By Erica Rohde
During the Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 11, Vice President Joe Biden explained that everything was sound and well with the Health and Human Services Mandate; Catholics were not being forced to go against their beliefs, and the First Amendment was not being violated.
When the Obama administration put out the mandate in early January, millions of Catholics became enraged. Everything they had worked for against abortion had been pushed back another few miles. The students at Coppell High School and New Tech High are affected, the Coppell churches are affected and the Dallas Diocese is affected by the mandate that forces all employer health plans to provide sterilization contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs.
The mandate is devastating to the many Catholics and other Christian denominations who believe that abortion is murder and are being forced to provide these drugs which violate their religious freedoms.
“We believe that every life is precious, that God is in control,” St. Ann Catholic Parish youth minister Joey Scancella said. “The government is taking away the freedom that churches used to have to be able to deny those drugs to its employees. It is making us go directly against our moral teachings and our faith; that we are pro life.”
Pro-life has many meanings, not just including the opposition of abortion.
“Many things come under pro-life, not just abortions,” Scancella said. “As Catholics, we are against giving out contraceptives. When you say you are pro-life, it is from conception to death. We do not believe in mercy killings or the death penalty. Within the Christian denominations, Catholics are one of the only ones who preach that contraceptives are wrong.”
Scancella and the other youth ministers at St. Ann took it in their power to help influence the teens hosting a Pro-Life Night on Oct. 7. Hundreds of students gathered for a screening of October Baby, based on the abortion survivor and activist Gianna Jessen, which inspired them to form their own opinions about the HHS mandate.
“I want to protect life, and in doing that I am going to shape my opinion on politics from my beliefs,” New Tech senior Erin Drinkwater said. “In a lot of debates you can not use God, but we talked about how to defend the life of a child without using God. Christians play devils advocate with me and they will ‘say what about rape’, and our youth minister Naomi Lehew brought up the point that when a woman is raped she is already psychologically scarred. If you are going through that, I cannot imagine dealing with the fact that you have committed murder.”
Drinkwater witnessed both men and women in Dallas protesting for the cause of Pro Life.
“I remember going to a pro-life march once,” Drinkwater said. “There were so many women and men too that were saying ‘I regret my abortion.’”
CHS senior Lindsey Hiles also believes the Mandate is detrimental to the fate of America.
“A baby is a person,” Hiles said. “If you look up the numbers of the babies that have died since Roe vs. Wade, you would be amazed. People always talk about how bad the holocaust is and were sitting here and letting something just as bad happen.”
Drinkwater believed that abortion is being allowed because of the selfish tendencies of society today.
“They do not think about the child, the life it could have or the couple who would like to have children but physically cannot,” Drinkwater said. “They are not thinking about the joys that can come with having a child.”
To Catholics, people create reasons having to do with dissecting the details, not the life in question.
“People get caught up in a lot of the details debating between a woman’s right [of abortion]. They do not want someone telling them that they do not have a choice. We forget the life itself, we forget the human in that person,” Scancella said. “When [the child has] grown up as an adult, there is no question that [the abortion] is murder, but when [the child is] in the womb of a mother, for some reason we do. It is in the way people are taught or raised.”
With such a strong cause, many Catholics claim it is necessary for their views against the mandate to be heard.
“Pope Benedict XVI said that ‘we have a tendency to treat religion as a private matter, but this must be resisted only when our faith permeates every aspect of our life as Christians to become open to the transforming power of the gospel,’” Scancella said. “We believe in the dignity of every human person, and we saw that in the time of Jesus, how he treated everyone, the beggars, the lame and the crippled with dignity, and we are to do so also.”
One way that Catholics have tried to make a statement is through a new proposal for all hospitals.
“We are trying to get people in our church to help get hospitals in Texas to have women get a sonogram before the abortion,” Hiles said. “Make them see the baby. That it is a child.”
Believing it is the duty as the youth of this nation to get informed, Scancella encourages students to get to know what the government is doing with our freedoms.
“One of my friends who is a priest said on twitter today the HHS mandate is the first time in U.S history that every United States bishop has individually issued a statement opposing a government action,” Scancella said.
Scancella believes that either way, there is a huge event in history happening this year.
“At the end of the day, it is not even talking about the moral questions of if you are for abortion or against abortion; it is saying that our religious freedom is being taken away slowly and slowly and yet in this huge way, many people are not doing anything, and it scares me,” Scancella said.