Remarks of Dr. Tom McGovern
Fort Wayne Rally for Religious Freedom, 11 August 2012
Video at this link.
I have been serving the Culture of Life as a physician for the last 22 years, since I graduated from Medical School at the Mayo Clinic. In the year 2000, my family settled in Fort Wayne, where my wife and I have been raising our seven kids and I have been practicing dermatology with a focus on the treatment of skin cancer.
A Personal Story
Religious Liberty is important to me as a physician because my own religious freedom was denied to me during my time in the Army. In 1990, during my internship year at Fort Gordon, GA, I was supposed to start with two months of obstetrics and gynecology. Since it was an Army hospital, abortion was not part of the training. But, when the chief of that department discovered that I would not prescribe contraceptives or assist in sterilizations, he kicked me out and made no provision for me to learn how to provide gynecologic care.
The training program directors punished me with an extra month of general surgery — the most time-consuming and difficult rotation of the year — to see if I was some kind of religious zealot and trouble-maker. However, by the end of that rotation, the surgeons asked me if I wanted to become a surgeon!
I was given an extra elective the following month. I chose to work in dermatology where I discovered a fulfilling and enjoyable profession that I never would have known had I not followed God's plan for me. During that internship year, physicians, especially my classmates, ostracized me. But that was minor compared to what is now happening in our culture.
Can I no longer be a Catholic and own a business?
As a small business owner, I now have to consider what to do about health insurance for my employees. I am only one of six owners — two of us are Catholic — and we have over fifty employees. I have already told my partners that I do not want to participate in providing the HHS Mandate benefits to our employees.
- My options now are to
- convince my other partners to stop providing health insurance for our employees so that I don't have to help provide objectionable benefits — with this option we have to pay a penalty, oh sorry, a tax — that will further help fund the government's takeover of health care;
- OR I can continue to help provide objectionable benefits against my Catholic conscience;
- OR I can give up my ownership stake in the group and become an employee.
Does this Mandate mean that I can no longer be a Catholic business owner AND provide health insurance for my employees? An administration that trumpets the value of 'choice' is not giving me the choice to remain a Catholic business owner AND provide morally acceptable health insurance.
Tolerance is only good when it serves the truth. Tolerance is a dictator when it serves lies.
I am a victim of tolerance — at least the government's definition of tolerance, that will only tolerate those who agree with them. They will not tolerate those who are intolerant of sin, and it is a sin to abridge a people's religious freedom. We will not tolerate lies; they will not tolerate truth — at least the truth that religious freedom is an unalienable right. Tolerance is only good when it serves the truth. Tolerance is a dictator when it serves lies.
Culture of Life vs. Culture of Death
As a physician, I am obligated and trained to support and serve the Culture of Life. This culture believes that Right makes Might. On the other hand, the Culture of Death believes that Might makes Right, and it will use all means necessary to impose its materialistic and relativistic beliefs on us.
I would like to lay out how this culture works using three little words — can, should, and must. I will apply this to three areas affected by the HHS Mandate — contraception, abortion, and religious freedom.
With regard to Contraception, our culture first said you can use contraception in 1936. For the last few decades our culture has said that you should use contraceptives if you are a "responsible adult," and now it is saying that you must purchase contraceptives for anyone who wants them — even minors against their parents' will.
Are contraceptives healthy?
The Department of Health and Human Services says, "Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families …"
Really? Significant health benefits? As a physician, I would be remiss if I did not challenge this statement.
- First, this mandate classifies pregnancy and fertility as diseases.
- Second, combination oral contraceptives increase Cervical, Liver, and Breast Cancer — although our culture often suppresses studies that demonstrate this.
- Third, oral contraceptives increase blood clots in the brain, heart, and lungs, escalate the frequency of depression, and drive up the rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortion.
- Finally, the divorce rate among first-time married couples who use contraceptives is 40% compared to less than 5% for couples who do not use contraceptives.
Based on this evidence, what can we conclude? Instead of providing "significant health benefits for women and their families," greater access to birth control will harm women and their families. But this is exactly what our government is telling us we must purchase, even if we do not want to for religious reasons.
