Catholic bishops rebuke US vice president over contraception

Catholic bishops chided US Vice President Joe Biden for saying during last week’s vice-presidential debate that Catholic hospitals and institutions will not be forced to provide contraception coverage to employees.

The National Catholic Reporter said the US Conference of Catholic Bishops did not name Biden, but said the “inaccurate” statement “made during the vice presidential debate” was “not a fact.”

During the debate last Thursday, Biden said “No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”

Biden was also quoted as saying that there is no “assault on the Catholic church.”

The bishops, however, said in a statement that Biden’s statement “is not a fact.” The bishops said the contraception mandate contains a “narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.'”

“That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served,” the US bishops’ statement said.

The Los Angeles Times said the statement from the US bishops was the latest volley in a heated fight between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration over a mandate published early this year by the Department of Health and Human Services — a battle that the church has framed as a struggle for religious freedom.

The administration has characterized it as being about women’s reproductive rights.



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