Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Lori to Congress: Adopt Policy of Health Care Conscience Rights Act

September 27, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—"Preserving religious freedom and the right ofconscience for all who take part in our health care system" is an increasinglygrave concern as Congress considers "must-pass" legislation in the days ahead,said the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB).

In a September 26 letter to the House and Senate, Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori ofBaltimore said the policy of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R.940/S. 1204) should be incorporated into must-pass legislation such as theContinuing Resolution and debt ceiling bill. Cardinal O'Malley and ArchbishopLori chair the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for ReligiousLiberty, respectively.

"Protection for consciencerights in health care is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church,which daily contributes to the welfare of U.S. society through schools, socialservices, hospitals and assisted living facilities," wrote Cardinal O'Malley andArchbishop Lori. "These institutions, which have been part of the Church'sministry since the earliest days of our country, arose from religiousconvictions. They should not be told by government to abandon or compromisethose convictions in order to continue serving their own employees or theneediest Americans. Nor should individual Catholics or others be told theycannot legally purchase or provide health coverage unless they violate theirconscience."

Cardinal O'Malley and Archbishop Lori identified the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) preventive services mandate,which requires virtually all employers to include female sterilization and all drugsand devices approved by the FDA as contraceptives in their employee health careplans, as a particular threat. "The mandateincludes drugs and devices that can act against a human life afterfertilization, implicating our moral teaching on abortion as well ascontraception," they wrote.

"We make our plea as religiousleaders who strongly support universal access to health care," they added. "Suchaccess is threatened by Congress's continued failure to protect the right ofconscience. Those who help provide health care, and those who need such carefor themselves and their families, should not be forced to choose betweenpreserving their religious and moral integrity and participating in our healthcare system."

Full text of the letter isavailable online:


Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, Pro-Life Activities,Religious Liberty, Cardinal Seán O'Malley,Archbishop William E. Lori, Continuing Resolution, debt ceiling, Health CareConscience Rights Act, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops, health care reform, HHS mandate, hospitals, employers

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