The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has submitted a response to the HHS “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” regarding the HHS “accommodation” for religious organizations. The USCCB finds that the proposed rules don’t accommodate. A quick summary of their main points:
Like earlier iterations, the latest proposed regulation requires coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that can cause abortions. These are items and procedures that, unlike other mandated “preventive services,” do not prevent disease.
Under the current proposal, no exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage.
Although the definition of an exempt “religious employer” has been revised to eliminate some of the intrusive and constitutionally improper government inquiries into religious teaching and beliefs that were inherent in an earlier definition, the current proposal continues to define “religious employer” in a way that—by the government’s own admission—excludes a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious.
The “accommodation” is based on a number of questionable factual assumptions. Even if all of those assumptions were sound, the “accommodation” still requires the objecting religious organization to fund or otherwise facilitate the morally objectionable coverage.
The mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government. As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Same mandate, same violation of religious freedom.