemption – the owner, the CEO, the Board of Trustees et al?

  46. Those who practice the Catholic and Mormon faiths get a lot of respect from our courts; I wonder how much respect our courts will provide for Muslims who practice the Islamic faith (and Sharia law) and how happy or unhappy the posters here will be about that.

  47. maplady wrote: “Whose religion, and their tenets, are used to receive an exemption – the owner, the CEO, the Board of Trustees et al?”

    Corporations are people. Whatever the people forming the corporation decide is contrary to their code of morality should be sufficient. How the corporation decides on policy is determined by the corporation’s constitution.

    Problems like this one illustrate why the whole idea of government control of the means of production is wrong and why it has failed in most every country that has tried it. We have taken a wrong socialist turn here and we need to back up and fix it. Sadly, once the step is taken to control the means of production, most people never think about abolishing the bad law. All they think about is how to force the law into effect. In most every country that keeps going down this road, revolution is the end result. Hopefully our future revolution will not be a bloody revolution. Maybe it will be more like the recent Soviet Union revolution where the harsh economic environment caused by socialism caused the government to be dissolved without firing a bullet.

  48. Our SECULAR laws already provide exclusions for certain types of religious organizations so that they can freely bypass laws protecting against hiring discrimination and other workplace laws. If an organization is not accorded those exemptions it’s because they do not qualify as a religious organization. They are then REQUIRED to adhere to the rest of our employment laws including ALL provisions of ACA. Beyond that, there is no reason to have a discussion. Apparently, there are still those who have either not gotten this very clear and singular message, choose to be willfully ignorant or are acting out like petulant children, that the USA is a SECULAR operating under the EXCLUSIVE guidance of our Constitution. There is NO higher authority than the Constitution. Period. I have no patients left any longer for these intrusions by religious people and groups trying to make America bend to the whims of their religious practices rather than them performing their highest obligation of obeying our secular laws.

  49. It seems to me that what the Constitution of the United States guarantees is the right to hold one’s own religious belief but not the right to use government to impose one’s religious beliefs on anyone else.

    Religious belief is a matter of FAITH, not PROOF; therefore, we need to be very careful about deciding what is really religious faith and what is not.

    Sometimes, what masquerades as religious faith is just the desire to impose one’s will on someone else.

  50. It seems to me that the US Supreme Court only recognizes rights for institutions and corporations. There is no justice for the People. Why does a government of the people, by the people and for the people only give rights to corporations and institutions that already capriciously deny human rights to people.

  51. Antonin Scalia says there is no mention of a right to privacy in the Constitution nor is there any mention of a right to an abortion or even the right to control one’s own body.

    If that is what governs Scalia’s mind and thinking, how can he possibly find rights for corporations in the Constitution since there is NO mention of corporations in the Constitution either?

    Scalia may be the most dishonest Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

  52. davidm2575: LOL.You are all over the place with your ignorance and dogmatic fervour. Let’s try to decipher your comments.

    “You use a very broad brush when you say “health matters.” Is assisted suicide a “health matter”?”

    You bet it is and also it is legal in many countries.Are in favour of the Terry Schiavoes of life for whom W. had to fly back from Camp David to sign the bill to keep her alive when the same machine could have been used for someone having chances to survive?

    “Up until modern times, all physicians would take an oath that included the following:
    “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.””

    Please give us the reference where you got that from. You mean even if the mother’s life is in danger? It seems far fetched but quite imaginative for sure.:)

    “The overall moral code of physicians use to be to promote life and never death. In modern times that moral code has been abandoned by many but not all physicians.”

    First, English does not seem to be your forte as I have noticed in many of your posts. Do you mean useD to? What is the moral code and please define life for me. FYI, we as humans have to consume life in order to survive. I thought you knew that. Talking about life, do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?

    “A contraceptive is something which prevents life. It acts contrary to life. Contraceptives sometimes actually work by terminating life through removing its ability to receive nourishment from the mother. This is considered immoral by a large number of people.”

    What an uneducated way to babble! Many Christians, especially the Catholics use calender system as a form of contraceptive. Most of the Christians use some kind of contraceptive. You mean they use contraceptives in an immoral manner?

