(CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) vowed today that she will join with the Obama administration in standing up against the Catholic Church in defending a new regulation that will require Catholic individuals to buy, and Catholic institutions to provide, health insurance plans that cover sterilizations and artificial contraceptives, including those that induce abortions.
The Catholic church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong and the Catholic bishops of the United States have argued that forcing a Catholic individual to purchase a health insurance plan that covers these things--or forcing a Catholic institution to provide such a plan--forces Catholics to act against their consciences and is a violation of the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
In letters being read from the pulpit in Catholic parishes across the nation, Catholic bishops are saying: “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”
At her Wednesday press briefing, CNSNews.com asked Pelosi: “The administration has issued a regulation that will require all health-care plans to cover sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortions. This would force Catholic individuals and institutions to act against their consciences. All across the nation, Catholic bishops are saying:--
Pelosi responded: "Is this a speech, or do we have a question in disguise as a speech?"
CNSNews.com continued: “‘We cannot--we will not—comply with this law.’ Catholic bishops are saying they will not comply with this law. Will you stand with your fellow Catholics in resisting this law or will you stick by the administration?”
Pelosi: “First of all, I am going to stick with my fellow Catholics in supporting the administration on this. I think it was a very courageous decision that they made, and I support it.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius first announced the proposed regulation in August as part of the initial implementation of Obamacare. The regulation, as proposed, was set to take effect on Aug. 1 of this year. In September, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent public comments on the regulation to HHS. In these comments, the bishops called the regulation an “unprecedented attack on religious freedom” and urged that it be rescinded.
In November, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met with President Obama and personally explained to him the Catholic Church’s objections to the regulation.
On Jan. 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the regulations would go forward and will take effect for most health care plans as of Aug. 1. However, Sebelius gave religiously affiliated non-profit organizations---such as Catholic hospitals, universities, and charitable organizations---an additional year to “adapt” to the mandate. For them, it now set to take effect on Aug. 1, 2013.
Following Sebelius announcement, the Catholic bishops put out a statement calling the regulation “literally unconscionable.” Meanwhile, Catholic bishops around the country have been calling on Catholics to oppose the regulation.
Many of the bishops have published letters that priests are reading to their congregations. The letters explain the Catholic objections to the regulation and call for Catholics to resist it. Many of these letter include the following passage from the letter Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., and Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., have asked their priests to read at Mass this coming Sunday:
“In so ruling, the 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 either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing do). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
“We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”