U.S. bishops face off with Obama Administration over contraceptive mandate, vow to fight HHS edict

News release from USCCB

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 (Jan. 20) 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.”

(Editor’s Note: Cardinal-designate Dolan has also posted a web video on the issue. To view it,Click Here.



Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 3:19 AM By Joe
One good thing – and the ONLY good thing out of this – is that there is a one-year reprieve to implement the mandate which is just enough time to vote Obama out of the White House, and replace him with a president who is pro-life, or, at least, sympathetic to religious conscience. Obama must go!!

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 3:47 AM By Dottie
Obama has always been this way. Nothing has changed. When people play with the devil, they get burned. I hope the USCCB revises their “Faithful Citizenship” voting issue paper to include the above. With his murderous abortion record no person of decent moral conviction can vote for Obama.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 4:41 AM By Meg
Dear God, please forgive Obama and other politicans who support abortion and euthanasia. Please forgive those who put pro-abortionists into office through their vote when they have another choice. Please give us a new President, new Administration, and new Congress that appreciate the value of every human life.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 5:22 AM By MIKE
We all must work together. All Catholics must support our Bishops as it relates to abortion and/or euthanasia. “Thou shall not kill.” – God. We should register Catholic citizens to vote against Obama and other pro-abortion politicians.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 5:30 AM By Ed
Catholic charities (hospitals, services to the poor,etc) are a huge embarassment for the Obama administration. The Church provides these services much more efficiently than does the government (at any level….local, state or federal). The real objective of the Obama Administration is to destroy the ability of all churchs to provide these services. The folks who depend on these services will have no place to go, other than the government. For the government bureaucrats; more power, more money, more influence. The bishops had better dig in for an ugly battle. I hope they are up to it!

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 6:00 AM By St. Christopher
Finally! This is the of the only ways to confront the evil of the Obama Administration, and of all similar institutional evils — litigation. All totalitarian governments, such as the Obama Administration, will designate, at some point, their true intentions and then implement them. Obama’s “Final Solution” is nothing more than an outright attempt to cement in place the role of Planned Parenthood and affiliates in the lives of Americans, including budgeting for the murder that such organizations sponsor. Additionally, regulations such as these also attempt to create a level of control over the very nature of religion in America. All totalitarian regimes (you fill in the name), at one point or another, did this; sometimes by simply outlawing churches, or installing their own Church administrators, or killing off, or jailing, difficult prelates. After these regulations will come changes in the tax code to punish recalcitrant churches, then likely other sanctions, including jail. Compare this intention by Obama and how he loving describes labor unions and their “rights” to bankrupt America. The bishops need to fight, and fight some more.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 6:41 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 
Ms. Keehan, your hypocrisy is unbearable!

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 6:42 AM By JLS
Great news … Now we’ll see some leadership or the complete replacement of the episcopacy in the USA.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 7:06 AM By Juergensen
What is also “literally unconscionable” is that the U.S. bishops shepherded their flock in such a way that 52% of Catholics voted for and placed into the White House the most abortionist president in history. Can you say “Faithful Citizenship”?

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 7:29 AM By Brian S
A very blunt and forceful message on this topic and its political import was given by my priest following the homily on Sunday. I’m confident he was following diocesean instructions. A good sign!

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:01 AM By k
What are the choices? Not provide health care to employees? Not employ anyone? No one has to take a job with a Catholic employer (or anyone else) if they don’t like the benefits.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:18 AM By Catherine
The greatest compromise to religious freedom was made by many of Christ’s lead shepherds and Catholics when they chose to ignore Humanae Vitae. Now we are reaping the rotting fruits of such intricately sown disobedience. Faithful Catholics have had way more than a year to figure out why so many Catholics voted for Obama. Religious freedom was attacked when many of our own clergy supported and voted Obama right into the White House. Please address the giant elephant in the room instead of addressing why the room is now being torn up by the elephant stampede to take away religious freedom. Who gave the giant elephant the power necessary to take away even more religious freedom? It was Catholics! History keeps repeating itself unless we learn the root cause and address it. It is now time for all lead shepherds, not just a handful, to draw an unprecedented line in the sand. Unprecedented lines take unprecedented obedience and holiness. Unprecedented holiness brings unprecedented peace.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:22 AM By Patrick
Why don’t the Bishops file a law suit?

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:26 AM By Marie
A paper trail to the president should be sent with signatures opposing his mandate. Our freedom of religion is at stake here because it is being chipped away.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:27 AM By Catholic Joe
Later this year, Nov. 6th, you can draw the line in the sand, too.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:54 AM By Ted
The Church will have to take the United States of America to court in order to ensure religious liberty. What a sad time we live in. The government is quickly reaching the state that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence. It’s about time we get a new government. This one wants dictatorial power and wants to take precedence over Almighty God and His law. This is not at all consistent with the freedoms set forth in the Constitution, aside from being just plain EVIL. It’s so sad to see this happening.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 8:59 AM By Dan
As the bishops wring their hands, you can be sure their flocks will vote for Obama in the same proportion, if not more, than last time around.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 9:47 AM By Kate
What is really maddening is that the bishops wants the troops to rally, but there are no troops. The bishops have neglected their flocks for years and so you have something like 90% of Catholics using contraception. If they had been zealous and faithful, the “Catholic Vote” would really be a strong force, instead of the pathetic showing it is.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 10:28 AM By Peggy
Dan, not all bishops are “wringing their hands”. I don’t doubt that many of them will be voting for Obama again. If there were a pro-life consensus at the USCCB they would not have approved the same “Faithful Citizenship” dictum.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 11:13 AM By Gary
An ALTERNATIVE – – – – – Catholics and all US Citizens of Good Will – UNITE ! Throw Obama and other Pro-abortion politicians out of office at the Federal, State and Local levels. Check voting records before you Vote ! Can you say “NEVER AGAIN” ? !!!

