The new federal law to go into effect in the 2012 coverage year that would mandate insurers cover birth control is being resisted against by the Catholic Church-namely, US bishops. Calling it a "new threat to conscience" on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops webpage, the site further tells Catholics to write letters of protest to their congressmen/women:
URGENT ACTION ALERTS: New Threat to Conscience
On August 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an "interim final rule" that will require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related "patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to include without co-pays or other cost-sharing — regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.
Concerned Americans have until September 30 to send their comments to HHS.
- Write to HHS opposing their recent preventive services mandate.
- Download our Nationwide Bulletin Insert in both English and Spanish to use in your parish and communities.
On September 7, Cardinal DiNardo, chair of the bishops' Committee on Pro-LIfe Acitivities, urged Congress to support conscience protection legislation in light of this "unprecedented threat to religious freedom." Please add your voice to his:
Write to Congress supporting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR-1179).
For more information on the HHS mandate and its inadequate conscience protection, read our Preventive Services Backgrounder.
Additional resources are provided below.
Columns and Commentary
- "The High Costs of 'Free' Birth Control" by Richard Doerflinger, July 28, 2011
Testimony and Letters
- Preventive Services Letter to US Congress, September 7, 2011
Comments on Interim Final Rules Imposing Contraceptive Mandate, August 31, 2011
- Cardinal DiNardo Letter to Congress Concerning Respect for Rights of Conscience Act HR-1179, July 22, 2011
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was introduced in the Senate early last month by three Republicans. The bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives “has 44 co-sponsors and hasn’t seen any congressional action since March 28,” according to bill records documented by the Library of Congress.” No members of the Minnesota delegation co-sponsored the bill.
The legislation proposed in both the House and Senate would provide a way for the church to receive federal funds through health care exchanges created by federal health care reform, but would allow the church to be exempt from following the recent recommendation made by the Institute of Medicine that places birth control on a list of preventative health care services.
The Bishops have also sent out a 35-page comment claiming that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent decision to include birth control in its list of preventive care services violates the First Amendment’s religion clause. The Bishops are claiming that the religious exemption provision already included in the decision is “too limited.” In the comment, the religious group requested that the mandate be rescinded “in its entirety.”
The Minnesota Catholic Conference released legislative recommendations in January that supported allowing medical workers to opt out of providing birth control prescriptions.
As has been previously pointed out by Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien, the majority of Catholic women have yet to be convinced by the Church’s stance on birth control. According to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, about “98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church.”