Seven days before House Republicans shut down the government, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote to House members about forcing the government to shut down — even a default — unless they were given authority to control what women do in the privacy of their own homes.
Archbishop Seán Cardinal O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore demanded in the letter, dated Sept. 26, 2013, that Congress should put together a bill with the routine continuing resolution (CR) that would let private religious employers, as well as hospitals and universities, to be exempted from a part of the Affordable Care Act that depends on insurance plans covering prescription contraception without a co-pay.
The letter was sent and supported by the USCCB (also known as the bishops’ lobby), and signed by O’Malley and Lori in their positions as chairmen of the lobby’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.
As reported by RH Reality Check’s Adele Stan, the letter told members of Congress, “[We] have already urged you to enact the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940/S. 1204). As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such ‘must-pass’ legislation.”
A related bill, the H.R. 1179, which was presented in March 2011, was eventually dropped in committee.
“As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and a debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such “must-pass” legislation,” wrote Lori and O’Malley in the September letter.