Rubio Introduces Bill To Repeal ObamaCare Mandate Against Religious Freedom

NEWS RELEASE

Office of Marco Rubio

Rubio: “This is a common sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, a bill to repeal a new ObamaCare mandate that violates the religious liberties and conscience rights of faith-based institutions by forcing them to offer employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a new mandate that would require most church-affiliated organizations to offer their workers private insurance coverage without out-of-pocket charges for birth control. The administration ignored efforts by numerous faith-based organizations to be granted an exemption on religious grounds.

“The Obama Administration’s obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people,” said Rubio. “Under this President, we have a government that has grown too big, too costly and now even more overbearing by forcing religious entities to abandon their beliefs. This is a common sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.”

The text of the legislation is available here.

National Conscience Protection Grassroots Campaign Launched

NEWS RELEASE

Catholic Advocate

Contact: Matt Smith (202) 521-9828

Catholic Laity can receive toolkit to contact Congress 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Catholic Advocate, a leading grassroots organization in Washington, D.C., today launched a nationwide campaign providing resources for faithful Catholics wanting to speak out against the recently announced Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final rule affecting conscience protections in health care coverage. The ruling forces organizations providing health plans to cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization regardless of their religious beliefs.

“One of the options to address this attack on people of faith is to directly contact our elected officials in Congress to let them know our dissatisfaction with this decision,” said Catholic Advocate President Matt Smith. “Our goal is to have at least 100,000 faithful Catholics participate each month until Congress acts.”

On the day of the HHS announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the laity to this action when he said, “Let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration’s contraceptive mandate rescinded.”

Catholic Advocate is asking for at least one leader per parish in this country to sign up at www.ProtectOurConscience.org. There they will have access to a grassroots toolbox to answer the call to rally faithful laity to reinstate our conscience rights.

“There are 17,782 parishes in the United States,” added Smith. “If faithful Catholics were able to average 115 letters per parish to their Representative and each Senator, Capitol Hill would receive over six million contacts on this issue. We would send a powerful message that cannot be ignored.”

A primary focus of this nationwide grassroots campaign is building additional support for H.R. 1179/S. 1467 – the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (Nebraska, 1st District) and Senator Roy Blunt (Missouri) respectively.

The legislation amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) “to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty.” It also applies similar guidance to state health insurance exchange programs and becomes retroactive to when PPACA was signed into law by President Obama.

[Text of release (.pdf)]


Catholic Advocate | 2100 M Street, NW Suite 170-358 | Washington, DC 20037   (202) 521-9828  |  info@catholicadvocate.com

Protection of conscience bill introduced in US Senate to stop HHS regulation

In response to the Obama administration’s plan to suppress the exercise of freedom of conscience by employers opposed to contraceptives, embryocidal and abortificaient drugs and services, Senator Mario Rubio of Florida has introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 in the U.S. Senate.  [News release]

 

Over half of Catholic bishops in USA have spoken out against new law

According to a Catholic blog, over half of the Catholic bishops who are in charge of dioceses in the United States have spoken out publicly against the Obama administration’s regulation that will force employers with 50 or more employees to pay for health insurance for contraceptive, and embryocidal drugs and devices.  Catholic Vote has identified 116 bishops to date, and is keeping an updated list.  It appears that a number have repeated the statement that they “cannot – . . .will not – comply with this unjust law.”

         

White House Press Secretary downplays revolt over HHS mandate

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney states that he does not think that the Department of Health and Human Services regulation requiring employers to pay for insurance coverage for “contraceptive services”  raises any constitutional issues.  He also claims that the Obama administration supports “existing conscience protections.” He was responding to a question from a reporter who described the adverse response of the American Catholic bishops as “a pretty extraordinary situation.”  Many of the bishops have said that they will not comply with the law.  Asked if that would have consquences, Carney avoided the question.  [See “It was a pretty extraordinary situation . . .”]

Ohio politicians reject or support freedom of conscience in health care

Interviewed by the editorial board of the Toledo Blade about the federal government’s regulation that will force objecting employers to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptive and embryocidal drugs, a candidate for the nomination of the Democratic Party commented “It seems to me if we can land a man on the moon and if we can figure out how to take out Osama Bin Laden, we ought to be able to find a way to do this, where we don’t deny health coverage to any woman, and we protect religious conscience. There has to be a way to do this.”  Other politicians expressed opposition to the regulation or support for it.[Toledo Blade]

Prominent Southern Baptist protests HHS mandate

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has praised the willingness of Catholic bishops to go to jail rather than conform to the HHS regulation requiring them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, surgical sterilization and embryocides.  Mohler said, “[E]veryone who stands both for the sanctity of human life and for the mandate of religious liberty must express outrage in whatever form is available to us to the president of the United States.” [Associated Baptist Press]

Decision unchanged on HHS exemptions: HHS Edict Will Force Catholics to Violate Conscience

‘To Hell With You’

Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
31 January, 2012

Reproduced with permission

Bishop David A. Zubik*

It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!” There is no other way to put it.

