Joe Biden Screws Up

Joe Biden Screws Up

Friar Francisco Nahoe OFM Conv

Over the weekend, Vice President Joe Biden, commenting at Iowa State University on the uproar over the Obama-HHS mandate to compel religious institutions to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients against their conscience, has conceded that the Administration screwed up. Exactly what mistake did the White House make, according to the Vice President? They made the mistake of not offering their compromise position first.

In the course of his remarks, the Vice President seems to take responsibility for the mismanagement of the White House policy. He says, “I was the one that was tasked to meet with the National Conference of Bishops.” Then he implies that (a) the issue is now resolved and (b) he knew from the beginning that the current solution was always the best.

All I can say is… ¡por favor! Does the Vice President think we were born yesterday? Not only is the implication that the Administration has at last gotten it right entirely laughable, it’s insulting as well. In the first place, there is no compromise. The Administration hasn’t resolved anything. Elsewhere, I have described what the White House calls a compromise as its intention to accommodate some institutions at some undetermined point somewhere down the road. Even so, on the very day that the White House offered it’s so-called compromise, HHS proceeded to finalize the original decision. Thus, the Vice-President’s concession really amounts to a particularly egregious exercise in disinformation.

Here’s a quick review of misinformation coming from the Administration that Biden claims has finally gotten it right. The White House falsely claims that:

  1. Churches are exempt from the ruling. Nevertheless, to be eligible, these presumably exempt churches must demonstrate that they hire and serve primarily people of their own religious tradition and are oriented only toward indoctrination in the tenets of their own faith. Thus, churches that practice an open door policy or that focus primarily on service to the needy, irrespective of their religious creed, would not qualify. Inasmuch as Jesus and His apostles healed non-messianic Jews of their afflictions and preached the Kingdom of God to gentiles, they would not be exempt by White House standards.
  2. No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception. Again, this is patently false. Those who contracept would, in effect, be financed by those who do object to contraception on moral grounds. That’s what insurance companies do. They generate profits for themselves by passing all their expenses on to those who pay the premiums.
  3. Abortifacients are not covered by this policy. Oh yeah? What about Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or Ella), a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) that has the same effects and is mandated by the HHS. Moreover, RU-486 itself is also being tested for possible use as an emergency contraceptive – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well. For what it’s worth, Planned Parenthood does not consider Ulipristal to be an abortifacient, because to qualify as an abortion in Planned Parenthood’s eyes, there must first be embryonic implantation. People who object in conscience to the use of this drug, however, know perfectly well that such drugs as Ella and RU-486 are embryotoxic, that is, they kill the human embryo before implantation can take place.

One last comment about Biden’s disingenuity. In a decidedly convoluted and backward fashion, the Vice President admits that the Administration “screwed up” the  contraception mandate. The problem, as he sees it, is not that the freedom of Americans has been violated or that persons of conscience have been required to disregard their deeply held moral beliefs. The problem is merely that on the way toward this magnificent violation of religious liberty the Administration stumbled briefly before recovering it balance. By identifying himself as the one “tasked” to interface with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in the first, Biden attempts feebly to fall on the sword for Obama. The embarrasment for the White House is that it’s a toy sword that the Vice President attempts feebly to fall upon.

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