Why have the bishops expressed such a strong opposition? There are fundamental human and religious values at stake. This move narrows the possibility for a Catholic private institution or individual to have a conscience protection except of the narrowest kind. It could eventually even erode conscience protection rights of any kind.
Bishops’ letter to Kathleen Sebelius
To read the entire letter from the bishops, go to this link.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), which drafted the recommendation to HHS, listed the medical benefit of birth control as “the ability to plan one’s family and attain optimal birth spacing” and secondarily as treatment for “conditions including acne and menstrual abnormalities.” This recommendation to the HHS was lobbied for over a period of months by Planned Parenthood and in the end places human fertility in the category of a disease. It is not a disease. As we have written in our letter, “it is a gift which, exercised responsibly, allows humanity to prosper.”
The mandate contains a very narrow conscience provision that will not cover Catholic or private “universities, hospitals and charitable organizations that serve the general public.” We are not called to serve only Catholics but anyone who comes to us for care. This kind of ruling could jeopardize the very existence of Catholic institutions to truly be Catholic, not just in our places of worship but in places such as hospitals and universities where we must teach and practice Catholic teaching in order to be faithful to what the church is and does.
Health care reform “should expand, not restrict, the ability of employers and providers to offer the best possible care. It should provide Americans with real health care options that support and do not undermine their most cherished values.”
I urge you to direct your comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in one or more of the following ways:
• Electronically at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=HHS-OS-2011-0023-0002.
• By mailing written comments to: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-9992-IFC2, P.O. Box 8010, Baltimore, MD 21244-8010. (Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.)
• By express or overnight mail to: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-9992-IFC2, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.
• By hand or courier.