Alvare Comments on Provisions of New Health Care Law

In an article appearing in The Hill regarding the Obama administration's relationship with Catholic voters, Professor Helen Alvaré comments on the effect of the government mandate that Catholic hospitals provide contraception services in direct contradiction of church teachings.

"This regulation breaks a long-held, bipartisan understanding about who we are as a nation," says Alvaré. "We were founded on the basis of freedom of conscience, and that it's an important part of our overall level of freedom, not to mention peaceful coexistence."

The article points out that Catholic voters turned out in large numbers for Barack Obama in the last presidential election, in contrast to the previous  presidential election, where they favored a Republican. American Catholics make up the largest religious voting block, representing approximately one in four voters, and are a powerful swing vote in American politics.

Obama and the Catholic vote, The Hill, September 19, 2011. By John Feehery.

"The Obama administration is treading on dangerous water here. Catholics don’t vote as a straight bloc, but winning the Catholic vote is critical to winning elections. 

"Catholics also don’t necessarily all agree on every issue. There are plenty of pro-choice Catholic voters, just as there are orthodox Catholics who agree with the pope on everything. 

"But what Catholic voters don’t like is the idea of the federal government attacking the church for being what it is. And they certainly don’t like the idea of the church’s being sidetracked from its mission of helping the poor and the indigent because of regulations run amok.

"Catholic voters swept Obama into office three years ago. They could just as easily sweep him back out next year."

Read the article