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Catholic Bishops: Obama's Solution 'Is Unacceptable'


TERENCE P JEFFREY

Source:
CNS News
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/11/2012

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ABSTRACTCatholic Bishops: Obama's Solution 'Is Unacceptable' | CNSNews.com CNSNews.com Home Washington National Culture International Entertainment Sports Health Business Weird News News Wire The Right Views Search this site: E-Brief Facebook Twitter RSS LinkedIn Top Nav About Us Resources Send Tips Donate RSS CNSNews.TV CNSNews.TV On the Spot On the Scene The Schein OTJ Golden Hookah Home » News Catholic Bishops: Obama's Solution 'Is Unacceptable' By Terence P. Jeffrey February 11, 2012 Subscribe to Terence P. Jeffrey's posts Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York (AP Photo) (CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement late on Friday declaring that the small alteration President Barack Obama had announced earlier in the day to a regulation that would force all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives--including those that cause abortion--is 'unacceptable" because, among other things, it does not protect the freedom-of-conscience rights of secular for-profit employers, or secular non-profit employers, or religious insurers, or self-insured religious employers, or individual Americans. The alteration President Obama described Friday says merely that insurance companies providing coverage to employees of religious institutions that object to sterilization, contraception or abortifacients will have to provide free coverage for these things to the employees rather than explicitly include them among the benefits covered by the premiums charged to the religious employer. The regulation will still require individual Americans and private-sector employers to buy, and insurers to provide, insurance coverage that pays for sterilizations, contraception and abortifacients--even if doing so violates their religious beliefs. The bishops expressed their hope that the new regulatory mandates the president described today "appear subject to some measure of change." "But," they said, "we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals— is unacceptable and must be corrected ." [The bolded text is in the original.] Here is the entirety of the bishops' statement explaining their continuing objections to the Obama administration's mandate that all heath-care plans must cover sterilizations, artificial contraception, and abortifacients--all of which the Catholic Church teaches are morally wrong: 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.......