- (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Winning)
Appalling. Offensive. Invasive. These are the words the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many rank-and-file Christians choose to use when describing a new regulation proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will mandate that all private health plans in the United States cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives without charging any fees to the consumer.
Contraceptives and sterilizations that cause abortions will also be covered under this new provision.
Since the passing of Obamacare, all individuals must buy health insurance. With this new provision added, Catholics would be forced to buy healthcare plans that pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion. All three of these are strictly against the Catholic moral code.
President Obama, however, boasted about the provision, which many argue is an attack on religious liberties. At a fundraiser in St. Louis Wednesday, Obama explained this new provision to the audience:
“Breast cancer [and] cervical cancer are no longer preexisting conditions [for health insurance claims],” Obama said. “No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth.”
After hearing this, an audience member shouted, “Darn right!”
Obama humorously shouted back: “Darn tootin’!”
For the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, however, this is no laughing matter.
“It is an appalling act against freedom of religion. Birth control is a personal issue above and beyond what is stated in the Constitution about what the government has control over,” Sister Mary Ann Walsh told The Christian Post.
There is a religious exemption clause to the provision that would allow religious institutions to opt out of providing free contraceptives and sterilization. However, this clause is so limiting that many religious organizations, including hospitals, charities, and academic settings, do not qualify for the exemption.
“Under the Health and Human Services exemption clause, the organization or hospital would have to be directly instructing religion,” Walsh said. She added that hospitals would have to require baptismal certificates and other proof that the patients they are serving are Catholic.
“We serve people because we are Catholic, not because they are.”
According to Walsh, about one-sixth of the U.S. population utilizes a Catholic church. Mandating that the hospital receives proof of the patient’s Catholicism before treatment can be assessed would hinder the hospital’s mission of service to all.
The bishops are calling on Catholics to “send a message” to HHS in order to “defend conscience rights.”
The matter is about nothing more than preserving the religious liberties that we are supposed to have in the United States, said Sister Walsh.