Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2011 / 14:58 pm
The Obama administration has announced a requirement that all new insurance plans must cover contraceptives and sterilization. However, the religious exemptions are so narrow that they could force Catholic charities, health care providers and educational institutions to cover services they regard as sinful, Catholic leaders warned.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Aug. 1 that the stated exemption is “so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social services and healthcare providers.”
The only situation where Catholic institutions would be free to act in accord with their religious beliefs is “if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics,” said the cardinal, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on pro-life activities.
The Department of Health and Human Services said on Aug. 1 that the guidelines, which were created in response to the 2010 health care law, require new health insurance plans to cover “women’s preventive services.” These include breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.