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Catholic Bishops To Sue Feds Over Contraception, Insurance Rules


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is promising a legal challenge to federal rules the Obama administration reaffirmed Friday requiring health insurers to provide women with a range of preventive health services, including birth control, without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible.

The Department of Health and Human Services made no changes to a rule released in August that exempted some religious organizations, like those that employ or serve people who follow its religion, from the requirement. But religious organizations that do not meet those qualifications would be required to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. While churches are exempt, for example, religious universities and hospitals are not.

The rule goes into effect Aug. 1. Religious institutions that aren’t exempt get an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the regulation.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she believed Friday’s announcement “strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

Abortion rights opponents had challenged the rule, which is part of the health law, arguing that contraception violates the religious beliefs of some Americans, and that some forms of emergency contraception, including Plan B, are akin to early abortion. Religious groups also wanted a broader exemption. Friday’s announcement didn’t make them any happier.

“There really is no change,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the bishops. “What has been announced is that they are going to delay an enforcement. It’s as if they said ‘We’ll give you a year to figure out how to violate your conscience.’” The bishops’ group “will fight this edict; they have no choice but to fight this edict,” she said.

Other Catholic organizations were also upset. The Catholic Health Association called Friday’s announcement “a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection,” Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. [More]





  1. Doug Indeap says:

    Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have occasionally confronted such issues and have generally ruled that the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning traffic, pollution, taxes, contracts, fraud, negligence, crimes, discrimination, employment, and on and on) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate. Thus, the government can forbid discrimination against specified people and apply that law even to those who say their religion allows or requires them to discriminate. In rare (one hopes) circumstances, such a generally-applicable law could put an individual in an ethical Catch-22 if it requires one to take actions one considers immoral. For just this reason, when such binds can be anticipated, provisions may be added to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

    Here, it may be questioned whether there is real need for such an exemption, since no one is being “forced,” as some commentators rage, to act contrary to his or her belief. Employers generally are not required by law to offer health-related benefits to their employees, although the practice of providing such benefits is common. IF an employer chooses to offer health benefits, though, federal anti-discrimination laws and health plan enforcement regulations act to protect an employee’s rights under those health plans. So, depending on whether an exemption to the law is allowed, either employers or employees are put to a choice. If religious employers are exempted from current discrimination and health benefit laws so they can offer health benefits omitting some medications and services, employees can choose whether to accept such benefits or seek employment elsewhere. If current discrimination and health benefit laws are enforced, religious employers can choose to offer health plans complying with those laws or not offer any health plans at all. To the extent that employers already have an option under the current laws consistent with their religious views, they have less need for an exemption from those laws.

  2. Leo D. Lion says:

    The article reads:
    While churches are exempt, for example, religious universities and hospitals are not.

    Universities and hospitals will stop providing health insurance for employees.

    • Anonomo says:

      What do the bishops expect, when 80% of Catholics use contraception and they have done nothing about it? They are silent about contraception, don’t promote NFP and now they are shocked this has happened. Obama is smart, he and Silly Seblilus know that 80% use contraception and won’t have a problem with this. Pray for the bishops.

  3. Gospa says:

    They only did this now, because of the pro life marches taking place this week.How ridiculous ! Can’t they see how many hundreds of thousands have particpated in those marches? It’s obvious that the U.S. doesn’t agree to any form of preventing a child from being born, not just abortion.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Separation of church and state means the government does not interfere with religion. That is precisely what this does.

  5. steve says:

    In the lawsuit, I hope they also take the approach that it is not healthcare to provide medication / devices to keep organs from functioning as they are designed to work. I can see the logic in requiring meds to assist a woman who is trying to get pregnant but can’t this is just the opposite. The organs are completely healthy and working the way they are supposed to and they want to mandate meds to insure they DON’T work. Amazing.

  6. Hieronymus says:

    Is Sister Keehan going to return Obama’s pen? Just asking…

  7. Berni Kandt says:

    Sebelius’s bishop when she was in Kansas gave her every chance to repent but she refused so he ordered all the priests in her diocese to refuse the Eucharist to her. Kansas was glad to get rid of her because she opposed everything pro life ever brought before her when she was governor and was a good friend of “killer tiller” the notorious abortionist who was finally stopped by a man who shot and killed him. That man probably would not have felt he had to resort to such a measure if Sebelious had done her job.

  8. Jon Juergensen says:

    The bishops tacitly endorsed Obama with their atrocious “Faithful Citizenship” document, which had enough “nuanced” language to allow Catholics to believe they could vote for Obama. And now we’re supposed to believe the bishops are shocked that abortionist Obama is doing what he promised? Oh, please.

  9. Cecilia says:

    The Church has gotten “in bed with the devil” supporting the Democrats because of their so called better “social agenda”. Now their “chickens have come home to roost” and they’re acting surprised. And to make matters worse if they hadn’t lead Catholics to believe it was alright to vote Democrat, this wouldn’t be coming down now. Yeah, they’re going to have a lot to answer for if they don’t pull this out of the fire!!!!

    • nancy says:

      Right on Cecilia. We have been saying this for years. What did they really expect?..that Obama and Company would actually keep their word??

  10. Lucy says:

    Ms Sebelius and other “un practicing” so called Cathoics need to be cautioned of their impending excommunication out right in the newspapers!!! A actual repremand for going against their Catholic Church;they shouldn’t be allowed to receive any Sacraments especially The Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord.WHY hasn’t this come about???????????????????

  11. buc says:

    Where is our modern day St Thomas More, Thomas Becket? We need the bishops to quit dilly dallying and take a courageous stand. First call all Catholic politicians together an tell them to stand for the Church or get out!!!

  12. Doc Kimble says:

    Well said, Daniel. The best form of gov’t is a monarchy with a saint for a king. Our Founders opted for a limited Federal gov’t, assuming that a saint wouldn’t be often found in gov’t hierarchies. Over the last 50 yrs, the US has produced some outstanding non-Catholic men of faith, like Rev Dr Martin Luther King jr, Dr D. James Kennedy, Dr Dobson, Rev Billy Graham, etc, who came close to being what some Bishops are today, but sadly, are in the minority….namely, faithful teachers of the loving Law of God. May God bless our faithful, fearless separated brethren and bring them closer to God’s Mother’s Church, and may the same Spirit of Faithfulness displayed by them come closer to our lukewarm Bishops. And may God forgive me my sins and you, dear readers, yours.

  13. carol putzig says:

    If muslims who do not believe in insurance as being against their religion can get a waiver, why can’t the catholic church get a waiver?

  14. Daniel says:

    They oppose Obama on this but these bishops have had more than a flirtation with socialism and statism in general over the past 40 to 50 years or so.

    Can’t have it both ways I’m afraid… You recognize that the State is based on coercion and will USE that corecion against the People – or the People are sovereign.

    State power seeks to become larger and eventually it tryanizes. The solution is to RETURN the power to the People and REMOVE it from the State.

  15. Jean says:

    While I’m grateful the Bishops are going to fight this, I’m wondering if the defense is going to include individual private Catholics working in the public/private sector who are also forced to buy this insurance? We cannot defend ourselves against this mandate. We need the Church to defend all of us, collectively and individually.

  16. Marcella Stineburg says:

    I ask God to give us the strength to stand up and fight for our religious Freedom and to pray for all those who are being persecuted for what we do believe.


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