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Sham conscience protection and more discrimination

As expected, the department of Health and Human Services department accepted the recommendations by the Institute of Medicine to include contraception and sterilization as mandated preventive services for insurance coverage. My latest article at HLI on this topic is up:

Last week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report proposing a list of preventive services for women that would be mandated for coverage in all private insurances under the regulations of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Early this morning, the Department of Health and Human Services accepted these recommendations. Included in this list are all prescription contraceptives, surgical sterilizations, and “education and counseling” to inform women about these options. (At the moment of publication it is still unclear whether the coverage includes Plan B and Ella, which are known abortifacients)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops vigorously opposed the inclusion of these elective medical therapies that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching in the mandated coverage requirements. There are no provisions for conscience protection in the PPACA, however, the HHS did propose some limited conscience exemptions with this decision. Initial analysis reveals that the proposed conscience protections exempt Catholic organizations that primarily employ Catholics, serve Catholics, and have as their purpose, the inculcation of religious values. With these criteria in mind, it seems that many Catholic institutions will have to provide coverage for services they find morally reprehensible, including Catholic hospitals and universities. This would be contrary to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services directive number 52:

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