Catholic Church says it will not comply with Obama health-care mandate

Over the weekend, in Catholic churches across America, a letter from the bishops was read to congregants that perfectly encapsulated the church’s stance against the Obama administration mandate on health-care coverage.

The Church’s vocal arguments against the Obama administration are centered upon a Health and Human Services Department requirement that employers must include contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in health-care coverage.

While this requirement doesn’t apply to houses of worship, it will force Catholic colleges, hospitals and other Christian groups to provide these drugs despite their faith-based opposition to them.


To give an analogy, it would be like the government mandating that all delis, even Kosher delis, serve pork products and then justifying it by saying that protein is healthy, and many Jews who don’t follow Kosher laws and many non-Jews go to those delis. The law wouldn’t technically ban Jews from owning delis, but it would effectively ban their ability to run them according to their conscience. 

The sermons at Holy Family on Saturday and Sunday consisted of reading a letter, similar to the following, which was read at each mass by order of bishops across the country, including Bishop Thomas Doran.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.



  1. JRM_CommonSense

    But you forget that insurance company payments for contraceptives started years ago with a required copay. We didn’t hear a word from the Catholic Church at that time and we know that some of their organizations are using some of those insurance companies for health care for their employees. The only difference now is that there will be no copay. So is it a question of conscience or is it a question of a $20 copay? BTW, the rhythm method is, in fact, a form of contraception. It just happens to be a sanctioned form of contraception. Maybe because it doesn’t have a copay and doesn’t cause any money until it fails………..

  2. @ Shawn: At what point does that life-form become “human”, per YOUR definition?
    If you test its DNA, what is the result? Not a fish, a pig, or a rat, it is a unique male or female human.

  3. shawnnews

    I don’t think embryos are people just like I don’t think eggs are chickens. You can try to convince me though.

    • Ted Biondo

      Shawnnews – an egg is not a chicken until it’s fertilized, or I have eaten lots of chicken for breakfast.

      A human embryo is conceived in a human – we are not animals or fowl. It’s called a “human embryo” so as to separate humans from fertilized eggs like so many people like to compare us to just another species, without a soul, etc. To these people, humans are simply another form of vertebrate at some stage of development prior to birth or hatching.

      Despite what liberals call it, if that embryo in the human womb is allowed to be born, it doesn’t come out a fetus, it’s a human being, and those who destroy that baby in the womb have killed a human being. That is why humans who kill their babies want to call it a fetus, or some other noncommittal name, so that they don’t feel guily about killing their own child. Why don’t we all call the baby what it is – a human life!

  4. Shawn, can I get a more detailed answer? Check this site for the “Tracking Fetal Development” chart, (http://www.stronghealth.com/services/womenshealth/maternity/trimesters.cfm), and tell me at what point this lifeform becomes fully “human”, in your opinion.

  5. Adam Faber

    No Ted, people call a fetus a fetus because, according to the dictionary, that is the correct word for a mammal or vertebrate after the embryonic stage and before birth. Some of us took our education seriously and use words correctly. But none of your confusion about semantics has anything at all to do with contraception, so please do try to stay on topic. It’s only fair since you ask that of the rest of us.

    You said “the Church shouldn’t be forced to pay for [contraception] through health insurance”. And that is the entire point of this rule: this isn’t the church paying for the insurance; this is the business that just happens to be related to a church that is paying for it. The church itself is exempt, but their ancillary, non-religious businesses are not. You’re willfully ignoring that difference and trying to confuse your readers.

    Now will you please answer Scott’s questions? Would a business affiliated with Christian Science be allowed to have a health plan that denies surgery to everyone regardless of the need because they don’t believe in it? Could a small business owner who is a Mormon provide a health plan that doesn’t cover any medication that contains alcohol? Would a corporation with a C.E.O. who is a Jehovah’s Witness be allowed to have a health plan that did not pay for any procedure that involved a blood transfusion?

  6. Adam, you are comparing apples and oranges. Medications and blood transfusions are necessary to cure illnesses, or to heal injuries, which restore healthy living conditions, or even save lives. Preventing, and/or aborting a pregnancy (with RARE exceptions) are not health-preserving or life-saving procedures.

  7. Adam Faber

    No Snuss, you’re missing the point that Scott raised. You and I view medications and blood transfusions as necessary and life-saving while some religions do not and view them with the same attitude the Catholic church has toward contraception. Since Ted is asserting the right of a religious business owner to exclude coverage of those services they consider unacceptable it is, indeed, an apples-to-apples comparison to consider if he would deem that same philosophy acceptable for other religions to exclude those services they dislike — medications and transfusions in my examples — from their business’s health insurance policies. While you may consider it absurd that Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, so, too, do non-Catholics consider it absurd to disdain contraception. Scott and I are asking if Ted would apply this right he is asserting to everyone equally or if he would reserve this right to impose religion on employees only for Catholics.

