The new federal contraception mandate is “like a slap in the face” that says “To Hell with you!” to Catholics and religious freedom, Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh said.
“This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens,” Bishop Zubik wrote in the Jan. 27 edition of the Pittsburgh Catholic.
“Kathleen Sebelius (Health and Human Services Secretary) and through her, the Obama administration, have said ‘To Hell with You’ to the Catholic faithful of the United States,” he charged, adding that the administration has damned Catholics’ religious beliefs, religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
The new rules from the Department of Health and Human Services mandate insurance coverage for “preventive services,” a category which the department ruled covers sterilization and contraception, including an abortifacient drug.
Catholic teaching recognizes the use of these procedures and drugs as sinful, but the mandate’s religious exemption is narrow and will not “practically speaking” apply to many Catholic health systems, educational institutions, charities and other organization, the bishop said. It will apply in “virtually every instance where the Catholic Church serves as an employer.”
Bishop Zubik said the mandate treats pregnancy as a disease and “forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage.” It also undermines health care reform by “inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.”
He said the mandate tells Catholics “not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation” as well as to “subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States.”
The bishop asked Catholics to write to President Obama, Secretary Sebelius, their senators and members of Congress.
“This mandate can be changed by Congressional pressure. The only way that action will happen is if you and I take action,” Bishop Zubik said.
“Let them know that you and I will not allow ourselves to be pushed around (or worse yet) be dismissed because of our Catholic faith.”
Unless the rules are changed, they will go into effect in one year.