Can => Should => Must
With regarding to abortion, the first laws in our nation's history that said that you can have an abortion in limited cases were passed in 1967. During the last 20-30 years societal pressure says that you should have an abortion in cases of rape, incest, disability, financial hardship, or inconvenient timing. And now the HHS mandate says that we must underwrite the cost for certain abortion-causing drugs.
Foto: Bob Hartenstein, Redeemer Radio
The trajectory of this can-to-should-to-must thinking has led the Chinese to tell many women that they must have abortions. Do we want that in our future?
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that physicians who believe abortion is wrong must refer patients who want any form of "legal" medical care — including abortion — to physicians who will perform them. In the Culture of Death, the "legal" becomes the "ethical"; the "should" becomes a "must." The Culture of Death has become the default ethical position of the group that certifies the competency of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If Religious Freedom is abridged, this pressure will only increase on physicians who serve the Culture of Life. If you want physicians who continue to serve the Culture of Life — fight for Religious Freedom!
Words, Works and Worship
With regard to Religious Freedom, our country was founded because victims of religious persecution sought a home where they could freely exercise their religious beliefs in the three arenas of Words, Works, and Worship.
In Words, they sought the freedom to speak about what they believed — even in the public square and in legislative bodies.
They sought to perform Works of charity — mandated by their beliefs — that would meet the needs of all persons, regardless of their faith.
They wanted the freedom to Worship God in their own churches according to their consciences.
Until now, our laws have said that we can freely exercise our religious beliefs in words, works, and worship.
But now there is great public pressure telling us that we should exercise our religious beliefs only in our places of worship once a week, and that we should not publicly oppose certain immoral behaviors. We are only a short step away from being told by the government that we must exercise our religious beliefs only in our places of worship and that we must not speak out against any actions that we find morally objectionable.
Freedom of Religion, not just of Worship
During the last 3½ years, whenever our President or Secretary of State spoke about Freedom of Religion, they used the phrase Freedom of Worship. This is significant — words and works are thus silently exempted from our Freedom of Religion. There are many in power who would happily silence our Freedom of Religion regarding words and works. We have already seen this must not about our words and works applied to Catholic Adoption agencies in Illinois, Boston, and San Francisco. These agencies must not receive state or local funds for adoptions if they want to follow a Catholic conscience.
We physicians are being pressured by the Culture of Death to leave our religious beliefs at the doors of our hospitals and clinics. But if all of us work to protect Religious Liberty, we will create a culture where a physician can still practice and promote the Culture of Life. If we do not protect our Religious Liberty, physicians may be forced to choose between abandoning their moral principles or abandoning their medical careers. What kind of physicians do you want? Do you want physicians who are dedicated to the Culture of Life or Do you want physicians who are dedicated to the Culture of Death? Does Right make Might or does Might make Right?
We supposedly have separation of Church and State in our country. What we are now seeing is subordination of Church to State. Religious Freedom is not something that is granted by the Government. Religious Freedom is granted by God, and the Government has the responsibility to protect it!
A moral imperative to fight!
We must fight this mandate! We can fight it most powerfully with prayer and sacrifices. Then, we must also fight through the courts, education, and the ballot box. As GK Chesterton said, "A patriot must hate his country enough to change it, and love it enough to believe it worth changing." I believe America is worth changing!
We have a moral imperative to fight! Those with opposing views also believe that they have a moral imperative to fight, so if we are to defeat their ideas, we must be unrelenting in our efforts. The Culture of Death believes that Might makes Right, and that culture will abridge our freedom to achieve its goals.
In his book, The Soul of Battle on how great liberators vanquish tyranny, Victor Davis Hanson demonstrates that moral confidence plays a huge role in determining the winners of a war. In other words, RIGHT does make MIGHT. In our Culture War we have the moral high ground and must not relinquish it. And we have the high ground NOT because God is on our side; we have the moral high ground in this battle for Religious Freedom because we are on GOD's side.
As Abraham Lincoln said,
LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT. AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.