HARRISBURG — Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s reaction to the Obama administration’s mandate to force religiously affiliated organizations to pay for practices that they do not endorse, such as providing coverage for birth control and other contraceptive measures:
“Bob Casey needs to stand up and lead for a change. Sending a letter to the president won’t fix this problem. Casey needs to put his name on legislation that demands a retraction of this bigoted policy. Voters can’t forget that Bob Casey has suported President Obama 98% of the time, and together they opened the doorway to ObamaCare and shoved Pennsylvanians through it to appease the liberal extreme elements of his Party regardless of the consequences to our religious freedoms or other rights,” Chairman Gleason said.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has introduced the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011” (S. 1467), a bipartisan piece of legislation that would rescind this immoral mandate and protect Americans’ religious freedom. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) additionally introduced the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012” (S. 2043) guaranteeing similar protections.
Republican Party of Pennsylvania candidate for U.S. Senate Steve Welch also responded: “Now it’s time for Sen. Casey to finally put party politics aside and co-sponsor bipartisan legislation that protects the rights of individuals and prevents the federal government from usurping our religious freedoms. I hope Senator Casey does the right thing.”
RNC Messaging Memo Re: Obama’s Attack On Religious Freedom. UPDATE: While the White House announced a potential “accommodation” after being surprised by the outrage over this issue, early reports suggest President Obama is likely to ride the fence and attempt to play both sides. It’s a dangerous game when dealing with a fundamental American right protected by the Constitution such as religious freedom. Barack Obama’s new health insurance mandate is a direct attack on the Constitution and freedom of religion. The White House will try to spin otherwise, but that doesn’t change the central issue: the president does not have the power to undermine the Bill of Rights. Our message is principled and rooted in the Constitution. No American should be forced to violate his or her religious beliefs at the whim of the White House. No religious organization should be forced to violate tenets of its faith. Obama clearly disagrees. For him, a government takeover of healthcare is more important than the Bill of Rights. In pursuit of his big government agenda, he is willing to bully religious organizations and trample on constitutional freedoms. On GOP.com: http://bit.ly/w4S1m6
Analysis: Obama contraceptive mandate has a price
However, the contraceptive mandate has infuriated many Catholics regardless of political ideology because it could potentially damage what they consider the pride of their church: the multibillion-dollar Catholic-run network of hospitals, schools, colleges, homeless shelters and food pantries that mostly employ and serve members of other faiths. The Health and Human Services regulation includes an exemption only for religious groups who primarily serve and employ members of their own faith. Noncompliance is punishable by fines that could bring financial ruin. The option of self-insurance, a common religious exemption in state mandates for birth control coverage, is not available under the federal health care law.
“I don’t think this is the president’s best judgment,” said Douglas Kmiec, a prominent conservative legal scholar and Catholic who has been excoriated by bishops and conservative activists for backing Obama, starting four years ago. “I’ve got a great deal of concern that he has caused for himself an enormous problem with my fellow Catholics that he didn’t need and that will indeed place his re-election in jeopardy.”
(Zoll, Rachel. Analysis: Obama contraceptive mandate has a price. Associated Press. February 9, 2012.)
Catholics protest ruling that health plans must cover birth control
Catholic leaders are outraged over a recent decision by the Obama administration that would require Catholic-affiliated institutions to cover contraceptives and sterilization in their employee health care plans — a rule they say would violate one of their core beliefs.
The government’s move will affect thousands of people who work for 210 Catholic-related institutions in metro Detroit such as social service centers, schools and hospitals.
The institutions currently don’t pay for contraceptives or sterilization.
(Catholics protest ruling that health plans must cover birth control. Detroit Free Press. February 6, 2012.)
Catholic nun pleads with Biden to ‘fix’ contraception ruling
Reports that Vice President Joe Biden privately warned President Obama not to make a controversial decision to force religious employers to cover contraception services could be a potential problem for the administration, with religious groups amping up the pressure on Biden to help change the president’s mind.
In the Columbus Dispatch this morning, in advance of a Biden visit, one Catholic nun and CEO of a Catholic health care service pleads with Biden to help reverse the ruling:
“I ask the vice president to help Catholic and other faith-based employers with a recent federal action. We are very disappointed with the Health and Human Services rule on women’s preventive services that requires the inclusion of contraceptive coverage and sterilization in employer-based employee-benefits plans. The regulation denies adequate conscience protections for religious employers like us.”
(Tau, Byron. Catholic nun pleads with Biden to ‘fix’ contraception ruling. Politico. February 9, 2012.)
Allentown Catholic Diocese joins outcry against Obamacare mandate on contraception
Bishops say rule violates conscience and First Amendment.
There’s a standoff going on: The nation’s Catholic bishops are on one side and the federal government on the other. At issue are thorny questions about reproductive rights and religious conscience, and it all seems destined to play out in court.
It began Jan. 20, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius affirmed a rule that will require health insurers to offer contraception and sterilization services in policies, meaning employers offering health insurance will have to offer those services.
A religious exemption covers churches, but not church-affiliated institutions that serve and employ people outside the faith. That means most religious hospitals, colleges, charities and other agencies would have to cover services that they say violate church teaching.
(Sheehan, Daniel Patrick. Allentown Catholic Diocese joins outcry against Obamacare mandate on contraception The Morning Call Daniel. February 9, 2012)
Obama Admin Struggles To Contain Uproar Over First Amendment Overreach
The White House struggled Wednesday to contain the growing uproar over its birth-control mandate, with Democrats peeling off one by one in what has become an increasingly divisive election-year controversy. Pressure to roll back the new contraception policy mounted quickly as the day wore on, driven by divisions among Democrats, mixed messages from President Obama’s advisers and a constant drumbeat from the GOP. ‘It’s becoming a thorny problem for the White House and it appears to only be getting worse,’ said one Democratic strategist.”
(Amie Parnes and Sam Baker, “Obama administration struggles to contain uproar over birth-control rule,” The Hill, 02/08/2012)
Liberal Catholics Who Supported Obamacare Now Upset
“Without former Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, President Barack Obama wouldn’t have gotten his health care overhaul in 2010 passed through Congress. But Stupak, a pro-life Catholic who voted for the health care reform after being promised that federal dollars wouldn’t fund abortions, now isn’t happy with Obama.”
(Alex Pappas, “Liberal Catholics who supported Obamacare now upset over contraceptives,” Daily Caller, 02/08/2012)