It appears that the recent Supreme Court decision changed nothing regarding our primary concerns as Catholics. The Affordable Care Act would allow the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting long-standing federal policy. It also fails to provide essential conscience protection for individuals and religious communities. Among the ways the pending legislation allows the government to infringe on religious freedom and individual conscience is the Health and Human Services mandate which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs. The law purports to define religion and what is to be considered religious activity. Further, it does so in such a narrow way as to exclude many church entities from the exemption from the mandate.
Gov. Jay Nixon must act now to protect the rights of individuals and churches by signing the Missouri religious liberty bill, SB749. It's important that we contact him at 573-751-3222 and urge him to do so. We ask him to sign this bill so that employers and employees are not forced to pay for abortions or contraceptives in their health insurance plans for Missouri.
JAMES V. JOHNSTON, bishop,
Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau