Now that the battle over Komen and Planned Parenthood is dying down, pro-life advocates are turning their attention to renewing their fight against the new mandate pro-abortion President Barack Obama put in place.
Last month, 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 because drugs that can cause abortions like ella and Plan B are included, but it 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.
“President Obama has declared open season on pro-life health care providers,” said Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. “If he’ll do this when he’s facing a difficult re-election, imagine what he’s going to do when he’s re-elected and the gloves come off. That’s the message we’re taking to our people.”
Bishops across the country have spoken out against the mandate and are considering a lawsuit against it — with bishops in more than 164 locations across the United States issuing public statements against it or having letters opposing it printed in diocesan newspaper or read from the pulpit.
“We cannot — we will not comply with this unjust law,” said the letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”
Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”
“To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom,” he added.
The mandate is so egregious that even the normally reliably liberal and pro-abortion USA Today condemned it in an editorial titled, “Contraception mandate violates religious freedom.”
“Few Americans of any political stripe would disagree with the simple proposition that the government should steer away from meddling in church affairs. Certainly, it should never try to force a religiously affiliated institution to violate a central tenet of its faith,” the newspaper writes. “Yet in drawing up the rules that will govern health care reform, the Obama administration didn’t just cross that line. It galloped over it, requiring employers affiliated with the Catholic Church to include free birth control in their health insurance plans. That’s contrary to both Catholic doctrine and constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.”
“In the two weeks since the rule was finalized, setting off a predictable backlash from Catholic bishops and others, the administration has mounted three lines of defense for its decision, all of which sidestep the central issue,” it added. “The administration’s best option now is to reopen discussion with those affected and widen the exemption in a suitable way. The number of people affected will be relatively small — far too small to justify yet another court fight over the Affordable Care Act— and having freely chosen their employer, they’d have a dubious case for grievance against institutions that choose not to offer contraception coverage.”
House Speaker John Boehner also blasted the new rules, saying, “I think this mandate violates our Constitution. I think it violates the rights of these religious organizations, and I would hope the administration would back up and take another look.”
Meanwhile, pro-life Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has filed legislation to repeal the mandate and it already has the support of pro-life groups and lawmakers. This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
“This is a common-sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so,” he said.
But Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, in comments supporting Obama, who will enjoy strong support from the abortion business for his re-election, said, “Full birth control coverage matters to women from all corners of this country — and when it mattered most, President Obama stood strong against efforts to take it away.”
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.
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.