by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Last November, President Barack Obama assured Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that he would rein in his administration’s attempts to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, abortion pills and female sterilization procedures. These requirements were included in an “interim final rule” issued on Aug. 1, 2011 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These were listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans would have to include without co-pays or other cost-sharing — even if the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or the woman herself object to such coverage. There have been many protests, including formal comments filed with HHS by many organizations and a petition signed by over 430 Catholic leaders. The president sought to assure Archbishop Dolan and all the bishops of the United States that our concerns were unfounded.