WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has urged the House of Representatives to extend long-standing federal conscience protections to the Affordable Care Act’s new coverage mandates for private health plans. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore made the request in a Feb. 15 letter to members of the House. Saying the tradition of conscience rights in health care “has long enjoyed bi-partisan consensus, but is now under greatly increased pressure,” Archbishop Lori asked in his letter to attach the conscience provision to upcoming appropriation bills for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. “I urge Congress to address this problem when it considers proposals for continued funding of the federal government in the weeks to come,” he said.
“While the mandate for coverage of abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization is hailed by some as a victory for women’s freedom, it permits no free choice by a female employee to decline such coverage for herself or her minor children, even if it violates her moral and religious convictions,” Archbishop Lori said.