Well at least someone is getting it on the record:
The federal government’s new contraceptive and sterilization insurance coverage mandate includes a religious exemption whose language was designed specifically to counter Catholic institutions’ conscience protections, one Catholic health care leader told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee Nov. 2.
The exemption’s “highly flawed” definition originated in a California debate about a state-level contraception mandate, William J. Cox, president and CEO of the California-based Alliance of Catholic Health Care, told a Nov. 2 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
The definition was “painstakingly crafted by the American Civil Liberties Union to specifically exclude religious institutional missions like health care providers, universities and social service agencies,” Cox stated.
During the debate, the then-head of Planned Parenthood in California said the wording was designed to close the “Catholic gap” in contraceptive coverage.
An exemption is available only for those religious employers that have teaching religious values as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people who share its religious tenets. [...]
The mandate goes beyond forcing religious institutions to contradict the belief that sterilization and contraception are immoral. Its grant of religious freedom to groups which employ and serve only co-religionists also significantly burdens Catholics’ “deeply held belief that God calls us to serve our neighbors,” …
“Nearly 160 years ago, the Sisters of Mercy responded with compassion and care when government was unable to tend to the victims of the San Francisco cholera epidemic. Today, it is time for government to honor this noble legacy by strengthening once and for all federal conscience protections so all health care providers today, tomorrow and well into the future can carry out their vocations absent the threat of government discrimination,” said Cox.
The opposition goes into Animalfarm-land suggesting that of course consciences are important, but some are more important than others, and institutions can't have consciences, anyway, right?
Jon O’Brien, president of the dissenting group Catholics for Choice, said his organization represents those who respect others’ right to follow his or her own conscience. However, he endorsed the mandate.
He contended that exemptions threaten the conscience rights of every patient seeking care for services he characterized as “essential health care.”
“It is incredible to suggest that a hospital or an insurance plan has a conscience. Granting institutions, or entities like these, legal protection for the rights of conscience that properly belongs to individuals is an affront to our ideals of conscience and religious freedom,” O’Brien argued.
This administration is determined to narrow the concept of religious freedom, and they are trying to do it by suggesting that religions and churches are no longer free to be who and what they are. Apparently,a church can be forced to trespass against itself and its own creed and conscience — or else close down its outreach — and to some people, that seems like “freedom.”