Our struggle for religious liberty that began in 2011, when the Obama administration began to develop its list of mandated "preventive services" for private health plans, is far from over. It has taken on a renewed urgency, as the Administration's mandate for contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacient coverage will be enforced against nonprofit Catholic school, charities and health care institutions beginning August 1. As our recent comment letter<http://www.usccb.org/news/2013/13-054.cfm> and fact sheet<http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Feb2013-_Version_Mandate_Factsheet.pdf> explain, the latest proposed rule published in February does not significantly expand the mandate's religious exemption, or free non-exempt religious organizations from having to fund or facilitate the objectionable coverage for their employees (and employees' minor children).
In the days to come, Congress must decide whether it will address this violation of religious freedom before August, by adding the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940) to its next "must-pass" bill (debt limit bill or spending bill) needed to keep the government operating. While we have made some progress, many members of Congress say they are not receiving messages from their constituents about this urgent issue. I am writing to encourage you to renew and expand your efforts in the following ways:
1. Please distribute NCHLA's new revised alert<http://nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292> in support of H.R. 940 as widely as you can, through parishes and other networks, and encourage people to call or write their elected Representative even if they have in the past.
2. If your diocese has not already activated the NCHLA postcard campaign, please do so now.
3. Members of Congress need to hear directly from employers involved in the current law suits against the mandate, and from others whose religious freedom will be burdened by the mandate. Catholic dioceses and other institutions that filed comment letters against the mandate should send copies to their Representative, with a cover note urging Congress to act on this issue in its next "must-pass" legislation. Bishops and the directors of Catholic institutions can make personal calls to their Representatives urging them to make this a priority.
At this point I would especially encourage you to make a concerted effort to contact your local House member(s). If the House does make this a priority, we will encourage action to persuade the Senate to concur.
Thank you for your efforts and for everything you do in defense of life!