A new federal regulation that would require employer insurance plans to provide contraceptives that some consider abortifacient and voluntary sterilization among cost-free preventive care measures such as inoculations and Pap smears is being greeted with varying levels of dismay in Catholic dioceses across the country.
The regulation provides a narrow religious exemption for an employer that “(1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a nonprofit organization” under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code.
This definition is “a direct infringement on our ability to do ministry,” said George Wesolek, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “It’s part of a larger issue,” he said. “The room for religious liberty is getting narrower and narrower” in the United States.