    David, even semen has life in case you did not know. So, you must have had many tadpoles swimming in your undies during your wet dreams.:-)

    “Should physicians and hospitals be allowed to have a policy of not assisting people with terminating life? Yes, I think so. The person seeking such assistance can find someone else who agrees to do it rather than forcing another human being to do that which is against his or her conscience.”

    That is your not so thoughtful opinion which I happen to disagree with.

  53. Here is an interesting short article from Slate that has a view that corresponds to mine – the Little Sisters are being extremely unreasonable. Some months ago the Church asked for an exemption and got it. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the Church and now they are opposed to the exemption that was given.

    I also agree with the author that Sotomayor’s temporary injunction is not to be seen as a liberal Justice siding with the Church. This will, and needs to, go to the SC. Just heaven help us if the SC finds for the Church.

  54. Then where should we stand on keeping people alive through artificial/not natural means–such as feeding tubes and respirators? Such things may keep nature from following nature’s course. Would that be acting contrary to life?

  55. Teji,

    I guess, then, if a Jehovah’s Witness owns a business, that owner shouldn’t be required to pay for health insurance that covers blood transfusions for his/her employees.

  56. Elaine: Nor can he/she join the armed forces in the future to defend our country in order to avoid any needed blood.

  57. There are so many different religious beliefs that various employers hold. I wonder how the SC is going to weed through the beliefs that should be enforced on the employees and which ones should be ignored? If it finds in the favor of The Little Sisters of the Poor, it’s going to open the door to other devoutly religious employers to do the same. This is why I think they won’t win this case. What is to stop some unscrupulous employer to invent some religious belief because the medical treatment may be too expensive and raise his insurance costs.

  58. The bigger concern is the Church’s growing monoply on hospitals – particularly in rural areas. Besides the obvious problems concerning women’s health, what about end of life decisions? If the Church is allowed to prevail, there will be problems with feeding tubes and DNRs.

  59. Elaine, sorry. I see you addressed the Catholic hospital issue. Although you question was rhetorical, I’ll offer my opinion. The Church is against withdrawing support for a patient. Once you’re on a vent or a feeding tube, expect to stay on it until you recover. And Catholic hospitals often do not respect DNRs. Does anyone remember their position with Terry Schiavo?

  60. What kind of amazes me is the fact that rightists are all for women not using birth control and having babies, yet they resent the pregnancy coverage underthe ACA.

  61. pdm, You are simply incorrect. Catholic Churches honor and abide all DNR’s, the Vatican has decreed that. The Schiavo case was very complex and sensationalized. However, none of the four hospitals where Ms. Schiavo was treated were Catholic.

  62. Nick, admittedly my info on the DNRs was anecdotal and did a CYA by saying “some”. However the Roman Catholic Bishops Council (I may have mangled their title) runs the show and has directives on care allowed. Will you please use your skills and provide backup to your assertion that DNRs are honored?

  63. The controversy over contraception coverage became muddled when the administration began granting exemptions. I do not believe that any exemptions are necessary to protect religious freedom. And once the process of granting exemptions begins, it has no end.

    In addition, the argument that one should not be compelled to do something contrary to one’s religious conscience is simply an invitation to anarchy.

    With regard to the issue of DNRs and Catholic hospitals, pdm is incorrect. My mother was an RN who worked in both Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals from the early 1940s until her death some years ago. The traditional practice in all hospitals was for such decisions to be made informally by families and attending physicians. DNRs eventually became formalized by statute. The Schiavo case was a travesty fueled by publicity seekers. The Catholic Church has never argued that extraordinary methods must be utilized to artificially prolong life.

  64. Nick, you did you own CYA on Terry Schiavo by saying it was “complex and sensationalized”. Sure it was. So what. And my question did not ask what hospital was caring for Schiavo. I asked the Church’s position. And the Church’s position was clear-cut. I know you don’t like documentation but maybe you will make an exception

    That tells me my family had better never put me on a vent or feeding tube in a Catholic hospital. They’ll keep you on it ’til the end of time. Lovely folks.

