Missouri's Catholic bishops are calling on the Obama Administration to abandon plans to mandate health care coverage of abortion-inducing drugs. The bishops have mailed a joint letter to Director of Health and
Human Services Kathleen Sebelius strongly objecting to the Administration's plans to force all health insurance plans to include contraceptive coverage.
The proposed mandate is a component of President Obama's federal health care law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A dangerous provision in that law authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to define what "preventative health care services" must be included in every public or private health insurance policy.Sebelius
, who is avidly pro-abortion, has proposed a regulation that would require that all health insurance
plans cover at no cost every "birth control" drug or device approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That would mean that all health care policies would have to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs Ella and Plan B. These drugs are often marketed as so-called "emergency contraceptives" or "morning-after pills", but they also function as abortifacients.
"This mandate violates religious liberty and rights of conscience, and would undermine Missouri law," the bishops wrote in their letter. "It forces health plans to offer coverage for practices that many people of faith find morally objectionable."
"Requiring Catholic individuals and institutions to pay for and provide abortion drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures contrary to Catholic teaching is an affront to the religious liberty upon which our nation was founded," the bishops continued. "With these
mandates, the federal government seeks to impose a 'reproductive' ideology completely at odds with the religious faith of Catholics and others."
The letter was signed by Archbishop Robert Carlson
of the St. Louis
Archdiocese, Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Bishop John Gaydos of the Jefferson City Diocese, and Bishop James Johnston of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese.
The bishops state in their letter that the contraceptive mandate violates a pledge made by President Obama during passage of his federal health care bill. The President assured Americans that his executive order would guarantee that federal funds would not be used for abortion and that "longstanding federal laws to protect conscience rights will remain intact."
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that every adult citizen in the United States must purchase health insurance coverage. The Sebelius mandate of coverage of abortion drugs would result in every American citizen being compelled to underwrite the destruction of human life at its embryonic stage.
Furthermore, the Sebelius mandate would require that Catholic and Christian institutions and ministries include contraceptive and abortion drug coverage in their own employee health insurance plans. The administration claims that a religious exemption would protect their conscience rights. Yet the exemption has been so narrowly written that it would appear to only apply to organized churches.
If the mandate is implemented, many Catholic and Christian institutions (including hospitals, schools, and colleges) would be forced to finance coverage of abortion drugs and contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs and doctrinal teachings, or eliminate health insurance coverage for their employees altogether. It is expected that many will have no choice but to adopt the latter course.
The bishops correctly assert in their letter that the Sebelius mandate would nullify existing conscience protection rights enumerated in Missouri law. State statutes currently provide that all health insurance plans sold in Missouri must offer coverage of contraceptives at no cost or "at the same level of
deductible, coinsurance, or co-payment as any other drug."
However, the law expressly states that any enrollee in a health insurance plan in Missouri may opt out of such coverage if "the use or provision of contraceptives is contrary to his or her moral, ethical, or religious beliefs." Missouri law also exempts from the contraceptive requirement any health carrier "owned, operated, or controlled in substantial part by an entity" whose moral, ethical, or religious tenets object to the use or provision of contraceptives.
The bishops conclude their letter to Sebelius by urging that the federal regulation be amended to include
exemptions similar to those contained in Missouri law. "Human life is sacred at all stages of development and abortion is therefore a grave evil...The emergency contraception abortion drug...can destroy human life at the earliest stages of development...The federal law should provide conscience protections similar to what Missouri legislators have put in place."
The formal comment period for the contraceptive/abortion drug mandate ended last Friday. Yet we encourage you to still register your objections to the abusive regulation being implemented by President Obama and Secretary Sebelius. You can do so by clicking this link:Family Research Council