MCC Joins Other Faith Groups in Rally for Religious Liberty

On Tuesday, March 27, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and Dr. John L. Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, will join other prominent religious leaders from around the state at a Rally for Religious Liberty at the rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City.

The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), Missouri Baptist Convention and Missouri Right to Life are all working together to promote this rally. They will be inviting other religious organizations to participate.

This rally will protest the new mandate promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that forces employers, including the Catholic Church and other religious institutions, to provide coverage for abortion drugs, sterilization and contraceptives.

In a recent letter to parishioners, the Missouri Catholic bishops said: “We believe this new requirement signals a direct attack on our religious freedom.”

Mike Hoey, executive director of the MCC, observed that the HHS mandate sets a dangerous precedent. “Once the principle is accepted that government can override the moral convictions of individuals and churches, then there is no reason why government cannot make further demands, such as requiring coverage for surgical abortions and other morally objectionable practices.”

This rally will call on Congress to pass S. 1467 (sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt) and H.R. 1179 (co-sponsored by Congresspersons Todd Akin, Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves, Billy Long and Blaine Luetkemeyer). Passage of these bills would overturn the HHS abortion-drug mandate.

The rally will also call on the Missouri General Assembly to pass SB 749, which is sponsored by State Sen. John Lamping (R-Clayton). This bill would put in state law a prohibition on government forcing religious institutions to offer health coverage for abortion drugs, sterilization or contraceptives. It would also make sure that individuals do not have to buy health plans that cover these items.

“Missouri will not wait for Congress to act,” said Mike Hoey, executive director of the MCC. “Missouri is taking the lead among the states in saying ‘NO’ to the new federal mandate.”

According to Hoey, “SB 749 will offer a way to make it known to Congress that Missouri citizens will not tolerate the loss of their religious liberties.”

The Rally for Religious Liberty will begin at 10 a.m. with registration and the opportunity to visit state legislators to urge support for SB 749.  At noon, there will be speeches from public officials and prominent religious leaders. Bishop John Gaydos of Jefferson City will offer the opening prayer.

The Missouri Catholic Conference will provide additional details about this rally in the coming weeks, including prominent public officials and religious leaders who will speak at the event.

Where is Missouri’s Congressional Delegation on HHS Mandate?

Currently there are two bills going through Congress to protect conscience rights, S. 1467 and HR 1179. Both of these would protect religious employers or health plans from having to provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization procedures or abortion-inducing drugs.

Here is how the Missouri Congressional Delegates stand on these bills.

Contact your congressperson and thank them for sponsoring or co-sponsoring these bills
or ask them to co-sponsor them by clicking on their name and visiting their website.




Sen. Roy Blunt is the sponsor of S. 1467.

Missouri congresspersons who have co-sponsored the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives include:

Rep. Todd Akin



Todd Akin

Rep. Sam Graves




Sam Graves

Rep. Vicky Hartzler





Vicky Hartzler

Rep. Billy Long





Billy Long

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer





Blaine Luetkemeyer

All photos courtesy of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.




Sen. Claire McCaskill has NOT yet co-sponsored Sen. Blunt’s legislation concerning conscience rights.

Missouri congresspersons who have NOT yet co-sponsored the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives include:

Rep. Russ Carnahan




Russ Carnahan

Rep. William Lacy Clay





William Lacy Clay

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver




Emanuel Cleaver

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson




Jo Ann Emerson

Abortion-Drug Mandate Information

“Obama’s decision also reflects a certain view of liberalism. Classical liberalism was concerned with the freedom to hold and practice beliefs at odds with a public consensus. Modern liberalism uses the power of the state to impose liberal values on institutions it regards as backward. It is the difference between pluralism and anti-clericalism.”
— Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist

Below are some other helpful resources the MCC found about the Obama Administration’s HHS abortion-drug  mandate.

News articles, editorials and Catholic resources:

Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate from the USCCB

USCCB’s point-by-point response to White House blog post about HHS mandate

USCCB’s bulletin insert about the mandate

The Atlantic‘s opinion column by Megan McArdle, who calls the mandate “stupid.”

Kansas City Star (Michael Gerson’s Washington Post column)

Transcript of Question and Answer about HHS Mandate with Jay Carney, White House press secretary.

Wall Street Journal’s article about the White House reiterating on Feb. 2nd that it would not rescind the mandate.

The National Catholic Reporter — Michael Sean Winters’ article on how the mandate changed his mind about President Obama.

Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops’ statement on mandate

AP Article — Contraceptive Mandate Outrages Religious Groups

Washington Times’ article — Pro-life supporters balk at Obama’s new coverage rule — Caesar Overreaching Once Again

Washington Post — Komen, Catholics and the Cost of Conscience

A Matter of Conscience — op-ed by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson

Rasmussen Reports article on how many people oppose mandate

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Article — Missouri Senators divided over mandate.

Wall Street Journal opinion article about the growing furor over the Obama Administration’s mandate

New York Times’ article — Self-Insured Complicate Health Deal

Watch Cardinal Wuerl’s interview on MSNBC about the mandate and the so-called compromise


For all of the MCC’s articles about the HHS Mandate, click here.

To find out where your Congressional delegate stands on the mandate, click here.

