Forsaking Liberty

By: Guest Authors

By: Vickie K. Doherty

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights Barack Obama-with his radical pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path”. – Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky, speaking before a Catholic audience, April 2012.

Bishop Jenky’s courageous words are a message for all of America. Federal mandates threaten our religious freedoms and rampant government expansion of healthcare and education policies radically alter the rights of every American.

The Obama administration’s health care bill forces Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The final rule regarding insurance exchanges required under Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was issued in March by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The government demands that not only Catholics but every American will pay a $1 surcharge to cover abortions through premium payments to federally administered multi-state insurance plans.

Unless the healthcare legislation is overturned in its entirety a culture of death will be forever present in America through the permanence of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, commonly referred to as “death panels”. Rationing of care will begin with the most vulnerable, the elderly and infirm. Cost effectiveness will be the rule for patient care. Conscience protection is no longer a God given right in America and ethical considerations are not permitted. Under Subtitle G-Miscellaneous Provisions of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act legislates: “Prohibition against discrimination on assisted suicide”.

The implementation of the President’s healthcare legislation is moving forward and there are more disturbing revelations. President Obama imposed the requirement that every American’s private medical information must be transferred to electronic files by 2014. This monumental plan is at the expense of the taxpayer and was a part of part of the $838 billion stimulus funding bill. But the cost to privacy is immeasurable. Declan McCullagh reported for CNET News that these electronic records would “follow each American from birth to death” and they will also include information about each person’s race, ethnicity and medical history. In September of 2011 the Washington Examiner reported about the federal government’s plan to collect and aggregate the confidential patient records of every American. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius proposed the rule to centralize all private medical records under the HHS plan to evaluate the insurers. Thus the government would have access and monitor every American’s medical records.

Data collection and the monitoring electronic records will not be limited to private medical records. President Obama’s education policy includes an expansion of the authority of the U.S. Department of Education to provide government oversight of a variety of activities that he and his administration claim might affect the national economy. The America Competes Act provided $128 billion for education with the requirement to create a data base of all American children and to develop a data collection and information exchange system. Information will be gathered and children will be monitored from early childhood throughout their school career and into the workforce.

The U. S. Department of Education created a Data Education Model that details the wide range of personal and sensitive information for collection on children which will be retained in their electronic records. The long list of data to be amassed on every child includes Social Security numbers, family income range, family voting status, non school activities, religious affiliation, medical information and health care history, blood type, birthmarks, detailed oral health and more. The preponderance of data requested, however, is entirely unrelated to academic achievement. See Data Education Model in its entirety here.

This bureaucratic over-reach does not end with the invasion of children and their families’ rights to privacy. The federal government also intends to broaden, through amendments, the interpretation of the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This is a law that strictly limits access to a student’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII). The proposed FERPA Amendments would stipulate that other entities would have access to a child’s PII without parental knowledge or permission. The specific intention is to have all data on every child collected and combined by the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Services and the Department of Labor and held in a large government data base.

The convergence of President Obama’s healthcare legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and his education legislation does not bode well for American freedom, privacy or parental rights. We can envision a future where the federal government will maintain an electronic file on every American that will include all of their medical information from birth, and then combined with the personal data collected through the educational system. These personal records would begin at birth and maintained until the end of life.

This is a new age in American history. Our emboldened federal government through the passage of sweeping legislation and the coordination of technology could wield unlimited power over American life. The circumvention of individual and parental rights is an anathema to those who trust in the presumption of privacy and the Constitutional protection of every American’s inalienable rights.

Bishop Jenky’s words were prophetic when he correctly stated that the federal government violated our First Amendment rights and described the historical significance of that decision and the conditions today that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. Every American’s religious freedoms and rights granted by our Creator are at risk.

We know that our individual liberties have been passed on to us through our American heritage but we are reminded that those gifts are fragile. Many may recall these sage admonitions: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” and “Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty” — President Ronald Reagan.

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