Protect Rights of Conscience and Religious Liberty
The Obama Administration’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate will begin to be enforced against nonprofit religious schools, charities and health care providers on January 1, 2014. Congress must address this problem as soon as possible. Members should be urged to co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940. S. 1204) and work for its approval as part of ‘must-pass’ bills or other legislation. On October 16, Congress passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 2775), which resumed government funding on a temporary basis until January 15, 2014, and provided for an increase in the federal debt limit until February 7, 2014. Despite serious efforts, conscience protection language was not added to H.R. 2775. At one point the House passed a temporary extension of the government’s authority to spend money. Included was a provision to delay implementation of the Administration’s contraceptive mandate against anyone with a moral or religious objection until January 1, 2015. Efforts to attach conscience protection language to future ‘must-pass’ measures should continue.
- Send e-mails through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here. Note: In the e-mail Action Alert you can send a separate message to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) using his special Speaker’s web form.
- Contact your Representative and Senators by phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Representative’s and Senators' local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at: at: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
Suggested Message: “Please co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204) and work for its approval as part of ‘must-pass’ legislation or other bills. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or purchase health coverage.”
When: Congress faces deadlines early in the new year on passing ‘must-pass’ fiscal legislation. Please contact your Representative and Senators today!Background
In a September 26 letter to Congress, Archbishop William Lori, Chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, and Cardinal Séan O’Malley, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged Members to approve the Health Care Conscience Rights Act as part of ‘must-pass’ legislation. This letter and other helpful documents can be found at: www.usccb.org/conscience.
Under the new health care law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including drugs and procedures that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons. These objectionable items include sterilization, FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, “morning-after” pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity,” including minor girls. Under the final rule released by HHS on June 28, the mandate allows only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer,” chiefly aimed at what HHS calls “houses of worship.” Other religious organizations offering education, health care and charitable services do not qualify for the exemption. The mandate will be enforced against them beginning January 1, 2014, under an “accommodation” that only changes the way the objectionable items must be provided to all employees and their dependents. There is no exemption or delay for individuals, for non-religious pro-life organizations, or for businesses owned and operated by families with moral or religious objections. On September 17, USCCB president Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that “we are continuing our efforts in Congress and in the courts, and we are confident that our rights under the Constitution and other laws protecting religious freedom will eventually be vindicated.”