USCCB: HHS mandate remains ‘unprecedented’ violation of religious liberty
In a 24-page response to the Obama administration’s most recent “accommodation” on the HHS mandate, the general counsel and associate general counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that “the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government.”
“As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act,” Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses continued.
The proposed regulation keeps in place a regulatory definition of “preventive” health care which includes items that do not prevent disease, but rather are intended to render a woman temporarily or permanently infertile, and may be associated with adverse health outcomes. Under the proposed regulation, most stakeholders are offered no exemption or accommodation. The proposed regulation creates an exemption that artificially and arbitrarily carves up the religious community into those deemed “religious enough” for the exemption and those that are not, generally excluding those who practice their faith by most visibly serving the common good. Finally, under the proposed “accommodation” for non-exempt religious organizations, plan premiums or the plan, or both, would continue to serve as the source or conduit for the objectionable “services.”
In short, the Administration continues to propose: (a) an unjust and unlawful mandate; (b) no exemption or “accommodation” at all for most stakeholders in the health insurance process, such as individual employees and for-profit employers; (c) an unreasonably and unlawfully narrow exemption for some nonprofit religious organizations, mostly houses of worship; and (d) an “accommodation” that still requires bona fide religious employers that fall outside the narrow government definition of “religious employer” to fund or facilitate the objectionable coverage.
~ Via Catholic World News.