Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
I saw the news last night that a lawsuit against the HHS mandate had been dismissed by a federal judge. The news reports all focused on the seven states and the attorneys general who’d filed the suit. Some of the reports eventually got around to referring to "an individual" who had also signed on to the suit.
But that individual has a name. It's Stacy Thomlison, a Catholic convert and FOCUS missionary who agreed to be a plaintiff in the suit against the HHS mandate because she didn’t want to pay for insurance that covered abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization procedures.
When I learned the lawsuit was tossed last night I gave her a call. I decided against calling the attorneys because I figured all I’d get from them is a “statement” that’d been crafted by three p.r. professionals, edited by two lawyers, and examined by a bureau or bureaucrats. I prefer to speak with humans. Stacy used words like “surprised” and “saddened" when I spoke with her.
It seems the judge, a Nixon appointee, decided that no “real injury” had been done to Stacy because the mandate hadn’t yet gone into effect and besides, the Obama administration has promised to make some kind of “accommodation” that would make it perfectly fine for Christians to act against their beliefs. In short, the judge seems to have believed the Obama administration.
Stacy? Not so much.
“The Administration says they’re going to work with religious people,” she said. “But actions carry more weight than words.”
The judge would have Stacy wait until "real injury" was done to her before she could have standing to question the HHS mandate. But what does “real injury” mean for her?
It means exactly that. Real injury. For years, Stacy has suffered from Crohn's disease. She's had surgeries to repair damages from the chronic illness. She nearly died from complications. She told me that she lives with the knowledge that any moment she might need to be hospitalized. This is a young woman who needs insurance. Since a recent surgery, medical supplies cost her up to $400 a month. She knows that because of her illness she’ll eventually have to go back on medication that costs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a month.
But Stacy told me she will cancel her insurance if she’s forced to pay for coverage of abortifacients and contraceptives. “I’m willing to trade health, finances, and maybe my very life to follow my conscience,” she said. “I’m happy to be a witness to the faith I say I believe in.”
“If that’s what it takes to wake people up I’m glad to do it,” she said.
So, it seems that a young woman with a chronic disease and a conscience actually has to go without insurance before a judge sees any “real injury.”
Is it just me or is it true that whenever Planned Parenthood files a lawsuit against a pro-life law, judges grant injunctions to prevent the law from coming into effect to prevent “real injury” to Planned Parenthood. But now judges can’t do anything for Stacy who just doesn’t want to pay for coverage she believes sinful. I guess to many, that’s not as noble.
But I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. Stacy remains hopeful. Jubilantly so. She’s intent on praying about it. She doesn't do much without praying about it. She, along with the other plaintiffs are considering an appeal. She’s not deterred at all. To speak with her is like sitting near a campfire. Bright and warm. The funny thing about campfires is they sometimes grow brighter when kicked. “I’m going to continue praying and fasting for our country and for our leaders and try to spread awareness about the issue,” she said. “When push comes to shove and the law is enforced and I have to choose between health insurance and my conscience I will follow my conscience.”
Let’s think about the kind of country we live in that's forcing a young woman to make a decision between her health and her conscience. Let's all think about that. And then let's pray. That's the kind of appeal that always gets heard.