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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/21/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Abortion advocates are afraid Obama will uphold the First Amendment rights of churches

The Department of Health and Human Services will soon mandate that private health insurance plans provide contraceptive services, some of which are abortifacent, to women at no cost. Under the mandate's "religious exemption" some claim that churches can exempt themselves from this requirement. However, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious organizations have been lobbying hard to petition Congress and the White House to expand the exemption because the "exemption" has no real effect and is a violation of the First Amendment.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently met with President Obama to advocate for respect for the fundamental Right to Life of the unborn and the conscience rights of the Church to not participate in abortion and contraceptive distribution

Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently met with President Obama to advocate for respect for the fundamental Right to Life of the unborn and the conscience rights of the Church to not participate in abortion and contraceptive distribution

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/21/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Obama, abortion, pro-life, pro-choice, conscience protection, religious exemption, Archbishop Timothy Dolan


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The churches and other groups are asking the White House to include hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and other religious affiliated organizations in the exemption. This would prevent those organizations from being required to pay for or distribute contraception, some of which is abortifacent, resulting in the death of unborn human life. 

Abortion advocates are insisting that expanding the so called religious exemption would leave women without access to contraception, and that this somehow threatens women's health.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) a member of the Pro-Choice Caucus said on Friday, "it's going to be tough to ask for women's votes in 2012 if their last impression of him [Obama] is his willingness to trade their health coverage options for politics."

These abortion advocates maintain President Obama has been paying more attention to the Catholic bishops than he has the pro-choice lobby. Abortion advocates are expressing frustration at the amount of attention Catholic lobbyists have received.However, the alleged "exemption" actually has no real effect. n its present form it would compel Catholic and other Pro-Life institutions to violate their consciences or shut down their operations.Millions of people who need health care would suffer.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan commented last week that he felt somewhat better following a private meeting with President Obama. "I found the President of the United States to be very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community. I left there feeling a bit more at peace about this issue than when I entered," the Archbishop recently said.

But last Friday Obama finally granted a conference call to the Pro-Choice Caucus. A White House staffer who asked to remain anonymous said, "Members are so nervous that the White House is going to expand the religious exemption that they demanded to have a conference call, but even getting that was a very heavy lift. It's never been more clear to me than today that the primary element of pressure on the White House is being orchestrated by the bishops. I don't know if they're meeting with the White House, I don't know what kind of access they have, but I do find it troubling that the Pro Choice Caucus hasn't been able to meet with the White House yet."

Lowey expressed her surprise that the president was even entertaining the issue in the first place. She told reporters that she believes the attention the religious lobby has received indicates that Obama regards them as a powerful group. Lowey said, ""Let me say this: I don't have first hand information that the lobby is stronger on the other side, but the fact that the White House is asking for opinions and advice makes it clear to me they've been very powerful."

Meanwhile Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the US conference of Catholic Bishops explained that the Pro-Life point of view. "A Catholic organization cannot be forced to pay for services that go against its teaching. It's just untenable. We're hoping for a decision which respects religious freedom." She made clear, as have others, that to remain unprotected from the religious exemption would be tantamount to trampling on the First Amendment rights of the church. It would also be tantamount to the Government forcefully violating conscience.


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