Administration Requires Free Contraception
Special Report - August 4, 2011
On August 1, the Obama Administration issued a requirement that all public and private health insurance plans must cover “all Food and Drug Administration contraceptive methods, [and] sterilization methods” without making them subject to copays, as part of the implementation of the new health care law. Covered contraceptive methods would include certain controversial FDA-approved drugs, such as emergency contraceptives (such as Ella and Plan B) that can act after implantation to cause an early abortion. The requirement came about after a recommendation by the Institute of Medicine at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services on what types of preventative care should be required to be covered by insurance companies in light of the new law. The requirement goes into effect January 1, 2013.
The mandate was amended to include a narrow exemption for “group health plans sponsored by religious employers and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans.” The exemption defines religious employer as one that “ (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).”
However, many pro-family groups argue that the religious exception put in place is insufficient because it only applies to religious employers whose primary purpose is “the inculcation of religious values,” and who primarily employ and serve persons who share its religious beliefs. Under this definition, religious organizations, such as schools, hospitals, and charities that serve all persons, regardless of faith, would not be exempt from providing the objectionable coverage as part of their employee health insurance plans.
Notre Dame Law School professor and associate dean Richard W. Garnett told the Catholic News Agency that the narrow religious exemption “excludes those religious institutions, employers, and ministries that are engaged actively in the world, providing care, services, and education to a diverse group of people, besides our fellow Catholics.”
“HHS says the intent of its ‘preventive services’ mandate is to help ‘stop health problems before they start,’” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a letter issued the same day as the announcement of the new requirement. “But pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a ‘health problem’ they are the next generation of Americans. It’s now more vital than ever that Congress pass the ‘Respect for Rights of Conscience Act’ to close the gaps in conscience protection in the new health care reform act, so employers and employees alike will have the freedom to choose health plans in accordance with their deeply held moral and religious beliefs.”
The public may submit comments on the guidelines and especially on the amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emerging Threats to Conscience - May 16, 2011
Abortion Funding Ban Considered - May 9, 2011
NCFPC Recognizes Pence Amendment - March 3, 2011
Healthcare Opt-Out Heads to Governor- February 23, 2011
Congress Defending Life - February 16, 2011
Healthcare Debate Over Abortion - October 26, 2009
Becket Fund Defends Belmont Abbey- October 12, 2009
Federal Agency Mandates Abortion Coverage - August 17, 2009
U.N.dermining the Family- FNC - July 2009
Analysis Shows Birth Control Reports Misleading - November 13, 2007
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