"Facilitate" is Back

by Michael Sean Winters

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Last year, at the conclusion of the annual USCCB plenary in November, the statement from the bishops regarding the HHS contraception mandate dropped the language about the accommodation for religious institutions requiring those institutions to "fund and/or facilitate" the objectionable coverage. This "fund and/or facilitate" language is the language of illicit material cooperation, which is why it was dropped. Most bishops, at least the sane ones, have no intention of closing down ministries if they are required to comply with the accommodation. But, in their latest statement, the language is back. Here is the relevant graph:

They also noted that the interim final rules’ new alternative way for non-exempt religious groups to comply with the “accommodation” still forces employers to facilitate contraceptive coverage, by directly supplying the government with “all it needs” to authorize and require the employer’s insurer or third-party administrator to provide or arrange for the very payments to which the employer objects

What is "all it needs"? That is the form by which the institution informs the government and its insurance company that it objects to providing contraception. For reasons I have never understood, this form is considered a kind of permission slip by the USCCB. They argue the form "triggers" the coverage. No, the law triggers the coverage. The form tells the insurer and the government you do not want any part of it and then the insurer, because the government requires it to do so, arranges alternate coverage. Only in the narrow, conspiratorial, self-referential world of USCCB politics is a form by which you register your objection considered a permission slip. But, more to the point, why is this "facilitate" language back in their statements? Will someone at the November meeting please pull the plug on this!


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