Dr. Anne Hendershott, a sociology professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, spoke about the disappearing prospects of religious liberty on Catholic campuses in a recent press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, along with other religious leaders concerned for the fate of religious liberty.
The press conference was held to release a statement that was signed by The Cardinal Newman Society and 20 faithful Catholic colleges and universities which joined a letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention stating that, “Any policy that falls short of affirming full religious freedom protection for all Americans is unacceptable.”
According to her statement on Franciscan University’s website, Hendershott said, in part:
As a Catholic, I have chosen to teach in an environment where my religious rights are respected. As a pro-life Catholic I was happy to be able to teach in an environment where I would not be asked to compromise my conscience rights by having to supervise student internships at Planned Parenthood or at other abortion providers. I have been happy to teach in schools where I would not be asked to contribute to causes that are contrary to what my Church teaches. I have always known that my conscience rights would be protected.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate on “preventive service” now threatens those very protections. The HHS mandate requires that all organizations—including religious institutions like the Catholic colleges and universities I teach in—provide insurance coverage that includes abortion inducing drugs like Ella and Plan B, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures. This mandate will require me—as a faithful Catholic—to purchase insurance that my Church teaches is seriously immoral. The HHS mandate forces me and my religious employer to pay for or facilitate access to products and services that are in opposition to our deeply held moral and religious beliefs.
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