The HHS Mandate and the Catholic Church

This past weekend, Bishops from across the United States of America had a letter read to their flock about the actions of the administration of Obama to mandate coverage for contraception for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation [Click here to read Bishop Callahan's letter]. This issue is not only about the hurtful consequences of contraception, but more importantly about religious freedom. Here is what the USCCB has to offer on the topic:

The HHS has issued a rule forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization. These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing -- regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.

The exemption provided for "religious employers" is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year. Ironically, not even Jesus & his disciples would have qualified.

During the public comment period last fall, the bishops' grassroots campaign alone generated over 57,000 comments to HHS opposing their mandate.
Now that the Administration has refused to recognize the Constitutional conscience rights of organizations and individuals who oppose the mandate, the bishops are now urging Catholics and others of good will to fight this unprecedented attack on conscience rights and religious liberty. [USCCB]
To explain this issue directly, Archbishop Timothy Dolan released a video addressing his concerns:
Click here to view the video. This is principally a matter of religious freedom, as the government is forcing the Catholic Church to go against her conscience and to provide something that we believe to be morally evil. But why is it that the Church is so against contraception? Here is an excerpt from an article from a well-known speaker that helps get at the heart of the matter:
 Only in the last 50-70 years has this been viewed primarily as a “Catholic” issue.  Until 1930, all Christian bodies stood together in their condemnation of any attempt to sterilize the marital act.  That year, the Anglican Church broke with more than nineteen hundred years of uninterrupted Christian teaching.  When the pill debuted in the early 1960's, the Catholic Church alone was retaining what in 30 short years had come to be seen as an archaic, even absurd position.
When Margaret Sanger and her followers started pushing contraception in the early 1900's, wise men and women – and certainly not just Catholics – predicted that severing sex from procreation would eventually lead to sexual and societal chaos.  Today’s culture of adultery, divorce, premarital sex, STD’s, out-of-wedlock births, abortion, fatherless children, homosexuality, poverty, crime, drugs, and violence was all foreseen.
[...]People throughout history have been tempted to commit adultery.  It’s nothing new.  However, one of the main deterrents from succumbing to the temptation has been the fear of pregnancy.  What would happen if this natural deterrent were taken away?  As history demonstrates, rates of adultery would skyrocket.  What’s one of the main causes of divorce?  Adultery.  Apply the same logic to pre-marital sex.  Such behavior has, indeed, skyrocketed.  Premarital sex, as a kind of “adultery in advance,” is also a prime indicator of future marital breakdown.
This issue of contraception is almost commonplace in the modern world and yet, it has proven to be the source of many of our problems. Here are some more resources to help understand the issue: