The Obama administration’s revisions to the birth control/abortion-causing drug mandate are not meeting with support from pro-life advocates, who say the president’s claims that it is a compromise that respects religious conscience issues is a sham.
The Obama administration has revised its controversial mandate that had forced religious employers to pay for health insurance coverage that includes birth control and drugs like Plan B, the morning after pill, and ella that can cause abortions.
The revised Obama mandate will make religious groups contract with insurers to offer birth control and the potentially abortion-causing drugs to women at no cost. The revised mandate will have religious employers refer women to their insurance company for coverage that still violates their moral and religious beliefs. Under this plan, every insurance company will be obligated to provide coverage at no cost.
Congressman Chris Smith, the leading pro-life advocate in the House, told LifeNews he is strongly opposed to the revisions.
“The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else,” said Smith. “It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naïve or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.”
“The newest iteration of Obama’s coercion rule utterly fails because it still forces religious employers and employees who have moral objections to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception to pay for these things, because it is still the employers who buy the coverage for their employees,” he said. “Today’s announcement is a political manipulation designed to get Obama past his own self-made controversy and past the next election.
Smith says Obama’s claims that the revision support religious rights “is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction,” because while Obama claims that religious employers “will not” have to pay for abortion pills, sterilization and contraception, “Who pays for the insurance policy? The religious employer.” [related]
“However, Obama has tipped his hand—at the end of the day, he will use force, coercion and ruinous fines that put faith-based charities, hospitals and schools at risk of closure, harming millions of kids, as well as the poor, sick and disabled, that they serve, in order to force obedience to Obama’s will,” he said.
Americans United for Life President also criticize the revisions, saying the Obama Administration continues to force the abortion-inducing drugs mandate in its preventive health care guidelines, despite today’s “strained attempt to gloss over a fatally-flawed policy that does not address women’s health care needs.”
She told LifeNews, “It is clear that Americans need Congress to step in to protect their rights of conscience under the law and to end their forced participation in President Obama’s abortion-inducing drug mandate.”
“The preventive healthcare guidelines include ella, a drug that ends unborn life. This is not necessary health care for women,” she added. “Once again, the Obama Administration is taking a step in the wrong direction. This new pronouncement turns Roe v. Wade on its head. In Roe, the courts said that abortion was a privacy right. In this health care dictate, the Obama administration announces plans to invade the privacy of women by requiring insurance companies to inquire about their private choices and offer free drugs. And the administration announces that insurance companies will take on this burden at no cost to anyone.”
“And it is incredibly naive to believe that this will not cost either women or their employers. Insurance companies will surely take the projected expenses of these efforts into account when pricing coverage,” Yoest said. “It is time for permanent protections for people’s rights of conscience, as well as the rejection of the preventive care plan at HHS that include the abortion-inducing drug mandate.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins had the following to say:
“This revised HHS mandate does nothing to change the fundamentally anti-religious, anti-conscience and anti-life contraceptive mandate. It rather only creates some paperwork gimmicks that don’t change the fact that religious employers who object to coverage of these services will now have to drop health insurance altogether to maintain their conscience and face severe penalties for doing so,” he added. “This President is tone deaf to the very real religious and moral objections of millions of Americans. The so-called one year delay last month was a clear slap in the face of religious groups, and this new proposal still requires religious entities that are not exempt as a church to subsidize and pay insurance companies so they can give free birth control to their employees. However, it won’t be free, because the insurance companies will increase the premium and administrative costs to the employer.”
“This new gimmick forces religious entities to violate their religious beliefs and continues to show a complete disdain for the First Amendment. There is no compromise if a single American citizen is required to violate his or her conscience. Liberals say keep your morals out of the bedroom, yet the President’s plan forces everyone to pay the cost for someone else’s contraceptive use in the bedroom. That’s not freedom, it’s a mandate,” Perkins added.
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser skewered Obama’s revised mandate, saying it “is unacceptable because it makes government the arbiter of individual conscience.”
“Forcing insurance companies to be directly responsible for providing abortion-inducing drugs and forcing religious organizations to cooperate is an assault on religious freedom,” she said. “Coverage for abortion-inducing drugs such as ella is not preventative women’s healthcare. This intrusion on rights of conscience by the Obama Administration claiming concern for ‘women’s rights or human rights’ puts dangerous ideology over liberty.”
“”Who decides?’ used to be the slogan of the feminist movement advocating for a woman’s so-called right to choose,” Dannenfelser continued. “With this ‘compromise’, President Obama again asserts that it is the government who decides: government who decides what a properly formed conscience looks like, government who decides how to run a business, and government who determines how a religious nonprofit may act in the public square. Continuously putting abortion ideology ahead of religious freedom, now President Obama may also be forcing thousands of faith-based schools, hospitals and charities out of the public square entirely.”
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly added: “As an unapologetically, unswervingly pro-life organization, we disagree strongly with the Obama administration that free access to drugs that can cause abortions makes women or society healthier or safer.”
He said: “Today’s announcement seems to be an acknowledgement by the White House that it went too far in disregarding the deeply held values, and constitutionally protected conscience rights, of religious organizations and individuals. Still, we are not convinced this tweak to the proposed policy, when analyzed at a level deeper than simple sound bites, truly addresses the religious-liberty concerns that have been raised. There is a limit to what government can compel its citizens to do – and not do – particularly in matters of faith and freedom. It’s in the best interest of all Americans, of every ideological stripe, that it not be crossed. ”
Jonathan Imbody, Vice President for Government Relations for the Christian Medical Association, called the revisions “offering a distinction without a difference to mute opposition.”
He said the revision fits a pattern of contempt for conscience that includes how Obama “has gutted the only federal regulation protecting the exercise of conscience in health care, denied of federal grant funds for aiding human trafficking victims because a faith-based organization refused to participate in abortion; lobbied the Supreme Court to restrict faith-based organizations’ hiring rights; and issued a coercive contraceptive mandate that imposes the government’s abortion ideology on every American.”