ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage Archbishop is speaking out against a new federal mandate that will soon require all employers to offer birth control options as part of their health coverage.
Archbishop Roger Schwietz is joining up with over 400 Catholic leaders who say the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate would require employers to offer workers health insurance that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and what the church calls 'abortion-inducing drugs,' and is an attack on their religion because it would force Catholic organizations to violate their conscience in order to follow the law.
“That's a foul ball by any standard; never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out in the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience this shouldn't happen in the land where free exercise of religion ranks first,” said Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan, who is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Providence Medical Center, Alaska's biggest employer and a Catholic-run organization, says it abides by the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care services and would respect the clinician-patient relationship and would cover all medications and procedures prescribed as is consistent with our tradition. The mandate will not go into effect until 2013 so Providence officials said they will review and work through their solutions before then.