Loading
Proposed federal bill to strengthen religious freedom
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).

.- Members of Congress have introduced a new bill that would create a broad exemption to the HHS mandate and strengthen protections for health care professionals and institutions with moral and religious objections to abortion.

“We have come together to act to protect Americans’ most basic rights – our rights of conscience and religious freedom,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) said March 5.

“The bill simply restores the basic rights in health care that were widely accepted before the implementation of the new health care law.”

The Health Care Conscience Rights Act creates a full exemption from the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most employers with 50 or more employees to cover sterilization, contraception and some abortion-causing drugs.

It also strengthens conscience protections for individuals and health care providers that refuse to provide, pay for or refer for abortion because of their deeply held beliefs.

The legislation’s 50 initial co-sponsors include Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a former nurse. She charged that the Obama administration is “forcing Americans to make an impossible choice: either defy your religious convictions or break the law and face financially-crippling legal penalties.”

Violators of the HHS mandate could pay fines of $100 per employee per day. While objectors include several Protestant institutions and businesses, the mandate particularly impacts Catholic organizations and Catholic-run businesses because Catholic moral teaching recognizes the mandated drugs and procedures as sinful and rejects cooperation in their provision.

The Obama administration’s proposed compromise only slightly expands the mandate’s narrow religious exemption for non-profit organizations. The mandate’s impact on for-profit companies owned by those with religious objections to the coverage is unaffected by the accommodation.

Several leaders directly affected by the mandate attended a March 5 press conference announcing the legislation, including Sister Jane Marie Klein, O.S.F., Chairperson of the Board of the Indiana-based Franciscan Alliance, Inc. The health care system runs 13 hospitals across three states and is a party to one of the over 40 lawsuits challenging the federal rule.

Owners and executives of Hercules Industries, a Colorado HVAC company owned and run by a Catholic family, also attended the press conference.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, applauded the proposal.

“The so-called accommodations recently announced to the HHS Mandate do nothing to address the concerns of non-religious entities and employers who do not wish to be complicit in the destruction of life through abortion-inducing drugs,” she said March 5.

She said the legislation would “ensure the conscience rights of all Americans are protected.”

The legislation is not the first effort to undo the HHS mandate. In March 2012, the U.S. Senate voted to table discussion on the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed health care providers to opt out of providing coverage that violates their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

However, the new legislation also supports individuals like Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a Catholic New York nurse who filed suit against her employer for compelling her to participate in an abortion. She attended the March 5 press conference that unveiled the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), who is a family physician, said the proposed bill “protects the First Amendment rights of the American health care community” because it allows them to refuse to participate in actions that “violate their deeply held beliefs.”

Tags: Contraception mandate, Religious freedom


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
21

Liturgical Calendar

April 21, 2014

Monday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14
04/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 2:14, 22-33
Gospel:: Mt 28:8-15

Saint of the Day

Holy Thursday »

Saint
Date
04/21/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14
04/19/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: