Congressman Steve Scalise today led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its unconstitutional mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.
“This radical mandate by the Obama Administration is an attack on the religious freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights,” Scalise, a pro-life Republican from Louisiana, said. “Religious organizations and hard-working taxpayers should not be forced by the federal government to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, or sterilizations in their health care plans.”
“This is an offensive example of Obamacare’s violation of the conscience rights of American employers just so this Administration can force their radical agenda on hard working taxpayers,” Scalise continues. “We are calling on the Obama Administration to reverse this offensive mandate in order to allow any employer that opposes mandated coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and other contraceptives to seek an exemption out of respect for their religious rights. I’m proud to stand with the vast majority of Americans who respect religious freedom in demanding that this mandate be reversed, and I will continue working tirelessly with other Members of Congress to prevent this attack on the Bill of Rights.”
Scalise is also a cosponsor of H.R. 1179, a bill by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) to reverse the contraceptive mandate. Sen. Marco Rubio has filed similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.
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,” saidDouglas 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.” [related]
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.”
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.