Catholic Health Association Makes Turn Around on Obama's Health Plan

Sister Keehan Sides With U.S. Bishops in Rejecting Rule to Fund Abortifacients

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 18, 2012 ( In a surprise move Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), has come out saying the association cannot accept the changes to the Health and Human Services (HHS) rules that require Catholic organizations to fund contraceptives and abortifacients.

Although the CHA initially indicated its support for the new rules, a letter released by Sister Keehan last Friday said that while at the time the administration’s changes to the religious exemption seemed to be “a good first step,” on further examination the proposal “has not relieved our initial concerns.”

The CHA has more than 2,000 members in the health care sector. One in every six patients in the United States is cared for in a Catholic hospital each year.

The letter explained that the CHA has long campaigned for affordable health care for all people and for the provision of preventative care services.

“We remain deeply concerned, however, with the approach the Administration has taken with respect to contraceptive services, especially abortifacient drugs and sterilization,” the letter stated.

“If the government continues to pursue the policy that all employees should have access to contraceptive services, then it should find a way to provide and pay for these services directly without requiring any direct or indirect involvement of ‘religious employers,’ as broadly defined,” Sister Keehan insisted.

Addressing the matter of the exemption for religious organizations the letter pointed out that: “The exemption in the final rule is narrower than any conscience clause ever enacted in federal law and reflects an unacceptable change in federal policy regarding religious beliefs.”

The distinction made by the HHS rules between religious and secular organizations creates “a false dichotomy between the Catholic Church and the ministries through which the Church lives out the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

The letter comes just prior to Thursday’s commencement of the “Fortnight for Freedom” declared by the US bishops as days dedicated to the defense of religious liberty.

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