The race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut—the seat currently held by Joseph Lieberman—is now providing some pretty clear evidence about exactly what the five Democratic candidates for national political office think about the issue of religious liberty.
When asked during the “Face the State” debate whether Catholic hospitals should be required to provide contraceptive services and abortions, all five Democratic candidates said in various ways and to various degrees that they would support federal legislation compelling Catholic hospitals—since they receive federal funds—to perform abortions.
Candidates Susan Bysiewicz, Matthew Oakes, and William Tong were direct in their responses: the federal government has the right to require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
The federal government has the right to regulate what services are provided, because Catholic institutions, colleges and universities get funding from the federal government, and I believe that those institutions should provide access to reproductive health care.
If they’re gonna take our money—I’m Roman Catholic—then they need to perform the health care issues that women need performed for them.
Access to an abortion should be open and available. Access to contraception, the same thing. These are basic liberties enshrined in our Constitution, in our jurisprudence. That’s a fact. […] I think we need a cooperative approach. We had a bill in the state Legislature to provide emergency contraception. It was called Plan B. […] Now Plan B is a reality. Emergency contraception is made available to patients at Catholic hospitals. We just need to find a way to make it work.
Candidate Chris Murphy was not as direct. He said: “[Catholic hospitals] certainly have the ability to decide what services they perform.”
That’s masterful politicalspeaque, The Motley Monk would note. Saying Catholic hospitals “certainly have the ability to decide” is quite different from saying “the government should not require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.”
Candidate Lee Whitnum didn’t answer the question directly. Instead, she said that providing contraceptive services is a “good thing.” But, Whitnum didn’t go so far as to say whether Catholic institutions should be forced to provide contraceptive services.
The Catholic bishops of Connecticut were quick to issue a statement, noting:
If it is [the candidates’] position that our hospitals should be forced by law or regulations to provide abortions in spite of our teaching, it is unfortunate to note their readiness to violate religious liberty.
Their position would be the logical extension of the federal Health and Human Services regulations with regard to so called “preventative services.”
Yes, the statements of these five candidates for the U.S. Senate indicate their readiness to trample upon the exercise of religious liberty. Perhaps the statements also reveal the state of the soul of the Democratic Party.
To view the video of the “Face the State” debate, click on the following link. The relevant comments begin at 5:30 into the debate.
To read the Connecticut bishops’ statement, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link: