How to lose the battle over the HHS mandate

September 22, 2012 § 7 Comments

The best way to lose both the battle and the war over the HHS mandate is to treat it  as a matter of religious freedom.   See here and here.

§ 7 Responses to How to lose the battle over the HHS mandate

  • Scott W. says:

    bonald’s interpretation of the “this isn’t about contraception” spin is a brilliant, if bitter analysis. I quote it frequently when the HHS mandate is the subject.

    Sadly, Xavier University’s president, who initially resisted the mandate, has caved: http://otritt.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/the-graham-equation-equivocation/

  • Scott W. says:

    P.S. here is a recent article concluding that compliance with the mandate constitutes formal cooperation: http://philosophy.avemaria.edu/post/31860496920/does-the-hhs-mandate-compel-material-or-formal

  • Much as I would like to pin formal cooperation on compliance, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work. The author is basically ignoring the omnibus problem: in order to choose a health care plan at all – a health care plan with many legitimate benefits – a complying organization must choose one with contraceptive coverage. This is analogous to a pro life legislator voting for a “three exceptions” law, as long as he himself didn’t author the exceptions and does not intend them as a means to any end (including the “end” of making the bill more likely to pass).

    I think the scope of formal cooperation is broader than most moralists realize: that is, I think supporting exceptions in abortion law for any reason is wrong, even when that reason is “it makes the law more likely to pass”. But even my rigorous view of formal cooperation can’t impute intentionality as a matter of necessity into every omnibus choice.

  • ragekj says:

    Thank you! This whole issue has been bugging me ever since the debate over the mandate began. I’m glad someone’s pointing out that the whole “just leave us alone” strategy just isn’t going to cut it.

    It also seems to me that it’s material and not formal cooperation. The Ave Maria page to which Scott linked really only had one point which I thought made any sense whatsoever:

    5. Insurance contracts for immoral actions would seem to imply formal, not material cooperation, e.g. if someone could buy insurance for hiring an assassin to kill dangerous enemies, then anyone who underwrote or subsidized such a policy, it seems, would cooperate formally with him (that is, with the evil intention, at least, of being prepared to assassinate one’s enemies).

    I don’t think it works, but it’s a better argument than his other ones. Whether this falls under remote or proximate cooperation, and if it is remote whether it is prudent to cooperate remains to be seen.

  • Scott W. says:

    I think supporting exceptions in abortion law for any reason is wrong, even when that reason is “it makes the law more likely to pass”.

    I’d be interested in what you thought of this part of Evangelium Vitae (my emphasis):

    A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects

    This is what I continue try to drum into the heads of our current “vote GOP or the babies get it!” crowd. Romney’s position on abortion isn’t absolute or well known. Nor is Ryan’s. Whether it is one, two, or three exceptions, it is clear that for them these exceptions are morally acceptable.

  • My take is that it is OK to support a three-exceptions bill proposed by others, because it is possible to do so without intending the three exceptions. But it is not possible to propose the exceptions themselves as a means to the end of making the bill more likely to pass without intending them; and intending moral evil is formal cooperation.

  • Scott W. says:

    Sounds right. Going back to the Ave Maria article, I have a problem were he says that the performing musicians are formally cooperating with a concert, but the stagehands only materially cooperating. That doesn’t sound right because you can’t really believe someone who says, “Well I don’t want this concert to go through, but here’s a stand to help you do it!” We had this same issue with Catholic hospitals that wouldn’t perform abortions, but would refer and even transport people to a place that would. This is little different than refusing a contract hit on your neighbor and saying, “I can’t whack him, but here’s the number of someone who will. Let’s take my car.”

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