The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a statement in response to claims made by Vice President Joe Biden during last night’s vice presidential debate about the HHS contraception-coverage mandate. The statement includes Vice President Biden’s assertion that “no religious institution—Catholic or otherwise … has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”
The USCCB responds:
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
Below is a video of the two vice presidential candidates’ exchange on their Catholic faith and how it informs their public lives. Vice President Biden’s comments on the HHS mandate begin at 4:09: