HHS mandate a ‘slap in the face,’ Catholic Latino group says
CALL President Robert Aguirre. Credit: Alfredo Mesa
CALL President Robert Aguirre. Credit: Alfredo Mesa
By Kevin J. Jones

.- The HHS contraception mandate is an insult to the Catholic community and shows that President Obama needs prayer, according to a national group of Latino leaders.

“President Barack Obama has not just given the Catholic community a slap in the face, he is telling Hispanic Catholics to limit our families and forget our religious beliefs,” Robert Aguirre, president of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, said Jan. 31.

He cited President Obama’s May 2009 speech at the University of Notre Dame in which the president said “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause.”

The HHS mandate, Aguirre said, showed “the president’s promise was nothing more than a shell game.”

On Jan. 20 the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule requiring “preventive care” insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception, including the abortifacient drug Ella. While the mandate has a religious exemption, the exemption will not cover many Catholic health care systems, colleges, and charities.

Over one hundred Catholic bishops have published statements objecting to the mandate and asking Catholics to voice their opposition.

“If ever there was proof that this administration takes the Hispanic vote for granted it is in this policy so lacking in respect for us, for our faith and for the religious liberty upon which this country was founded,” said Maria Suarez Hamm, a CALL member from Washington D.C.

“It is an insult to our intelligence to disguise anti-life products as ‘healthcare’ and then force us to pay for it,” Suarez continued, advising Latinos to take the new policy into account when deciding how to vote.

Aguirre characterized the mandate as “an assault on our faith as Catholics” that is demeaning towards their “belief in life.” It “obliterates our constitutional protection of religious freedom,” he stated.

President Obama, he charged, is “telling not just Hispanic Catholics, but all people of faith, that our faith-formed opinions have no place in the public square.”

“Hispanics are people of faith and family and these values are as unique as our culture,” Aguirre continued. “We believe that family and faith are not to be separated and we deplore in the strongest terms possible this administration’s attempt to curb the religious liberty of Hispanic families.”

The association urged prayers, saying, “We call on all Catholics – especially Hispanic Catholics – to pray for the president.”

The San-Antonio based organization has chapters in Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Milwaukee, Miami and Washington, D.C.

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