  65. Elaine:

    Directive 58 in the guidelines does provide for nutrition and hydration. However, it also states, “Medically assisted nutrition and hydration become morally optional when they cannot reasonably be expected to prolong life or when they would be “excessively burdensome for the patient or would cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed.’ ”

    The Sciavo case was particularly problematic because those opposed to taking her off life support insisted that she had some cognitive functioning, a false hope that was cruelly encouraged by groups whose primary interests were in lobbying for the abolition of abortion rights.

  66. There was no DNR. That was the core of the controversy. Everyone should have a living will and specify their wishes under different circumstances. Again, that turning a negative into a positive I love. The Schiavo case motivated many people to do just that.

  67. Mike,

    “Medically assisted nutrition and hydration become morally optional when they cannot reasonably be expected to prolong life or when they would be “excessively burdensome for the patient or would cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed.’ ”


    That means that it’s a judgment call–and there’s no guarantee that one’s wishes will be honored by a Catholic hospital.

  68. Elaine:

    What I am suggesting is that what is done in actual practice is to comply with the family’s wishes, and that includes honoring living wills and the decisions of health care surrogates. Thus, Directive 59 provides, “The free and informed judgment made by a competent adult patient concerning the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should always be respected and normally complied with, unless it is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.”

  69. Mike, thanks for your input. My fear is that things have changed in these very polarized times,and you may find yourself in a Catholic hospital with a very conservative and “magisterial” bishop who sits at the head of the hospital’s ethics committee and he calls all the shots based on Catholic dogma as per this article:

    When you Mom was working she may have worked in a Catholic hospital that allowed tubal ligations after a C-Section. That no longer happens. And there was the case of the Sister who was nearly excommunicated by her bishop when she ok’d an emergency abortion for a woman. The Sister headed a hospital and was probably operating on “old rules”. Things have changed and much may depend on what kind of bishop heads the committee.

    Sorry. Under these kinds conditions I am not assured that MY wishes will be followed and I will bet you that sooner or later we will be reading about an authoritarian bishop who found something wrong with someone’s DNR much to that patient’s or his families surprise. I can’t offer “hard” evidence about this yet, but I find this suit by the Little Sisters suggestive of very unreasonable and political positions.

  70. Nick. Millions of people do not, and will not, have DNRs. The fact that Schiavo did not have one should not have consigned her to be on a feeding tube for another 100 years. Just because Terry Schiavo was mentioned in a comment that also mentioned DNRs does not link the two. But that should not prohibit you from going to your happy place.

  71. Mike, it is that “unless it is contary to Catholic moral teaching” that bothers me. Has any Catholic moral teaching changed over the years? Has Catholic moral teaching been impacted by progress in health care? I’m betting it has and I’m betting that some bishop, or cardinal, or pope is writing the rules. I’d also bet that you could find one or two bishops who would disagree with one another – each coming up with a different decision impacting a patient’s care. And I bet there were lots of bishops who would not have allowed T Schiavo taken off the feeding tube were she a patient in their hospital.

  72. pdm:

    I understand your concern. I have frequently expressed my unhappiness over the alliance in recent years between the conservative wing of the Catholic Church in this country and fundamentalist Christian groups. Although it was an outgrowth of the anti-abortion movement, its presence was evident during the Schiavo controversy. In addition, I am concerned that the constant assertions by the right that Christianity is under assault by liberals has created something approaching panic among some church leaders over the future of religious freedom. The contraception controversy is a result of the Obama administration’s efforts to calm those folks down, and I think it has been a mistake.

  73. Let’s not forget that some women take birth control pills for certain medical conditions–They aren’t just used to prevent pregnancy.

    Catholic Bishops and Religious Rights vs. Women’s Rights

    There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the HHS contraception coverage mandate. Much of the talk has focused on women’s sex lives and the types of birth control that doctors prescribe for women in order to prevent pregnancy—as well as on the separation of church and state and the mandate’s infringement on religious freedom and the Catholic Church’s First Amendment rights. There has been much less talk about women’s health, women’s rights, and the use of birth control pills to treat certain female medical conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. Both of these conditions can cause severe pain and lead to other health problems. According to Bruce Nolan of The Times-Picayune, the Institute of Medicine—which is a non-profit advisory panel—recommended the contraception coverage because “those services are basic to individual health.”

