Obama Admin May Revise HHS Mandate After Losing Hobby Lobby Battle

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 23, 2014   |   11:40AM   |   Washington, DC

The Obama administration may back down somewhat on the pro-abortion HHS mandate that compels religious groups and businesses to pay for abortion-causing drugs and birth control for their employees after losing its battle against Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court.

However, the head of one pro-life group warns that it doesn’t trust the Obama administration to provide adequate protection for religious nonprofits that have objections to the abortion-causing drugs.

pichealth37bThe Obama administration claims it will create a new option for religious nonprofits that object to both the Obamacare mandate and the earlier administration efforts to find accommodation for them that pro-life groups called inadequate, according to a court document filed Tuesday.

The brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit says the administration is broadening the accommodation policy after the Supreme Court ruled that Wheaton College, a Christian university, did not have to provide birth control and abortion-causing drugs in employee health plans while its lawsuit against the mandate makes its way through the courts.

The Daily Caller spells out what’s happening:

The change comes after the Supreme Court’s several hits against the birth control mandate and the administration’s work-around for religious nonprofits. The court granted an injunction at the beginning of the month to Wheaton College, a small Christian university in Illinois, clearing it from the administration’s work-around until the pending case against the mandate is concluded.

The White House currently requires religious nonprofit employers to sign a federal form to signify their moral objection, which notifies the insurer that it, instead, must provide birth control coverage at no cost to the employee.

Wheaton is one of many religious organizations — including a women’s Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor — suing over the exemption, which the college believes violates its religious freedom by forcing it to sign the form, making it complicit in providing contraceptives that violate its religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court said Wheaton was required only to file a letter with the federal government stating its objections instead of filling out the federal form.

In response, the Obama administration is preemptively attempting to change the way its religious exemption functions. It hopes to have a new plan within a month.

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“This is part of ensuring that all women have access to contraception coverage,” a senior administration official said in a statement to the press. “The administration believes the accommodation is legally sound, but in light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the Departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting non-profit religious organizations to provide notification, while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing.”

But Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, told LifeNews that he doesn’t trust the Obama administration to adequately accommodate pro-life groups that object to the mandate.

“The Priests for Life lawsuit against the HHS mandate is the next to be decided, having already had oral arguments in the nation’s second most influential Court, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. At the crux of the issue is that our completion of the form required under the “accommodation” given to religious non-profit groups constitutes cooperation in the very evil that the form says we are objecting to,” he told LifeNews.com.

He said, “If the government just kept us out of the process altogether of either triggering, authorizing, or in any fashion being the gateway for employees to receive coverage for objectionable practices, that would satisfy our concerns. Of course, we would have to carefully examine any changes the Administration makes to its current policy, in order to verify that what our faith considers immoral cooperation is completely excluded.”