Cardinal Newman Society Statement on White House Announcement 3/16/2012


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ABSTRACTCardinal Newman Society Statement on White House Announcement 3/16/2012 « Campus Notes Campus Notes The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) Blog Skip to content About Subpage Sub Page 2 New Page Long Test Page Title « Four Newman Guide Colleges Named Top Conservative Colleges Father Shea, Rock Star in Rome » Cardinal Newman Society Statement on White House Announcement 3/16/2012 The Obama administration’s announcement on Friday, March 16, regarding mandated insurance coverage for sterilization, contraception and abortifacients does nothing to relieve Catholic colleges from the Administration’s violation of religious liberty. These are the facts: The Obama administration has NOT issued any new rule or made any new compromise to protect Catholic colleges . Its latest announcement (to be published in the Federal Register on March 21 st ) simply launches a 90-day comment period on the mandated insurance coverage for sterilization, contraception and abortifacients. The comment period is a delaying tactic that follows months of negotiations . The Catholic bishops, faithful Catholic colleges, and numerous other religious leaders and organizations have already clearly expressed their concerns about the mandate. If the Obama administration did not get the message by now, then there is minimal hope for a resolution that does not come from the courts, Congress or a future President. By the time this new, 90-day comment period ends, it will have been nearly 11 months since the Obama administration’s insulting and dangerous “religious exemption” was first announced, yet the exemption remains in substantially the same form. Moreover, the Administration announced that this 90-day comment period will be followed by yet another comment period on rules to be proposed by the Administration. These comment periods could delay the process right up to the presidential election in November. The Obama administration offers NO exception to providing Catholic college employees and students free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients . The Obama administration proposes that private insurance companies—or third-party administrators of benefits for self-insured organizations—be required by the federal government to cover the cost of these immoral “services” for both students and employees of non-exempt religious organizations. This coverage begins only when a Catholic college contracts with a private insurance company or self-insures its students or employees. A Catholic college is forced under threat of law, financial penalty and possibly other indirect consequences (such as loss of accreditation or state charter) to provide health insurance benefits to its employees, and this private action will trigger government-mandated coverage for immoral and unwanted “services.” There will be NO delay in enforcement of the mandate for Catholic colleges with employee insurance plans that covered contraception as of February 10, 2012—even if such coverage was involuntary . The Obama administration has given non-exempt religious organizations one additional year (affecting insurance plans that begin on or after August 1, 2013) to comply with the mandate. That allowance previously affected only employee plans, but the Administration has now also applied the one-year delay to student plans. Nevertheless, many Catholic colleges already cover contraceptives for employees, often because they are complying with state mandates that violate their religious liberty, or because insurance companies refuse to exclude contraceptive coverage. For these entities, the federal mandate will be enforced with regard to both employee and student plans that begin on or after August 1, 2012. It makes no difference whether student plans previously excluded contraceptives—the one-year delay depends entirely on the status of employee plans, not student plans, as of February 2012. The federal religious exemption and the one-year delay for non-exempt entities may not be available to Catholic colleges in states with existing contraceptive mandates . The Obama administration now explains that religious organizations must comply with state laws mandating contraceptive coverage, even if they meet federal criteria for exemption or a one-year delay, if those organizations are not exempt from the state laws. The Administration says that the narrowest religious exemption must be enforced, so as to provide the greatest “consumer protections.” The Cardinal Newman Society continues to believe that the fullest protection of religious liberty for Americans is possible only by rescinding the federal mandate for insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception and abortifacients. Regardless, every Catholic college should be exempt from a government mandate that imposes such coverage on employees or students as a condition of a college’s private decision to provide insurance for its employees or students. We call on every Catholic colleg.......