    Many Americans—especially women—think that contraceptive coverage and other “female-related” medical services ARE basic to women’s health. Catholic bishops, however, believe that contraceptive coverage and some hospital services are in conflict with the church’s “moral conscience.” The bishops contend that the church has the right to deny certain types of health insurance coverage for women who work for Catholic institutions. It doesn’t matter to the bishops whether the female employees are members of other religions…are atheists or agnostics. The church’s position is that all female employees of Catholic institutions should be denied access to all forms of contraceptives and not be provided medical insurance that would cover the cost of certain medical procedures. The bishops also believe that certain types of treatment and procedures—including tubal ligations—should not be provided to women at Catholic hospitals.

    When I was doing research on an earlier post, The National Women’s Law Center Takes a Position on Contraceptive Coverage & “Extreme” Legislation, I came across some information about Catholic hospitals that caused me great concern. The information left me with the belief that Catholic bishops and the Catholic Church do not seem to value the lives of women as much as they value the lives of men and the unborn. In this post, I will look at the “usurpation of female patients’ rights” at Catholic hospitals. I think after reading my post you will understand why I drew the conclusion that I did.

    In January of 2011, the National Women’s Law Center issued a report about women’s health and lives being at risk at some hospitals because of religious restrictions. The NWLC report includes a legal analysis of the implications of its study—which focused on Catholic-affiliated hospitals’ treatment of women with pregnancy complications.

    From the National Women’s Law Center:

    The Center’s report, Below the Radar: Ibis Study Shows that Health Care Providers’ Religious Refusals Can Endanger Pregnant Women’s Lives and Health, demonstrates that certain hospitals, because of their religious beliefs, deny emergency care, the standard of care and adequate information to make treatment decisions to patients experiencing miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. The study and report focused on cases where no medical intervention was possible that would allow the patient to continue her pregnancy and where delaying treatment would endanger the woman’s health or even life. These hospital treatment practices violate federal laws and regulations that are intended to protect patients and ensure the delivery of quality health care services at hospitals receiving Medicare funds…

    “Most women assume that when they go to a hospital they will be offered the best medical treatment options for their diagnosis,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “But this report paints a chilling picture of women with ectopic pregnancies or suffering miscarriages who are not offered the full spectrum of medically appropriate treatment options because they have gone to a hospital whose religious affiliation conflicts with the provision of those options. To make matters worse, women denied certain medical options may never even be told that these options could, for example, improve their chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future. Women who fail to receive appropriate treatment or to be informed that preferable options would be provided in another hospital can suffer serious harm with long-term adverse consequences to their lives and health.”

    The reports highlight stark cases where doctors noted a discrepancy between the medically-accepted standard of care for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and the treatment provided by hospitals due to their religious affiliation. For example, while the standard of care for certain ectopic pregnancies requires patients to receive the medication methotrexate, doctors in the study reported that their hospitals forbade the use of the drug. Instead, patients were either transferred to another hospital or required to undergo unnecessary and invasive surgery to resolve their condition, thereby being denied the standard of care.

    One doctor in the study reported several instances of potentially fatal tubal ruptures in patients with ectopic pregnancies at her Catholic-affiliated hospital. She said that her hospital subjected patients with ectopic pregnancies to unnecessary delays in treatment, despite patients’ exhibiting serious symptoms indicating that a tubal rupture was possible. These patients, therefore, were denied emergency care to which they were legally entitled.

    In some of the miscarriage cases described in the Ibis Study, the standard of care also required immediate treatment. Yet doctors practicing at Catholic-affiliated hospitals were forced to delay treatment while performing medically unnecessary tests. Even though these miscarriages were inevitable, and no medical treatment was available to save the fetus, some patients were transferred because doctors were required to wait until there was no longer a fetal heartbeat to provide the needed medical care. This delay subjected these patients to further risks of hemorrhage and infection and could have violated their right to receive emergency medical treatment under federal law.

  74. pdm, You’re correct. Now, you ripped me on the Catholic Church and “my anecdotes” on another thread. I really don’t want this to get nasty. This is about my father, which I swear on his soul.

