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USCCB president urges Trump to quickly act to ease contraceptive mandate


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on President Donald Trump to ease the "onerous" contraceptive mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act because it violates religious freedom.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in an op-ed piece in The Hill Aug. 3 that the mandate, which requires most employer-offered health insurance programs to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, "has tested this country's commitment to a healthy pluralism."

Citing Trump's pledge to ease the mandate during a White House signing ceremony May 4 for an executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty, Cardinal DiNardo lamented that after three months no steps have yet been taken to erase the HHS mandate for organizations that object to it for faith reasons.

Religious charities, schools and pro-life advocacy organizations, the cardinal wrote, could face millions of dollars in fines from the federal government for not complying with the mandate.

"The president's promises were not just in his speeches," Cardinal DiNardo said. "The text of the executive order itself directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to 'considering issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.

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