The dome of the New Jersey State House is seen in this file photo. Lawmakers in Trenton are considering a bill that would force religious employers to provide health care that goes against their religious principles.
The dome of the New Jersey State House is seen in this file photo. Lawmakers in Trenton are considering a bill that would force religious employers to provide health care that goes against their religious principles.

State residents are being urged to contact their state senators in opposition to a bill that would force Catholic organizations such as schools, dioceses and social service agencies to offer employees health benefits that violate fundamental Catholic principles.

The bill, known in the Senate as S3804 and in the Assembly as A5508, would eliminate the long-standing exemption in the current state law (P.L. 2005 c.251) that protects religious employers from having to provide health insurance coverage for family planning medications, devices and procedures, including abortion inducing drugs and sterilizations.

The New Jersey Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of New Jersey’s Catholic bishops, is urging faithful citizens to make their voices heard by contacting their state senators at Faith in Action.

The bill was introduced in Trenton in May, and has already passed in the General Assembly. It was slated for a vote Dec. 5 before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, but was dropped from the agenda, and will likely go before the full Senate Dec. 16 as currently written.

In the state Senate, S3804 is sponsored by Senators Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, and Nellie Pou, D-Bergen and Passaic. In the Assembly, A5508 is sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset; and Assemblywomen Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, and Shavonda Sumter, D-Bergen and Passaic.