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Problems of principle and practicality


NANCY FRAZIER O’BRIEN

Source:
Catholic News Service
Type:
Bishops, Priests
Date:
2/24/2012

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ABSTRACT Senate votes to set aside conscience act › The Catholic Free Press Home About Us The Catholic Free Press Mission Friends of The Free Press Who’s Who Photo Galleries Contact Us Subscribe to Catholic Free Press Advertise with The Catholic Free Press Links Feb 24 Senate votes to set aside conscience act Posted By The Catholic Free Press February 24, 2012 | 4:44 pm | National   SENATE VOTE TO SET ASIDE CONSCIENCE ACT MARKS CHANCE TO BUILD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT, SEEK JUDICIAL REMEDIES FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WASHINGTON – The Senate’s 51-48 vote March 1 to table the bipartisan Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467), sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and 37 other senators, impels the Church to strengthen its resolve to support religious freedom. “The need to defend citizens’ rights of conscience is the most critical issue before our country right now,” said Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bishop Lori chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “We will continue our strong defense of conscience rights through all available legal means. Religious freedom is at the heart of democracy and rooted in the dignity of every human person. We will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored and the First Amendment is returned to its place of respect in the Bill of Rights.” “I am grateful today to Senator Roy Blunt and the 47 other Senators who cast a bipartisan vote reaffirming our nation’s long tradition of respect for rights of conscience in health care,” said Bishop Lori. “We will build on this base of support as we pursue legislation in the House of Representatives, urge the Administration to change its course on this issue, and explore our legal rights under the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Freedom of conscience has been in the forefront since the Obama Administration issued a regulation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act forcing most employers, including religious institutions, to provide coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, even when they violate church teaching.   By Nancy Frazier O’Brien Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate and its extremely narrow religious exemption present problems both of principle and of practicality, according to the bishop who heads the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., said in a Feb. 23 telephone interview with Catholic News Service that the “accommodation” announced Feb. 10 by President Barack Obama represents “an intrusion into the internal life of the church that we think is a violation of religious liberty.” On a practical level, he added, the mandate as revised by Obama “does not really address how we are organized” as church institutions. “It seems to me that for the government to ask us to override our teachings, whether popular or not, there has to be a compelling government interest,” Bishop Lori said. But he said 90 percent of insurers already cover contraceptives, with companies that object to contraception representing a “relatively small number” of employers. “The insurance plans that are in question are good benefits packages, but they don’t include these things that are abundantly available elsewhere and at a reasonable cost, despite what is being said,” he added. Obama’s revised mandate says religious employers could decline to cover contraceptives if they were morally opposed to them, but the healt.......