The latest salvo in the attack on religious freedom was ironically fired by the Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius. On Friday Secretary Sibelius announced the Administration’s decision to give Catholic institutions (and others) whose religious beliefs reject artificial contraception one year to violate their consciences.
U.S. Catholic bishops and others have asked for an expansion of a very narrow exemption to the requirement that access be provided to all FDA contraceptives (some of which cause abortion) without charge or deductable to all women covered by the organization’s insurance plan.
Friday Secretary Sibelius announced that non-profit groups that do not provide contraceptive coverage because of their religious beliefs will get an additional year “to adapt to this new rule.” Adaptation in this case means comply.
This is another of the many violations of the Church’s and Catholics’ First Amendment right to freely practice religion. It falls in the same category as the laws passed by some states that require institutions handling adoptions to offer adopted children to same-sex married couples. As a result of those laws, Catholic Charities in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have shut down their adoption programs which had provided a significant portion of adoptions in their respective communities.
As I have written before, this is part of a pattern in the United States that has evolved from the recognition of religion as good and salutary in our society, through tolerated, and treated with hostility to being subjected to punitive discrimination.
Secretary Sebelius’ statement “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services” is absolutely ludicrous.
Catholic bishops are committed to working tirelessly to reform the law and change this unjust regulation.
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