Healthcare News June 20, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Catholic leaders seek to rally HHS mandate opponents

    Controversy over the Obama administration’s birth-control coverage mandate could see renewed attention in the coming weeks, as Catholic bishops prepare to launch a two-week campaign to motivate and unite those who oppose the policy. The so-called “Fortnight for Freedom” will begin Thursday, heralded by a nationwide ad against the mandate to air on Fox News. The Catholic Association, the lay group behind the ad, will also continue its campaign online. As of Tuesday afternoon, its Facebook page had more than 70,000 “likes,” reflecting a recent spike in interest, according to the group.

    As those efforts continue, advocates with Catholics for Choice noted that thousands have submitted comments to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department in support of the mandate. The group filed its own 12-page statement on Tuesday, which cited a poll showing that a strong majority of Catholics believe private insurance plans should cover birth control. The comments also touched on an issue central to the debate — the difference in how supporters and objectors view moral choices.

    “Religious freedom protections extend to one’s personal religious beliefs and practices, but they do not give individuals or entire institutions license to obstruct or coerce the exercise of another’s conscience,” Catholics for Choice wrote to HHS. “Rather than prioritizing … what institutions are granted exemptions, we ask that you prioritize the human impact of these exemptions and respect the consciences and religious freedom of all individual employees.”

  • Dem bill would halt new mountaintop coal mines pending health study

    House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to combat illnesses associated with coal pollution.

    Sponsored by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the legislation would require a comprehensive study of the health dangers related to mountaintop removal coal mining – the practice of blowing the tops off mountains to access the coal inside.

    More controversially, the bill would also halt all new mountaintop coal projects until the health study is complete.

  • Catholic group to launch ad against birth control mandate

    An association of lay Catholics will air a nationwide ad against the Obama administration’s birth control coverage mandate on Fox News Thursday.

    The move serves to highlight a two-week effort by U.S. Catholic bishops to build momentum against the mandate, which some have argued violates religious freedom.

    The debate puts the church in a tough spot because polls show that the vast majority of Catholic women use and support birth control. 

  • Giant pack of birth control to follow Romney on campaign trail

    Planned Parenthood’s political arm is sending a special surrogate out on the campaign trail to highlight the group’s disagreements with Mitt Romney: a gigantic package of birth control.

    Dubbed “Pillamina” by the group, the costumed figure will follow the presumptive Republican nominee to draw attention to his objection to President Obama’s birth-control coverage mandate.

    The move highlights the breadth of Planned Parenthood’s political action this election cycle, as women’s health issues remain in the headlines and Democrats seek to solidify their lead among female voters. 

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