Group: Catholic Bishops Wanted Government Shutdown Over Birth Control

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 09:46 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A week before the government shutdown, Catholic bishops were pushing the House to include an anti-birth control provision in all-or-nothing funding and debt-ceiling legislation, a pro-choice group reported Monday.

"We have already urged you to enact the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940/S. 1204)," the Sept. 26 letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

"As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such ‘must-pass’ legislation,” the letter said.

It was signed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

The Health Care Conscience Rights Act lets religious employers exclude any “item or service to which [they have] a moral or religious objection” from the health insurance package offered to employees.

The pro-life organization National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, which works closely with the Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued that rules for providing contraception under the Affordable Care Act provided "no exemption or delay for individuals, for non-religious pro-life organizations, or for businesses owned and operated by families with moral or religious objections."

The bishops conference also objected to the Obamacare contraception rules.

But the pro-choice group Think Progress wrote Monday that the bishops' letter was akin to demanding a shutdown "unless they get their way on birth control."

"It is one thing to request a carve-out from a law you do not want to follow while the rest of the nation continues its business around you, but it’s another thing altogether to demand that the government shut down because you are unhappy with the current state of the law," ThinkProgress wrote.

The group called the strategy "identical to that of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who insisted on a shutdown unless he got his way on health care."

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