WASHINGTON -- Catholic organizations filing comments on the federal Department of Health and Human Services' mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception and sterilization and a proposed religious exemption registered their strong disapproval.
The latest round of comments echoed objections raised in those filed earlier by, among others, attorneys for the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Health Association.
The comment deadline was Sept. 30, the last day of a 60-day comment period for the mandate and proposed exemption announced Aug. 1 by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In describing as "narrow" a religious exception from the proposed mandate, Catholic Charities USA president Father Larry Snyder, in a 13-page Sept. 28 memo to an HHS administrator, said the mandate will "force organizations that oppose contraception for religious reasons to choose between (1) offering these services in violation of their religious beliefs, and (2) facing the prospect of substantial fees if they choose not to offer health insurance coverage. This lose-lose choice would impose a 'substantial burden' on these organizations' exercise of religion."