Catholics asked to fight birth control insurance rule

Catholics around the country are being asked to object in writing to a new federal rule that will require Catholic ministries to offer birth control coverage to their employees.In particular, Catholic bishops say a “conscience clause” that ought to exempt church organizations is too narrow and should be rewritten.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops distributed a letter objecting to the insurance mandate developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and showed Catholics how to file a written objection.

“All bishops were asked to alert parishioners of the need to address the threat to religious liberty found in (the) HHS mandate related to health care reform,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops conference.

Under a new rule developed as part of implementing health care reform, employers will be required to offer employees insurance packages that include a range of preventive health services without co-pays.

Developed by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the list includes services like mammograms, colonoscopies and childhood immunizations.

But more controversially, the rule also requires that insurance plans offer sterilization services and birth control, including “morning-after” emergency contraceptive methods already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. [more]


Washington Post/RNS