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Catholic Leader Condemns Expansive Refusal Clause in HHS Ruling

August 1, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidelines on the Institute of Medicine’s call to include comprehensive family planning services as a preventive benefit for women’s health under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the ruling “allows religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.”

Catholics for Choice president Jon O’Brien said, “In allowing religious institutions to refuse to include contraceptive services in the health insurance plans they offer their employees, the Obama administration has once again sided with the Catholic bishops over the needs of women and their families. The multi-billion dollar Catholic healthcare industry has a lot of influence with this administration, influence that it has now used to allow religious institutions to ride roughshod over the needs of their workers. Not only that, it ignores the consciences of those who decide that to use a modern method of family planning is what is best for them and their families.

“In his inaugural address, President Obama promised to ‘restore science to its rightful place’ in policy decisions. Scientists told him that comprehensive family planning is preventive healthcare for women. Sadly, his administration has just said that as far as women’s health is concerned, science comes second to the demands of the Catholic bishops—and will go so far as to allow religious institutions to deny coverage of preventive healthcare to women regardless of their individual beliefs.

“The vast majority of people, including Catholics, in the United States have used a method of family planning banned by the Vatican. Sadly for those employed by many Catholic institutions, they will have to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services that others can access at no extra cost. For the latter, this is clearly good news; for the former, state-sanctioned discrimination is the order of the day.”