The USCCB is not happy with a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Among other new health care services, the report, "Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gap," recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved birth control in private health insurance plans nationwide.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a USCCB statement: "I strongly oppose the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation today that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of three particular practices in almost all private health plans: surgical sterilization; all FDA-approved birth control (including the IUD, 'morning-after' pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella); and “education and counseling” promoting these among all 'women of reproductive capacity.'"
Cardinal DiNardo said, "Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible. The IOM report claims it would have good reason to recommend mandatory coverage for surgical abortions as well, if such a mandate were not prevented by law. But most Americans surely see that abortion is not healthy or therapeutic for unborn children, and has physical and mental health risks for women which can be extremely serious. I can only conclude that there is an ideology at work in these recommendations that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children."
Dinardo worried that if the HHS implements the report's recommendations, "these controversial practices will be mandated for all insurance plans—public and private—without co-pay from anyone receiving them. The considerable cost of these practices will be paid by all who participate in health coverage, employers and employees alike, including those who conscientiously object to Planned Parenthood’s agenda."
The cardinal was also concerned that the new recommendations would not be accompanied by "sufficient legal protection for rights of conscience." If that proves to be the case, he said, "such a mandate would force all men, women and children to carry health coverage that violates the deeply-held moral and religious convictions of many." He said, "This new threat to conscience makes it especially critical for Congress to pass the 'Respect for Rights of Conscience Act' introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Dan Boren (HR 1179)."