    On January 13th 1989 my Dad had a TIA. He was brought to the Bristol Hospital for a night. In his room was a man on a ventilator. I called my dad that evening. He, like myself, was not one to talk on the phone but he was quite talkative that night. During the course of the conversation, he said a couple times how awful it was for that man to be living like that. He then said, “I don’t ever want that.” The magic words it turned out. He never said it to anyone else.

    A month later my father had a massive stroke. He was totally unresponsive and had a feeding tube inserted. He was in a public hospital[Hartford Hospital]. We had a family conference via phone and I told everyone what my father had said. My family knows I’m as honest as they come and we ALL agreed[mom and my 3 siblings] that the feeding tube should be removed. My mom spoke w/ the primary doc and he would not remove it. pdm, when the feeding tube is started it can be very difficult to have it removed. There was little controversy that there was severe and irreparable damage to my Dad’s brain. The doc would not take my mom’s word and refused removal. I got on a plane and flew to Bradley Field in Hartford, rented the car, and had a sit down w/ this doc. He gave me the Hippocratic oath and all the horseshit. I looked him in the eye and said what I just told you about the conversation w/ my dad. He believed me, but he wasn’t done. He called in my mom. He then went through vivid details of how my dad would starve and dehydrate. He through in curveballs, “What if he gets pneumonia, do we not use antibiotics?” My mom kept looking @ me. She was overwhelmed. I just kept saying “No.” My mom was one tough woman. As we left she broke down and said, “That was horrible, it shouldn’t be that way.”

    Here’s the bitter irony, pdm. That same doc[Kaiser Permanante] DRAGGED his feet 5 years earlier when my dad was suffering from gastro espoghageal cancer. He needed surgery but this guy was scheduling tests and scans months out. Again, I got on a plane and got his mind right and had the life saving surgery he needed. So, in that death meeting we had some history.

    pdm, these stories go on every day. I bet others here have similar stories. You got to get it writing. It isn’t about the Catholic Church, it’s about the law and the Hippocratic oath. When I take a step back I can on some level understand the reticence for a doctor to stop treatment. But, I know there are many much more humane docs than that the little Nazi I dealt w/. To date, that was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. That prick made it harder. It had NOTHING to do w/ religion.

  75. Nick, we are a step beyond the importance of a DNR. That’s not disputed. The problem is – will it be respected? Has it been written correctly? Does it cover this particular illness as interpreted by some official? Your story illustrates one problem. Your doctor, his agreement with your understanding of the patient-doctor relationship and unfortunately you should also be concerned about his religion now that there are so many empowered fundamentalists around. Now raise the level of your concern by about 500xs if you find yourself in a Catholic hospital cause now a fair bit of the staff believe they have God’s moral law on their side.

    I agree that in many cases a DNR will work. But there are no assurances that you won’t find yourself at 80 years of age with the wrong doc, or in the wrong hospital, having your ribs broken by violent CPR, on a vent, with a feeding tube.

  76. Mike, I do not think there is a conservative wing of the RCChurch. Or maybe I should say where is the moderate wing of the RCC? I have not read any impassioned (or even quiet) articles by any important layman or official of the Church.calling for the right of American non-Catholic women to determine the course of their reproductive health. Is it your view that there are some significant number of people in the pews who quietly disagree with the bishops? If there are, I wish they would speak up – very loudly. Quiet doesn’t work these days. Quiet only supports the status quo.

    If you have a bit more time, I would be interested in learning what you think the Obama admin should have done regarding the contraception mandate.

  77. I’ve taken care of too many elderly Alzheimer and dementia patients with feeding tubes in years past. The push for feeding tubes waned during the last 10 years, thankfully. It was horrid watching a person who could not stay upright long enough in bed during the time it took for the feeding, they would slide down and aspirate and then need suctioning. Their digestive systems were no longer absorbing the rich tube feelings and they had chronic diarrhea, which because of their dementia would end up all over them, the bed, the wall, in their mouths. There were many times the feelings had to be held due to too much residual in the stomach and then the nurse had to explain to the family member why her mother’s feeding was being held so often, that we weren’t trying to starve her, but to keep her from aspirating on the feeding and getting pneumonia, which they did and then had to be put on antibiotics so often that they ended up getting a resistant strain of bacteria. So many horrible complications from forcing a human body to function longer than nature dictates. I’ve had discussions with those that don’t understand the level of suffering that happens to these patients.

