By Frank Wessling
A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would force Catholic hospitals, social service agencies and schools to pay for female sterilization, contraception and abortion on demand or employees could not have health insurance.
The rule refers to “preventive services” for women in the health care law adopted last year. It includes an exemption for conscientious religious objection which is so narrow that only Church employees of a parish or religious institute would be included.
The conscience exemption is much more limited than current federal law and must be changed in the proposed rule. It’s bad enough that this side door is being used to slip support for chemical abortion into the health care law. It adds insult to injury when the known institutional Catholic objection is treated as of so little meaning. Worse, the HHS-related committee that drew up the rule included at least five members, out of 16, who have been directors of Planned Parenthood affiliates. They made sure that the PP agenda, which includes marginalizing the Catholic presence in health care, was carried out.
Call, write, e-mail and collar your congressional representative and senator. Ask them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act – H.R. 1179 in the House of Representatives and S. 1469 in the Senate. Democrats especially should do at least this much to prevent the Obama administration from looking like a complete captive of Planned Parenthood.