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Bishops to President: rescind the mandate


VATICAN RADIO

Source:
Vatican News
Type:
Bishops, Priests
Date:
2/11/2012

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ABSTRACT US Bishops to President: rescind the mandate News.va English Español Français Italiano KEEPING IN TOUCH Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Flickr Home Fides News Agency L’Osservatore Romano Press Office Vatican Information Service Vatican Radio CTV US Bishops to President: rescind the mandate 2012-02-11 Vatican Radio The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued the following statement in response to US President Barack Obama's proposed modification of a controversial regulation mandating that Catholic Church institutions pay for contraceptives - including abortifacients – as part of employee health plans: Here is the full text of the US Catholic Bishops' statement in response to President Obama's proposed changes to the HHS mandate : The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the "preventive services" regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011. First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated "preventive services" prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether. Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such "services" immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of "religious employers" that HHS proposed to exempt initially. Today, the President has done two things. First, he has decided to retain HHS's nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty. Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours: ·It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate. ·It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer's policy, not as a separate rider. ·Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process. These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change.......