Statement on the U.S. Senate’s Attempt to Reverse U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision

by the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops

Last month, the U.S. Senate tried to do something Congress has never done before – pass legislation designed to reduce Americans’ religious freedom. This should be a grave concern to all who value our fundamental freedoms.

The new threat is a bill called the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” (S. 2578). Supporters say it would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, so for-profit corporations can be forced to cover “contraceptives” (including potentially abortifacient drugs) in their health plans despite their religious objections.

In fact the bill is much broader. It states that when the federal government decides to mandate any item in health plans nationwide, no one has a right to object that it violates their religion. The government mandate will override “any other provision of federal law” that stands in the way – whether that law protects for-profit employers, non-profit charitable organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor, insurers, employees, or individual women purchasing health care for their families on our state health exchange. Just as contraceptives have been mandated as a “preventive service” to avert pregnancy, coverage for all abortions, including late-term abortions, could be mandated to avoid live births – and any federal law protecting conscience on abortion would be null and void.

Despite grave disagreements across our nation over the moral and legal status of abortion, American lawmakers have generally been able to agree that the government should not force people to take part in such evils. Here in Louisiana, health care providers are protected from being required to violate their conscience on abortion or abortifacient drugs. The new bill is a radical departure from this tradition.

Last month the Senate narrowly failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to advance S. 2578, but it can be taken up again when Congress resumes its work in September. We encourage all of those who care about freedom of conscience, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to urge our federal lawmakers to oppose this and similar legislation. We need more respect for religious freedom in our nation, not less.

Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans

Most Rev. Michael Jarrell
Bishop of Lafayette

Most Rev. Robert W. Muench
Bishop of Baton Rouge

Most. Rev. Ronald P. Herzog
Bishop of Alexandria

Most Rev. Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles

Most Rev. Michael G. Duca
Bishop of Shreveport

Most Rev. Shelton J. Fabre
Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux

One Response to Statement on the U.S. Senate’s Attempt to Reverse U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision

  1. SG Cassiere says:

    Please note that Mary Landrieu voted in favor of this bill.(The link below is to the actual roll call vote.) I wish that voting records would have been noted in this Catholic Connection article. What is even more devastating is the possible scandal she incurs by being a Roman Catholic and yet voting against the religious freedoms the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops are fighting to uphold.

    This election cycle is a perfect opportunity for Catholics of Louisiana to voice their disapproval of Landrieu and her views against religious freedom.

    Louisiana: Landrieu (D-LA), Yea Vitter (R-LA), Nay

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2014/07/first-vote-on-s-2578-is-in-they-didnt-stop-a-filibuster/

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