Washington D.C., Nov 9, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The USCCB has welcomed the Trump administration’s new rules providing enhanced conscience protections against the HHS contraceptive mandate.
In a statement released Nov. 9, the U.S. bishops’ conference called the new exemptions, announced Wednesday, a victory for common sense.
“We are grateful for the Administration’s decision to finalize common-sense regulations that allows those with sincerely held religious or moral convictions opposing abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception to exclude such drugs and devices from their health plans,” said the statement.
The bishops’ response was co-signed by USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville. Kurtz leads the USCCB’s Office of Liberty.
The finalized rules from the Department and Health and Human Services exempt companies, organizations and individuals from having to provide coverage that includes contraceptive methods to which they have strong religious or moral objections.
The new rules do not make contraceptives illegal nor do they prevent various third-party groups from providing alternative coverage.
The new protections restores free-exercise rights to those with legitimate objections to providing contraceptives, abortifacient drugs, or sterilization methods to employees as part of their health insurance, the bishops’ statement said.
“The regulations allow people like the Little Sisters of the Poor, faith-based schools, and others to live out their faith in daily life and to continue to serve others, without fear of punishing fines from the federal government.”
After the HHS contraception mandate was announced in January 2012, many religious-based employers, including EWTN, filed suit against the federal government in opposition to the mandate. The mandate required that all employers whose insurance plans were not grandfathered in by the Affordable Care Act to provide certain contraceptives free of charge to their employees.
When the mandate was announced, bishops throughout the United States drafted letters expressing their opposition and explaining the Church’s position. These letters were then read at Sunday Masses over the weekend.