HHS Secretary Grilled on Contraceptive Mandate: 'I Did Not Speak to the Catholic Bishops'

By Melanie Arter | February 15, 2012 | 5:47 PM EST

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Wednesday on the contraceptive mandate during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Hatch asked Sebelius if she consulted with any “individual Catholic bishop or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops” about President Obama’s compromise on the mandate.

“In his statement on Friday addressing the supposed compromise on this mandate, President Obama said ‘From the very beginning of this process, I spoke directly to various Catholic officials.’ Now prior to Friday, Feb. 10, did you consult with any individual Catholic bishop or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about this so-called compromise?” Hatch asked.

“I did not speak to the Catholic bishops,” Sebelius said.

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“Okay, that’s all I want to know. To your knowledge, prior to Friday, Feb. 10, did any one in the administration … consult with any individual Catholic bishop or the USCCB about that so-called compromise to your knowledge?” Hatch asked.

“I know that the president has spoken to the bishops on several occasions. Yes,” Sebelius said.

Hatch asked if it was about the “so-called compromise.”

“I really don’t know,” Sebelius responded.

“Are you aware of consultation prior to Friday, Feb. 10 by anyone in the administration, the president’s re-election campaign or the Democratic National Committee with any person affiliated with Planned Parenthood of America, NARAL or the ACLU about the so-called compromise?” Hatch asked.

“Again, Senator, I know numerous conversations were had with religious leaders, with employers, with insurers, with stakeholders,” Sebelius said.

“With these groups as well?” he said.

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