Ann Marie Buerkle is a mother and grandmother, a registered nurse, a lawyer, and a freshman member of Congress. And she has emerged as a leader in the fight for religious freedom in America that the Obama administration has forced with its coercive Department of Health and Human Services mandate, which would force both religious institutions and individual American citizens with conscience objections to abortion, contraception, and sterilization, to pay for plans that include them.
In a new web video, Buerkle gets past the “war on women” nonsense we have been hearing and homes in on what the HHS Mandate is about:
She begins pointing out it is a manufactured fight by the White House and its allies in an election year:
I have the honor and privilege of representing the wonderful people of the 25th Congressional District in upstate New York.
Like many of my colleagues, I spend as much time at home with my constituents as I am able.
The time I spend listening and talking with my constituents is the best part of my job — in diners, living rooms, even on the street. And it comes as no surprise that the number one topic is always the economy. Where are the jobs? Why is government getting bigger while our family budgets are getting smaller?
There is great concern for the country, that we are going in the wrong direction — things have not gotten better as promised — government spending and massive debt is just putting our nation into a deeper hole, not solving the problem.
Almost everyone I talk to wants both sides in Washington to focus on getting the economy moving. And I agree with them.
She points out that the only radicals forcing us to talk about contraception in the public square in the context of a presidential election are in the Obama administration:
And that is why it was so tragic and inexplicable that earlier this year — when we should have been working together on those very important issues. The Obama administration chose instead to pick a fight with people of faith — no, not just people of faith — a fight with everyone who believes that our Constitution protects their rights of conscience.
You have probably heard or read a great deal about the Health and Human Services mandate already — one of the many regulations that are being imposed as part of the president’s healthcare plan.
This regulation — this mandate — undoes in the stroke of a pen — a 220-year history of conscience rights protection in America.
Please let me be clear — never before in the history of our country has the federal government demanded — under penalty of a heavy fine — that a religious organization — or an individual for that matter — violate their faith or conscience in this manner.
Buerkle underscores the point that the White House could have done many other things instead, if they really cared about contraception access in the United States:
The stated purpose of this mandate is to provide, among other services, free abortion-inducing drugs and birth control pills. Now, even if you believed that providing these things for free is a good public policy — the Obama administration could have proposed many different ways to accomplish this. But they didn’t. They deliberately chose to try and gain political advantage by forcing a choice onto religious organizations — violate your faith — or you will be fined.
And Buerkle points out that charity will be curtailed in America, by the heavy hand of government punishing those whose consciences don’t conform to the regulatory gospel of Kathleen Sebelius and Barack Obama:
Fortunately, religious leaders across this great nation and people of conscience have spoken loud and clear: they will not violate their faith.
Unfortunately, that means — because of the heavy fines — they will either have to reduce services to the poor and needy — or stop providing these services completely. I’ve spoken to people in my district and these are the choices they face.
We are talking about essential services — healthcare, educating our children, running soup kitchens, shelters for women, aide to the homeless, prison ministries — all of the critical works of mercy that are part and parcel of their faith. The Obama administration’s politics of divide and conquer will result in diminished services to those who need it most: the poor and needy. This is a travesty.
Before coming to Congress, I had the honor of working in healthcare. I was a nurse and a healthcare attorney. Every day I saw the sacrifices, the commitment to helping people that went far beyond just getting a paycheck. It was a calling, a personal duty. This mandate could result in these sort of people being forced out of their careers of service. And that is unconscionable.
This last point is an important one (as they all are): With charity, during a press conference a few weeks ago for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (the House version of the Blunt conscience legislation in the Senate), Nebraska congressman Jeff Fortenberry cited a constitiuent who e-mailed him saying: “‘I’m a health-care provider and I’m a Catholic. I need to stay within the lanes of my faith. If this mandate goes I will not be able to provide health-care services.’”
“I don’t think that’s what the president of the United States wants to achieve here,” the congressman said.
But is it? Because it will be a result of the administration’s policy.
In the person of Ann Marie Buerkle today, the implications of the HHS-mandate debate are made clearer: This is a coercive mandate that violates conscience. There are Americans who take their moral obligations seriously. There are Americans who take our freedoms seriously. They will continue to fight and continue to educate. And they cannot submit to your mandate.
Will you join them and pass along her video to fellow citizens today?