CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has asked the faithful in his diocese to help prevent mandated coverage of surgical sterilization and contraceptives in Catholic hospitals.
On Aug. 1, the Department of Health and Human Services approved final regulations for group health plans and health insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandating coverage of surgical sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives
— including those that cause chemical abortion — as part of “preventive care service for women.”
“Through insurance premiums and our taxes, we will be forced to support treatment that considers fertility and pregnancy as a disease not as gifts from God,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote in an Aug. 31 memo to parishes.
“Currently, there is no meaningful conscience protection for Catholic institutions to be exempt from this new mandate because we hire and serve people from other faith communities, not just Catholics, so that the ‘religious exemption’ now in place excludes us,” the bishop wrote. “Without the exemption, Catholic institutions would be forced to cover treatments that oppose the teachings of the Catholic Church and harm women and the common good. “
He encouraged people to call and write their elected representatives in Congress, to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467) that would provide true conscience protection. The Department of Health and Human Services is holding a public comment period through Sept 30, and is looking for suggestions on the definition of religious employer in which he hopes people will participate.
“The forum will give people the opportunity to share our thoughts and seek to broaden the protection by including Catholic and religious institutions regardless of the faith of their employees and of the people served,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
“St. John the Baptist, our patron, courageously spoke the truth and lost his life,” he concluded in his memo. “In this country, our silence will cost the lives of others; so please … speak against this serious threat to conscience and the common good.
To find your elected official visit the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment at www.nchla.org. Send comments to E-OHPSCA2713.EBSA@dol.gov or www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=HHS-OS-2011-0023-0002.