The Cardinal blasts, then meets, the President

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, leader of the U.S. bishops conference, yesterday warned that Obama’s move to lift a last-minute Bush “conscience clause” regulation for health-care workers would be “the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism.”  

Today, Cardinal George met with the man behind the despotism at the White House. Apparently they got along well enough. Which is encouraging. Though the statements were pretty clipped. Was anyone out there a fly on the wall? 

The White House said: “The President and Cardinal George discussed a wide range of issues, including important opportunities for the government and the Catholic Church to continue their long-standing partnership to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. The President thanked Cardinal George for his leadership and for the contributions of the Catholic Church in America and around the world.”


The USCCB said: “The meeting was private. Cardinal George and President Obama discussed the Catholic Church in the United States and its relation to the new Administration. The meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes. At the conclusion, Cardinal George expressed his gratitude for the meeting and his hopes that it will foster fruitful dialogue for the sake of the common good.”

The conscience clause is becoming the bishops next great bogey man. (Maybe the FOCA thing isn’t panning out?) One question: Why wasn’t America moving toward “despotism” during the eight years when Bush did not have this regulation in place? And, indeed, all the years before that? There are longstanding consicence protections in place. I’m all for bolstering them. But what is the goal of the over-the-top rhetoric?  

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Jennifer Smith

posted March 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm

This is not too hard to understand.
Under the Bush administration, no one was afraid that the president would seek to force health care providers to act against their will or be punished by the government. There was no need to explicitly state what has always been the practice in the land – to grant an exemption for those who did not want to preform certain procedures.
President Obama has made it clear that he does not support any sort of exemption for people who do not want to perform certain medical procedures. Rescinding Bush’s executive order is the first step to actually punishing health care providers for not complying with his directives. Americans accustomed to freedom find this onerous.
Far from being a “boogy man”, this issue goes right to the core of being able to make a living. If you are a Christian, it is possible that you will be prohibited from practicing your trade — and therefore making a living — if you disagree with the government.
That is a scary thing!

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posted March 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm

If a pharmacist doesn’t want to pass out a birh control pill, or the morning after pill, or RU486 etc., then they are in the wrong business. The meds a doctor writes a RX for a patient has nothing to do with the pharmacist who fills it…unless it is a danger because of a cross with another med., that’s their job, but to not fill and give a RX? Not their call. I don’t think a doctor has been forced to perform an abortion, but if he/she is against it…refer the woman to someone who will. The RCC needs to stay out of politics!

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posted March 17, 2009 at 11:37 pm

What if someone is against contract killing; refer to someone who will?

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Steve T

posted March 18, 2009 at 5:16 am

It’s because the Bishops are all political animals.

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posted March 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

Give the Cardinal a break. Religious leaders have always used their access to express their feelings about our leaders actions in contrast to the tenets of their faith.
For example, since the church is against war and the death penalty, I’m sure the Cardinal had his moments with the previous president, chiding him for his stance on those issues….didn’t he?

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posted March 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Any physician or pharmacist who cannot (or simply refuses to) do his/her job should quit or be fired. Why on earth are they allowed to make medical decisions for other people?
If you don’t believe in (X) procedure, don’t have one. I doubt how-to-perform-an-abortion classes are mandatory, so any ‘person of faith’ who objects to them would likely not have ‘studied’ how to perform them in the first place.
If you think condoms are sinful, don’t use them. But if you’re a pharmacist, sorry, but you do not get to make that decision for other people. Your job is to dispense contraceptives or any other medications a person and his/her physician have decided are appropriate for you to take/use. Do your job or quit.
This isn’t a ‘conscience clause'; it’s a ‘please let me impose my beliefs on other people’ clause, and I’m happy to see it die.
Or should, say, 7th Day Adventist doctors be allowed to refuse you (or your children) a blood transfusion?
This is just nutsy cookoo.

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Your Name

posted March 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm

“If you are a Christian, it is possible that you will be prohibited from practicing your trade — and therefore making a living — if you disagree with the government.”
Sorry Jennifer, but you have it reversed. It isn’t a case of being prohibited from practising their trade; it’s a case of the doctors/pharmacists refusing to do their job (which is not to make ‘moral’ decisions for other people, btw).
No pharmacist is forced to take RU86. ALL pharmacists should dispense medications as prescribed.

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posted March 18, 2009 at 11:56 pm

{This isn’t a ‘conscience clause'; it’s a ‘please let me impose my beliefs on other people’ clause, and I’m happy to see it die.}
If you are in fact a physician, Huz, you should well know that doctors took hypocratic oaths of the traditional thread long before RU486 came on the scene. Why should they now be forced to either violate that oath or quit their profession?
In regards to abortion, there was a case in Alaska which ruled a physician was required to perform a late-term abortion to save the life of the mother. No one is contending that healthcare personnel will be required to perform abortions overnight as soon as legislation like FOCA defines it as a healthcare right for pregnant women in EVERY circumstance. It does open the door for discrimination based on political or religious grounds. Trauma centers could be required to train physicians in the ‘partial-birth abortion’ procedure. Granted, it hasn’t been proven beyond reasonable doubt that this would occur, yet given constructionist tendencies of circuit courts these days nothing can be taken for granted.

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posted March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am

RU486 is not medication; it is an abortifacient whose only purpose is to end a life. No pharmacist should be forced to dispense it as part of what’s called “doing his job”.

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