Important Update: Washington Post: Catholic hospitals say Obama compromise is unworkable. Read More.
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CHA head emphasizes: government program, not Catholic hospitals, should pay for contraceptive coverage

Posted on: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Original publication date: June 20, 2012

The CEO of the Catholic Health Association has explained why the association recently called upon the Obama administration to broaden the religious exemption to the HHS mandate to include Catholic hospitals.

“Initially, we felt like we were being told that that was in the works,” said Sister Carol Keehan. “I don’t want to second guess why that changed, but when it changed-and all we had was a year deferment if we were a ministry of the church and a new definition for what constituted a religious organization-we were very concerned,”

“And I expressed those concerns directly to the president, to all of his staff and said something had to be changed,” she continued. “Publicly and privately, I was very clear. And when the president made the first accommodation, initially, we said, ‘All right, that’s a great step forward. Let’s take a look at it.’ We’ve spent an enormous amount of time trying to, with his staff, with the staff of the administration, trying to say, ‘Okay, how could we make this work?’”

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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