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Karna Swanson, Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Denver
Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director
Colorado Catholic Conference
Denver Archdiocese Challenges Vice President’s Statements on HHS, Notes Mandate’s Burden on Catholic Church and Its Members
During yesterday’s vice-presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden stated that “no religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops responded Friday morning with the following statement: “This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.’ That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.”
The statement continued: “HHS has proposed an additional ‘accommodation’ for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as ‘non-exempt.’ That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation ‘to pay for contraception’ and ‘to be a vehicle to get contraception.’ They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”
Karna Swanson, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Denver, further noted that “the mandate is oppressively burdensome to the Catholic Church and its members and a mitigation of Constitutionally protected religious liberty.”
“It is a complete distortion of the truth,” she added, “to assert that the mandate does not impose a contraceptive imperative on Catholic organizations and business owners. Many Catholic institutions, and thousands of small businesses run by Catholics, face a crisis of conscience precisely because of the obligation to finance unfettered access to contraception for their employees.
“If the government erodes individual and institutional liberty to practice religion, people of all faiths are threatened, and the strength of the Constitution is in peril.”
Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, clarified that “as of August 1, the Administration’s contraceptive mandate went into effect for most employers. This mandate requires most health plans to cover sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, even when employers and employees have moral or religious objections.”
“The mandate impinges upon the constitutional right of religious exercise, which is at the heart of our democratic society,” she added.
For full statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, see http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-163.cfm