Alison Gaulden of the local Planned Parenthood wrote this editorial in the Reno Gazette Journal. As expected, she accused Catholics of attempting to deny health care to women.
Fr Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv., Rector of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, wrote this response:
Predictably, Alison Gaulden defends President Obama’s decision to run roughshod over the religious liberties of Americans, but her argument in the Reno Gazette-Journal offers only tired mistatements of fact and utterly manipulative claims.
In the category of brazen mistatements of fact, Gaulden wrongly asserts that a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services in its health plan, .… will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage.” This is patently false. The Obama administration has committed itself to no such provisions for conscientious objectors. So-called religious exemptions in the mandate don’t even cover all churches, let alone religious schools, hospitals, charitable institutions or universities. Even after massive initial protest of the HHS decision, the original mandate was in fact finalized on the very day that the White House announced its intention to accommodate some institutions at some undetermined point somewhere down the road. Yet more than a month later, neither HHS nor the White House has provided any concrete assurances whatsoever to any category of conscientious objector to the policy. Who cannot see that the President wants only to defuse the controversy until after November when he can have his way without direct input from the electorate?
Among her more manipulative statements, Gaulden writes that the “Catholic bishops are trying to deny women common-sense health provisions and are using their powerful lobby against women.” Such claims would be risible, if they weren’t so venomous. Had Catholic bishops any lobbying clout at all, the nation’s most basic liberties would not now be at stake. In fact, it is the pro-abortion lobby which has carried the day in this matter. Lamentably, the President has ignored more reasonable voices asking for exemptions on the basis of conscience. The Planned Parenthood ideology represented by Gaulden attacks the very principle of American religious liberty, because religious voices in America are the only ones who dare to oppose their agenda. Nor can it be said that the bishops are acting against women. Indeed, Catholic bishops are acting resolutely in favor of women and men of conscience who do not want to be compelled by the federal governement to act in way contrary to their most deeply held religious beliefs.
Although her article contains scarely a sentence without some degree of misrepresentation, I will confine myself to just one more observation. Gaulden says that “Ninety-eight percent of women, regardless of faith, even including Catholics, use birth control.” Says who? These statistics were generated by the Guttmacher Institute’s 2011 report entitled “Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use.” And what is the Guttmacher Institute, you may ask? It turns out to be a research group founded by Planned Parenthood in 1968. Not surprisingly, the report is strikingly flawed and its data is skewed to support a pre-determined conclusion. Among the more glaring methodological failures of its shoddy research, we ought to call to attention the fact that (1) only sexually-active women trying to avoid pregnancy were surveyed; (2) women trying to get pregnant were excluded from consideration; (3) women practicing chastity were excluded from consideration; (4) more than sixty percent of the women who identified as Catholic also admitted that they do not observe the precept of the Church to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. In effect, the vast majority of self-identified Catholic women surveyed by Guttmacher do not in fact practice the Catholic faith. None of the women were asked whether they had regrets or second thoughts about having used contraception. None were asked whether they knew the substance of the Church’s objection to artificial contraception. How convenient for the vice-president of public affairs of a local Planned Parenthood branch to be able to cite fake evidence to support an explicitly anti-religious agenda!
Friar Francisco Nahoe OFM Conv
Rector of Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral