Steve Stivers on Religious Freedom and Conscience Rights

Recently a supporter of Catholics for Ohio wrote U.S. Representative Steve Stivers with her concerns regarding the HHS Mandate and other conscience legislation. Here is Representative Stiver’s response to her letter, showing his support of laws that would safeguard religious liberty and conscience rights:

Dear Ms. Jones:

Thank you for contacting me about the rights of conscience legislation and for sharing your perspective. I appreciate this opportunity to correspond with you.

I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). This legislation seeks to amend the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA) to protect rights of doctors and health care providers with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and services. H.R. 1179 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

I do not believe it is appropriate to require licensed health care providers to provide services that they may morally oppose. The intention of the legislation is to ensure that health care professionals have the right to provide and enroll individuals in health coverage that is parallel with their religious beliefs and moral convictions, without being penalized or discriminated against under PPACA. It also seeks to ensure that no requirements are created to exclude those exercising such conscientious objections from health plans or state health exchanges created under PPACA.

Also, I have cosponsored legislation introduced by Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 (H.R. 3897). This bill would clarify and expand the conscience exemption to cover religious organizations targeted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This bill awaits consideration by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health.

In response to the Administration’s attack on religious freedom in our country, Speaker John Boehner has used his leadership position to continue speaking out against the rule and press the Obama Administration to reverse its flawed HHS rule. I fully support the Speaker’s efforts.

You may also be interested to know, on February 9, 2012, I sent a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at HHS expressing my strong objection to her agency’s rule that would compel religious organizations to violate their religious beliefs by providing morally questionable health care.

As a result of these and other efforts, on March 16, 2012, the Obama Administration announced its intent to continue discussions about the HHS rule. According to the notice, contraceptive coverage will not be included in the plan document, contract, or premium charged to the religious organization for religious employers. However, insurance companies will still be required to provide the coverage to beneficiaries separately. I will continue to support efforts to reverse the outrageous rule and subsequent moves by the Administration.

On March 1, 2012, the Senate voted 51-48 to table an amendment offered by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would protect the conscience rights of faith-based organizations that have moral or religious objections to the contraceptive and sterilization mandate issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (P.L. 111-148).

I will continue to monitor this issue closely and keep your views in mind as the House seeks ways to protect American’s religious freedom.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I may be of assistance in the future. For additional information on where I stand on the policies and issues before Congress, please sign up for my e-newsletter at: You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Steve Stivers

Member of Congress





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