Bishops press for broader birth control exemption
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the bishops' conference, said the proposal creates an unacceptable second-class status for faith-affiliated hospitals, colleges and charities "rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches." The plan for an insurer or third party to arrange birth control coverage leaves "the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities," Dolan said.
"Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage," Dolan said in a statement. "We remain eager for the administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions."
The revised mandate is subject to a 60-day public comment period. The overall mandate is to take effect for religious nonprofits in August.
The Catholic Health Association, the hospital trade group whose support was critical for passage of Obama's health care legislation, had also sought a broader religious exemption. The association hasn't yet commented on the new proposal, but said Thursday it will do so after seeking input from members.
Health and Human Services Department explanation of rules: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2013pres/02/20130201a.html
Catholic bishops' statement: http://www.usccb.org/news/2013/13-037.cfm
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