(CNSNews.com) – If the Obamacare mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs is not changed, on Jan. 1, 2014 Americans will have to subsidize those services even if it violates their religious faith, said Richard Doerflinger, the associate director of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
In addition, Doerflinger said all parents need to know that the Obamacare regulation also requires health insurance plans to cover “private counseling sessions with every woman and girl that is of child-bearing capacity”--typically starting at age 12--“about this full range of sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacient drugs,” and if parents oppose that, they need to tell the doctor that it “violates their parental rights.”
Doerflinger spoke with CNSNews.com at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 12. The Health and Human Services (HHS) rule for the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, says that nearly all health insurance plans in the United States must provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs, such as “ella,” without co-pays.
Even if a person objects on moral or religious grounds and doesn’t personally use such products, they will be subsidizing them for others when they pay their health insurance premiums. The only exceptions are for strictly religious entities, such as a pastor, a priest, or a religious order. The Catholic bishops say the mandate is “unjust and illegal,” and a violation of religious liberty as provided under the First Amendment.
Through various Catholic institutions, the bishops are suing the HHS to stop the mandate. Several Christian companies and other employers have also filed lawsuits against the HHS rule.
At the Values Voter Summit, CNSNews.com asked Mr. Doerflinger, “Given the USCCB’S position that the HHS mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortion drugs is ‘unjust and illegal,’ then Catholic institutions and Catholic Employers cannot purchase it, is that correct?”
Doerflinger said, “If this mandate is enforced in January, no one will be able to purchase a health plan or even provide one as a self-insured sponsor without including these things that are against our conscience. So we are in court to make sure that doesn’t happen. So far, even the for-profit companies that have been suing against this, have won the great majority of their preliminary battles. They’ve had preliminary injunctions granted. We’re hoping for that same treatment. We’re hoping for victory ultimately in the courts.”
As for what Catholic individuals could do to obey the law and yet not violate their religious beliefs, Doerflinger said, “Catholic individuals are all called to respect and follow Church teaching on abortion and on contraception. And so, first of all, we would urge them not to make use of these provisions. Secondly, we hope that there will ultimately be conscious allowance for individuals as well, to be able to actually purchase a plan that doesn’t support those items for others.”
Doerflinger also warned parents about how the Obamacare regulation violates parental rights.
“And we also think it may be important for Catholics and other parents to figure out what their family doctor is doing about this in counseling sessions with their daughters,” he said. “Because the way the mandate is written, it allows for reimbursement to the doctor for private counseling sessions with every woman and girl that is of child-bearing capacity [typically starting at age 12] about this full range of sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacient drugs.”
“So, any checkup that a teenage girl has with her doctor, if covered by this, would be reimbursed,” said Doerflinger. “Her parents need to be able to say to the doctor, ‘We are objecting to that, we don’t want you to be giving that kind of advice to our daughter. That violates our parental rights.’”
Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.