WASHINGTON, D.C. – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, today called on the federal government to stop trying to make Americans buy insurance for contraception and sterilization as a requirement for coverage under the nation’s new health care reform law.
In implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a rule requiring almost all private health insurance plans to cover Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of contraception and sterilization—some of which are abortifacients—as “preventive services” for women.
The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health insurance at all. HHS has given the public until September 30, 2011 to comment on the rule before deciding whether to revise it. You can send your comments to HHS as well as your elected representatives in Congress by going to www.usccb.org/conscience .
Archbishop Broglio said:
“The administration’s brazen attempt to attach the binding strings of its secularist agenda to something as basic as health insurance constitutes an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom. Never before has the government required private health plans to include coverage for such morally objectionable procedures as contraception and sterilization.
“The administration should remember that pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care. In a free society, women and men of faith cannot be compelled to fund medical practices that violate their religious principles.
“The Department of Health and Human Services should revise its rule to bring it in line with other federal laws in fully respecting the First Amendment dictum that Congress shall make no law ‘prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion.”
Archbishop Broglio pointed out that the proposed rule includes a religious exemption so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. It covers only a “religious” employer that has the “inculcation of religious values” as its purpose, primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. Therefore, a great many religious organizations—including Catholic colleges and universities as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the public—will be ineligible for health insurance. Individual and religiously affiliated health insurers will not qualify for the exemption.