Dear Department of Health and Human Services

You are wielding unchecked power, and you are out of control. Please pay heed.

A couple of months ago, HHS announced a new “preventive care” package of services for women to be included in insurance coverage that defied reason and morals. It drew plenty of outcries for review and oversight. HHS left open a window of time for “public comment” that closed at midnight September 30th.

In the waning hours of that alleged openness to reaction by American citizens and organizations and institutions, more and more voices have come out criticizing that federal department’s decision to require most health insurers to cover contraceptives, the morning-after pill, and elective sterilization.

The US Bishops Conference has been on this major campaign of awareness and initiative of engaging Congress for some months, since word got out that HHS was even considering such a move. It caught on, across the country.

How open will HHS be to the public input they got? Two thoughts…

The first is how inconsiderate they were to a broad spectrum of opinion when devising this plan to begin with. HHS did not consult the nation’s largest provider of healthcare services, which is Catholic hospitals and medical centers and institutions. The narrow group they convened foretold the conclusion.

The medical committee behind the federal government’s impending mandate that insurers cover birth control without co-pay is populated by board members of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, as well as major donors to politicians favoring legal abortion.

The pro-life organization HLI America says public records show the ideological roots of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee, which recommended virtually all private health insurers pay for FDA-approved contraception as essential “preventive care” under the new health care law, including drugs that can cause early abortions.

IOM, a non-governmental organization tapped by federal health officials to recommend the new guidelines, describes itself on its website as “provid[ing] unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers.”

That flies in the face of truth. Here’s the breakdown:

Among the 15-member IOM Committee on Preventive Services for Women are Claire Brindis, a member of the board of directors of the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation; Angela Diaz, former board member of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; Paula A. Johnson, Chairwoman of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and upcoming recipient of NARAL’s 2011 “Champion for Choice” award; Magda G. Peck, the former board chairwoman of Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs; and Alina Salganicoff, Vice President and DIrector of Women’s Health Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which strongly favors abortion and contraception on demand.

In fact…

Dr. Anthony Lo Sasso, the lone member of the IOM committee dissenting from the report, concurred that the findings were tainted by advocacy goals.

“Troublingly, the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy,” he wrote. “An abiding principle in the evaluation of the evidence and the recommendations put forth as a consequence should be transparency and strict objectivity, but the committee failed to demonstrate these principles in the report.”

This is the time to right that. Which brings up the second thought:

We have ample evidence of the body and weight of public comment HHS received in the final days last week. And it’s not going to stop becoming public.

There’s a large alliance of professional organizations who issued this. Bottom line: the mandate violates the US Constitution, among other things.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center issued this letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It is exhaustively detailed, but gets to the same bottom line. The mandate is unconstitutional.

In summary, treating pregnancy as a disease that should be prevented is medically, socially, and anthropologically inaccurate and sexually biased. By treating pregnancy as a disease to be prevented one can only conclude that the treatment for such a “disease” is an abortion. Thus, the Rule is acting against the very provision in the PPACA and its legislative history, that state that abortion is not one of the “preventive services” to be included in the “services” provided. Yet the Rule clearly mandates coverage at no cost for contraceptives and sterilizations to prevent the “disease” of pregnancy, genetic screening of existing pregnancies whose ”treatment” will for some include abortion, and abortifacients which cause the termination of the newly conceived human being. These and other contraceptives are presented inaccurately as a deterrent to unplanned pregnancies, when the very data presented by the IOM to support such claims belie these claims. Empowering women to know and act with their bodies to manage their fertility in a responsible manner is the real answer to the physiological, social, and psychological problems created by a culture encouraging women to engage in unhealthy life styles. Then, forcing others to participate in and to pay for the life style choices of others, which clearly and demonstrably have been detrimental, is the utmost violation of the United States Constitution.

In the waning hours of “public comment”, Notre Dame joined the swelling chorus of voices.

President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the mandate places the school in the “impossible position” of having to defy Church teaching…

The mandate “would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church’s social teaching,” Fr. Jenkins said.

Notre Dame joins 18 other Catholic universities and colleges, as well as the U.S. bishops and numerous other Catholic organizations that have reacted strongly against the proposition.

Like the Catholic University of America.

If we comply, as the law requires, we will be helping our students do things that we teach them, in our classes and in our sacraments, are sinful — sometimes gravely so. It seems to us that a proper respect for religious liberty would warrant an exemption for our university and other institutions like it…

It does not take a college education to see the hypocrisy in offering to pay for the very services we condemn in our theology classes and seek forgiveness for in our sacraments. It should not be the business of the federal government to force Catholic schools and other Catholic institutions into such a collective violation of our own conscientious beliefs.

The list goes on. Countless individuals wrote HHS. Like nurse Nancy Valko, a noted bioethics expert and human rights activist.

I have been an RN for 42 years and I currently work in an intensive care unit in St. Louis, Mo. I must protest the current mandate regarding women’s health and conscience rights. Conscience rights serve not only a bulwark against workplace discrimination and harassment for us health care providers but also as a protection for our patients. When we cannot refuse to participate in or even discuss practices we deem unethical, we also deprive our patients of informed choices based on comprehensive information. When health care providers become mere technicians of government mandates, we cease to be ethically grounded professionals dedicated to the welfare of our patients. Right now, the topic is abortion and contraception but the dismantling of conscience rights will inevitably extend to other areas such as assisted suicide and euthanasia. This leaves our patients vulnerable to coercion, manipulation and even death in an ever-changing health care system. I implore you to rethink this mandate.

So now what? HHS can close their window and tune out or reconsider. But the real public comment is only growing, and they cannot control that.