UPDATE (March 21): USCCB: New proposed rules on mandate still violate religious freedom
The proposed new regulations governing the contraceptive mandate and other portions of the Affordable Care Act are “an unprecedented … violation of religious liberty by the federal government,” said the general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Anthony R. Picarello, associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael F. Moses, associate general counsel, cited a series of continuing problems with the new proposal.
The comments March 20 stem from new proposed regulations made public by the Department of Health and Human Services Feb. 1 under the health care reform law which requires most health plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization and related education and counseling.
Among the concerns cited by Picarello and Moses: the latest rules require coverage of items and procedures, such as contraception, that do not prevent disease and there is no exemption or accommodation for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage.
Other objections to the proposed regulations are detailed in the comments filed on behalf of the USCCB. The deadline for filing comments is April 1.
Earlier, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said the proposed rules showed movement but fell short of addressing the U.S. bishops’ concerns.
The USCCB issued a press release late this afternoon announcing that comments had been filed with the government.
CNS will have a full report tomorrow.