Friday, December 19, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Religious Liberty Defenders Seek Legislative Fix for HHS Mandate

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA) has launched a campaign urging those concerned with the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate to ask their legislators to insert language similar to the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940) in the next ‘must-pass’ bill in order to protect conscience rights and religious liberty.

When the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate takes effect August 1, all non-profit religious schools, colleges, health providers, and charities will be forced to provide coverage for “preventive services for women,” including services that many find objectionable, such as sterilization, birth control, and abortion-inducing medications.

As written, the mandate allows only a narrow exemption for “religious employers,” which it defines primarily as “houses of worship.” There is currently no exemption for individuals, schools, charities, or businesses owned and operated by those who have moral or religious objections to providing such coverage. That has led to numerous lawsuits and calls for new legislation to amend the administration’s Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) introduced H.R. 940 on March 4. It currently has more than 100 co-sponsors. According to NCHLA, the bill "applies longstanding conscience rights policies to the health care law, and makes existing conscience laws clearer, more permanent, and more enforceable."

Both Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities welcomed the legislation. Cardinal O’Malley urged legislators to support the bill by incorporating it into upcoming legislation.

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