4/15/2012 11:54:00 AM Petition seeks fix for mandate problem
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Protesters gather at federal courthouse in Portland in March to oppose health care mandate.
A group called Oregonians for Religious Liberty Protection is circulating an online petition urging the state's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to respect conscience rights and religious liberty when shaping federal health care law.
"Individuals cannot practice their religious freedom if they are forced by the federal government to cover or pay for drugs and devices that go against deep moral or religious convictions," says the petition, which as of April 16 had been signed by more than 100 people.
The petition says its signers "represent a diverse group of citizens of good will from various religions and backgrounds." It asks House members to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.
The effort grows out of a request by the U.S. Catholic bishops to take action in response to a federal health care provision requiring that workers receive free health coverage for sterilization and contraception, including drugs that cause abortions.
Religious employers have objected to the mandate, even after President Obama announced that insurance companies would pick up the tab. Oregon Right to Life is encouraging its members to sign.
Originator of the petition is Gladys Allam, a member of St. Sharbel Parish in Portland. Hundreds rallied for religious freedom in front of Portland's federal courthouse.
The petition is located at www.ipetitions.com/petition/oregonians-for-religious-liberty-protection/.