By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wielding new executive powers under the 2010 Healthcare Reform and Affordability Act (commonly known as Obamacare) to set health insurance plan minimum standards no U.S. President before has ever held, President Barack H. Obama has ordered that all health care plans must offer family planning services with no copayments and has refused to exempt religious employers such as hospitals and religious schools from following his executive mandate.
Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, writing in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ said that the Obama administration has “refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good—including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals—from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.”
The mandated services include sterilization, all FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these among all “women of reproductive capacity.” Obama’s rule has been made final by order of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service despite over 55,000 citizens comments asking that the government provide a religious exception to the order for people of conscience.
Bishop Dolan wrote “On Friday, the administration reaffirmed the mandate, and offered only a one-year delay in enforcement in some cases—as if we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences 12 months from now. As a result, all but a few employers will be forced to purchase coverage for contraception, abortion drugs and sterilization services even when they seriously object to them.” “Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle.”
Bishop Dolan continued, “Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.”
The Bishops are calling on Catholics and other people of faith and conscience to contact their Congressmen and Senators and ask them to cosponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The bill will “correct the threats to religious liberty and rights of conscience posed by PPACA.” The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has been introduced in Congress.” The bill is H.R. 1179 in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate it is Senate Bill S. 1467.”
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R) from Haleyville have both already cosponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The bill has 120 cosponsors in the House and 29 in the Senate (when you include the two sponsors).
For more information, see: www.usccb.org/conscience