In early August, the Department for Health and Human Services in the Obama administration released guidelines as part of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The guidelines mandated that by Summer 2012 all individual and group health insurance plans, including self-insured plans, cover all FDA-approved contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that even result in abortion.

A million things are wrong with this: equating pregnancy with disease; mandating that every employer pay for contraception procedures including alleged contraceptives that are actually abortion-inducing drugs; forcing American citizens to chose between violating their consciences or providing health care services; mandating such coverage on every individual woman without allowing her to even choose not to have it; forcing every person to pay for that coverage no matter the dictates of their conscience.

Let’s be blunt. This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.

This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens. It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.

For our Church this mandate would apply in virtually every instance where the Catholic Church serves as an employer. The mandate would require the Catholic Church as an employer to violate its fundamental beliefs concerning human life and human dignity by forcing Catholic entities to provide contraceptive, sterilization coverage and even pharmaceuticals that result in abortion.

There was a so-called “religious exemption” to the mandate, but it was so narrowly drawn that, as critics charged, Jesus Christ and his Apostles would not fit the exemption. The so-called exemption would only apply to the vast array of Catholic institutions where the following applied:

  • Only Catholics are employed;
  • The primary purpose of the institution or service provided is the direct instruction in Catholic belief;
  • The only persons served by the institution are those that share Catholic religious tenets. (Try to fit this in with our local Catholic Charities that serve 80,000 every year without discrimination according to faith. It would be impossible!)

Practically speaking under the proposed mandate there would be no “religious exemption” for Catholic hospitals universities, colleges, nursing homes and numerous Catholic social service agencies such as Catholic Charities. It could easily be determined that the “religious exemption” would not apply as well to Catholic high schools, elementary schools and Catholic parishes since many employ non-Catholics and serve both students and, through social outreach, many who do not share Catholic religious beliefs. Such a narrow “religious exemption” is simply unprecedented in federal law.

Last September I asked you to protest those guidelines to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, and contact your political leadership in the federal government. I asked that you request that this flawed mandate be withdrawn because of its unprecedented interference in the religious liberty and freedom of conscience of the Catholic community, and our basic democratic process.

You did. And you were joined by Catholics throughout the country (and many others as well) who raised their voices against the mandate, raised their voices against a meaningless religious exemption.

On January 20, 2012, the Obama administration answered you and me. The response was very simple: “To Hell with You.”

Kathleen Sebelius announced that the mandate would not be withdrawn and the religious exemption would not be expanded. Instead, she stated that nonprofit groups – which include the Catholic Church – will get a year “to adapt to this new rule.” She simply dismissed Catholic concerns as standing in the way of allegedly respecting the health concerns and choices of women.

Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for women’s health issues? The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe – the United States included – the Church is health care.

Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.

  • To Hell with your religious beliefs,
  • To Hell with your religious liberty,
  • To Hell with your freedom of conscience.

We’ll give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under. As Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops responded, “in effect, the president is saying that we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

As I wrote to you last September, with this mandate the democratic process is being ignored while we are being ordered to ignore our religious beliefs. And we are being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation; to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States.

It is time to go back to work. They have given us a year to adapt to this rule. We can’t! We simply cannot!

Write to the president.

Write to Secretary Sebelius.

Write to our Senators.

Write to those in Congress.

Use the PA Catholic Advocacy Network to send an email message, too.

I have included the addresses in a box accompanying this article. Here’s what you can write:

“Dear (Representative):

“In early August, the Department for Health and Human Services released guidelines that would force Catholic institutions to subsidize through their health care plans contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that even result in abortion.

“It was announced on January 20thby Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, that this mandate is affirmed and that non-profit institutions, including the Catholic Church, have one year to adapt to the mandate.

“This is a direct threat to the religious liberty of Catholics, freedom of conscience and the social service ministry of the Catholic Church. The so-called ‘religious exemption’ in the mandate is no exemption at all as it would require any Catholic institution (that serves non-Catholics or employs non-Catholics) to violate Catholic belief, discontinue to provide health care, or close its doors.

