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President Addresses Legislators on State Contraception Mandate

On Thursday, February 23rd Dr. George Harne, President of the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, NH testified in front of the New Hampshire Constitutional Review and Statutory Committee.  Harne spoke in favor of a proposed amendment that would grant religious exemption to a state law mandating contraceptive coverage.  Following Harne’s testimony and the testimony of others on both sides of the issue, the committee voted 10-6 in favor of amending the legislation.

In his address to the committee Harne stated, "When I became president one year ago, I undertook a complete review of every aspect of our institution to ensure that we were truly Catholic, not merely Catholic in name only.  The state of New Hampshire is interfering with our ability to be fully Catholic and violating our religious freedom."

The New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on the amendment in early March.  If passed, the proposed amendment will ensure that employers in the State of New Hampshire would have the ability to opt out of insurance plans which cover the cost of contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients.

During his testimony Harne went on to say, "Our commitment is firm.  We will not compromise the Catholic identity of our College.  Every aspect of our identity must be consistent with the teachings of the Church."

House Speaker, William O’Brien brought forth the amendment in light of the Obama Administration’s recent moves to mandate insurance companies to provide contraception to all regardless of moral objection.  Speaker O’Brien stated, "It is a true shame that this disastrous federal law has forced us to come here today to offer relief to people of faith to ensure they are not forced to buy a product that they believe is immoral."

After the hearing Harne stated, "It was a great pleasure to be able to stand side by side today with Meredith Cook, Director of the Diocesan Office of Public Policy, knowing that Bishop Libasci supports the struggle for religious freedom in the State of New Hampshire."

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen remains one of only 20 colleges in the U.S. to be names to the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (www.thenewmanguide.com).  The College offers a classical liberal arts education
—through its Cowan Program and its Great Books Program—rooted in Catholic social teaching and loyal to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.