Former Colleague of Obama Urges President to Rescind HHS Mandate

A Illinois state senator who served with Obama in the Illinois Senate is urging the President to rescind the HHS mandate. State Sen. William Haine is a Democrat and serves the Alton, Ill., area. Click here to read his letter to the President.

What Can We Do?

The new HHS mandate is an unprecedented attack on our religious liberties. But what can we do? Fortunately, we live in democracy. The mandate can and must be reversed. The mandate was issued in the form of a federal regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A new federal law can reverse this HHS rule.

Missouri is fortunate to have a champion in this cause. Sen. Roy Blunt is the sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467), which would reverse the HHS mandate. Five of Missouri’s nine Congresspersons have sponsored companion legislation (H.R. 1179) in the U.S. House of Representatives: Sam Graves, Todd Akin, Billy Long, Baine Luetkemeyer and Vicky Hartzler. All of these folks should be thanked for their efforts.

But what about the rest of the Missouri delegation? Sen. Claire McCaskill needs to hear from thousands of Missouri citizens. She should be asked to co-sponsor Sen. Blunt’s legislation. The other four Missouri Congresspersons – Russ Carahan, William Lacy Clay, Emanuel Cleaver and Jo Ann Emerson– should be contacted and asked to co-sponsor H.R. 1179. Finally, everyone should contact President Barack Obama and express profound disappointment in the new HHS mandate.

Missouri Bishops Roll Out Opposition to Contraceptive/Abortion-Drug Mandate

Catholic bishops throughout the country are having letters read in their parishes denouncing the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring that religious employers provide health coverage for contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion, in the form of abortion-inducing drugs.

In his letter, St. Louis Archbishop Carlson said, “the federal government, which was formed to be ‘of, by, and for the people,’ has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people – the Catholic population – and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave coverage to the Archbishop’s letter. Click here to read the article. Click here to read the Spanish translation of Archbishop Carlson’s letter.

All of the Missouri bishops have issued statements opposing the mandate. Click here to download the letter from Bishop James Johnston from the DIocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Click to read the article from Bishop Finn from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in English or in Spanish. Click to read the letter issued by Bishop Gaydos from the Diocese of Jefferson City in Spanish or in English.

Missouri Senator Seeks to Halt Federal Mandate Requiring Health Coverage for Contraceptives, Abortion Drugs

The Missouri Senate is responding swiftly to a new mandate by the Obama Administration that requires religious employers to offer health coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion drugs. Sen. John Lamping (R-St. Louis) filed SB 749 to halt the mandate recently promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Sen. John Lamping
Sen. John Lamping

The HHS mandate requires all employers, effective Aug. 1, 2012, to provide coverage in their health plans for contraceptives, abortion-inducing emergency contraceptives such as Ella (ulipristal acetate), and sterilization procedures, provision of which the Catholic Church condemns.

The mandate has a limited religious exemption that would protect only those Catholic institutions that seek to inculcate Catholic values, and which “primarily” employ and serve Catholics. Thus at a minimum, Catholic hospitals, universities and charity organizations that serve non-Catholics would not qualify for the exemption.

The legislation states that no employer or health plan shall be required to provide health coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such items are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the employer.

The bill also would prevent the government from discriminating against or penalizing an employer or health plan for refusing to provide such coverage. Under the bill, individuals could not be forced to purchase health plans that include coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if such items violate their religious or moral beliefs.

“The Obama Administration has decided that virtually unfettered access to contraceptives, abortion-inducing emergency contraceptives and sterilization is more important than the religious liberty of Americans and people of faith,” said Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference. “We applaud Sen. Lamping for bringing this matter before the Missouri General Assembly for debate and consideration.”

Sen. Lamping commented, “I want to send a message to Washington that the people of Missouri will not stand for this intrusion on religious liberty.”

“Catholic hospitals and Catholic Charities provide services for millions of non-Catholics in the U.S., and they do not discriminate against those of other faiths when they decide whom to treat and to serve,” said Hoey.

Co-sponsoring SB 749 are Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), Sen. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) and Sen. Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City).

Send a thank you email to the sponsor and co-sponsors of SB 749.

Archbishop Carlson Releases Pastoral Letter on Conscience Rights

Archbishop Robert Carlson
Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis has issued a pastoral letter addressing the “grave and unprecedented threats to our religious freedom here in the United States.” In the letter, the Archbishop cites the Obama Administration’s HHS rule, which requires religious employers to cover contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures in their health plans. The Archbishop observes that “this attack on our religious freedom is unacceptable to Americans who cherish the principles on which our nation was founded.” To read the entire pastoral, click here.

Obama Administration Refuses to Change Course

The Obama Administration announced last Friday, just days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, that it will not change course on its decision to mandate contraceptive and abortion-drug coverage in virtually all private health insurance plans. Ignoring the requests of the U.S. Catholic bishops and numerous Catholic agencies to withdraw the mandate means that religious employers, including Catholic hospitals, universities and charity groups, will be forced to offer contraceptive drugs, including the abortion-inducing drug Ella, in employee health insurance plans.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) decried the announcement and vowed to fight the mandate. The Missouri Catholic Conference is asking its network members to contact their U.S. legislators to support the “Respect for Conscience Rights Act,” a bill that would remedy this unprecedented affront to religious liberty. See the MCC’s Action Alert on the issue here.