The Obama administration today released the final draft of the HHS mandate that will force religiously-run groups and companis to pay for abotion-causing drugs and birth control in violaton of their consciences.
The initial versions of the HHS mandate have already been the subject of multiple lawsuits from colleges and businesses that will be forced to comply because the HHS rules have very limited exceptions.
The final rules reflect public feedback received in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in February 2013 but they are not revised in a way that would mitigate any of the concerns or complaints pro-life groups have had. Despite the lack of any real conscience protections in prior versions, the White House hailed the HHS mandate today.
“The health care law guarantees millions of women access to recommended preventive services at no cost,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work.”
In response to today’s final regulation on the Health and Human Services Mandate, Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, commented in an email to LifeNews. His organizoation is one of the primary groups suing the Obama administration on behalf of victims of the HHS mandate.
“Today, after two years of debate, four failed proposed accommodations, and over 60 lawsuits and 200 plaintiffs challenging the regulation, the Administration has announced its final rule on the HHS mandate. We look forward to closely studying the impact it will have on the existing lawsuits and the religious freedom of millions of Americans, and will provide a detailed statement shortly.”
The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund currently represents: Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.
A court ruling this week says Christian-run business Hobby Lobby does not have to pay fines under the HHS mandate while its legal challenges continue. Hobby Lobby could have paid as much as $1.3 million each day in fines for refusing to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs under the mandate.
The most recent polling data from December 2012 shows Americans support a religious exemption to the mandate.