PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Responds to HHS Lawsuits: “An Insult” to Persecuted Christians Worldwide

Posted May 21, 2012

In response to lawsuits against the HHS contraception mandate, lay Catholic group challenges motives of bishops

WASHINGTON – Today, more than 40 organizations, including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the University of Notre Dame, filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services contraception coverage mandate. Catholics United reiterated its position asserting that this suit serves a right wing political agenda on the part of the bishops rather than defending against a legitimate threat to religious liberty.

Given past silence on the part of the bishops and Catholic institutions over very similar, often more comprehensive, contraceptive health care mandates in 28 states, it remains a curious coincidence the bishops would choose to stand opposed to a Democratic administration in an election year.

“These lawsuits reflect a sad reality for American Catholics,” said James Salt, executive director for Catholics United. “The leadership of the Catholic Church is more interested in playing politics than it is in providing for the common good. To suggest our religious liberty is somehow compromised because employees now have access to contraception is an insult to those who actually suffer violence on account of their beliefs.”

Rather than working with the Administration for an amicable compromise, right-wing elements in the Church have stymied discussion for months. Rhetoric has been heated further by the false implication the Obama Administration would require employers provide abortion-inducing medication.

“These lawsuits erroneously conflate contraception with abortifacients,” said Salt. “No medical evidence exists that ‘Ella’ or ‘Plan B’ terminates a pregnancy. Rather, the existing evidence clearly demonstrates the primary effect of these hormonal contraceptives is to prevent ovulation and insemination. It would be wise if the bishops left the medical science to the scientists.”

There is one area Catholics United agrees with the plaintiffs: there is a simple, elegant solution to this entire debacle.

“HHS should use Title X funding to publicly finance contraceptive services for all employees working at objecting employers that self-insure,” said Salt. “Doing so would take the Catholic bishops’ concerns out of the equation while maintaining their employees’ access to contraception.”

Founded in 2004, Catholics United is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition. For more information about Catholics United, follow us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CatholicsUnited) or on our blog at www.OurDailyThread.org.

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