Sen. Toomey Co-Sponsors Bill Requesting Religious Exemption On Health Care Regulation
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) co-sponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 (S. 1467) today to address serious concerns with a new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) regulation that forces members of religious entities to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs or potentially pay a heavy financial penalty.
The rule requires all group and individual health plans to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives and female sterilization, exempting only those religious employers who primarily serve and employ individuals who share their religious tenets. Catholic hospitals, universities, colleges, nursing homes and charities would find it virtually impossible to comply with this narrow exemption, given the diverse population that they serve and their workforces.
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act grants a meaningful exemption for religious entities. In addition, the legislation ensures the right of individuals to buy a health insurance policy that does not violate one's personal beliefs and protects health care providers from being forced to perform services that would violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
"I am extremely concerned that this new regulation would force religious employers to violate their religious beliefs in order to keep their doors open," Sen. Toomey said. "Many Pennsylvania hospitals, charities and schools have expressed concerns about the effect this new regulation would have on their ability to operate and provide important community services. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act alleviates this problem by protecting the religious and moral rights of employers, individuals and health care providers. I hope President Obama will work with Congress to grant a meaningful exemption to protect the rights of religious entities."
Bishop David Zubick of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh praised Sen. Toomey's efforts.
"The seriousness and level of support given by Sen. Toomey to the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" is deeply appreciated by all Pennsylvanians committed to religious freedom. The mandate issued by HHS in August would force members of religious institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs by forcing them to cover contraception and sterilization services in their health insurance plans or pay a heavy penalty. This mandate effectively had the government telling us how we must practice - or not practice - our faith. Sen. Toomey recognized this threat to religious liberty and has worked so hard to address it," Bishop Zubick said.