St. Gianna Physician's Guild launched an online petition drive today requesting that the Obama Administration and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, immediately withdraw all references to contraception and contraception counseling from the "Guidelines for Women's Preventive Services" under The Affordable Care Act, and to provide a conscience clause to protect the religious freedom and beliefs of Catholics.
"We are going to send a message to the Obama Administration that this contraception mandate is wrong, discriminatory and violates the religious rights of Catholics all across America," stated the Guild's president, Thomas McKenna.
On August 1, 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services directed by Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, adopted new guidelines for women's health that stipulates mandatory coverage be provided for surgical sterilization, all prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA - including drugs like Ella that can cause abortions in the early weeks of pregnancy - as well as counseling to promote them.
The Obama administration is taking heat from many Catholic leaders over the mandate, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said: "Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families or their employees."
He added: "To force such an unacceptable choice would be as much a threat to universal access to health care as it is to freedom of conscience."
St. Gianna Physician's Guild was founded to unite and encourage Catholic physicians, as well as others in the health care profession, to promote and defend Catholic principles in a public way and to inspire sanctification in their lives.
The petition can be signed here.
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