The Real Contraception Concern: Obama’s Insurance Mandate

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders and Mary Harned   |   Dec 8, 2011   |   4:11PM   |   Washington, DC

It is truly remarkable how quickly a new law or regulation can be characterized as “indispensable.” The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is currently fundraising with a plea that “millions of women” could be on the verge of losing their existing contraceptive coverage.

Why? Because concerned Americans, including some members of Congress, want the Obama Administration to modify its new regulation that requires private insurance plans to cover all “FDA-approved contraceptives,” including those that have a life-ending mechanism, under the authority of the preventive care mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

While this requirement is accompanied by a narrow exception for religious employers only—narrowly defined as those that have the “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose, primarily employ and serve persons who share their religious tenets, and have a non-profit status under IRS (hence, for instance, pro-life groups such as AUL would have no basis to object to the life-ending “contraception” coverage because we do not meet all three criteria)—by August 2012 most employers who have an objection to providing insurance coverage for contraception, including drugs classified as “contraception” that have a life-ending mechanism, will be forced to choose between providing such coverage or no insurance coverage for their employees at all.

Make no mistake – the insurance coverage mandate is an extreme and unprecedented federal regulation. Further, if the Obama Administration were to remove “contraceptive” coverage from the preventive care mandate or create a broader conscience exception to the mandate, their action would simply maintain the freedom of conscience that existed before the new mandate—it would not force a single person who had contraceptive coverage before to lose it. In contrast, Planned Parenthood’s desperate fundraising pleas would lead one to believe that a proposal to eliminate all insurance coverage for contraception is on the table.

Is the new “contraceptive” mandate indispensable for the well-being of women? No. However, the regulation’s repeal is indispensable for the employers with conscientious objections to some or all “FDA-approved contraceptives” and the employees who depend on those employers for benefits.

LifeNews Note: Mary Harned is a staff attorney for Americans United for Life.