President Barack Obama’s right hand man said over the weekend that the revised mandate the administration put into place requiring insurance companies to distribute birth control and abortion-causing drugs to women at no cost is here to stay.
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. It 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.
Despite strong objections from the Cathodic bishops and pro-life groups, Jacob Lew told “Fox News Sunday” that the Obama administration believes the revised mandate addresses objections from pro-life and Catholic groups and is consistent with the president’s “very deep belief that a woman has a right to all forms of preventive health care, including contraception.”
“We have set out our policy,” Lew said. “We are going to finalize it in the final rules, but I think what the president announced on Friday is a balanced approach that meets the concerns raised both in terms of access to health care and in terms of protecting religious liberties, and we think that’s the right approach.”
“We didn’t expect to get the support of the bishops or all Catholics,” Lew continued. “We think it is a very good resolution of the problem. It’s gotten the support of a wide range of organizations from Catholic charities and the Catholic Health Association to Planned Parenthood.”
“We put out the plan that reflects where the president intended to go. This is our plan,” Lew added on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
He added on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the White House has “broad consensus, not universal consensus. This is an approach that’s right.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying Obama’s revised mandate involves “needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions” and it urged Congress to overturn the rule and promised a potential lawsuit. [related]
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said on ABC the compromise was an accounting trick and added that House Republicans would try to overturn it.
As The Weekly Standard notes in it’s ‘No Precedent for the Government Ordering Private Companies to Offer a Product for Free‘… “This issue goes well beyond the issue of religious freedom, and it highlights the unprecedented threats to limited government and liberty that Obamacare poses to all Americans, from the most devout Catholic to the most committed atheist. Americans are faced with two choices: politicized medicine and an unprecedented consolidation of power and control in Washington, or repeal.”
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb told LifeNews “The Obama administration’s rule change doesn’t change anything. The so-called ‘accommodation’ still forces people of faith to violate their religious beliefs and core values. The issue is whether the government will respect our God-given first freedom, religious liberty. If it does not, Christians will resist, and ADF will defend them.”
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council added: “Because of a provision in Obamacare, the Obama Administration issued a “regulation” mandating that all private health insurance plans completely cover contraceptives and sterilization services (including those with abortifacient mechanisms of action). Organizations that provide insurance to their employees will be forced to cover such services, even if they have moral or religious objections.”
“The effect is that all businesses, charities, universities, non-profits, hospitals and other religious organizations, other than churches, will be forced by the Federal government to offer health coverage of contraceptives to their employees, including those like Plan B or Ella that can destroy human embryos,” he said. “In response to negative reactions from religious faithful of all stripes President Obama tried to back away from his original order, but what he did was even worse.”
“The Obama Administration would like you to think what they are doing is a “compromise.” Instead what he gave the American people is a new mandate that forces everyone to subsidize practices that violate your religious and moral beliefs. The President describes this as common ground for religious objectors however it is in fact a burial ground for the First Amendment. Religious organizations will still being paying for insurance plans who will in turn give free contraceptives to their employees. Religious individuals and entities should not subsidize health coverage of what they object,” he said. “When it comes to a person’s faith there is no compromise.”
Meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidates had been taking verbal swings at Obama for imposing the original mandate on religious employers, which is not popular in the latest public opinion poll and which even some Democrats oppose.
Congressman Steve Scalise has led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.
Bishops across the country have spoken out against the original 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.”
The original mandate was 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.