Before entering the Vatican conclave, where the next pope will be chosen, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley wrote to lawmakers urging support for a bill that could weaken President Obama’s birth control coverage mandate.
Irish American O’Malley is now looking like a possible contender to be the next leader of the Catholic Church, according to a poll in Corriere della Sera, and rumblings around Rome.
On Friday, O’Malley wrote in his capacity as head of an anti-abortion committee within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He urged support for Rep. Diane Black's (R-Tenn.) legislation, which states that an employer who objects to birth control being included in employees’ health care could be exempt.
O’Malley wrote that Black’s legislation preserves the “vitally important traditions of religious freedom and the right of conscience.
“Providers of healthcare, as well as those who offer or purchase insurance, should not face an unacceptable choice between preserving their religious and moral integrity and participating in our healthcare system,” reports The Hill.
Obama’s healthcare law has received constant criticism from Catholic leaders such as the New York Cardinal and President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Timothy Dolan.
Under Obama’s law, houses of worship and Churches are exempt from the birth control inclusion. Insurance companies will offer the coverage independently to other religiously affiliated institutions, such as Catholic hospitals and colleges.
Black's bill would allow employers who have “a moral or religious objection” to birth control to opt out of this aspect of health care for their employees. It would also allow religious healthcare professionals to sue if they are forced to perform an abortion.