U.S. Bishops Conference Responds to Biden Statement on HHS Mandate

Inaccurate Comment during Vice Presidential Debate Sparks Response

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By Junno Arocho

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a strong statement regarding  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.  The federal mandate would require employers of religious institutions to be legally required to pay for insurance that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization procedures to employees.

During the debate, Vice President Joe Biden stated: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

“This is not a fact,” the USCCB statement responded.  The statement continues saying that while the HHS mandate contains a “narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers’, it however does not extend to Catholic social services, hospitals, or charities that offer services to anyone, regardless of their faith.

The USCCB also stated that although the mandate provides additional “accommodations” for religious organizations, those accommodations do not “relieve these organizations from the obligation ‘to pay for contraception’ and ‘to be a vehicle to get contraception.'” The statement also stresses that the mandate will still force catholic organizations to pay to include health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and abortifacients due to the premiums applied.

The statement concluded with the USCCB urging the Department of Health and Human Services “in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.”

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