STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, says the newest proposed revisions to the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate continue to deny Franciscan University the freedom to exclude “morally objectionable” items from its employee healthcare plan.
Father Henry made the comment in a March 27 statement submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the mandate, which requires health plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures.
Father Henry explained that as a Catholic institution, Franciscan University cannot facilitate such coverage “without violating Catholic Church teaching on the sanctity of human life and the purpose of marriage,” and said that the proposed accommodation would “force us to play a key role” in facilitating contraceptive coverage.
The proposal “would require Franciscan University’s simple act of contracting with an insurer to trigger automatic coverage for pills and procedures that we, as a Catholic university, find morally objectionable,” he said, adding that employees cannot opt out of the automatic coverage, “even when it deeply offends their religious beliefs.”
His statement called the Obama administration to protect Franciscan University’s “rights of conscience and religious liberty as a Catholic institution—and, indeed, the rights of all Americans—instead of picking and choosing whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not.”
If the administration refuses to “restore our First Amendment right to religious liberty,” Father Henry said, “Franciscan University will have no choice but to continue our fight to live the faith we believe.”
Read the full text of Father Henry’s comment.
The deadline for public comments on the proposed revisions to the HHS mandate is April 8. Comments may be submitted at the regulations.gov website.