CNSNews.com is reporting that Pelosi made the comments during a December 1 press briefing. A CNS reporter posed a question about a proposed HHS regulation that would require all health care plans to cover sterilizations and FDA-approved contraceptives. This proposal includes a religious exemption so narrow that most Catholic institutions would not qualify for it.
The reporter asked: “In August, HHS issued a proposed regulation under the new health care law that would require that all health care plans cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives. The U.S. Catholic bishops have called the regulation an unprecedented attack on religious freedom and have asked HHS to drop it. Do you agree with the bishops?”
Only after noting that she is a "devout Catholic,” did Pelosi admit that she sometimes disagrees with the Catholic bishops when they act as “lobbyists.”
“I don’t know if I agree with your characterization of what the HHS put forth,” Pelosi said, “but as a mother of five children in six years, as a devout Catholic, I have great respect for our bishops when they are my pastor. As lobbyists in Washington D.C., we have some areas of disagreement."
She continued: “I don’t understand the proposal as you described it. So, I won’t be able to answer it. But I do think that it’s important for women to have the opportunity to have full reproductive health options available to them and their insurance wherever they receive it. I support the waiver that is there for the churches now. I don’t know the exception as expanded by what you’re saying there.”
The bishops have been waging an aggressive campaign against the mandate, writing to lawmakers and providing bulletin inserts to parishioners nationwide asking them to oppose the new regulation which forces Catholics to purchase health insurance plans that pay for sterilizations, contraception and abortifacients, in violation of the the teachings of their church. It would also force Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities to choose between dropping health insurance for their employees or paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients in violation of the teachings of the church.
However, a meeting took place between President Barack Obama and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan earlier this month, after which time the Obama Administration announced that it would considering expanding the religious exemption, a move that put it at odds with pro-abortion liberals.
At the White House press briefing on Nov. 29, Jake Tapper of ABC News asked White House Spokesman Jay Carney what was going to govern the president’s “decision-making” on whether to impose this proposed regulation on Catholics.
“I’ve heard from a lot of Democrats in the last few weeks who are concerned about President Obama possibly granting an exemption to Catholic churches, hospitals and universities from the requirement that all insurance plans cover contraception,” said Tapper. “I’m wondering if you could shed any light on this decision. I know the President has not yet made a decision, but I think these Democrats, a lot of them in the abortion rights community, are concerned that this is even being discussed. Could you explain why the President is considering an exemption, and what’s going into his decision-making?”
Carney responded by saying the president has not yet made a decision on the matter.
“The President has--this decision has not yet been made,” said Carney. “You can be sure that we want to strike the right balance between expanding coverage of preventive services and respecting religious beliefs. And that’s the balance that will be sought as this decision is made.”
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