WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - The moment that President Obama nominated Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services he sent the signal of where he would lead this nation. Sadly, many people did not see the signs, including some Catholics.

Of course, anyone who heard former Presidential candidate Obama utter his "that's above my pay grade" answer to Reverend Rick Warren's question as to "when a baby gets human rights" - either had their head in the sand - or was no friend of children in the womb themselves.

This President does not respect the fundamental Human Right to Life, period. Sorry Doug Kmiec and all the others who were snowed by his sophistry, the truth is now very clear and I sincerely hope you join in the necessary resistance to this unjust administration.

The Secretary's own Archbishop, in May of 2008, asked then Governor Sebelius to refrain from receiving Holy Communion because of her "30-year history of advocating and acting in support of legalized abortion". He noted that she was engaging in what the Catholic Catechism defines as "scandal", when "one's action leads someone else to sin. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil." (CCC#2284)

President Obama has selected Catholics to serve in his administration who openly defy their own Church. Now, as if that wasn't bad enough, all of the subterfuge and sophistry which has surrounded his promise to honor religious liberty and respect freedom of conscience in the implementation of his "Affordable care Act" has been unmasked. 

Here is the full statement from the Secretary of Health and Human Services which was released Friday, January 20, 2012.

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A Statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: January 20, 2012

"In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.  The rule allows certain non-profit religious employers that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services."

"Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine's recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception.  Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn't include contraceptive services".

"This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country." 

"After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law."

"Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule.  We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support.  We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns".

"Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, it is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing."

"This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services. The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve

the common good.  And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws and regulations give to health care providers."

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To translate this Edict, the American Caesar has spoken and given the Catholic Church 13 months to comply with its unjust regulation or face punitive consequences.

Fortunately, our courageous Bishops immediately responded. Cardinal - Designate Timothy Dolan, the President of the Bishops Conference, released a video statement which can be viewed in its entirety here.

Cardinal-Designate Dolan mentions the irony that this edict from the Secretary came days after the unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court reaffirming the primacy of Religious Liberty and the freedom of Churches as protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. I wrote about this important decision in Hosanna-Tabor: U.S. Supreme Court Church-State Decision Protects the Church. 

Cardinal-designate Dolan also stated ""The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand. The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision."

He continued "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty. The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs."

The Bishops of the United States released a separate Press statement entitled "U.S. Bishops Vow to Fight HHS Edict."  They offered this astute summary of the effects of the Secretary's Edict in their lead intro paragraph: "Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will. No change in limited exemption, only delay in enforcement. Matter of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion."

I would only add the further irony that this Unjust Edict from the Secretary of Health and Human Services came just one day after the prophetic Pope Benedict XVI addressed one group of US Bishops during their ad limina visit, warning them of the growth of radical secularism in the United States and the accompanying threats to the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom. See, Pope Warns US Bishops of Radical Secularism, Threats to Religious Freedom

We have been running a series of articles concerning the urgent need for a "New Catholic Action", informed by the Social Doctrine of the Church, at the service of the true Common Good and led by the lay faithful. This recent Edict only confirms its urgency. We will continue our series and do everything we can to help mobilize and equip this New Catholic Action.