On Friday the Obama Administration issued a statement re-iterating the “contraceptive mandate” requiring all insurance providers cover the full range of FDA-approved drugs and devices would remain intact.
This mandate, issued in August, includes drugs that work after conception to destroy life rather than prevent it. The statement included a postponement of one year for religious groups that do not already carry contraceptives and additionally would not be exempted under last year’s narrow definition of “religious employer.”
The mandate not only violates such existing conscience protections on abortion such as the Hyde/Weldon Amendment (in so far as Plan B and Ella are covered), but also violates the principles of the Church Amendments which protects conscience rights for those who object to contraceptives and other services on moral or religious grounds. Additionally, the U.S. government already funds domestic family planning at a level of $1.9 billion annually.
Tom McClusky of FRC Action had the following to say:
“This HHS delay does nothing to change the anti-religious, anti-conscience, and anti-life contraceptive mandate, rather it only postpones its implementation until after the presidential election. Despite the fact that certain drugs and devices approved by the FDA can work after conception to destroy a newly developed baby, the Obama Administration mandate still forces all insurance plans to carry these drugs and devices even if employers are morally opposed.
“This does nothing to expand conscience protections it merely punts compliance for most religious employers with conscience objections until after the election. It does nothing to modify or expand the very narrow exemption for churches to include the thousands of religious organizations who don’t qualify, it only delays their pending obedience for 1 year.
“The new rule also mandates that these groups with a one-year reprieve in the mean time will be forced to tell their employees where to obtain contraceptives. This completely violates the conscience rights of many Americans. As we approach the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade may all voters who respect life take note of the Obama Administration’s ardent policies against life and religious liberty and vote accordingly in November.”
The mandate has upset pro-life groups that don’t want to be forced to provide health insurance coverage that pays for contraception, birth control drugs, or drugs like the morning after pill, Plan B and ella that can cause abortions in some circumstances. They have objected to a very narrow set of exemptions for religious groups that don’t adequately allow all faith-based organizations to opt out of providing such coverage.
The administration initially approved a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine suggesting that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions under the Obamacare government-run health care program.
The IOM recommendation, opposed by pro-life groups, called for the Obama administration to require insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.
Jeanne Monahan of FRC says the current opt out is not sufficient.
“On September 30th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received thousands of negative comments related to the interim final rule published on August 3rd where all insurance plans were informed that they must cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives with no co-pay,” Monahan explains. “A very narrowly defined conscience exemption for religious organizations was included which, in essence, covers only places of worship and was originally drafted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for a bill in California.”
“HHS offered a fig leaf of conscience protection for certain churches that fulfill very specific criteria. However, religious groups that provide social services, engage in missions work to people of different religious faiths, religious health insurance companies, let alone religious health care providers and individuals in such health plans are not protected from any discrimination whatever. The new rule will force many Americans to violate their consciences or refrain from participating in health care insurance, further burdening an already costly system,” Monahan said.
“For an administration that promised to protect conscience laws in effect now, this decision completely ignores opinion, research and science that do not support a pro-abortion ideology. In the words of one of the committee members who objected to the IOM recommendations, the ‘evaluation for evidence lacked transparency … the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determination through the lens of advocacy,” Monahan continued. “This administration is promoting mandates that will violate the consciences of millions.”
The HHS accepted the IOM guidelines that “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” and those services include “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” — which include birth control drugs like Plan B and ella that can cause abortions. The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations.