Religious freedom and rights of conscience are threatened by the recent “preventive services” mandate from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring private health plans to cover female surgical sterilization and all drugs and devices approved by the FDA as contraceptives, including drugs which can kill an unborn child before and after implantation in the mother’s womb. HHS is empowered to take this action under the 2010 health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Insurance plans will be required to cover these controversial practices without a co-pay from recipients. Employers and employees who participate will have to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients (drugs that can cause abortions) with their premiums, even if it violates their deeply and dearly held moral and religious convictions.
The rule allows an exemption for a “religious employer,” which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says is defined so narrowly “as to exclude most Catholic social services agencies and healthcare providers.”
To correct these problems, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1179), and a companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 1467). This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) and the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) are working with USCCB to formulate comments objecting to the HHS interim rules.
Meanwhile, all concerned citizens should visit, call, fax or e-mail our Members of Congress urging them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 1179 or S. 1467.
Take action today to stop this infringement of religious liberty and urge your friends, family and neighbors to do it too.