The Cardinal Newman Society today released the following statement:
The Obama administration today issued the final rule implementing its mandate that most religious groups must provide insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception (including drugs that cause abortion). This includes many Catholic schools and nearly all Catholic colleges.
Our legal advisors believe that the rule gives no ground on the mandate, ignoring the pleas and demands of thousands of Catholic educators, bishops, priests, healthcare leaders, charity leaders and allies with a variety of religious beliefs.
As expected, the rule appears to implement the Administration’s promised false “accommodation,” which does not respect the religious freedom of religious employers, but simply pretends that coverage of sterilization, contraception and abortion will be paid by the insurance companies’ other clients instead of the religious organization. The mandate goes into effect for objecting religious organizations on January 1, 2014—when Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, whose own immaculate conception foreshadowed her miraculous conception and motherhood of God. What a terrible, terrible irony!
After years of false promises to heed the complaints and resolve the dozens of lawsuits—many of them filed by faithful Catholic colleges, including the very first suit—the Administration has finally chosen to stand firmly opposed to religious freedom and the dignity of human life. That direction has been apparent since President Obama’s notorious commencement address at the University of Notre Dame four years ago, when he basked in the honor of a major Catholic university even while standing firmly for the Culture of Death.
The Cardinal Newman Society, its members and faithful Catholic educators must continue to fight this unconscionable mandate by every possible means. The January 1 deadline will allow most Catholic schools and colleges to avoid the mandate in their2013-14 faculty and student health plans… with more time to work for a repeal. With the Obama administration’s final refusal to give religious organizations the exemptions that they require to adhere to their beliefs, the lawsuits can go forward. This fight will only intensify, now that the Administration has formally confirmed its intentions.
We also note the sign of hope that came just last week, when Alliance Defending Freedom secured an injunction against enforcement of the mandate with regard to Geneva College and its student health plan. This was the first ruling concerning the mandate’s violation of religious freedom for a nonprofit entity; other rulings concerning religious nonprofits have only considered the groups’ standing and the ripeness of the case. Meanwhile, the for-profit Hobby Lobby is progressing in its lawsuit against the mandate.
We urge Catholics to stand with the bishops in the Fortnight for Freedom, which runs through July 4.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.