Cardinal Urges Support For Health Care Conscience Rights Act

March 11, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Seán O'Malley ofBoston, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committeeon Pro-Life Activities, urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to supportthe Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013.H.R. 940 was introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) on March 4; the billhas 66 co-sponsors.

"Protection for conscience rights inhealth care is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church, whichdaily contributes to the welfare of American society through a network ofschools, social services, hospitals and assisted living facilities," CardinalO'Malley wrote in a March 8 letter to Congress. "These institutions, which havebeen part of the Church's ministry since the earliest days of the Republic,arose from religious conviction. They provide a substantial savings tocommunities and states throughout the nation, and we believe they contribute tothe common good."

"The legal protections which allowus to fulfill our obligation to serve others, without compromising ourreligious or moral convictions, are essential to the continued vitality ofthese ministries," he said.

Cardinal O'Malley wrote that "whilethose protections have long enjoyed bipartisan consensus, they are undergreatly increased pressure today." He cited the mandate for coverage ofcontraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs and devices under theAffordable Care Act's "preventive services" provision and referred representativesto a letterwritten by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore,chairman of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, who set forththe need for such legislation in greater detail.

"A failure to provide clear andenforceable protection for a right of conscience could undermine Americans'access to quality health care. Providers of health care, as well as those whooffer or purchase insurance, should not face an unacceptable choice betweenpreserving their religious and moral integrity or participating in our healthcare system," the cardinal wrote.

He closed by urging supportfor the bill and the incorporation of its policies into upcoming "must-pass"legislation.

The full text of Cardinal O'Malley'sletter may be found at: Archbishop Lori's February 15 letter is available at


Keywords: U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,USCCB, Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Pro-Life Committee, Archbishop William Lori,Baltimore, religious liberty, religious freedom, Catholic Church, HHS mandate, preventiveservices, sterilization, abortion, contraception, conscience protection,conscience rights, appropriations, Congress, U.S. House of Representatives,health care reform

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