Paul Ryan had perhaps the question of the night when he challenged pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of the HHS mandate that compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs.
During the debate, Ryan brought up the controversial mandate that pro-life groups oppose.
“What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals,” he explained. “Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties.”
Biden tried to explain away the Obama administration’s pro-abortion assault on Catholics, evangelicals and other religious groups and businesses.
“With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact,” Biden falsely claimed.
“Now, I’ve got to take issue with the Catholic church and religious liberty,” Ryan retorted. “Why would they keep — why would they keep suing you? It’s a distinction without a difference.”
The mandate compels religious employers to pay for and refer women for abortion-causing drugs, birth control, contraception and sterilizations.
The mandate has drawn significant opposition from Catholic, Protestant and evangelical groups, pro-life organizations and others concerned that it includes no conscience protections for employers that don’t want to be required to pay for or refer women for drugs that end life and violate their faith.
Americans United for Life called the mandate a “payout for the abortion industry.”
“Last year, the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the clear influence of Planned Parenthood, announced that it was defining the “preventive services” provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to include “all FDA approved contraceptives.” As AUL has repeatedly documented, adopting such a broad definition forces private health insurance plans to fully-cover, without a co-pay, life-ending drugs and devices, including ella, an abortion-inducing drug,” it said.
“Despite the knowledge that mandated coverage for a drug like ella violates the religious beliefs and moral principles of many Americans, the Obama Administration has refused to offer sufficient solutions to a serious problem. Putting its loyalty to the abortion industry above all else, HHS has not budged,” it said. “Today, the pay-out to the abortion business begins.”
AUL indicates that, by design, the mandate has a “rolling” start. With each passing month, more plans will be infected with forced coverage for life-ending drugs and devices. One year from today, the so-called “safe harbor” for certain religious non-profit organizations expires.
At that point, employers will begin facing heavy fines that could cause them major financial problems. Organizations that refuse to comply could be fined enormous amounts of money, as much as $100 per day per employee.
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The mandate adversely affects three categories of businesses and organizations in different ways and the Catholic Association spells them out:
Category 1: For-Profit Employers
For-profit private employers do not qualify for the one-year safe harbor and are thus completely unprotected as of August 1. This is especially harmful to small and family-owned businesses that tend to have boutique or custom insurance plans to conform to religious or value-oriented workplace cultures. Many businesses are suing the Obama administration seeking immediate relief from the August 1 deadline. The penalty for non-compliance is $100 per day, per employee. For the Newland family business, the fines would add up to millions of dollars per year.
Category 2: Groups in Limbo
Some employers do not yet know if they qualify for the safe harbor. They may only object to some but not all of the services – for example, the evangelical college Wheaton, which has also filed suit against the Administration, objects to abortion-causing drugs but not contraception. These employers are left completely in the dark as to what will happen to them on August 1 and whether or not they will be slapped with crippling fines.
Category 3: Religiously Affiliated Employers
Objecting employers with a religious affiliation are essentially left with one year to scramble. The so-called accommodation, which has not been implemented, was widely rejected as an accounting gimmick. Even Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association (and a supporter of the President’s health care plan), originally supported the accommodation but after closer examination, called it unacceptable and unworkable. These religious entities are left with no option but to wait one more year before they have to begin violating the teachings of their faith or pay severe fines.