Bishops Fight Coercive HHS Mandate
On February 10, the Catholic bishops of the United States called for a renewed effort to change the HHS imposed mandate that violates religious liberty.
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans....Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."
He urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest. Watch his video & then take action today!
See the impressive list of links to the bishops' statements.
USCCB Responds to Misleading White House Blog Entry
"White House Misrepresents Its Own Contraceptive Mandate"
The Obama administration, to justify its widely-criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1). This new USCCB fact sheet quotes and responds to each claim in turn.
On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule forcing virtually all private health care plans to cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception. 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" was so narrow that it failed to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations—including Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities—that help millions every year. Ironically, not even Jesus and his disciples would have qualified for the exemption, because it excludes those who mainly serve people of another faith.
On February 10, the Obama Administration made this rule final “without change”; delayed enforcement for a year against religious nonprofits that were still not exempted (our charities, hospitals, and colleges); and promised to develop more regulations to “accommodate” them by the end of that additional year. But that promised “accommodation” still forces them to pay for “services” that violate their religious convictions.
- The original rule that violated our religious liberty so severely has not been changed, but finalized.
- HHS has promised some kind of “accommodation,” but only after the election.
- The promised “accommodation”—even at its best—would still force our institutions to violate their beliefs.
- There is no exemption for objecting insurers, secular employers, for-profit religious employers, or individuals.
Now that the Administration has refused to recognize the Constitutional conscience rights of organizations and individuals who oppose the mandate, the bishops are now urging Catholics and others of good will to fight this unprecedented attack on conscience rights and religious liberty.
We urgently need legislation to correct the mandate’s threats to religious liberty and conscience rights. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has been introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that those who participate in the market for health insurance “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
More than 400 Catholic leaders have called on Congress and the Administration to protect conscience rights in health care. The open letter appeared as a full page adfeaturing over 150 of those leaders in the New York Times and the Washington Post on December 21.
Get Informed & Take Action Now
- . . . . . . Write to Congress urging support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).
- Share this page with others so they can get informed & take action, too. Social media & e-mail options are found under "SHARE" at the upper right of this page -- and at the upper right corner of Cardinal-designate Dolan's video. . . .
- Will contraception really be "free" under this coercive mandate? Read Richard Doerflinger's column "The High Costs of 'Free' Birth Control" to find out.
- There's lots of confusion about what the HHS edict involves. For a quick summary, see our 2-page FAQ called The HHS Mandate for Contraception/Sterilization Coverage: An Attack on Rights of Conscience.
- For more information on the HHS mandate and its inadequate conscience protection, read our Preventive Services Backgrounder.
Select News Releases
- Bishop Lori Tells Parable of the Kosher Deli and the Pork Mandate in Congressional Testimony - February 16, 2012
- Cardinal Urges Senate Support of "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" - February 15, 2012
- Bishop Blaire Refutes White House Press Secretary's Claim that Bishops Never Supported Heath Care Reform - February 14, 2012
- Bishops Renew Call to Legislative Action on Religious Liberty - February 10
+ Regulatory changes limited and unclear
+ Rescission of mandate only complete solution
+ Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act
U.S. Bishops Vow to Fight HHS Edict - January 20
Bishops Hail Court Decision Upholding Religious Liberty - January 11, 2012