The nation's Catholic bishops said they do not support the Obama administration's proposed changes to an HHS rule requiring employers to include contraceptive services in their employee health plans and called the regulatory changes limited and unclear.
Bishops oppose Obama move on contraception
In a long statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the changes— announced by the president on Friday—require "careful moral analysis," but that they lack clear protection for many, including self-insured religious employers.
"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," according to the Feb. 10 statement. "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."
The bishops also said they were not notified in advance of the announcement, but rather learned of the changes on Friday morning. The group vowed to continue efforts to "correct this problem" in other ways, such as calling on Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, a bill Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-N.J.) introduced last March. The legislation would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to permit health plans to decline coverage of specific items and services that go against the religious beliefs of those sponsoring the plan.
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