By Kathleen Gilbert
MADISON, Wisconsin, August 24, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin are strongly objecting to a new state budget requiring employers to include contraceptive coverage in their employees' health insurance, without exemptions for religious employers - a move the bishops call "blatant insensitivity to our moral values and legal rights."
"Nowhere does the Constitution say that the right of conscience is protected except in matters related to human reproduction," wrote the bishops of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference in the August 20 statement (see the statement here). "Nor does it limit the scope of religious freedom to tenets that conform to a party platform or to the agenda of powerful interest groups."
The letter was signed by Bishop of Green Bay David Ricken, Bishop of Madison Robert Morlino, Bishop of La Crosse Jerome Listecki, Bishop of Superior Peter Christensen, and Archdiocese of Milwaukee Administrator Bishop William Callahan.
The bishops said that the mandate violated not only Catholics' religious rights, but their constitutional right to freedom of conscience, and took issue with the fact that sweeping changes to state law on the distribution of contraceptives were enacted without an open public discussion.
The new law, the conference noted, made Wisconsin one of the few states that fails to include an exemption for religious institutions regarding contraception coverage.
"Whatever course we pursue in this matter," said the bishops, "we want all Catholics in Wisconsin to know that we will also continue to affirm and communicate the teachings of our faith.
"No legislation can repeal or annul our commitment to upholding the dignity of human life and the means by which each life is conceived."
While acknowledging that many of their flock consider the Catholic prohibition against contraception "difficult to accept," the bishops insisted that Catholic teaching on the matter aligned with the natural moral law, and thus was not simply a "Catholic issue."
"The bond between husband and wife, in their inseparable love-making and life creating Vocation, is evident to human reason itself - another powerful consideration which should
lead our legislators to take very seriously our conviction," they said.
"Many fail to recognize the truth of our conviction, not because they are irrational, but because, in our day and age, the fashionable proposition that there is no objective truth renders human reason itself directionless."
The new budget, signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle on June 29, also contains a provision that forces all pharmacy owners to dispense prescribed contraceptives.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
LA Gov. Jindal Strengthens Pharmacists' Conscience Protections but Wisconsin Forces Distribution of Abortifacient Pill
Belmont Abbey Head: Washington Instructed Officials to Pursue Discrimination Charges
Feds Accuse Catholic Belmont Abbey College of Sexual Discrimination for Not Covering Contraception