*The following statement is text from Cardinal Sean’s blog which will be posted this evening
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s “mandate” requiring adult Americans to purchase health care. The full range of the Court’s decision requires further study. Central to the decision, however, is the fact that the law will significantly expand health care for over thirty million people. The Catholic Bishops have for decades supported the principle of guaranteed access to health care as a basic human right. Our position has been and remains based in the dignity of the person and the right to health care which requires protection in civil law and public policy.
While supporting this extension of health care, the U.S. Bishops Conference reminded us this week that since the passage of ACA, the Church has encountered significant challenges to its institutional religious freedom. Most notable is the requirement that Catholic health care, social service and educational institutions provide services to their employees which violate Catholic teaching. Among the multiple aspects of ACA which require further deliberation, the protection of religious freedom in institutions which serve the American public must be secured and sustained. Intrinsic to the right of religious freedom in a pluralistic society is the need for adequate and appropriately defined conscience clauses which protect professionals in fulfillment of their duties. The Church will continue to pursue these objectives vigorously.
Finally, the ACA does not adequately address the needs of immigrant communities in our country. Health care as a human right and the need for it among some of the most vulnerable people in our nation is one of the reasons why access to health care should be extended beyond ACA.