Bishops Renew Their Call For Legislative Action on Religious Liberty

The United States Conference on Catholic Bishops came out with a atatement yesterday following the news that President Obama was rethinking his assault on religious freedom. The bishops in their remarks continue to call on Congress for legislative action on religious freedom.
The United States Conference on Catholic Bishops reported, via Free Republic:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued the following statement:

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. But 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. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.

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  • nana

    Game on. Obama thinks he can circle the wagon and pretend he’s giving in and he’s not.

  • ironbill

    Thankfully the Bishops see through this ruse. Again, Obama, the smartest man ever, is too clever by half. He believes that if he says you don’t have to pay for it, only the insurance company you pay (and that will now increase your premiums) actually provides these services – never mind the fact that everything he has done, both in the last several days and with the Affordable Care Act, is an extra-constitutional breach of the law.

    To my liberal friends I offer some points to ponder:
    You may sympathize with and give support to the notion of free health care, and unfettered reproductive health access, but do you realize that everything this man has done is an abject abuse of power? And that these acts set the precedent that presidential power is unlimited whenever the current executive says so?

    The consequence of this behavior will only be revealed to you when you are not in power. The Founders were smart enough to see this kind of malfeasance two and a quarter centuries ago. Maybe they were the smartest guys ever.

  • bg


    about damn time..

    there is a God, and we are the people..


  • JPL17

    There he goes again, playing “Lucy and the Football” with Catholics.

    Last time idiots like Stupak and Sister Carol Keenan fell for it.

    Let’s pray they’ve learned their lesson.

  • Ken

    No employer should have to have contraception control as part on their insurance policies
    Christian or otherwise That is the point

  • http://none tommy mc donnell

    they don’t need legislative action, just get the politicans to follow the constitution.

    has obama ever done anything that the majority of the citizens are for?

  • dba…vagabond trader

    We don’t need anymore legislation, we have the First Amendment, don’t they teach that in the seminary?

    Complete repeal of Obamacare, nothing less is acceptable!

  • StrangernFiction

    And the GOP establishment is trying to shove Romney down our throats. You would be hard pressed to come up with a worse candidate on this monumental issue.

  • Greg

    Last paragraph of statement is very interesting…. We will continue to aggressively work to correct this problem with the two branches of govt…legislative to ensure the law is corrected,,,and renew our call to the people to join together.

    Deliberately leaves out the courts, and the call to people seems like a voter drive

  • dba…vagabond trader

    @tommy mc donnell :

    Sorry, didn’t read your comment. gmta :-)

  • Redlite

    Government has no business being involved with woman’s reproduction. Where in the Constitution does it say anything about providing free contraception, sterilization, or abortion?

    This nothing but a smoke screen to give Barry some cover.. The Lucy and a football analogy is very much on point.

  • Bitter Clinger

    How on earth will the “legislative process” correct this tyranny? Do you think King Hussein will sign any piece of legislation that comes down from our objections? See Mark Steyn’s piece in Orange County Register. Obama is now King Henry VIII and the Act of Supremacy is in place. Like Henry VIII, Obama has set himself above the church. Off with the heads of those who object: Cardinal John Fisher and Sir Thomas More as prominent examples.

  • Fionnagh

    Too little, too late. Where was the Church’s outrage over BHO’s documented support of late-term abortions? Where was the Church’s outrage over the planned mosque at Ground Zero? What about covering up the cross at the university? Didn’t 80% of Catholics vote for this fraud? At this point we don’t need statements from the bishops. We need another Battle of Lepanto.

  • Jason

    “We will continue to prevent any attempt for women to enjoy sexual intercourse so we can impose 12th century ideals on as many people as possible.”

    One thing Catholic bishops and you Conservative clowns have in common: you have no idea how to pleasure a woman.

  • Kissmygrits

    We already have this protection under the Constitution and no further legislation is needed. Just some reps with the nerve to use current law to stop this madness. Zero has no legal authority to do what he is doing.

  • truth teller

    Sorry #14…I likely pleasured your woman (or women) while you were busy being lazy.

    And yes…it was the best for her…sorry!

  • Fionnagh

    #14 You’ve missed the point entirely.

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  • truth teller

    #17…didn’t miss any point…just pointing out my physical prowess!!! 😉

  • bigL

    the Contraceptive and AB issue is in the law as passed by Congess.It is probably in many different paragraphs as were other issues. The Obama HealthNoCare Law no matter how they did it was
    passed. It will take Congress, rehearing the legislation without the AB and contraceptive paragraghs to undo it. Congress must undo it. IT is not for Obama to just order things changed. He has no power to order insurance cos to cover this pill or that Rx.
    But the companies are craven and won’t fight him. And the GOP won’t fight either. Very sad.
    We need a complete clean-out of D.C. Staff and congress.
    And Note that Roman Catholics vote DEmocrat. The Catholcs do NOT vote for GOPers. In 2012, no matter what has happened: arrests, 140 million dollar fines, closings- Roman Catholics will still vote for Obama
    So all this controversy is Obama getting the votes in, paradoxically. More than 50 million probably.