On Friday, the Obama administration revised the HHS mandate rules — the first revision since losing to Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court. The revisions provide no relief from the mandate and essentially restate how pro-life groups, like the Little Sisters, will have to pay huge fines if the violate the mandate.
The upshot of the new rules? As Arina Grossu, Director for the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, tells LifeNews, it’s “the threat of crippling fines on non-profits who stand up for their freedom of conscience.”
Congressman Chris Smith, the top pro-life advocate in the House of Representatives, tells LifeNews that resident Obama has resorted to coercion and massive, punitive fines against pro-life organizations and faith-based groups that oppose the mandate because, for moral reasons,they cannot and will not include abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception procedures in their private health insurance plans.
“Here he goes again. This new ‘notification option’ announced today is really just another highly coercive regulation—a direct, obnoxious, unprecedented government attack on the conscience rights of religious entities and anyone else who for moral reasons cannot and will not include potentially abortion-causing drugs—such as ella—or contraception and sterilization procedures in their private insurance plans,” said Smith, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
“Rather than protecting the religious freedom and deeply held beliefs of nuns, monks, Christian colleges and charities, today’s announcement just establishes another bogus procedure designed to force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs or face devastating fines of as much as $36,500 per year, per employee,” Smith said.
“President Obama’s means of coercing compliance—ruinous fines when faith-based organizations refuse to violate their conscience—will impose incalculable harm on millions of children educated in faith-based schools, and the poor, sick, disabled and frail elderly who are served with such compassion and dignity by faith-based entities,” Smith said.
“President Obama is arrogantly using the coercive power of the state to force faith-based charities, hospitals, and schools to conform to his will at the expense of conscience,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said the new rules provide no help for his group, which has sued the Obama administration for violating its religious rights by forcing it to pay for abortion-causing drugs in its health care plan.
Pavone said: “On Friday afternoon, it was announced that the Obama Administration has come up with an alternate procedure for religious non-profit groups like Priests for Life, who object to the HHS mandate, to register their objection so that their employees can receive insurance coverage for immoral practices by other means.
“Despite this new announcement, we are proceeding full speed ahead with our lawsuit, which already had oral arguments on May 8 in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and which is therefore likely to be the first of the religious non-profit cases against the mandate to be decided at the appellate level,” he told LifeNews. “We are proceeding first of all because the regulation that burdens our religious freedom is still in effect, and secondly, because what we understand right now of the new rule still burdens our religious freedom.”
“Let’s use a simple example. The government comes up with a plan to arbitrarily imprison children between 2 and 4 years old, and imposes on businesses the obligation to inform them of such children among the families of their employees.
“Any employer with a conscience is going to say, “I want nothing to do with this. If you’re going to imprison these children, you’re going to have to find them yourself. I won’t be sending you any information.”
“In the current case, we are being asked to be part of a process in which employees, if they want, can have coverage for abortion-inducing drugs (among others) precisely because they are our employees. Having someone else pay for it, and registering our objection to it, are not enough. We do not want to have any involvement in the process. We are not going to, in effect, tell the government, ‘Here are some of the people who aren’t covered! Be sure you don’t miss them, or the children they may want to kill.’
“Bottom line: The government is on its own in this scheme to expand access to abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives. We want a full exemption from this mandate, so that we have nothing to do with this scheme. If people want these drugs and the government wants to provide them, then the government will have to find a way to connect with them without our help. Our religion requires no less.”