U.S. bishops, other Catholic groups back conscience protection bill

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 32 other organizations have signed a joint letter of support for the Conscience Protection Act of 2017.

The bill, which has House and Senate versions, is intended to close loopholes that ignore the conscience rights of medical professionals on abortion, according to the signed letter.

“Even many ‘pro-choice’ Americans realize that the logic of their (opponents’) position requires them to respect a choice not to be involved in abortion,” said the letter, dated Sept. 6 and addressed to senators. . . [Full text]

Joint letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Proposed Regulation: 80 Fed. Reg. 54172 (Sept. 8, 2015).

Re: Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities RIN 0945-AA02

Joint letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Click image to see letter

Evangelicals Disappointed with White House Decision on Conscience Protection

For Immediate Release:

National Association of Evangelicals

Contact: Sarah Kropp, 202-789-1011

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is deeply disappointed by a White House decision, announced today, that employers with religious objections to contraception will be forced to pay for services and procedures they believe are morally wrong. The unprecedented policy, reaffirming an earlier announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has been strongly criticized by a wide range of religious freedom advocates, including the NAE.

“Freedom of conscience is a sacred gift from God, not a grant from the state,” said Galen Carey, NAE Vice President for Government Relations. “No government has the right to compel its citizens to violate their conscience. The HHS rules trample on our most cherished freedoms and set a dangerous precedent.”

The HHS policy includes a thin exemption for religious organizations that focus only on religious services to their own members. The exemption leaves the vast majority of religious employers who serve the entire community unprotected. If this narrow definition of “religious employer” is adopted in other areas of law, it may lead to further erosion of the conscience protections Americans have historically held.

The NAE calls on Congress to enact legislation restoring conscience protections for all Americans.

American Evangelicals: new rules “trample . . . most cherished freedoms”

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has expressed deep disappointment with plans by the Obama administration to force employers to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives and embryocidal drugs and services despite moral objections.  A spokesman for the group stated that freedom of conscience is “not a grant from the state” and that the new regulations “trample on our most cherished freedoms and set a dangerous precedent.” [News release]