Bishop Edward U. Kmiec spoke publicly for the first time on Feb. 15 about the revisions to the Health and Human Services mandate. In remarks he made outside of Classics V in Amherst, where he was attending the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center benefit banquet, the bishop called the revisions a “distinction without a difference.”
The mandate would force religious institutions to pay for contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion-inducing drugs, which is contrary to the Catholic stance on reproductive health. In a recent revision, the cost of such services would become the responsibility of the insurers, not policyholders.
“The simple thing would be just leave it as it had been before,” Bishop Kmiec said. “No mandate. Just leave it. Preserve our religious freedoms and religious liberties. This is an intrusion.”
Bishop Kmiec reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on birth control and abortion, saying, “pregnancy is not a disease.”
“Try to put this in a frame of health care,” he said. “It’s not health care. If you’re dealing with abortifacients, with sterilization, this goes well beyond any kind of health care issue.”
The bishop also said that, although the recent revisions place the burden on insurers, Catholic bishops are concerned that the cost will be passed on to religious institutions in other ways.
“We are aware that many Catholics use birth control and contraceptive items, like the pills and so forth; however, the point is, we should not have to be made to pay for it,” he said.
Later in the evening, Bishop Kmiec gave the opening remarks at the banquet, which was held to raise money for the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center.
As attendees ate dinner, Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities for the diocese, presented awards to UB Students for Life and Holy Angels Academy’s Angels for Life for, respectively, Best New Group and Best Teen Group. The awards were given on behalf of the northeast division of Students for Life.
In addition, pro-life speaker Rebecca Kiessling shared her personal story of being conceived in rape and almost aborted by her mother.
“The worst evil that man has in store, God can use for good,” she said.
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