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Catholics Call on Obama Administration to Eliminate Religious Exemptions in Contraceptive Coverage

April 8, 2013

“The Obama administration still has a chance to deliver on its promise to Americans, and especially to American women, but the current proposal tells hundreds of thousands of women that to the president, their healthcare is just not as important as their bosses’ beliefs and the bishops dictates about sex and reproduction,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice (CFC). His remarks summarized the comments he submitted on behalf of CFC to the latest set of proposed rules from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring no-cost coverage on contraceptive services and counseling under the Affordable Care Act.

“Unless the proposed rule is changed, women who work at Catholic schools, hospitals and social service agencies may be unable to get the same coverage as millions of other women,” continued O’Brien. “The proposal to exempt certain religious employers and to ‘accommodate’ other objecting organizations threatens both the conscience rights and religious liberties of every employee—and it compromises women’s health.

“It’s obvious that once again, the administration listened to the lobbyists for the Catholic bishops and their big business interests like Catholic healthcare, instead of to the Americans of every faith and of none who support the separation of religion and state and believe that public policy should not impose or privilege any religious viewpoint. Allowing the proposed exemption gives religious extremists carte blanche to trump the rights of others because of their own beliefs about contraception, even if that belief runs contrary to science or to the widely-held convictions of co-religionists.

“As shown by the thousands of comments that came in from CFC activists, American Catholics support contraceptive coverage, believe in the separation of church and state and are hoping that the Obama administration does the right thing,” concluded O’Brien.

CFC’s comments can be read here.

CFC delivered comments from more than 3,000 Catholics and other supporters from across the 50 states who object to the rule’s broad exemption for religious institutions and organizations.

“I am Catholic and I have two grown and married children who I support in their contraceptive decisions. Male Catholic bishops do not speak for me or my daughters. My daughters should have access to the same contraceptive benefits as others, no matter where they choose to work.” –PC, Colorado

“I do not believe the Catholic Church, or any church, should dictate the conscience of another person, no matter what faith community they belong to (if any). Allowing employers to pick and choose what coverage they offer women employees is just plain wrong.” –CS, Texas

“Catholics use birth control just as much as Protestants do…. This is a public health issue. People who have moral objections to birth control don’t have to use it, but they must not impose their beliefs onto the health of others.” –JD, Colorado

“I am a Catholic woman who uses birth control and who has already seen the benefits of access to no-cost contraception. The money that I have saved on my birth control co-pays has helped me to better afford other things that are equally essential to my health and well-being. No other woman should be left out of this same benefit because she doesn’t have understanding employers like mine.” –MS, Washington DC