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Bishops Denounce Forcing CA Churches to Fund Abortion

capitolIn a press release issued yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) denounced a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow the state of California to force all health plans to cover elective abortions, and is calling for immediate passage of the Conscience Protection Act to remedy the situation.

According to the USCCB, the ruling, which allows the California Department of Managed Health Care to continue to force all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions, fails to respect the right to life, religious freedom, and the rule of law.

"It is shocking that HHS has allowed the State of California to force all employers – even churches – to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans. Even those who disagree on the issue of life should be able to respect the conscience rights of those who wish not to be involved in supporting abortion," Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a statement.

Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

"This administrative ruling fails to respect not only the rights to life and religious freedom, but also the will of Congress and the rule of law," the chairmen added. "As a remedy to the Administration's unwillingness to fulfill its responsibilities, we urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828, S. 2927) and stop further discrimination against people of faith and against all who respect unborn human life."

Several churches and other religious organizations had filed complaints with the HHS Office for Civil Rights asserting that California's reinterpretation of state law violated the federal Weldon Amendment prohibiting discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. The Conscience Protection Act would provide specific relief for those who decline to participate in abortion rather than relying solely upon HHS to defend their rights.

The bill (HR.4828) which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March of 2016 and has 69 co-sponsors, has been referred to the Subcommittee on Health. A similar bill in the Senate, (S.2927), introduced by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma on May 12, has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Contact your representative today and ask them to get behind this important law which will protect our religious freedom!

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