.- The Romney campaign released a new television ad on Nov. 4 to appeal to Catholic voters, citing the Obama administration's controversial HHS mandate.
“The Obama administration dictated that every Catholic school, hospital and charity must include services that many Catholics consider immoral,” the ad says.
The administration's Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires that virtually all employers, even religious ones, provide employees with health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, despite any moral or religious objections.
Under the mandate, Catholic organizations, such as schools and hospitals, are included under with only churches as exempt from the new rule.
“After President Obama's mandate, Catholic schools, charities and hospitals are left with three choices,” the ad explains.
“They could pay for services and violate their beliefs, they could pay fines of $100 per employee per day, leading many to shut down, or they could strip care from everyone they serve and limit the good they did to Catholics only.”
Because Catholic hospitals and charities help all people regardless of their religion, the Obama administration does not consider them to be religious organizations under the terms of the HHS mandate.
The issue is important, according to the ad, because of the major role that Catholic institutions play in achieving the common good in the United States.
“The Catholic Church provides an education to over 2 million American children every year. The Catholic hospital network is one of our nation's finest. In fact, one out of every six hospitalized Americans is being cared for in a Catholic hospital.”
“And the Catholic Church makes serving the poor a cornerstone of its good work. Over 7 million men, women and children receive food services from Catholic charities every year.”
“It is critical” the ad warns, that “we vote for the candidate who is going to protect these religious institutions.”
Religious freedom is a major issue in the presidential campaign, with numerous bishops across the country reminding their faithful of the importance of voting and the gravity of the decisions made in the voting booth.
The HHS mandate has already been challenged with more than 34 lawsuits and over 100 plaintiffs.
The Obama administration has proposed an accommodation for religious employers, but the details are not yet clear. It has opposed congressional efforts to provide a broad religious exemption to the mandate.
The administration has pointed out that most women, including most Catholic women, have used contraception, and that contraception reduces costs in the long-run, because of “potentially unintended” pregnancies and indirect costs, such as “employee absence and reduced productivity,” according to Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.