Obama Administration Rejects Calls for Religious Exemption to Contraceptive Mandate

January 20, 2012

Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that Catholic institutions which had sought a religious exemption from the “contraceptive mandate” would have to comply with the requirement to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs through their health plans regardless of their moral objections.  Under the policy announced today, religious non-profits will be granted one additional year to fall in line.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Dolan continued:

“The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.”

According to José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, “In effect, the government is presuming it has the competence and authority to define what religious faith is and how believers should express their faith commitments and relationship to God in society. These are powers our government has never before assumed itself to have.”

The Kansas bishops have vigorously resisted the mandate, and their letter to Secretary Sebelius objecting to the new policy was cited in a letter from 28 US senators to Secretary Sebelius that likewise objected to the policy.