Sources in Washington indicate President Barack Obama will expand the exemption to his administration’s mandate that health insurance policies must cover contraception.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, the Most Reverent Fabian Bruskewitz, said the health insurance coverage rules promulgated by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius fail to protect the constitutional rights of Catholics who oppose the use of contraceptives on religious grounds.
“The exemptions that were granted are so narrow and preposterous that somebody observed even Jesus and the Disciples wouldn’t qualify for an exemption under Mrs. Sebelius’ rule,” Bruskewitz quipped during an interview with Kevin Thomas on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln.
News media in Washington report that President Obama will expand the exemption to include religiously affiliated institutions, such as universities, hospitals and colleges. According to the reports, the administration instead will require insurance companies be directly responsible for providing free contraception.
Bruskewitz, said the mandate is a direct assault on the First Amendment rights of Catholics.
“It’s an attack upon our freedom of religion; requiring us to buy a product, number one, and then to buy a product that violates our conscience,” Bruskewitz said. “This is, indeed, outrageous. It’s not a contraceptive issue primarily. It’s a freedom of religion issue.”
Objections from Catholics and others have been mounting over the three weeks since the administration issued the policy. On January 20th, the Obama Administration announced that religiously-affiliated employers had to provide birth control for free as preventative care for women. Only churches were given an exemption. Employers were given a year to comply.
Bruskewitz, as well as other Catholic leaders across the country, declared they would not comply with the rules, asserting they violated their First Amendment rights of religious freedom.
Kevin Thomas with KLIN contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Kevin Thomas interviews Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz on KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln [11 min.]