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 News Release: Minnesota Catholic Conference calls on Congress and the President to amend the Affordable Care Act

Cites need to protect human life from conception to natural death, the rights of conscience, and the dignity of immigrant workers and their families as reasons

St. Paul, Minn. (June 28, 2012)—In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today that the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional, the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, called on Congress and the President to amend the law to protect the unborn, the rights of conscience, and the healthcare needs of immigrant families. 

“For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable,” said Jason Adkins, MCC executive director.

“The bishops, however, did not support final passage of the ACA for three main reasons. First, the ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. Second, the ACA fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. The HHS mandate to force religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs, illustrates this problem in a dramatic fashion. Third, the ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly, leaving them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.

“All of these problems are cause for grave concern and need to be fixed,” Adkins stated.

Neither the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) nor MCC participated in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court. The bishops have not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and do not do so today.

“It is as true as ever that the nation needs affordable health care reform that ensures universal access to health care, protects human life and dignity, and respects the rights of conscience of all,” said Bishop John F. Kinney of St. Cloud, Minnesota. “We call on Congress and the President to reform the ACA immediately so that it will protect the most vulnerable among us, as well as the conscience rights of those organizations and individuals who wish to care for the sick or ensure others have access to healthcare coverage.”

Adkins concluded: “We will continue to study the Court’s opinion to understand its full implications for healthcare reform and for religious liberty, but it is clear Congress and the President should take action now to end obvious problems with the law, such as the HHS mandate.”

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