Bishops of the United States have reacted forcefully to claims made by Vice President Joe Biden

Posted on October 12, 2012

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2012-10-12 Vatican Radio
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The Bishops of the United States have reacted forcefully to claims made by Vice President Joe Biden in last night’s vice presidential debate.
During the debate, Biden, a Catholic, said that a health insurance mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would not force religious institutions to pay for or provide contraception: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”
In their statement, the Bishops respond bluntly: “This is not a fact.” The Bishops go on to explain that, even after proposed exemptions, religious organizations would serve as vehicles for contraception “because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients.” They will have to pay for these things, the Bishops continue “because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”
The US Bishops have vigorously opposed the Obama administrations’ mandate since it was announced last year, denouncing it as a violation of religious liberty. In their statement, the Bishops urged the Department of Health and human services “in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.”

Below, please find the complete statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:
“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

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