Wednesday, April 6, 2011


WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the
Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has written to urge all members of the U.S. House
of Representatives to support a bipartisan bill protecting conscience
rights in health insurance.Introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and
Dan Boren (D-OK), the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 (HR
1179) “will help ensure that the new health care reform act is not misused
to violate the religious freedom and rights of conscience of those who
offer and purchase health insurance coverage in our nation,” Cardinal
DiNardo wrote.
“Federal law, until now, has never prevented the issuers and
purchasers of health coverage from negotiating a health plan that is
consistent with their moral and religious convictions,” Cardinal DiNardo
explained. “This could change, however, with implementation of the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as now written.” He noted that
the law “establishes a new list of ‘essential health benefits’ that will be
mandatory for most health plans throughout the United States,” and also
“requires all group and individual plans to cover general ‘preventive
services,’ as well as additional preventive services specifically for
“For months,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote, “Planned Parenthood and
other groups have been urging that mandated ‘preventive services for women’
include all drugs and devices approved by the FDA for
contraception—including those that can prevent the implantation and
survival of a newly conceived human being, and hence are seen as
abortifacient by the Catholic Church and many others.”
“Mandated inclusion of contraception, sterilization and
abortifacient drugs in health plans poses an obvious potential conflict
with rights of conscience,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote. “Such conflicts would
also arise if HHS mandates inclusion of some fertility treatments such as
in vitro fertilization, treatments using material from deliberately killed
unborn children, or other procedures specifically rejected by the teachings
of some religions.”
PPACA “arbitrarily and inexplicably does not protect the many religious
denominations – including those providing the backbone of the nonprofit
health care system in this country – whose moral teaching rejects specific
procedures,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “If religious and other stakeholders
are driven out of the health insurance marketplace by this aspect of PPACA,
legislation whose purpose was to expand health coverage could have the
opposite effect.”
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act “is modest and
well-crafted legislation…it only prevents PPACA itself from being misused
to deny Americans’ existing freedom to seek health care coverage that meets
their medical needs and respects their deepest convictions,” he wrote. “I
am sure that most members of Congress voting for PPACA did not intend that
it should deny or take away this freedom. Therefore I hope and expect that
Representatives who supported PPACA as well as those who opposed it will
join in co-sponsoring the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act and in
helping to ensure its enactment.”
The full text of the letter may be read at:

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