The Catholic Church vows to fight new health insurance mandate
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Catholic Church is vowing to fight a new health care insurance policy mandated by the Obama Administration. It requires all employers to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, as part of preventative care.
Religious organizations are saying that will force faith-based employers to choose between providing health care and violating their religious beliefs.
KGUN 9 On Your Side spoke to Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Tucson Diocese on the phone. He said efforts are being made to make it clear that the government is violating religious rights.
"These are core rights that exist in our country and are established in the first amendment and we believe that by making this clear to the government that an exemption will be provided. Because these are forcing people to do something against their conscience." Bishop Kicanas said that church leadership is urging Catholic voters to press the government to rescind the mandate.
The Catholic Health Association provided a statement on behalf of the Catholic healthcare ministry, which includes Carondelet Health Network. "The Catholic Health Association is disappointed that the definition of a religious employer was not broadened in (the) announcement by HHS regarding the final rule on preventive health services for women. This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection," said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer.
The U-S Department of Health and Human Services says the mandate is a necessary step to increase access to important preventative services. The policy goes into affect in August, but the government is giving religious organizations an extra year to comply.
The Diocese of Phoenix said in a letter that "unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so."
Bermun Mcghee, who is a business owner and a Baptist, hopes that doesn't happen. "We have to be smart about it and implement it as the mandate calls for, whether we agree with it or not. But the way we handle that is at the polls when it's time to vote again."