Putting a face to health care debate

Published 11:00 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Stacy Molai knows that life can be hard and unfair, and that the debates held in Washington actually affect real people.

Molai is 31 and suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that threatened her life when she was a teenager. Molai is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general against the Obama administration’s health care mandate that religious employers provide insurance that covers contraception and abortion.

Molai relies on her medical insurance for supplies that would otherwise cost her $300-$400 a month, with every necessary hospitalization and surgery costing $3,000 to $5,000. “Should the mandate be upheld,” she insists, “I would gladly give up my insurance coverage, despite the very real risk that would pose to my financial well-being and my health.” Without the specialized care she needs, obedience to her conscience rather than Obamacare could put her life in danger.

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Molai is in the target age bracket for the administration’s cynical ploy to scare voters with mendacious rhetoric about a GOP “war on women.” But she sees through it. “’Free’ contraception under this law isn’t really free,” she tells me. “Everyone pays for it. Being forced to use my money to help pay for contraception violates my conscience as a Catholic and is therefore a violation of my constitutionally guaranteed rights.” She adds: “What worries me the most is the violation of our ‘first freedom,’ the freedom of religion. If this freedom is taken away, others will be sure to follow.”

The recent Supreme Court ruling upholding another part of the health-care law has been an educational opportunity that Molai’s tried to seize upon: “There are so many people who know ‘something big’ is going on, but they don’t know exactly what it is or why they should care one way or the other. It has been a great opportunity to enter into meaningful conversations with people and to encourage them to continue to educate themselves.”

This may not surprise you, because you’ve already been introduced to her zeal, but Molai is also a missionary — not in some foreign land, but the heartland: Omaha, Neb. And her evangelism isn’t all about the drawbacks to the president’s health care law. She is a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which supports students who seek to live their lives in accord with the Gospels.

“The college campus is a unique environment where students are away from home but not fully in the ‘real world’ yet,” Molai says. “It is a time where young people make many important decisions that will affect the rest of their lives, like choosing a career and finding a spouse. They also make important decisions about religion. Missionaries help college students to realize their faith is not something their parents believe or something they’ve been told; missionaries help students to make their faith in Jesus their own.”

Molai’s illness has, she says, brought her closer to God.

Her missionary zeal took hold of her when she “tagged along” on a pilgrimage to Israel in 2009.

She says the friendships she formed there, rooted in faith, were pivotal in bringing her to where she is today.

Molai looks forward to returning to the nursing profession she left after hooking up with FOCUS three years ago. “It is my great desire to work with ostomy patients like myself,” she says, so she is getting an extra certification in wound, ostomy, and continence care.

At the same time, she’s also “prayerfully considering religious life.”

Rest assured though, Nurse Stacy is not going to try to impose her religious beliefs on you when you are at your most vulnerable, or try to take away your birth control.

“I’m concerned about protecting the freedoms that the Constitution of the United States guarantees, not just for me, but for all of us. This isn’t a ‘religious’ issue, it is an American issue. It affects all of us.”

(Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online www.nationalreview.com. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.)