In an abrupt tack from their previous position, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced today that they are willing to accept the “Hawaii Rule” compromise offered by the Obama administration, which will shift the cost of contraceptive coverage to insurance companies. However, they are now opposed to being forced to cover the cost of insulin, an artificial hormone used in the treatment of diabetes.
“The human body is wondrously designed by God to regulate all its internal systems,” stated Michael O’Toole, Bishop of Springfield. “In his encyclical Periculum Medicinae, the Holy Father clearly instructs us that interference in God’s holy creation is a grave error.” The bishops are also opposed to coverage of other artifical hormones, such as thyroid hormone, currently used by millions of Americans to treat underactive thyroid glands. O’Toole added that using such hormones is a “matter of conscience” for Catholics, but that the Church could not be forced to be involved in something so morally repugnant.
Reaction to this declaration was mixed. “Surveys show that millions of Catholic Americans are diabetic and need insulin,” said Sen. Spencer Bronstein (D-AL). “For the bishops to take this position is simply hypocritical. Whether a person uses insulin or not should be between them and their doctor.”
Others disagreed. “You know, if you don’t want to get diabetes, don’t shove a lot of sugar in your face,” said Sharon Mackenzie, a local business owner. “It’s pretty simple. Why should the Catholics have to pay for something they don’t believe in? If you want insulin, buy it yourself.”
Speculation was rampant on the Beltway about how the administration will respond to this latest move on the part of the bishops. “Obama can’t be seen as anti-religion,” predicted one aide, who asked to remain anonymous. “He’ll have to find a way to compromise on this.”
Others were not so sure. “Actually, the longer this goes on, the worse it makes the Republicans look,” said political analyst Bruce Bowes. “Americans are used to insulin, it’s been part of the landscape for a while now. Also, there are many diabetics whose condition isn’t treatable by diet alone. What are those people supposed to do?”