February 10, 2012

Indiana Catholic Conference view of recent HHS ruling

The federal government has taken actions that strike at the heart of rights of conscience and religious liberty in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a rule forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization.

These are listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost sharing—regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.

The exemption provided for “religious employers” is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year.

Ironically, not even Jesus and his disciples would have qualified. During the public comment period last fall, the bishops’ grassroots campaign alone generated more than 57,000 comments to HHS opposing their mandate.

Now that the Administration has refused to recognize the Constitutional conscience rights of organizations and individuals who oppose the mandate, the U.S. bishops are now urging Catholics and others of good will to fight this unprecedented attack on conscience rights and religious liberty.

All are asked to inform themselves of the problem and to help other know about and understand it.

(To learn more about the HHS mandate and how to respond, go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at www.usccb.org. Click on ‘Urgent Action Alert’ on the web page.)

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