    I worry that with the surge of fundamentalism that healthcare workers will be going back to the bad old days of keeping people alive who should be allowed to die humanely.The talk of death panels by Palin was so idiotic. Advanced directives were around for the last 25 years at least, long before the ACA.

  78. Mike, badly written opening sentence on comment at 9:30. My meaning would be clearer had I written: I do not think there is a conservative “wing” of the RCChurch. There is simply a conservative RRChurch.

  79. pdm, I don’t know the religion of the doc. He had an anglo name, if I had to guess, Protestant, maybe Congregationalist. That’s strictly shoot from the hip. I was not getting a religious vibe, more “I’m the doctor and we treat patients, we don’t suspend treatment.” That’s a secular religious fervor among docs. He was short, that enters into it also. The history of the world would be much different if all men were the same height.

  80. Annie,

    Can a hospital implant a feeding tube without consent? If a patient is unconscious, are they required to get a family member to consent? I assume a feeding tube insertion is not done under emergency circumstances. There would be time available to try to gain a consent.

  81. pdm:

    As I have argued in two columns on the issue, my opinion is that nothing I have seen in the ACA (no, I haven’t read the whole thing) implicates the First Amendment or imposes unconstitutional restrictions on religious freedom. I believe it would have been wiser (and better policy) to refuse to grant any exemptions to religious groups. And it is my cynical belief that companies like Hobby Lobby are raising objections under the Free Exercise Clause to cloak what are really just political objections to the legislation.

  82. Mike Appleton wrote: “it is my cynical belief that companies like Hobby Lobby are raising objections under the Free Exercise Clause to cloak what are really just political objections to the legislation.”

    So you don’t think that David Green truly believes that murdering unborn babies is immoral? Have you visited the Hobby Lobby website to see how religious the corporation is? Religion is part of their corporate charter.

    With over 60 lawsuits over this contraception exemption issue, and the fact that the religious exemption was built into the law right from the start, I find it stretches credulity that this person is just trying to make a political statement.

    I agree with you that the exemptions should not be in the law in the first place, but for different reasons. Exemptions create an unequal law. It is an indication of a defect in the law. The law is itself excessively political and favors a particular progressive ideology over traditional ideology. Laws should be constructed in a way that applies equally to everybody or they should not be laws in the first place.

    If the ACA was presented originally with no religious exemptions, my prediction is that it never would have been passed into law in the first place. There were numerous deals made to garner votes to pass the law. Although nobody actually read the whole law before it was passed, so much attention would have been focused on the abusiveness of the law toward religious sensibilities that at least a few votes would have been lost and the bill would have failed. Half of the country does not want the ACA law.

  83. The Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sundays for religious reasons. Do you think it would be constitutional to pass a law forcing them to be open on Sundays?

    One could argue that closing on Sundays causes financial loss to their employees.

    Forcing them to open their stores on Sunday seems more benign to me than criminalizing their desire not to provide the means for women to do what they believe is murdering unborn babies. Would their fighting such a law also constitute a politically motivated objection rather than a reason sincerely founded in their religious faith?

  84. You know David…. One can choose to do business elsewhere….. I bought something at the store during the holidays….. I took it back on the 24th and told the clerk I forgot that I was not doing business with a business that interfered with a woman’s right between her and her doctor….. I was pleasant to the clerk…. And she said she wished more folks would send the message up to the store command….

    What’s really funny…. Is the same excuse cannot be made for Viagra….. And btw… Some folks need birth control for other health reasons…..

  85. David… Did you know that the some of the Originally colonies forced business’s and government offices to stay open on a December 25….. And made it a crime to close on that day……

  86. AY,

    When Americans banned Christmas
    The first ‘War on Christmas’ was declared almost 400 years ago, courtesy of our Puritan forefathers

    How did the first settlers celebrate Christmas?

