Catholic Bishops Challenge Biden on Birth Control Rule

Friday, 12 Oct 2012 01:08 PM

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is challenging vice president Joe Biden’s assertion that a host of Catholic institutions were exempt from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules requiring health plans to cover birth control.

During the vice presidential debate with GOP challenger Rep. Paul Ryan Thursday night, Biden said, "With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."

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In a statement issued Friday, the USCCB asserted, “This is not a fact.
The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.’ That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.”

The statement noted that HHS has proposed an additional accommodation for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." The USCCB said that even under that accommodation the organizations will have to serve as a vehicle to get contraception “because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients.”

“USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate,” the bishops said.

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