Notre Dame scholars are speaking out against the contraception coverage mandated under President Obama's health care plan. It was reported last week that all health insurance policies will be required to provide contraception and sterilization without a co-pay to all policy holders in the future, and the conscience clause for religious institutions is now up for debate. “This will likely drive many important Catholic social service providers to close up shop, inevitably harming the poor communities that they serve,” Notre Dame Law School professor O. Carter Snead told the Catholic News Agency.
The debate over coverage for contraception is already lost. Now conscience protection for religious institutions hangs in the balance. CNA reports: "The Obama administration has released an amendment allowing religious institutions the choice of whether to cover contraceptive services. However, the exemption applies only to non-profit religious employers whose purpose is “the inculcation of religious values.” Exempted employers must primarily employ persons who share their religious tenets and must primarily serve those who share those beliefs.
'The so-called ‘exemptions’ are extremely narrow,' Snead said. 'This category does not cover virtually any Catholic institution that serves or employs non-Catholics. Accordingly, Catholic universities, Catholic social service agencies, and even perhaps the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be required to provide contraceptive coverage (including abortifacients like the recently FDA-approved ‘Ella’),' he explained. Notre Dame Law School professor and associate dean Richard W. Garnett also criticized the exemption. It is not broad enough 'because it excludes those religious institutions, employers, and ministries that are engaged actively in the world, providing care, services, and education to a diverse group of people, besides our fellow Catholics,' he told CNA."
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