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Knights Of Columbus Files Formal Comment On HHS Mandate

In addition to Supreme Knight's letter on behalf of the K of C, thousands of individual Knights and their family members have also filed comments

NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus filed formal comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, calling on the Administration to rescind the unpopular healthcare mandate that will force Americans of faith to cover medical services that violate their consciences without regard for their First Amendment's rights.

The letter, signed by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, urges "the administration to rescind the mandate altogether and chart a new course." It adds: "If, however, the administration refuses to do so, we urge it to expand the religious exemption so that objecting individuals and organizations do not lose their conscience rights and are not forced to cooperate in actions that genuinely violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Our nation's history of bipartisan respect for the consciences of its citizens instructs us to do no less."

In the letter, the Knights noted that even with the proposed changes, the mandate still fails to protect the rights of religious believers because "individuals and entities that object to paying for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization must pay for these interventions either directly or indirectly, and they must initiate coverage for these interventions, either directly or indirectly." It continues: "The mandate specifically fails to exempt individuals, even though the First Amendment expressly protects individual religious belief and practice. The government places itself in the untenable position of deciding that some consciences are fit for protection while others are not."

The letter points to a way forward and joins the U.S. Bishops in recommending "that the approach found in the Church Amendment to the Public Health Service Act (the Church Amendment)" be adapted to the current mandate. The Church Amendment protects health care providers so that no individual or entity is required to violate his or her religious beliefs or moral convictions as part of a government program. It adds that the Church Amendment passed in 1973 on a 92-1 vote with the support of such notable progressives as then-Senator Joseph Biden and Affordable Care Act architect Senator Edward Kennedy.

The full text of the letter is available at www.kofc.org/Mandate.

In addition to the letter from the supreme knight, thousands of individual Knights of Columbus and their family members have also filed comments. Today is the last day to file comments, and if they have not done so already, members and their families are encouraged to do so at http://nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292.

For the past century, the Knights of Columbus has worked diligently to protect the right to religious freedom both in the United States and abroad. The K of C is also one of the nation's most active charitable groups and the world's largest Catholic fraternal group with 1.8 million members worldwide – the vast majority of whom reside in the United States. Last year, the Knights donated more than $158 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes.

SOURCE Knights of Columbus

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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