February 13, 2012
Many Christians, religious organizations and the right-to- life community are alarmed by the new religious liberty violations coming from the Obama administration in an election year in the form of its recent regulation requiring coverage of FDA-approved birth control drugs and devices, as well as sterilizations and abortions. In response to this criticism, the White House on Feb. 10, 2012 announced a “compromise” under which insurance plans will be required to provide the coverage in all plans, without charging anything additional for it.
Human Life International President Father Shenan J. Boquet made the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s proposed “compromise” on the contraception/sterilization/ abortifacient mandate.
“Under the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’), the HHS has entirely too much unchecked power over health care in the United States, and given their history of disregard for both religious liberty and human life, we have no confidence that the federal government can be trusted to administer health care that respects the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death. Not only do we support legislation currently being considered in Congress to ensure clear and strong protection for freedom of religion and conscience, but we also call upon our political leaders to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety so that it may be replaced by a system in which human life and dignity, and the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, are secured.
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) Legislative Director Douglas Johnson calls the compromise a “scam” saying, “President Obama today promulgated a scam that, if he is re-elected, will allow him to mandate that every health plan in America cover abortion on demand,” said Johnson. “The same twisted logic will be applied: By ordering health plans to cover elective abortion, health plans would save the much higher costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby — and under the Obama scam, if a procedure saves money, then that means that you’re not really paying for it when the government mandates it.”
Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, would seem to concur, stating, “Under the revised mandate, employers who have “a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan” will not fund these services directly. Instead, the insurance plan will cover these services to all female employees. Still, all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.”
According to NRLC, some journalists have wrongly reported that the ObamaCare law contains language prohibiting the federal government from mandating that health plans cover abortions. However, while the law prevents the Secretary of Health and Human Services from including abortion in a list of federally mandated “essential health benefits,” the birth control mandate is based on an entirely different provision of the law. This allows the Secretary to mandate that all health plans cover any service that the Secretary places on a list of “preventive” services. There is nothing in the law to prevent the Secretary from placing abortion, assisted suicide, or any other additional services on the preventive services list, nor does the Secretary require the agreement of any other authority in the government to do so — except, perhaps, the president.
Daly points out, “Drugs like Plan B and Ella, which are mandated for coverage, can cause an early abortion by preventing the embryo from attaching to the uterine lining. This is terminating a human life… This mandate elevates contraception and abortion-inducing drugs to the level of preventative healthcare. They are not. Plan B should not be considered equivalent to the polio vaccine. Pregnancy is not a disease.”
Catholic Advocate president Matt Smith expresses disappointment in the co-called “accommodation” saying it looks like an attempt to fix a political problem in an election year. “As some media outlets are reporting, White House staff was reviewing polling data before the HHS mandate was released on January 20. Their thinking was focused on 269 days from now and not the 220 years of our Bill of Rights. If the President is serious about protecting religious liberties, than he should signal to Congress he will sign into law the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act so no executive branch action or future action can trample on our rights in the same manner.”
NRLC also supports enactment of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467, H.R. 1179), which would allow health providers to decline to provide abortions or other specific medical services on the basis of religious belief or moral convictions.
Jim Daly points out that a fundamental flaw in the White House’s “accommodation” reasoning is that “religious liberties are not something any president has the legal authority to recognize or deny. As Christians, we believe these rights come from God; but you don’t need to believe in God to recognize such rights are protected for all citizens by the Constitution.”
“Our religious liberties are an inalienable right not a privilege that can be changed on a whim,” states Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate president. “Our faith-based institutions should not be forced by this administration or any in the future to violate their beliefs.”
Related:Insuring Religious Liberty: Obama Care, Ronald Reagan, and the Crisis of Conscience in America Today