    They didn’t. The Pilgrims who came to America in 1620 were strict Puritans, with firm views on religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Scripture did not name any holiday except the Sabbath, they argued, and the very concept of “holy days” implied that some days were not holy. “They for whom all days are holy can have no holiday,” was a common Puritan maxim. Puritans were particularly contemptuous of Christmas, nicknaming it “Foolstide” and banning their flock from any celebration of it throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. On the first Dec. 25 the settlers spent in Plymouth Colony, they worked in the fields as they would on any other day. The next year, a group of non-Puritan workmen caught celebrating Christmas with a game of “stoole-ball” — an early precursor of baseball — were punished by Gov. William Bradford. “My conscience cannot let you play while everybody else is out working,” he told them.

    Why didn’t Puritans like Christmas?

    They had several reasons, including the fact that it did not originate as a Christian holiday. The upper classes in ancient Rome celebrated Dec. 25 as the birthday of the sun god Mithra. The date fell right in the middle of Saturnalia, a monthlong holiday dedicated to food, drink, and revelry, and Pope Julius I is said to have chosen that day to celebrate Christ’s birth as a way of co-opting the pagan rituals. Beyond that, the Puritans considered it historically inaccurate to place the Messiah’s arrival on Dec. 25. They thought Jesus had been born sometime in September.

    So their objections were theological?

    Not exclusively. The main reason Puritans didn’t like Christmas was that it was a raucously popular holiday in late medieval England. Each year, rich landowners would throw open their doors to the poor and give them food and drink as an act of charity. The poorest man in the parish was named the “Lord of Misrule,” and the rich would wait upon him at feasts that often descended into bawdy drunkenness. Such decadence never impressed religious purists. “Men dishonor Christ more in the 12 days of Christmas,” wrote the 16th-century clergyman Hugh Latimer, “than in all the 12 months besides.”

    When did that view win out?

    Puritans in the English Parliament eliminated Christmas as a national holiday in 1645, amid widespread anti-Christmas sentiment. Settlers in New England went even further, outlawing Christmas celebrations entirely in 1659. Anyone caught shirking their work duties or feasting was forced to pay a significant penalty of five shillings. Christmas returned to England in 1660, but in New England it remained banned until the 1680s, when the Crown managed to exert greater control over its subjects in Massachusetts. In 1686, the royal governor of the colony, Sir Edmund Andros, sponsored a Christmas Day service at the Boston Town House. Fearing a violent backlash from Puritan settlers, Andros was flanked by redcoats as he prayed and sang Christmas hymns.

  87. AY wrote: “the same excuse cannot be made for Viagra”

    Don’t get me started on Viagra. There is no good medical reason this should be covered under the ACA, and there are huge religious objections to it.

    AY wrote: “Some folks need birth control for other health reasons”

    A better way to say this is that some folks need hormone therapy for health reasons. I don’t think these religious people object to that as long as it is not prescribed for the purpose of what they consider to be the murdering of unwanted people.

  88. AY wrote: “Did you know that the some of the Originally colonies forced business’s and government offices to stay open on a December 25…”

    Please don’t tell me that you agree with this kind of government control.

  89. David,

    I’m sorry…. Do you think that all government and business functions should cease just because it’s December 25… Isn’t that government control…. And kinda endorsement of the Christian notion….. Just because…..

  90. AY wrote: “Do you think that all government and business functions should cease just because it’s December 25…”

    No, of course not.

    Government can decide for itself whether they are open or not, and businesses should decide for themselves. Government should not force businesses either to be open or closed on Dec. 25, Jan. 1st, or any other day. That’s the way it is now, and I think it works fine.

    My business often works when government is closed. Doesn’t bother me a bit. We often joke about how few hours government employees work, often comparing them to “banker’s hours.”

  91. My fathers feeding tube was placed w/o my mother’s permission. She was simply TOLD, “You’re husband can’t swallow, we’re placing in a feeding tube.” She was in shock, and of the generation that never questioned doctors.

  92. Pardon my ignorance but I still have no idea what davidm2575 is trying to convey in a logically reasonable manner.

    One thing I am sure that he lacks any bravura or reasoning to answer to my post directed to him.

