Theologians and Catholic Policymakers Support HHS Improved Access to Contraception, Oppose Bishops' Stance
IN LATE SEPTEMBER A dozen leading Catholic theologians in the United States sent an open letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius voicing their support for the inclusion of coverage for family planning in the Affordable Care Act. The letter said that the proposed regulations for contraception as a preventive health service align very closely with Catholic teachings on social justice because the "well-being of women, including their reproductive healthcare, is a Catholic value."
The message was part of an effort led by Catholics for Choice to promote the authentic Catholic position on family planning and conscience. This was an important initiative, given that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had provided homilies and parish bulletin inserts as part of their efforts to oppose the HHS regulations.
The theologians refuted the bishops' campaign for more expansive conscience clauses--allowing religious institutions to opt out of offering contraception coverage for their employees--pointing to a Catholic emphasis on conscience, one that rejects coercion. …