The federal Department of Health and Human Services today finalized revised rules issued in February regarding the department's mandate requiring religious organizations to join other employers in offering insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations.
However, the final rules also give religious employers an extra five months to implement the mandate, with the deadline moved from Aug. 1 to Jan. 1, 2014. Other employers were forced to comply with the mandate as of Aug. 1, 2012.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a press release he and other Church officials would take time to study the 110-page ruling.
"We appreciate the extension of the effective date by five months, which is readily apparent in the rule," Dolan said. "The remainder of the rule is long and complex. It will require more careful analysis.We will provide a fuller statement when that analysis is complete."
The department issued revised rules on Feb. 1, and the USCCB released a statement a week later in which Dolan noted three areas of concern, highlighting that the "accommodation" does not fully recognize that Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, colleges, Charities and social service organizations are an integral element of the Catholic Church.
Public comments on the revised rules were accepted through April 8.