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Franciscan University Stands Against HHS Mandate Undermining Religious Liberty


The public comment period extends until September 30.

Posted:  2011-09-26  

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Statements from Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University, as well as articles, interviews, and opinion pieces by other University faculty and administration can be found at our "In Defense of Religious Liberty" pages

STEUBENVILLE, OH—On September 22, Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, submitted a public statement protesting new guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services that force Catholic institutions to choose between faith and health care. These guidelines, slated to take effect August 1, 2012, require all individual and group health insurance plans, including self-insured plans, to cover all FDA-approved contraception and sterilization procedures (76 Fed. Reg. 46621, August 3, 2011).

“By making this insurance coverage mandatory, our government has violated the consciences of people of faith and infringed on our rights to practice our religious beliefs,” Father Henry’s statement said. “Mandatory contraception and sterilization coverage in college student insurance plans force Catholic colleges to undermine our missions as Catholic institutions.”

The so-called “religious exemption” Father Henry said, “will very likely not protect Franciscan University of Steubenville or hundreds of other Catholic colleges, schools, and organizations,” including Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, and social service agencies, which serve people regardless of religious affiliation.

Father Henry’s statement ended with a plea to “repeal the HHS regulations and protect the religious freedom of Catholics and people of all faiths.”

Commenting on the University’s decision to stand publicly against the new HHS regulations, Michael Hernon, vice president of Advancement at Franciscan University, said, “Franciscan University felt compelled to speak out because this unprecedented government mandate is an outrage against men and women of faith and a clear violation of our First Amendment rights.”

Hernon noted that the deadline for public comment is September 30 and urged concerned citizens to act now by making their own public comments. “We call upon people of good conscience to stand with Franciscan University and the many other faith-based groups affected by the HHS mandate, which is nothing less than an attack on our freedom of conscience.”

Public comments may be submitted at this page at regulations.gov.

Read More About It

The Steubenville Herald Starhas more about the regulations and efforts to roll them back.

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