  8. maricho 12

    shawn……….i was talking about the church teaching the same doctrine in general….jesus never mentioned abortion specifically because he surely considers it to be killing………as in#5..thou shall not kill…………if abortion is not killing than let’s just let the pregnancy run it’s 9 month course and i believe the result will be a human being. if your abortion does not qualify as killing, then why does the absence of an abortion result in human life? the definition of the word defeats your argument……abort means to end, to stop, to discontinue…..by definition you can’t stop something if it hasn’t begun. the life has begun, protected by the womb until it ready for leaving the womb. the fact that you can’t see inside of the womb doesn’t mean the baby isn’t alive. the choicers chose the wrong word(abort), ending or aborting anything indicates that something has begun….as in life. you say jesus never spoke of abortion….use some common sense….let’s say that jesus was in the room , in the flesh, as the mother is being prepared for the abortion. how many women would go through with the abortion in the presence of jesus? i think none….zero… the women don’t realize that in fact he is there in the room with them….don’t all christians profess to believe that? adam,….you rebutted what i said but did not reiterate my statement correctly. you have to read carefully and try to grasp the entire statement, otherwise you have no rebuttal. I said since when does the gov’t have the right to force an employer to provid a benefit in specific, if in fact denying the benefit is not harmful in and of itself. That’s a little different than saying the gov’t doesn’t have the right to force you to do something……..read what I said…..I didn’t use the word ‘something’. The things they can mandate are common sense safety related and/or equality issues. Abortion is not crucial to anyone nor is denying to provide contraception a matter for the federal gov’t to be involved in. I can’t imagine madison or jefferson etc. thinking that we need a law to force employers to provide contraception. It’s a joke…with all of the problems we face in this country and you think the gov’t should spend even 5 minutes on this ? There’s something more behind the scenes because this doesn’t make sense. When the gov’t gets involved and something doesn’t seem right, … it usually means that someone is making some money….

  9. truth hurts

    My how far we have come and how quickly we have forgotten how we first got here.

    Lets set the wayback machine to the early 1900’s. Health insurance to the common employee was almost non existent. Sick days were almost unheard of.

    Then during WWII factories were finding it hard to hire and keep talented workers from a limited work force. To get and keep workers they added benefits such as chow halls, day care and health insurance.

    To keep workers this idea caught on and it was becoming a benefit used to lure and keep good workers. It was a BONUS and controlled by the company in scope and what it provided.

    As we went along non-union employers would continue to offer it and in many cases if the employee wanted it they had to pay for part. Given even the cost of those times the part the employee paid (when compared to the overall cost) was still a benefit.

    Unions negociated it as part of the benefit package.

    If you were non-union you had to decide if this (as well as many other benefits/pay) were worth applying or staying for.

    Now we come to this obama plan. Here is where we go badly off the rails into social (I dare say comunist) medicine.

    In a nutshell it is obama/supporters are acting like a national union. Telling all employers what benefits they have to provide (but without the negociation) and the public (the bosses of the country) have to pay for.

    This is clearly wrong.

    On a basic level the catholic employers (for this debate) are a company and that they don’t have to provide health services they don’t want to pay for.

    This is a basic right that secular employers enjoy and seems ok just because they use economics, percentage of use vs cost, or they just don’t want to as the reason.

    Just because the catholic employer used a moral code IS IRRELIVANT.

    It is no different if they say Jesus opposes XX proceedure vs company owner Joe smith opposes XX porcedure due to he does not want to pay for it.

    On an more basic level people need to realize heath insurance provided by a company is a BONUS, NOT A RIGHT. It is something they are paying (in part or whole) to keep employees.

    If you don’t like that is not provided, too expensive, or not give you the benefits “you want” you have the right to quit or not to work there.

    Overall I am forced to ask two basic questions.

    1. When did it become a “right” that any employer (much less a catholic employer) owed you anything but what they said they would give you if you did your job?

    2. If you hate what the catholic employer stands for and what the health insurance does not cover….then why in the heck are you still working there?

  10. JRM_CommonSense

    All I can say is that I have now seen some of the funniest attempts at biblical exegesis, WWJD, and FROG than in many, many years of theological and biblical study.

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