Senator Casey’s lukewarm reply is below. My response to his response is this:
Senator Casey - First of all, thank you for your thoughtful reply to my letter to you about the unconstitutional HHS mandate that employers and/or insurers should be compelled to pay for contraception or abortifacients. As a Catholic and an employer of 35 people with families, please know that after reviewing the issue and praying on it - I support my church leaders and I cannot and will not comply with this mandate. I am writing today with this concern: In your reply to me, ref S 1489, you stated "This legislation is necessary both to ensure longstanding regulatory protections are made permanent, and to clarify and increase awareness of these longstanding protections."
I appreciate that statement but have to ask:
-Since when is it legal and just for the government to mandate that one person pay for a product or service for someone else? That is stealing.
-Why is it necessary to create new legislation to affirm the God-Given rights enshrined in our Constitution?
I pray that you will remind our President and your Senate colleagues of this fundamental truth upon which our country was founded: "The Rights of Man come not from the generosity of the State but from the Hand of God!"
-John F Kennedy
Bottom line - no one has a "right" to "free" contraception any more than they have a right to free tacos or free snow tires. Is this the "fundamental transformation" the president spoke of? This is disgusting and sad. And this is not how America works.
Please – lets keep this issue in front of them – please write and let the know what you think.
******** Initial Reply from Senator Casey:*********
Dear Mr. Shearer:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about S. 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.
In 2011, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine preventive services for women to determine if additional services should be covered under the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing. The IOM made eight recommendations for additional preventive services for which coverage should be required under the Affordable Care Act. One recommendation was that the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods should be covered by insurers.
On August 3, 2011, HHS issued an Interim Final Rule based on the IOM recommendations relating to coverage of preventive services for group plans and health insurance issuers. This proposed regulation included a requirement that contraception be covered as a preventive service, with only a very narrow religious exemption. Believing the protections in the Interim Final Rule to be insufficient, and having heard from many Pennsylvanians who share my concerns, I submitted formal comments to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on September 30, 2011, urging the Secretary to broaden the definition of “religious employer” in the Final Rule.
Unfortunately, the final rule announced on January 20, 2012, did not include a broader religious exemption; instead, HHS announced a one-year delay for religiously-affiliated groups to come into compliance.
I oppose this decision and am deeply disappointed that HHS failed to include a balanced compromise that respects the conscience rights of religious entities opposed to contraception. While I support access to family planning as a way to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion, I remain firm in my belief that religious entities, including those that do not primarily employ or serve people of the same faith, should be allowed to apply their religious values to the health insurance they offer their employees.
I have written a letter to President Obama expressing my concern and offering, once again, to work with his Administration to develop comprehensive conscience protections. I will continue to work toward the goal of ensuring that access to contraception does not come at the cost of forcing individuals or institutions to violate their religious beliefs.
S. 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, was introduced by Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri on August 2, 2011, in response to the Interim Final Rule. Similar legislation, H.R. 1179, was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow a health plan to decline coverage of specific services if providing such services would be contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan. S. 1467 has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, of which I am a member. Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Committee reviews this legislation.
The issue of protecting conscience rights is one I have long supported. Last year, I introduced S. 1489, the Health Care Provider and Hospital Conscience Protection Act. This bill will codify current federal regulations protecting the conscience rights of health care workers and facilities, and create an enforcement mechanism so that violations can be addressed. This legislation is necessary both to ensure longstanding regulatory protections are made permanent, and to clarify and increase awareness of these longstanding protections. At the end of 2011, I wrote a letter to members of the Appropriations Committee, urging them to include similar conscience protections in the Fiscal Year 2012 Omnibus budget package.
As always, I appreciate your views, thoughts and concerns as they assist me in understanding what is important to the people of Pennsylvania. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, http://casey.senate.gov. I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.
United States Senator
P.S. If you would like to respond to this message, please use the contact form on my website: http://casey.senate.gov/contact/