In Washington, Fridays are typically reserved for publicizing those news-worthy items that one hopes will get lost in the weekend news cycle and that people will forget about by Monday morning. The current administration's Department of Health and Human Services did just that this past Friday.
Many know that I am not the most vocal supporter of Roger Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles. However, his blog post on this bit of news hits the nail on the head. I post it here in its entirety. The original may be found here.
In probably the most expansive decision on the part of the US Federal government ever, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued an "interim final rule" to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, female sterilization procedures, and related "patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."
These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to include without co-pays or other cost sharing--even if the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or the woman herself object to such coverage.
This decision from the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] is from the highest level of Federal government, and I cannot imagine that this decision was released without the explicit knowledge and approval of President Barack Obama.
And I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today. This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic Community can muster
For full information on this issue, please go to the website of the U.S. Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-013.cfm
For me there is no other fundamental issue as important as this one as we enter into the Presidential and Congressional campaigns. Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person's own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines.
As Bishops we do not recommend candidates for any elected office. My vote on November 6 will be for the candidate for President of the United States and members of Congress who intend to recognize the full spectrum of rights under the many conscience clauses of morality and public policy. If any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote.
This is a sad moment in the life of our country where religious freedom and freedom of conscience led to the formation of this new Nation under God.
Let us all pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon all elected officials of our country, and that all will make decisions based upon God's revealed truth.
This simply cannot stand, folks! I try so hard not to get entangled in politics--secular or ecclesiastical--on this blog. But, no one can deny that this is an affront to basic religious freedom. The Catholic Church remains committed to fighting for quality, affordable healthcare for all people--but we WILL NOT violate our consciences to do so! This cannot stand!