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 11:18 AM By Holly
ABORTION is the killing of human babies because they are INCONVENIENT. This is not women’s health. Forcing all Americans to kill is the doing of OBAMA, and his Senate. It is not a woman’s choice to murder a human being. We have a pro-life majority in the HOUSE. We can Change the Senate and the President.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 11:44 AM By JanJan
Can anyone really be surprised by this? Imagine how much worse his attacks on the Church will be if he is re-elected.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 12:33 PM By Sue
WE ALL NEED TO PRAY THRU SEVERAL NOVENAS between now and Nov. 6 (“Defeat Obama Day”). Novenas to St. Jude (between his Oct. 28 Feast Day and Election Day !), Divine Mercy Novenas, Rosary Novenas, Etc., Etc. !

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 12:41 PM By Warren Goddard
The USCCB take bold reaction? They haven’t even excommunicated abortionist Catolics For Choice.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 12:42 PM By Larry
“As the bishops wring their hands, you can be sure their flocks will vote for Obama in the same proportion, if not more, than last time around.” If that be the case, then the “flocks” might find themselves among the few remaining demographic groups still backing Obama.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 1:02 PM By Clinton
How much worse does the actions of Obama and his administration make the University of Notre Dame look for honoring him? I wonder if Sr. Keehan still has the pen Obama gave her after signing the health care bill? Why did so many in the Church go along with this man despite his hellbent desire to abort the unborn? I agree with Kate at 9:47 AM, for so many years the bishops worried more about social justice that today’s Catholics are poorly catechized about the teachings of the Catholic Church, and thus continue to use contraceptives, and vote for politicians like Barack Obama.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 9:24 PM By Miguel
They use our tax money to slaughter the innocents. Where are the people who cried out over the same principal during an “unjust” war. I pray the Bishops tell Obama to “stuff it” and don’t comply. The modern persecution continues.

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 11:09 AM By Brian S.
Miguel, why do you use ironizing quotation marks when mentioning unjust war? Do you think that just war theory is just another Catholic doctrine to be abandoned in the modern world? Do you object to war being subject to its tests?

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:13 PM By Miguel
Brian, I’m merely trying to point out that when activists complained that their tax dollars(many of which don’t pay taxes, at least federal) were being used for something they find irreprehensible they recieved sympathy from the media. However, when obedient Catholics find their tax dollars used for abortion services the media is silent. Their duplicity is sickening. Now we have a president that actually thinks he can dictate to the Church that we have to cover abortion drugs and birth control for our employess, something we find morally objectionable and disgusting there is not a whisper. As far as your comment on war, it will always be subjective that some wars are necessary. Such as the war we are fighting in the media and culturally today. I don’t believe war needs to pass through Catholic doctrine. If that is insufficient please elaborate.

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:39 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Warren Goddard, 12:41 PM, YOU HIT THE NAIL RIGHT ON THE HEAD! In light of this, when will we hear from Maguire and his compatriot, Doug Kmiec? God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:18 PM By JLS
Miguel makes a good point about the war in the middle east being a bad deal. Is it just or not? I’d say bluntly that it is about control of oil, per Sun Tzu and also Von Clausewitz, in that the west in its rulership sees the necessity to hold the throttle on the oil flow to other nations. Who would we prefer to control the world’s energy supply, our govt or some other govt? The other competing govts being China, India, and Russia have long demonstrated a whole lot more tyranny over peoples under their rule than has the west in modern times. Thus, I’d call it just although sad. Nowhere is war defined as territorial, or conventional, or according to some rules. War happens. Who do you want in charge, them or us?

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 11:00 PM By Brian S.
JLS, being able to “hold “the throttle” to other nations is the act of a bully, not a justification for war. You are merely choosing national pride and patriotism over your faith, and the judgement of George Bush over that Pope John Paul. Both are bad and ugly trades. MIGUEL, I’m not sure how sympathetic to war protestors the media actually is. I find most war reporting simply echos the Pentagon line with almost no independent reporting provided over the last 10 years. But yes, the media is pro-abortion, and they predictably provide no sympathy to whom they have none. As for what must “pass through” Catholic doctrine, an unjust war, or a war conducted unjustly is a grave evil, adherence to the doctrine is necessary to prevent that. As Catholics we must never allow our national or political sympathies overcome our allegiance to the Truth.

Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:25 AM By Anne T.
Sue, we should say a continual novena to the Holy Innocents.

Posted Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:18 PM By JLS
Brian S., consider the fact that some nation will rule the global energy resources. Your “bully” theory falls flat on its own face without being pushed over. If you prefer some other nation to rule energy, then you can certainly express your approval of that other bully. Have you ever read what Jesus says in the Gospel about the nature of rulers? Their reason for being is to make war, to make peace and to build “towers”. That is what governments do, Brian S. What today’s governments are doing is exactly what their nature has them do. Now if perchance you believe in the religion called Americanism, then of course you’d be hurt to see your beloved government bullying some poor innocent little region millions of miles away. Now, in your new world where the USA/Euro ruling bloc gives up its military activities, and fuel becomes scarce and people freeze to death and starve to death because of some bully govt in the oil producing areas refusing to allow oil to be mined, and the UN enviros have locked down domestic wells, then you can at least be joyful that your govt is not bullying anyone.