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USCCB Statement on New HHS Mandate Revisions by the Obama Administration

on . Religious Liberty

The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the current proposed revisions of the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate are “an unprecedented …violation of religious liberty by the federal government” and must be changed.     The statement is in comments filed March 20 regarding the mandate, which requires most health plans in the United States to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related education and counseling.

The comments, made on the USCCB’s behalf by Anthony R. Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael F. Moses, associate general counsel, note a number of continuing problems with the regulations, which had been the subject of earlier rulemaking and comment by the USCCB.  The comments state:

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USCCB: HHS Proposal Falls Short in Meeting Concerns

on . Religious Liberty

USCCB-logoThe Feb. 1 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) shows some movement by the Administration but falls short of addressing U.S. bishops’ concerns.

“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage.  We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a February 7 statement.

“Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all.  At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”

 

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USCCB Responds to Innaccurate Statement Made During Vice-Presidential Debate

on . Religious Liberty

USCCB-logoWASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12:

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served. HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.”

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U.S. Bishop's Urge Congress to Act on Religious Liberty Crisis in Health Care Before Year's End

on . Religious Liberty

US-capital-150WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on Congress to address the crisis in health care sparked by the Obama administration’s contraceptive/sterilization coverage mandate in an August 3 letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The mandate, which was announced a year ago by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he said, “would forbid Americans to provide or purchase health coverage unless it includes female surgical sterilizations, all FDA-approved prescription drugs and devices for preventing pregnancy – including drugs and devices which can destroy a human life at its earliest stages – and ‘counseling and education’ to promote these to all women and girls of childbearing age.”

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