Star Turns Anti-Faith
© Jack Cashill
In an impressively twisted column, even by his own contorted standards, The Kansas City Star’s Yael Abouhalkah recently decried the “hypocrisy” of the JE Dunn Company for its attempt to honor the conscience of its family members as the Obama administration very recently promised them it could.
This column followed by two days an article in the Star that singled out J.E. Dunn for its filing of an Amicus Brief in support of Hobby Lobby, which has a religious freedom case before the Supreme Court. Reporter Kevin Collison quoted Chairman Steve Dunn (left) to the effect that the company “has a long history of supporting religious organizations and has established policies that are consistent with the Dunn family’s Catholic heritage, such as excluding insurance coverage for drugs that act as abortifacients.”
In a Gordian knot of garbled syntax Collison quickly followed this quote with the suggestion what JE Dunn is doing somehow represents “discrimination against women.”
Missouri NOW president Jamie Tomek then chimed in with a constitutional reading so dizzying it would give James Madison vertigo. “Women’s rights to medical procedures are as important as religious rights. We certainly feel that women are entitled to birth control through their employer’s insurance,” she told the Star, presumably with a straight face. “It’s the 21st century and that’s a way women can protect themselves to be productive members of society.”
A little background is useful to understand how we have reached this impasse. In September 2009, President Obama unveiled the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, before both houses of Congress and the American public. “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place,” said the president piously. Score one here for JE Dunn. The company would seem to be on Obama’s side of history.
Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, had some misgivings. He and his colleagues resisted the bill that was rushed through the Senate because it did not specifically prevent the funding of abortion or protect the conscience of believers. To this point, the words in Obama’s September 2009 health care speech—“no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions”—remained just words.
Before he and his allies signed off on Obamacare, Stupak insisted the conscience clause be formalized. The Senate, however, had rushed the bill through before new Republican Senator Scott Brown could be seated. Brown had ridden the anti-Obamacare wrath of his fellow citizens to a surprise win in the Massachusetts Senate race. The Senate no longer had the sixty needed votes. If the bill went back to the Senate it would never come out.
As a solution, Obama proposed an executive order assuring Stupak the protections he demanded. Score two for JE Dunn. Unlike an amendment, however, an executive order could easily be rescinded or ignored. Score one against JE Dunn. Although wary, Stupak at the time did not yet recognize how little a promise from Obama meant. So he took a big bite of the apple, handed it to his colleagues, and they bit as well.
Whatever hopes Stupak may have entertained about canonization were dashed on January 20, 2012. That was the day on which Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s Department of Health and Human Services introduced the “HHS Mandate.” This mandate required that virtually all private health insurance plans include coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs, all of which fly in the face of Catholic Church teaching.
“I am perplexed and disappointed that, having negotiated the Executive Order with the President, “ said Stupak at a Democrats for Life panel at the Convention later that year. “Not only does the HHS mandate violate the Executive Order but it also violates statutory law.” Score two against JE Dunn.
Stupak was obviously not keeping up with the times—or the Star for that matter. True, religious freedom may be enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, but making someone else pay for your “reproductive freedom” had to be in there somewhere too, didn’t it?
Just to be clear about the language, JE Dunn is not denying women their “rights to medical procedures.” It is merely asking women to pay for controversial procedures on their own as they have always done. Given the transparent abuse of both language and the law by the Obama administration, one would think the Star would cut JE Dunn and other such family-held companies a little slack.
Not so. Collison dug into the JE Dunn portfolio in the hope of finding some previous work that would allow him to accuse the company of hypocrisy. Abouhalkah celebrated his discovery in his column. Eureka! JE Dunn served as the general contractor on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s new building.
This is a plant that, among many other things, makes parts for nuclear weapons. Says Abouhalkah, “The Catholic faith that the Dunn has such a history of following also opposes nuclear weapons and even supports nuclear disarmament.” He concludes his stunted syllogism with an “Oops!” (Yes, he actually said that). “In other words,” said Abouhalkah, “making the almighty dollar trumped religious freedom’ in this case.”
Where to begin? Yael, everyone opposes nuclear weapons, but the Catholic Church has always accepted the doctrine of the “just war.” The Church even allows for capital punishment under certain circumstances. On the other hand, the Church enshrined its doctrine on contraception and abortion in an encyclical, Humanae Vitae. This makes it official.
Pope John Paul II vigorously reaffirmed that position. Depriving an innocent human being of life, and life undeniably begins at conception, is “always morally evil.” He adds, “This tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.” Weeks after Time Magazine named Pope Francis “Man of the Year,” he denounced abortion as “horrific.” Don’t expect to see him on next year’s cover.
The Star does not have to abide by the position of the Catholic Church or any other church. It obviously doesn’t. A few days before trashing JE Dunn Abouhalkah headlined a column, “Victories for Kansas Bible-thumpers and Missouri gun lovers.” (How long, one wonders, would Abouhalkah kept his job had he said “Koran-thumpers?).
But to denounce one of Kansas City’s most respected, most generous, and most philosophically consistent companies as hypocritical for legally challenging the most unholy botch of a law in recent American history makes me want to rethink my subscription to the Kansas City Star.
Come to think of it, I rethought that about fifteen years ago. Thanks, Yael, for reminding me why.
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