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We should be free to preach the gospel, we should be free to help the poor in Christ's name, we should be free to heal the sick in Christ's name, we should be free to educate in Christ's name, and now we are being told for the first time that the government has the right to tell us that our ministries are now public services without religious reference… It's chilling and difficult for me to live with that my own government is now saying that what you thought you could do, namely exercise your religion freely as you define it, now depends upon how we define what you do. This isn't just the bishops, we have Catholic University, Notre Dame University, and many others who are saying "You are robbing of us of our identity as Catholics."
– Francis Cardinal George, Archdiocese of Chicago
The right of religious liberty, the First Freedom guaranteed by our Constitution, includes a right to provide and receive health care without being required to violate our most fundamental beliefs.Especially since 1973, when abortion became legal nationwide, federal lawmakers have worked in a bipartisan way to ensure that Americans can fully participate in our health care system without being forced to take part in abortion or other procedures that violate their conscience.
But the need to improve current laws is clear, because the right of conscience is still under attack:
This is why members of Congress of both parties are sponsoring the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940, S. 1204).The Act would improve federal law in three ways:
Inserting a conscience clause into the health care reform law, so its mandates for particular "benefits" in private health plans will not be used to force insurers, employers and individuals to violate their consciences or give up their health insurance.
All House and Senate members should be urged to support and co-sponsor the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, so our First Freedom can regain its proper place as a fundamental right protected in our health care system. For more details, see: www.usccb.org/conscience
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