(CNSNews.com) - Bantering with the audience at a fundraiser in St. Louis yesterday, President Barack Obama bragged about a new regulation, proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has denounced as an “unprecedented attack on religious liberty.”
"Darn right!" an audience member at the fundraiser shouted as Obama described the regulation.
“Darn tooting!” Obama said back.
The proposed regulation, designed to implement part of Obamacare, will require all private health plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives--including those that cause abortions—without charging any fees or co-pay. These regulations were drawn to implement a provision in Obama’s health-care law that calls for all health-care plans to cover “preventive services.”
Combined with Obamacare’s mandate that all individuals must buy health insurance, the “preventive services” regulation would require all American Catholics to buy health care plans that pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortions--all of which violate Catholic moral teaching.
A “religious exemption” in the regulation is so narrowly drawn that it does not include any lay Catholics, or any Catholic hospitals, charitable organizations, or colleges or universities. Thus, many major Catholic institutions in the United States would be forced to choose between dropping health insurance coverage for their employees and students or violating the moral teachings of their own church.
In comments on the regulation submitted to HHS last month, the Catholic bishops called for the regulation to be “rescinded in its entirety” and described the proposal as “government coercion of religious people.”
"Indeed, such nationwide government coercion of religious people and groups to sell, broker, or purchase 'services' to which they have a moral or religious objection represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty," the bishops said.
At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis last night, Obama touted the “preventive services” regulation to an appreciative audience.
“And, yes, we passed health care reform because no one in America should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick,” said Obama, according to the official White House transcript of his remarks.
“Insurance companies can’t drop your coverage for no good reason,” said Obama. “They won’t be able to deny your coverage because of preexisting conditions. Think about what that means for families all across America. Think about what it means for women.”
At that point, an audience member shouted: “Birth control.”
“Absolutely. You’re stealing my line,” said Obama.
“Breast cancer, cervical cancer, are no longer preexisting conditions,” Obama continued. “No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth.”
At this point, a member of a laughing audience shouted out: “Darn right!”
“Darn tooting,” Obama answered back—to laughter. “They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs.”
Last week, the Catholic bishops distributed an insert for placement in church bulletins all across the country. It called on Catholics to contact HHS to object to the regulation. On their website the bishops are now asking Catholic to write Congress to urge members to support legislation that would overturn the regulation.