“I ask that you do all possible to rescind the ‘Preventive Service Mandate’ as an unprecedented federal interference in the right of Catholics to serve their community without violating their fundamental moral beliefs.”

This mandate can be changed by Congressional pressure. The only way that action will happen is if you and I take action.

Let them know that you and I will not allow ourselves to be pushed around (or worse yet) be dismissed because of our Catholic faith.

Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious freedom to be compromised.

Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious liberty to be rescinded.

Nobody, not even the president of the United States or anyone who represents him, has the right to say to you and to me as U.S. citizens, as Catholics, or as both: “To Hell with You.”

The president and our elected leaders need to hear from you and me and to listen to us NOW.

And if NOT now, HOW can we get the president to listen to us???

US bishops encourage protests, promise defiance of new law

Catholic bishops in the United States are having letters are being read to their congregations to encourage protests against the Obama administration’s regulation that will force employers to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptive, and embryocidal drugs and devices.  Bishop Zubick of Pittsburgh wrote that the federal government has basically told Catholics, “To hell with you!”, while Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, stated, “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law.” The Archbishop of New Orleans has also issued a letter to his congregations. However, some individuals and organizations publicly identified as Catholic are asserting their support for the new regulations, and it is reported that some of them have been providing employees with coverage for contraception for years. [Toledo Blade; Times Picayune; Christian Post]

 

This Conscience Thing

Catholic leaders object to an Obama administration rule on contraceptive coverage, but will Americans listen?

The American Spectator
30 January, 2012
Reproduced with permission


W. James Antle, III


As Nancy Pelosi complained during the health care debate, many of her coreligionists have “this conscience thing” concerning the sanctity of human life. Now the executive branch of the federal government is telling them to drop dead.

Has President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services awakened a sleeping giant?

In pews across America, Catholics listened yesterday to letters from their bishops denouncing an HHS requirement that forces virtually every employer in America to pay for health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.

As Nancy Pelosi complained during the health care debate, many of her coreligionists have “this conscience thing” concerning the sanctity of human life. Now the executive branch of the federal government is telling them to drop dead.

There is technically a small religious exemption, but it doesn’t apply to most activities engaged in by communities of faith. For now, a church doesn’t have to buy condoms for monks or the pill for nuns. But religious schools, hospitals, and social service providers will have to comply with the regulation.

Oddly, the best way for religious leaders to follow their conscience without running afoul of the government is to not serve or employ people outside the faith. “Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not,” observes the columnist Ross Douthat. “The rule suggests a preposterous scenario in which a Catholic hospital avoids paying for sterilizations and the morning-after pill by closing its doors to atheists and Muslims, and hanging out a sign saying ‘no Protestants need apply.'”

The American Catholic bishops have pointed out that even Jesus and his disciples might not have qualified for the narrowly tailored religious exemption. The practical result may be to force religious traditionalists out of charitable activities, much like the Catholic Church has been pushed out of the adoption business in Massachusetts.

According to some folks, that’s perfectly fine. “Perhaps the Catholic Church should divest itself from activities that are not 100 percent religious in nature,” was one typical reader response to an article about the controversy.

Never mind that caring for the sick, feeding the poor, and clothing the naked are considered religious activities in many faiths. Forget that no one is forced to work for a Catholic hospital or Baptist college. Pay no attention to other ways such workers could affordably obtain these services if they so choose. Under the HHS regulation, the coverage is required even if the employee objects.

Religious communities in contemporary America are voluntary. No one is forced to attend or support any church, profess any doctrine or creed. Government, however, upholds community norms at gunpoint.

You don’t have to look very far to find comments suggesting that this rule is a good way to stick it to churches whose social teachings are deemed too reactionary. Even many American Catholics disagree with their church on birth control. But the regulation does raise interesting questions for people of many political stripes.

Will libertarians defend the freedom of conscience not just for the “individual who wants to sell lemonade, paint his or her house purple, hop on an airplane, ingest intoxicants, or marry someone from the same sex,” but also the individual who doesn’t want to fork over her money to help pay for activities that offend her faith?

Will conservatives who backed the Bush-era “faith-based initiatives” see the risk inherent in allowing administrations with different values to fund and regulate the missions of organizations guided by faith?

Will the Catholic left see how allowing the federal government to force people to buy health insurance they do not want can have unintended consequences?

This move could prove to be detrimental to a president whose reelection fight may well hinge on the outcome in a few states with large Catholic populations. Or it could reveal that in our tolerant age, many Americans possess little tolerance for values that are not their own.