WASHINGTON D. C. (Tháng ba 20, 2013)— The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the current proposed revisions of the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate are “an unprecedented …violation of religious liberty by the federal government” and must be changed. The statement is in comments filed March 20 regarding the mandate, which requires most health plans in the United States to cover abortion-inducing drugs, thuốc tránh thai, sterilization procedures, and related education and counseling.
The comments, made on the USCCB’s behalf by Anthony R. Picarello, USCCB phó tổng thư ký và tư vấn chung, and Michael F. Moses, kết hợp tư vấn chung, note a number of continuing problems with the regulations, which had been the subject of earlier rulemaking and comment by the USCCB. The comments state:
Đầu tiên, like earlier iterations of the regulation, the latest proposal requires coverage of items and procedures that, unlike other mandated “Dịch vụ Phòng ngừa,” do not prevent disease. Thay vào đó, they are associated with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including conditions that other “Dịch vụ Phòng ngừa” are designed to prevent.
Thứ hai, no exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not.
Thứ ba, although the definition of an exempt “sử dụng lao động tôn giáo” has been revised to eliminate some of the intrusive and constitutionally improper government inquiries into religious teaching and beliefs that were inherent in an earlier definition, the current proposal continues to define “sử dụng lao động tôn giáo” in a way that, by the government’s own admission, excludes (and therefore subjects to the mandate) a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious. Generally the nonprofit religious organizations that fall on the “miễn” side of this religious gerrymander include those organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, Giáo dục, và dịch vụ xã hội.
Thứ tư, the Administration has offered what it calls an “Nhà trọ” for nonprofit religious organizations that fall outside its narrow definition of “religious employer.” Các “Nhà trọ” is based on a number of questionable factual assumptions. Even if all of those assumptions were sound, Các “Nhà trọ” still requires the objecting religious organization to fund or otherwise facilitate the morally objectionable coverage.
Fifth, the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government. As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, Đạo luật phục hồi tự do tôn giáo, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
“We are willing, now as always, to work with the Administration to reach a just and lawful resolution of these issues. Trong khi chờ đợi, along with others, we will continue to look for resolution of these issues in Congress and in the courts,” Picarello and Moses write.
The full text of the comments is available at: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/2013-NPRM-Comments-3-20-final.pdf.
Norma Montenegro Flynn