  93. Teji Malik wrote: “Pardon my ignorance… he lacks any bravura or reasoning to answer to my post directed to him.”

    Your ignorance is pardoned. If your questions were less emotional and more terse and logical, I might try to answer them. Your post seemed rather concerned with a typo I made and using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character. I am here for more serious forms of inquiry.

  94. David, if you’re looking for “more serious forms of inquiry”, maybe you’d like to mosey over to the Stewart post where you have made certain allegations regarding SNAP.

    I’m still anxious to learn how owners of mult-million dollar homes on 5000 acres manag to pay property taxes, and “many” SNAP recipients with millions (or sometimes just thousands) in the bank collect subsidies.

  95. davidm2575 wrote: “Your ignorance is pardoned. If your questions were less emotional and more terse and logical, I might try to answer them. Your post seemed rather concerned with a typo I made and using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character. I am here for more serious forms of inquiry.”

    My answers were based on your comments. They were terse and logical.You are being emotional in your post, not me. Please try to be honest. Show me where I did what you claim above. “using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character”.

    How did I impugn your character? I do not even know you. LOL. Who is being emotional here?:-)

    It is ok to disagree and discuss the disagreements which are also parts of any learning process, but it is not OK to cop out when we are trying to learn from each other.

  96. Mike, Nick and Annie

    Thanks for your responses.

    Nick’s story on the feeding tube illustrates my distrust of hospitals respecting DNRs. All you need is one sanctimonious, officious sob who thinks he knows best and a procedure is done and becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to undo. Of course, not that any member of the RCChurch is sanctimonious or anything. One just needs to consider Cardinal Dolan, for instance….

    Mike A, I believe your cynicism regarding the motives of Hobby Lobby (and the other opponents – including the Little Sisters. What? It’s too much to sign a document?) is well founded. I’m just surprised that you believe that ACA could have passed without any (however messy) compromise. You’ve probably addressed this in your posts. I’ll look them up.

  97. Teji Malik wrote: “How did I impugn your character?”

    “English does not seem to be your forte as I have noticed in many of your posts.”

    “Talking about life, do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

    “What an uneducated way to babble!… You mean they use contraceptives in an immoral manner?”

    “David, even semen has life in case you did not know. So, you must have had many tadpoles swimming in your undies during your wet dreams.:-)”

    “That is your not so thoughtful opinion which I happen to disagree with.”

    I consider you rude and disrespectful, so unless I observe a sincere and intelligent question, please allow me to ignore your katzenjammer.

  98. davidm2575: You do not like bluntness from others except when it is coming from you it seems.

    Let me ask you once again, how is your character impugned by talking and asking about the facts? Is this an emotional reaction or just a cop out? You can be honest about it this time.

  99. Teji Malik wrote: “how is your character impugned by talking and asking about the facts?”

    Stop being so obtuse. That’s not what you were doing. Do you really expect me to answer a question like the following?

    “do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

  100. Mike A, I have just read Contraception and Separation. Splendid. But my research did not turn up a second. If you’re still hanging around – can you give me a search term?

  101. PDM,

    I have deleted a number of personal comments from you and ask that you comply with our policy of avoiding personal attacks and name calling. This site strives to offer an exception to the types of personal attacks common on other sites under a civility rule. We just went through a bad bout with such a tit-for-tat. Name calling and personal characterizations undermine the merit of the arguments and degrade the dialogue on the site. This rule is not for everyone, but I hope that you will understand our desire to avoid this type of discussion. It is certainly not for everyone but we like the civility rule and the atmosphere that it preserves. I would appreciate your help in maintaining that line.

    Jonathan Turley

  102. davidm2575 wrote:”Stop being so obtuse. That’s not what you were doing. Do you really expect me to answer a question like the following?

    “do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

    David,FYI, the news about donkey meat being sold in China is on this very blog and was meant to be tongue and cheek as we are talking about life in this post. Many people eat different kinds of meat. Nothing wrong with it.

    I apologise if you are a vegan and do not eat animal life but only non- animal life in order to survive because as mentioned before, we have to destroy life to consume for our own survival.

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