The Catholic bishops of the United States issued a statement following the October 11 debate between Vice President Joseph Biden and Representave Paul Ryan. During the debate, Biden offered his opinion on the decision of the Obama administration to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, as well as drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees. Said Biden, ""With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution-Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital-none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."
The bishops fired back in a press release, stating "This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served."
According to the bishops, "HHS has proposed an additional 'accommodation' for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as 'non-exempt.' That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation 'to pay for contraception' and 'to be a vehicle to get contraception.' They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries."
The Catholic bishops are continuing to call on the Obama administration to eliminate what they consider to be infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.