WASHINGTON— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers the following clarifications regarding the Health and Human Services regulations on mandatory coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
1.The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals. These institutions are vital to the mission of the Church, but HHS does not deem them “religious employers” worthy of conscience protection, because they do not “serve primarily persons who share the[ir] religious tenets.”HHS denies these organizations religious freedom precisely because their purpose is to serve the common good of society—a purpose that government should encourage, not punish.
2.The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral. Under the mandate, the government forces religious insurers to write policies that violate their beliefs;forces religious employers and schools to sponsor and subsidize coverage that violates their beliefs; and forces religious employees and students to purchase coverage that violates their beliefs.
3.The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception. Though commonly called the “contraceptive mandate,” HHS’s mandate also forces employers to sponsor and subsidize coverage of sterilization.And by including all drugs approved by the FDA for use as contraceptives, the HHS mandate includes drugs that can induce abortion, such as “Ella,” a close cousin of the abortion pill RU-486.
4.Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate Catholics who have long supported this Administration and its healthcare policies have publicly criticized HHS’s decision, including columnists E.J. Dionne. . . , Mark Shields. . . , and Michael Sean Winters. . . ; college presidents Father John Jenkins. . . and Arturo Chavez. . . ; and Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan. . . , president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.
5.Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate. Many recognize this as an assault on the broader principle of religious liberty, even if they disagree with the Church on the underlying moral question.For example, Protestant Christian. . . , Orthodox Christian. . . , and Orthodox Jewish. . . groups–none of which oppose contraception–have issued statements against the HHS’s decision.The Washington Post. . . , USA Today. . . , N.Y. Daily News. . . , Detroit News. . . , and other secular outlets, columnists. . . , and bloggers. . . have editorialized against it.
6.The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates. HHS chose the narrowest state-level religious exemption as the model for its own.That exemption was drafted by the ACLU and exists in only 3 states (New York, California, Oregon).Even without a religious exemption, religious employers can already avoid the contraceptive mandates in 28 states by self-insuring their prescription drug coverage, dropping that coverage altogether, or opting for regulation under a federal law (ERISA) that pre-empts state law.The HHS mandate closes off all these avenues of relief.
Additional information on the U.S. Catholic bishops’ stance on religious liberty, conscience protection and the HHS ruling regarding mandatory coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/index.cfm.
Additional Resources About the Mandate:
Cardinal Dolan: US bishops won’t comply with Obama rule on birth control coverage in insurance
RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer
BALTIMORE — A top American bishop said Tuesday the Roman Catholic church will not comply with the Obama administration requirement that most employers provide health insurance covering birth control.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said church leaders are open to working toward a resolution with federal officials, but will meanwhile press ahead with challenges to the mandate in legislatures and in court.
“The only thing we’re certainly not prepared to do is give in. We’re not violating our consciences,” Dolan told reporters at a national bishops’ meeting. “I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation.”
The bishops have been fighting the regulation since it was announced by President Barack Obama early this year. Houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and colleges are not.
Obama promised to change the requirement so that insurance companies, not faith-affiliated employers, would pay for the coverage. But details have not been worked out. And not only the bishops, but Catholic hospitals and some other religious leaders generally supportive of Obama’s health care overhaul have said the compromise proposed so far appears to be unworkable.
Dozens of Catholic dioceses and charities have sued over the mandate, along with colleges, including the University of Notre Dame. The bishops have made the issue the centerpiece of a national campaign on preserving religious freedom, which they consider under assault on several fronts from an increasingly secular broader culture. The Department of Health and Human Services adopted the rule as a preventive service meant to protect women’s health by allowing them to space their pregnancies.
It’s unclear what, if any, influence the bishops have with the administration.
Many bishops spoke out sharply against Obama during the election. The bishops said they were protesting policies, not the candidate himself. Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent to 48 percent, according to exit polls, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 percent to 40 percent. Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 percent to 21 percent.
A White House spokesman did not immediately comment.
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said the administration should compromise. Although liberal-leaning Catholics disagree with the bishops on gay marriage and other issues, these same Catholics would oppose anything that threatened the church’s social service work with the poor, war refugees and other disadvantaged people.
“This is a situation where being a gracious victor is not only the right thing to do, it makes good political sense,” Reese said.
Dolan, archbishop of New York, would not say whether bishops would disobey the mandate if the lawsuits fail or church leaders can’t resolve their disagreements with Health and Human Services.
“It’s still not doomsday yet,” he said.
Separately, the bishops voted to shelve a statement on the economy that they’d been working on for months. The bishops voted overwhelmingly to draft the document last June, after objecting to social services cuts in the budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was the Republican vice presidential nominee. This statement was intended as a brief message of concern and encouragement to Americans. But bishops meeting in Baltimore couldn’t agree on the wording or emphasis and rejected the document.
Also, the bishops endorsed the effort by the Archdiocese of New York to seek sainthood for Dorothy Day, a social activist and writer who converted to Catholicism as an adult. She was a founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which advocates for social justice and aids the poor.
by Johanna Dasteel
November 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The largest company to bring suit against the ObamaCare HHS mandate has lost its suit in federal court. Hobby Lobby, the arts and craft company, which was joined by its sister company Madel, sued the federal government in September, alleging that the HHS mandate, which requires provision of abortion-causing drugs in insurance coverage to employees, violates the owner’s religious beliefs.
The decision against Hobby Lobby comes one day after an Illinois-based Christian publisher became the third company to win a reprieve from the controversial mandate while the courts hash out its constitutionality.
In his suit, Hobby Lobby owner David Green had likewise requested an injunction against the mandate. However, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that the “Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
Hobby Lobby expects to face fines estimated at $1.3 million per day beginning January 1 if it is unsuccessful in its legal challenge and does not comply with the mandate.
Until now, the Christian owned company has weathered a challenging economy relatively unscathed, even growing its employee numbers while maintaining fewer hours than industry competitors and closing shop on Sundays.
But the HHS mandate could change all that. For now, however, Hobby Lobby isn’t giving up hope. The company has already appealed the case.
“No American should have to choose between following his faith and paying enormous fines,” Green’s attorney, Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told LifeSiteNews.com.
She added, “The court below said it was not a substantial burden on the Greens’ religious freedom to force their family-owned company to pay for abortion-causing drugs. We believe the First Amendment means more than that.”
In a statement to LSN in September, Green had said, “We have always operated our company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles, including integrity and service to others.”
Judge Heaton, emphasizing that “the court is not unsympathetic” to Green’s conundrum, alluded to the lack of precedent in addressing the matter of religious liberty for non-religiously affiliated companies and organizations. In his ruling he stated the mandate “results in concerns and issues not previously confronted by companies or their owners.”
“The question of whether the Greens can establish a free exercise constitutional violation by reason of restrictions or requirements imposed on general business corporations they own or control involves largely uncharted waters.”