News & Press

January 20, 2012- Cardinal Statement on Obama Administration HHS Actions

The Cardinal is posting this on his blog (www.cardinalseansblog.org) this evening in response to the Obama Administration actions taken today requiring that all healthcare plans — including those offered by Catholic entities — provide sterilization, contraception and some drugs that can cause abortion.  The blog will go live at 9:30pm tonight

Following is the statement.

CARDINAL SEAN O’MALLEY (www.cardinalseansblog.org)

We are distressed to learn that today the Obama administration has decided to leave unchanged a requirement that all healthcare plans — including those offered by Catholic entities — provide sterilization, contraception and some drugs that can cause abortion.  Instead, they have decided to merely delay the implementation of enforcing this new rule for one year.

Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke out very strongly today against this move.  I join Cardinal–elect Dolan in expressing deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country.

As Cardinal-elect Dolan said, "To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.  Is as much an attack on access to health care is on religious freedom.  Historically, this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

I want to share with you the full text of the US Bishops statement on the issue, as well as a video statement released by Cardinal-elect Dolan:

U.S. BISHOPS VOW TO FIGHT HHS EDICT

WASHINGTON—The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients  and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today's announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

“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.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.  It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.

At issue, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders insist, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for the conscience of Catholics and all other Americans.

“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. “I have hundreds of employees who will be upset and confused by this edict. I cannot understand it at all.”

Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, voiced disappointment with the decision. Catholic hospitals serve one out of six people who seek hospital care annually.

“This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection,” Sister Keehan said.

Cardinal-designate Dolan urged that the HHS mandate be overturned.

“The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”

[VIDEO LINK] http://bcove.me/ob5itz9v

I urge all of you to contact your elected officials and urge them to protect our right to religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment.  It is important that Catholics not be deceived into thinking that this issue is simply another battle in the "culture wars."  Rather, it is an attack on the right of all people of faith to live their faith in freedom.