Grassroots opposition to HHS mandate

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging Catholics and all Americans concerned about religious freedom to oppose the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortifacients and contraception.

“The exemption provided for ‘religious employers’ is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities and service organizations that help millions every year,” the USCCB said in a statement.

On Feb. 10, President Obama stated that he would retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients, and then he announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered.

“This does not change the urgent need for legislation to correct the mandate’s threats to religious liberty and conscience rights,” the USCCB said.

The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has been introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467) to ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

The USCCB is asking Catholics to persuade members of Congress to co-sponsor this measure, or thank them if they are already co-sponsoring the bill. For the list of current co-sponsors, check H.R. 1179 and S. 1467 at: thomas.loc.gov.

The USCCB offers these instructions:

— Contact your U.S. Representative by e-mail, phone, or FAX letter with the following message: “Please co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467) and help enact it into law. The Obama administration’s decision to mandate coverage of sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, makes passage of this measure especially urgent. Please ensure that the rights of conscience of all participants in our nation’s health care system are respected.”

— Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your members’ local offices.

— Send your email to congress through www.usccb.org/conscience.

— Additional contact info can be found on members’ web sites at: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

For more background information, go to www.usccb.org/conscience

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