NOTE: I have added some updates at the end of this post.
I have intended for a few weeks now to post some videos about the recent contraception mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the unlikely event that you haven't heard about this mandate, essentially the issue is as follows:
As part of the "Obamacare" health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services has defined contraception, sterilization, and even abortifacient "emergency contraception" as preventive care which must be covered in all employer-sponsored health plans. Most religious organizations are not exempt from this requirement, meaning that organizations such as Catholic universities, Catholic charities, and Catholic hospitals must choose either to pay for medicines and procedures which they believe are morally wrong, or stop providing health insurance coverage for their employees and pay a steep fine to the government.
Obviously, the first option (providing contraception) is not an option that a Catholic individual or a Catholic organization can follow without violating the teachings of the church. And the second option is clearly unjust, because it prevents Catholics and Catholic organizations from providing health care coverage to their employees, and penalizes them monetarily for not being willing to violate their consciences. This HHS mandate is a clear violation of the religious liberty of Catholics, or of anyone whose religion teaches that these medicines and procedures are morally wrong.
To read more about this mandate, I would recommend starting with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' web page on the HHS mandate, as well as the National Catholic Register for ongoing news coverage.
And of course, since this blog is focused on Catholic videos, I do have some videos on this issue. First, here is Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York on CBS News:
Ave Maria University states that they will not comply with the contraception mandate:
And here is Fr. Barron's commentary on the contraception mandate, in which he replies to some commentators who favor the mandate:
Finally, there are several petitions that people can sign, including the following:
Online petition at StopHHS.com, courtesy of Ave Maria Radio
Online petition at whitehouse.gov
"Stop the Birth Control Mandate" petition
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Petition
UPDATE 1: Here is one more video, from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which I found on the Aggie Catholics blog:
UPDATE 2 (Feb. 11, 2012): Yesterday, President Obama offered an "accommodation," essentially saying that religious employers who provide health insurance to their employees must still purchase plans that provide free contraception, but the contraception will be paid for by the insurance company rather than by the employer. Of course this is merely a change in semantics, not a change in the actual situation. The insurance companies do not magically create money with which to pay for these "free" contraceptives; rather the contraceptives must be paid for with the premiums paid by their customers -- including religious employers. Thankfully, it does not appear that the Catholic bishops or many Catholic religious organizations are buying this. Here is the most recent statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and here is a video statement from Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma: