Archbishop : Facing Obamacare Mandate, Catholic Bishops Must Take ‘Right Action, Whatever the Cost’

February 5, 2013

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, head of the Catholic archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the Obama administration's proposal to slightly revise the health care mandate on  contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients was praised by liberal and pro-abortion groups but that Catholic bishops needed "both prudence and courage" to take "right action" on the rule, "whatever the cost."

As it stands, the mandate under the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") requires nearly all health insurance plans to offer sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortion-inducing drugs, such as "ella," without co-pays. Strictly religious entities, such as a church or seminary, could exempt themselves from the mandate. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has denounced the mandate as an "unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and an "unjust  and illegal" rule that cannot be obeyed.

On Friday, Feb. 1, however,  the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced some proposed revisions that apparently would expand the exemptions to include non-profit religious organizations.  But the proposal did not address individuals who may object to the rule, and it still would require the health insurance plans to offer the contraceptive and sterilization coverage in a separate policy.

As Arbp. Chaput notes in his weekly column released today, entitled Making Sense of Another Ambiguous ‘Compromise,' the "White House has made no concessions to the religious conscience claims of private businesses, and the whole spirit of the ‘compromise' is minimalist."

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