Our Office has been tracking a number of major legislative and judicial actions that affect the public policy priorities of the Church.
Contraception/Abortion Mandates -- The date is approaching for the implementation of regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services that would require almost all private health plans to cover contraception (including so-called "emergency contraception") and sterilization procedures. There are very narrow religious exemptions that would protect only some Catholic institutions, and virtually no private organizations. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to oppose these regulations. The Archdiocese and a number of Catholic dioceses and agencies, as well as private employers, have brought lawsuits to overturn them. For more information, see http://www.usccb.org/conscience and http://www.firstamericanfreedom.com/.
Immigration Reform -- Several proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform the current immigration system. On June 27, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill that included provisions to create a "path to citizenship", enhance border security, increasing visas for certain categories of immigrants. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports many components of this bill, and is encouraging the House to improve other elements. For more information about this issue, go to: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml.
Respect for Rights of Conscience Act -- This will ensure that participants in the health care system "retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions." Efforts to add this bill as an amendment to spending bills are underway. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports this bill.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- This bill would amend the health care reform law to ensure that individuals and institutions are not required to provide or purchase insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports comprehensive conscience protection.
New York State Issues
Abortion Expansion Bill -- This radical pro-abortion bill which would expand abortion rights and eliminate any reasonable regulations. In June, 2013, the bill was approved by the Assembly as part of a larger "Women's Equality Act", but an attempt to add it as an amendment to an unrelated bill was defeated in the Senate. The Governor included this as a priority item in his State of the State Message. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation. For more information, go to http://www.newyorkersforlife.org.
Banning Funding for Planned Parenthood -- This would ban state funding for Planned Parenthood and any other organization that performs abortions. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation.
Over-the-Counter "Emergency Contraception" -- This would permit the sale of "emergency contraception" to minors without a doctor's prescription and without parental knowledge. This bill has been approved in the past by committees in the Assembly but no action was taken by the full Assembly or the SenateThe New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation.
To take action on these bills -- Go to http://www.nyscatholic.org/
Defense of Marriage Act -- On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which provided that only a marriage between one man and one woman will be recognized under federal law. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supported DOMA.
Same-Sex "Marriage" -- On July 26, the Supreme Court decided to re-instate a lower court ruling that invalidated Proposition 8, which amended the California State Constitution to preserve the definition of marriage. This decision effectively re-defines marriage in California. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supported Proposition 8.
Conscience Protection/HHS Mandate -- In 2012, the Archdiocese and other Catholic agencies brought a lawsuit to overturn the HHS contraception/abortion mandate. Lawsuits have also been filed by other Catholic dioceses and agencies, as well as numerous other Christian organizations. For an overview of all the cases, see: http://www.becketfund.org/hhsinformationcentral/.
Pregnancy Centers -- In 2012, a federal District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily stopping the implementation of the New York City law that would have subjected pregnancy support centers to burdensome regulations and potentially heavy penalties. The City has appealed the preliminary injunction, and the matter is pending before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Archdiocese supports this litigation.
You can also download this current public policy status report.