The New Jersey Senate passed a bill Jan. 9 that would force religious employers such as Catholic organizations to offer employees contraceptive health benefits that go against Catholic principles. CNS/Nancy Wiechec
The New Jersey Senate passed a bill Jan. 9 that would force religious employers such as Catholic organizations to offer employees contraceptive health benefits that go against Catholic principles. CNS/Nancy Wiechec
The New Jersey Legislature has passed S3804/A5508 that would eliminate a long-standing religious employers’ exemption contained in state law requiring health insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Currently, state law protects religious employers from having to provide health insurance coverage for family planning medications, devices and procedures, including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.

If signed into law, the legislation would force Catholic organizations such as schools, dioceses and social service agencies to offer employees health benefits that violate fundamental Catholic principles.

State residents are being urged to contact Gov. Phil Murphy and ask that he conditionally veto the legislation to protect the religious employers’ exemption.

Residents can contact Gov. Murphy through The New Jersey Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of New Jersey’s Catholic bishops. Visit Faith in Action by clicking here.

In December, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., spoke out about the legislation saying that it “raises serious concerns.”

“The Catholic Church has consistently supported universal, affordable health care,” he wrote. “As the Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, on behalf of the Catholic community I lead … I am simply asking that the religious employers’ exemption that is currently part of state law be maintained and protected as a continuing expression of religious freedom in our state.”