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Catholic Bishops List Six More Flaws in Obama’s Birth-Control Mandate


U.S. Catholic bishops have listed six more reasons why they believe that Obamacare’s mandate requiring provide insurance coverage for birth control for women undermines religious freedom and flies in the face of Catholic doctrine.

The list, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued today, adds to six facts it issued last week.

The new list, compiled after President Barack Obama announced a so-called compromise on Friday, follows:

  •     The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”
  •     The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate — only the contraception mandate — and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.
  •     The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations” — the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption. These policies will be developed over a one-year delay in enforcement, so if they turn out badly, their impact will not be felt until August 2013, well after the election.
  •     Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.
  •     The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened — all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both nonprofit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”
  •     Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year — others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles — here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person — not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.





  1. Thomas Merton says:

    How about the six things people find offensive about the bishops? There lack of empathy for the working catholic being one and their lack of connection with Catholics who finally realize the bishops don’t care about them as much as they care about paying for health care. Ask anyone who works for the church and see how bad the health care really is.

  2. Louise Hoelsch says:

    If anyone wants to ensure they have this coverage then they should choose an employer who offers it, or pay for it themselves. While access to affordable health care may be considered a right, employer financed coverage is not–that is a benefit.
    The real problem that is being ignored is making affordable health care available that is not tied to employment–then people could get what they want, but that means changing the system and no one seems to have the political will do to that, certainly not Obama.

    • Peggy says:

      Louise is exactly right. Employer financed insurance coverage is a benefit, not a right. And employers should not be compelled to finance insurance which pays for practices against their moral conscience, religous or not, even if not all the employees agree with their principles.

  3. Joan Kuhn says:

    The bishops defend religious freedom, right? What about the religious freedom of those whose consciences don’t object to these procedures? Should they be held to the bishops moral standards?

    • RON SCHWENKLER says:

      Religious freedom gives you the right to choose to fully follow the moral rules or the One, Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church. Individual, personal rejection of the 10 Commandments does not bode well for eternal salvation of such a person.


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