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Press Release: NETWORK Responds to HHS Accommodations Regarding Contraceptive Services and Religious Employers

FOR RELEASE: February 1, 2013                                                                       CONTACT:  Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington DC:  NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice lobby, today issued the following statement concerning the Obama administration’s newly proposed rules on contraception coverage:

NETWORK applauds today’s announcement of new exemptions to mandated contraception coverage as fresh evidence of the Obama administration’s clear commitment to addressing religious concerns that were raised last year.

According to Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK’s Executive Director, “The administration has addressed the objections that we and many other faith-based organizations raised one year ago when the first proposal was released. They listened to us and responded, which is democracy at its best. We are very grateful that they not only responded, but that they also acted in good faith to reach an accommodation that balanced the rights of everyone.”

Newly proposed rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are a huge step in the right direction and, at first reading, more than adequately address the strong objections we raised to the original language in January 2012. Among other improvements, they use IRS definitions of religious organizations to explain which ones would be exempted from the mandate.

In February of last year, we praised initial work by the administration to address our original concerns, and this latest proposal is even greater proof that they are more than willing to work with faith-based organizations to improve the language of the rules. We are grateful.

Proposed rules make it clear that nonprofit religious-owned or operated organizations will not be forced to insure or provide for contraception for their employees. We also find that the proposal adequately addresses the more problematic issue of religious organizations that are self-insured.

We look forward to continued dialogue with the administration as the details are fine-tuned.

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