CMA Reacts to HHS “Compromise”

January 22, 2012

On January 20, 2012, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared that its final rule on preventive services for women will go into effect without any meaningful regard for the conscience rights of health care providers, a decision that will affect Catholic providers disproportionately. In response, the Catholic Medical Association has issued the following statement:

In her January 20 press release, Secretary Sebelius ignored the significant objections raised by many commentators to her narrow exemption for “religious employers” to the preventive services rule, deigning to grant Catholic health care providers merely an additional year before being subjected to government coercion to violate their religious and conscientious beliefs, This is an outrage that cannot be allowed to stand. Fidelity to conscience is not optional based on the month or year, and respect for conscience rights should not be either.

In addition to showing no regard for rights of conscience, the HHS decision threatens to violate free speech rights of health care providers by forcing them to provide, during their year-long stay of execution, notice to their employees about where morally objectionable reproductive services can be obtained.

In a patently disingenuous statement, Secretary Sebelius states that her decision “strikes [an] appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

This decision, and the attitudes toward people of faith and respect for the Constitution, are of a piece with the Obama administration’s war on religion, and Catholics in particular. In a recent unanimous Supreme Court decision on January 11, Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Evangelical Church and School v. EEOC, the Court referred to the Obama administration’s narrow view of religious liberty as “extreme,” “remarkable,” and “untenable.”

This latest attack by the Obama administration on religious freedom and free speech rights should be of grave concern to all Americans because it is destructive of individual rights and of the common good. It should be challenged and resisted by all legitimate means.

Founded in 1932, the Catholic Medical Association is the largest association of Catholic physicians in North America. For more information, go to

CONTACT: John Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L., Executive Director & Ethicist


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