ACLU Tries to Silence Catholic Bishops on Obamacare Rules

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2011   |   12:38PM   |   Washington, DC

The pro-abortion ACLU legal group is trying to silence the nation’s Catholic bishops when it comes the implementing Obamcare and ensuring the health care law does not fund contraception and birth control with taxpayer dollars.

Last week, the ACLU defended the inclusion of contraception in federally-mandated health coverage and criticized the Catholic bishops for asking for contraception to be precluded from coverage.

Last September, the bishops contacted the Department of Health and Human Services and asked Obama administration officials to not include contraception and birth control under the “preventative services” covered by the Obamacare law. They said preventing pregnancy is not similar to preventing disease and noted that birth control pills pose their own health risks for women.

HHS expects to issue guidelines on whether they will be included for public funding and that has upped the stakes as the ACLU issued a response to the bishops’ letter.

The pro-abortion group said, “Whether the new health guidelines should mandate contraceptive coverage is not a religious question, as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has argued” and it bashed the bishops, adding that HHS should “put an end to politicians and faith leaders imposing their religious beliefs on women and their families.”

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of Human Life International, said in an email to that the ACLU is off base.

“First, the letter from counsel of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) made an argument based entirely on objective information available to every reasonable person. It was clearly not a ‘religious argument’ as the ACLU states,” he said. “Thus, it must be the position of the ACLU that anything that comes from a religious entity is de facto a religious argument, even if it uses no religious premises, and thus is not welcome in the public square. This is utterly unconstitutional as a grave offense to the first amendment, and if accepted as reasoning by the federal government, represents an acceptance of religious bigotry.”

Barreiro-Carámbula also said the ACLU would put women at risk because birth control pills have a known cancer risk and the ACLU is calling for it “to be prescribed to unsuspecting women, and paid for by the government.”

“And they do so, ironically, in calling contraception ‘a matter of health and individual conscience.’ A matter of health? If the ACLU cared about women’s health, they would not be promoting a known cancer-causing agent as a basic offering in government-mandated healthcare coverage,” he said. “This fact, along with the growing body of evidence showing that oral contraceptives are having a serious and negative impact on the environment, in addition to multiple negative social effects, should lead the ACLU to join the USCCB in questioning its inclusion in federal health care coverage.”

“We reject bigotry in all its forms, as we reject all threats to human life and dignity. The ACLU’s argument betrays the former, and their promotion of oral contraception is obviously a threat to human life and dignity,” he concluded.

The issue of implementing Obamacare is one pro-life groups are following closely. Last week, they were shut out of a meeting of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Preventive Services for Women, where they had to wait until a public comment portion of the agenda to make their remarks while abortion advocates participated in the program.

The IOM has been besieged by Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion groups looking to expand their federal funding by getting abortion or birth control declared preventative. The committee is hearing comments about regulatory mandates for women’s preventive services under Obamacare.

Having a positive designation could allow the federal government to force insurance companies to cover abortions or birth control under ObamaCare.

The panel, charged with analyzing whether or not such funding should be included in the implementation of Obamacare, previously shut out pro-life groups in November while allowing Carolyn Westhoff of the Planned Parenthood abortion business and Judy Waxman of the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center to testify.