Entries in Health Care Rule (2)


Catholic Churches Distribute Letters Opposing Obama Healthcare Rule

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Catholic parishioners around the country were read letters Sunday morning written by church leaders railing against an Obama administration ruling that requires employers to provide health insurance plans that include free contraceptives.

Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the guidelines but Catholic hospitals, colleges and social services fall under the umbrella of institutions covered by the decision.

Originally introduced last summer, the decision was lauded by abortion rights supporters.  But Catholicism considers some forms of contraception as the termination of life and religious leaders say adherence would fly in the face of the tenets of their faith. Critics also charge it would be a violation of the Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The letters were penned by individual clergy, so variations exist in what was read at each Sunday Mass, but the overall theme is unified.

One letter from the Archdiocese of Washington says, “Catholic moral teachings will be placed in the untenable position of having to choose between violating the law and violating their conscience.”

In another from the Diocese of Phoenix, a bishop calls on Catholics to stand united against the rule.

“We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law,” it reads. “People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.”

Nearly all the letters found by ABC News called on parishioners to pray for a reversal.

Earlier this month, religious institutions were given a year extension to comply with the administration's decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Administration Rescinds Most of Bush-Era Health Care Rule

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Earlier this month, the Obama administration rescinded most of the 2008 federal regulation allowing health care workers to refuse to provide medical care they object to on moral or religious grounds.

The Obama administration is retaining pre-existing conscience statutes; for instance, those allowing health care workers to refuse “to perform or assist in a sterilization procedure or an abortion, if it would be contrary to the individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Catholic Hospitals retain the same protections they have had for decades.

But President Obama’s administration partially rescinded a broader Bush-era regulation issued on December 19, 2008.

In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule entitled “Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law.” The Bush administration said the new rule was necessary to “ensure compliance with the nondiscrimination requirements embodied in the federal health care provider conscience protection statutes” and would broaden definitions included in pre-existing conscience clauses -- in terms of health care providers and activities they find objectionable.

The new rule was interpreted as possibly allowing pharmacists to not provide prescriptions for birth control pills or emergency contraception, permitting physicians to refuse to see gay AIDS patients or provide fertility treatment to a lesbian, providing an out for an ambulance driver or EMT who didn’t want to transport a woman who wanted to obtain an abortion.

On Feb. 18 the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would rescind the 2008 rule “based on concerns expressed that it had the potential to negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services without a basis in federal conscience protection statutes.”

The pre-existing conscience laws remain, and the Obama administration is also retaining provisions in the Bush-era rule that establish a formal enforcement process for federal conscience laws.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio