Lansing Update: September 16, 2016

In This Update:

Public Comment Period Open on HHS Mandate; Comments Needed

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Burwell v. Zubik, a case challenging the requirement that employee health plans cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization. This and similar cases brought by religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor, argued that the mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services violated their religious beliefs. The Court sent the case and all related cases back to the respective Courts of Appeals and instructed a solution be found that would both respect the freedom of conscience and allow women to obtain contraceptive coverage. The federal departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor opened a public comment period for suggestions on this solution.

Your help is needed to send a message to the departments that there are numerous ways to satisfy the Government's objective without forcing any organization to violate sincerely held religious beliefs. The public comment period closes Tuesday, September 20.

Here are four suggestions:

  1. The Government could broaden the religious employer exemption to all religious objectors.
  2. The Government could eliminate the notice requirement and remove the triggering effect of informing insurance companies and Third Party Administrators of the religious objection.
  3. The Government could create a separate self-insured federal government contraceptive coverage plan.
  4. The Government could create a separate fully-insured contraceptive coverage plan.

While not perfect these suggestions point to the ability of the federal administration to craft a policy that obtains their policy objective without burdening religious employers.

Please send your message today.

MCC Responds to State Board of Education Vote

Earlier this year, the State Board of Education developed voluntary guidelines regarding learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students. Michigan Catholic Conference submitted public comments to the Board's initial draft in May. On Wednesday, September 14, the Board of Education approved a final version of its document by a 6-2 vote. MCC issued a statement after the vote opposing the guidance, emphasizing that while all persons are deserving of dignity and respect, learning environments should recognize the diversity of the student body, including religious beliefs, and promote tolerance for parental rights, student privacy, and the importance of family.

The Word from Lansing Column: Opportunities for Work and its Impact on Society

The celebration of Labor Day at the beginning of this month brought attention to the dignity and sense of identity that work brings to individuals. At the same time, the day also highlighted the real economic struggles individuals and families are experiencing, especially due to a lack of meaningful employment opportunities and stagnant wages. The Word from Lansing for September examines the current status of employment in Michigan, the impact of work on the life of the family, and the efforts that are needed to build a more just economy.

U.S. Bishops Speak On Religious Liberty, Abortion, Migration, & Marriage This Week

Over the course of the week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) spoke out on a number of important issues currently facing the nation, including religious liberty, abortion, migration, and marriage.