5 facts you didn’t know about the new health reform law:

August 20, 2011

Embracing Life

1.  All of us will have to pay for women’s contraception          

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  • On August 1, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated that insurance plans cover contraception. (National Catholic Bioethics Center)
2.  College girls, even at Catholic colleges, are being targeted for free contraception
  • HHS was in such a hurry to mandate free contraception that they WAIVED the standard two-month delay that would have allowed for people’s objections.
  • Why did they do this? Because school starts in August for some girls. Read more here. (www.cardinalnewmansociety.org)
3.  The Amish are exempt from the new health reform law under both the House and Senate bills
  • Some sects are covered by a “religious conscience” exemption, not because they may be opposed to contraception or abortion, but because they object to insurance, and this allows them to opt out of the mandate (Watertown Daily Times).
4. Employers and employees won’t have the freedom to choose a health plan that is in accord with their morals
  • That’s why Cardinal DiNardo and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) want Congress to approve the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Read the news release here.
  • Contact HHS here by September 30 and let them know that conscience should be protected!
5.  Health plans will have to cover “abortion drugs” such as:
  • Plan B–Which prevents implantation of an embryo
  • Ella–Which can destroy an embryo after it’s implanted (Family Research Council) Both of these drugs destroy life, they do not embrace it!
Do you have any facts to add to the list? If so, put them in the ‘comments’ box below. Thanks!
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About Kathy Schneeman

After graduating from The College of St. Thomas, I taught at Nativity in St. Paul until our oldest was just about born in the classroom (What a great lesson on life that would have been for my students!) I then became a stay-at-home-mom while teaching religious education classes and working very part time at UST. Recently, I served as the Archdiocese's Life Coordinator in the Office for Marriage, Family and Life until twins arrived (I was almost 43!) When I have a few minutes of quiet time, I like to run, eat chocolates, scones and Mexican food (that's why I run), read, and have a beverage with my husband at night. We have a whopping nine kids (yes...same husband and same wife; we get that question a lot!) and we attend St. Joseph's in West St. Paul--where we first met when we were in grade school.

View all posts by Kathy Schneeman
  • Kathy,
    I just finished submitting emails to my representatives…it took about 30 min. because they don’t make it easy. You can’t just click on the Senators name and an email comes up…however, I do hope this does not discourage people from writing. “People, take the time and do it…otherwise you may reget it.” None of us should lose of freedom of choice!!
    Lorna Effler, artist

  • Sharon Wilson

    Many believe the Conscience Protection clause will protect us as Catholic Organizations from unwillingly paying for insurance plans that include contraception and abortion. Read below the extremely narrow religious exemption rules. Please alert your pastor, Catholic school principal – Catholic Hospital or any other Catholic organization that would have to comply to this narrow mandate.

    Especially look at the “What can be done?”
    Sharon Wilson
    Respect Life Coordinator
    Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis

    (From the USCCB)
    What are the legal requirements for a religious exemption?
    The exemption is only for a “religious employer,” defined as “one that (1) Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the [Internal Revenue] Code.” HHS notes that these provisions of the Code refer to “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, as well as to the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.” This exemption is similar to the narrow exemptions enacted as part of state contraceptive mandates in California and New York.

    Which Catholic individuals and organizations are ineligible for an exemption?

    Plans offered by a great many Church-affiliated organizations, including Catholic colleges and universities, as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the general public, would be ineligible under the terms of this exemption. To offer a plan to their own employees, these institutions would need, for example, to have as their purpose the inculcation of religious values, and primarily hire employees and serve persons who share the organization’s religious tenets. The alternative would be to cease providing employee healthcare coverage altogether. No individual may claim an exemption, whether as employer, head of a health insurance company, or purchaser of coverage for self or family.

    What is the precedent for this strangely narrow definition of religion?

    There is no precedent in federal law, which has long protected rights of conscience more generously. Since 1973 the Church amendment has prevented government officials from requiring health care providers to take part in sterilizations as a condition for receiving federal funds if they have a moral or religious objection. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program allows a health plan to exempt itself from the program’s contraceptive mandate on the basis of “religious beliefs,” and protects the consciences of individual health care workers in other participating plans if they object on moral or religious grounds. The major legislation for combating AIDS in Third World nations has a clause to prevent discrimination against Catholic and other groups that have a moral or religious objection to particular AIDS prevention strategies or other services. And appropriations bills for the District of Columbia have long expressed the sense of Congress that any contraceptive mandate in DC needs a conscience clause protecting those with moral or religious objections. HHS’s proposal is modeled closely on the grudging exemption that pro-abortion groups and the ACLU have long proposed in Congress for pro-life health care providers — an approach that Congress has never accepted.HHS says its language is very similar to religious exemptions in many state contraceptive mandates, but this is incorrect. Most states with an exemption from such a mandate provide broader conscience protection than HHS has authorized in its final interim rule. In addition, HHS’s reliance on state law ignores several things: (1) as noted above, the state laws themselves are not as sweeping as HHS’s mandate; (2) almost half the states impose no contraceptive mandate at all, so they “exempt” everyone; (3) some states which do have a mandate exclude some drugs like “emergency” contraception. Thus even in the states, the scope of this mandate is largely unprecedented.
    What can be done?

    1. Concerned Catholics and others should call and write their elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). See http://www.nchla.org for latest alerts.
    2. HHS is holding a 60-day public comment period. Talking points for comment letters and help in submitting those comments are forthcoming soon. Again, check http://www.nchla.org.
    3. Take part in the public debate! Op-eds, letters to the editors, blogs, FaceBook, Twitter — there are so many ways to get our message out today. See below for some pieces already published:
    Carter Snead and other attorneys quoted:
    John Garvey, CUA president:

    • Sharon, thanks for taking the time to share this information with us!

  • Fr Mike Tegeder

    My father was an attorney. When he graduated from law school he followed the practice of the time as a Catholic attorney. He would not take divorce cases. Of course, this limited his employment options. Catholics in the health care industry can also make such conscientious decisions. We do not need special exceptions.

    • Kathyschneeman

      Father, thank you for taking the time to tell us about your dad’s experience and link it to the present.

      Thanks also for helping my little sister, Angie, when she was fighting for her life 30 years ago at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. You were the Chaplain there at the time (My maiden name is MacDonald.) Someday I will write that story and call you for an interview.