Although religious freedom advocates have continued to work behind the scenes encouraging Health and Human Services (HHS) to change the contraception-abortifacient mandate, it largely, ceased to be front-page news. That changed abruptly on Monday when over 40 Catholic organizations filed lawsuits in multiple federal courts against the federal government over the mandate. See how you can make your comments know and to get involved below
Despite publicity to the contrary, the original narrow definition and exemption (that essentially only covers churches and other houses of worship) are now written into federal law. Moreover, even though the administration has promised a “religious accommodation” for non-exempt religious organizations, many do not think the accommodation can be adequate. In March, the administration published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making, outlining some ideas and requesting comment, but this document is far from an actual regulation that might protect the conscience rights of non-exempt organizations.
Want to get involved? Here are some options:
Become knowledgeable and share information with faith-based organizations you support: Read IRFA’s Memorandum designed to prepare faith-based organization for what lies ahead, if the mandate remains. It also provides specific action steps to let your voice of concern be heard.
Make comments directly to HHS: For those individuals or organizations wanting to offer comments directly to HHS, the IRFA memorandum (pages 6-7) offers suggested points to include. HHS Deadline: June 19th.
Join IRFA’s Sign-on letter: IRFA is circulating a sign-on letter. See memorandum (page 7) to HHS Secretary Sebelius protesting the narrow religious-employer exemption. Staff and board members of faith-based service organizations can add their names to the letter by sending the name, title, and name of the organization to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “HHS Letter” in the subject line of your email. Deadline: May 31.