Just one week after the Religious Right and the Catholic hierarchy suffered a stinging defeat of their agenda on Election Day, the bishops are back in the fight against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
In an interview with The National Catholic Register, Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said the upcoming congressional debate over the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 will offer a chance to tackle this controversial issue.
The bishops are seeking an even broader exemption from the Obama mandate that requires group insurance plans to include benefits for preventative care services, including contraceptives. Churches are already exempt from the rule, but the hierarchy wants an open-ended exemption for all employers – even businesses like Taco Bell – who might claim a religious objection to birth control.
If the Catholic leaders get their way, millions of Americans may lose access to essential reproductive health care.
Doerflinger told The National Catholic Register, “I believe the House leadership will fight for [conscience protections from the mandate] in negotiations with the Senate. Where that comes on the priorities list, we can’t say.”
...Doerflinger and his allies may get a little extra help in their battle – from the Vatican. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the pope’s ambassador to the United States, said this week that the U.S. is threatening religious freedom.
“Evidence is emerging which demonstrates that the threat to religious freedom is not solely a concern for non-democratic and totalitarian regimes,” he said, as reported by the Catholic News Agency.
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