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US: private insurers must offer free contraception under new mandate

Catholic World News - August 02, 2011

Beginning in August 2012, all private insurers must provide women with coverage for FDA-approved contraception--including sterilization and contraceptives that have an abortifacient effect--under a mandate announced on August 1 by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

According to the department, insurers must provide this coverage “without charging a copayment, deductible, or coinsurance.” The decision was announced in time to take effect for colleges and universities that offer health-care plans for their students.

HHS is led by Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic whose bishop has exhorted her not to receive Holy Communion.

“Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services,” according to an amendment to the mandate. However, that exception is narrowly defined: “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.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) denounced the mandate.

“Catholics are not alone in conscientiously objecting to this mandate,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “The drugs that Americans would be forced to subsidize under the new rule include Ella, which was approved by the FDA as an ‘emergency contraceptive’ but can act like the abortion drug RU-486. It can abort an established pregnancy weeks after conception. The pro-life majority of Americans--Catholics and others--would be outraged to learn that their premiums must be used for this purpose.”

“Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” he added. “For example, under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics. Could the federal government possibly intend to pressure Catholic institutions to cease providing health care, education and charitable services to the general public?”

“It’s now more vital than ever that Congress pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act to close the gaps in conscience protection in the new health care reform act, so employers and employees alike will have the freedom to choose health plans in accordance with their deeply held moral and religious beliefs.”

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 03, 2011 11:03 AM ET USA

    I want to know why Kathleen Sibelius has not been publicly excommunicated. This is her old m.o. writ large. I once read that a man in France asked another one how to kill his conscience. The advice was: commit a mortal sin, then receive Holy Communion. Works for her.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 02, 2011 7:51 PM ET USA

    Let's be very clear to anyone who asks: this is the first time that insurers have been required to provide chemicals to women that make them SICK. Contraceptive pills, creams, etc all act to inhibit a normal body function. That is the definition of a sickness-inducing drug. Somebody needs to point this out.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Aug. 02, 2011 7:19 PM ET USA

    Happy yet, all you Catholics who voted for President Obama?

  • Posted by: Colonel Joe - Aug. 02, 2011 7:07 PM ET USA

    Between Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sibelius, and Joe Biden, sounds like the Bishops have lost control of the congregation.

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