Catholic Leaders Upset With New Obamacare Mandate That Forces Religious Groups to Violate Church Tenets
We tried to warn you, Sister Carol.
Sister Carol Keehan, in opposition to the United States bishops, was a key supporter of the abortion-expanding Obamacare bill – so much so that she was given one of the 21 ceremonial pens President Obama used to sign the measure into law. (NC Register)
Catholic leaders are outraged that new Obamacare regulations that force faith groups to violate church tenets and pay for employees’ birth control. The new rules are so strict that most Catholic institutions will not qualify for an exemption.
The Obama administration is taking heat from religious groups, particularly Catholic leaders, upset that new federal health regulations may force them to pay for employees’ birth control, a violation of church tenets.
Proposed religious exemptions to the new regulations, unveiled Aug. 1 by the Department of Health and Human Services, are considered so narrow that even Catholic officials considered friendly to President Barack Obama argue that they should be changed.
“I call this the parish housekeeper exemption — that’s about all it covers,” Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, a 600-member umbrella group for Catholic hospitals, told The Associated Press.
In 2009, Keehan gave last-minute support that helped secure passage of Obama’s health care reform law, a decision that signaled a split with Catholic bishops, who opposed the law because they argued it funded abortions.
But Keehan and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are united on this issue.
“Health and Human Services must think Catholics and other religious groups are fools,” Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokesman for the U.S. hierarchy, wrote in a blog post.
As Walsh and others point out, the proposed exemption would only apply to a nonprofit employer that has “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose,” that primarily employs fellow believers and that primarily serves people “who share its religious tenets.”
The exemption would not cover Catholic hospitals, which provide care to one in six Americans seeking medical treatment every year — whether they are Catholic or not — and employ people of all beliefs.
Under the new health care law, insurance companies will be required to cover birth control without the co-pays that most women currently fork over on a monthly basis.
From the Office of the Federal Register website:
Consistent with most States that have such exemptions, as described below, the amended regulations specify that, for purposes of this policy, a religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code. Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) and (iii) refer to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, as well as to the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.
Planned Parenthood, which stands to gain from broader contraception coverage, said the religious exemption as proposed is too generous.
St. Gianna Physician’s Guild today launched an online petition (www.StopTheBirthControlMandate.com) requesting the Obama Administration and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to immediately withdraw all references to contraception and contraception counseling from the “Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services” under The Affordable Care Act, and to provide a conscience clause to protect the religious freedom and beliefs of Catholics.