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Legislative Update: February 7, 2012

By February 7, 2012Legislative Updates
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In the ObamaCare legislation, Congress required that private insurers offer preventive services free of charge, without deductibles or co-payments.It left the decision about what constituted preventive services up to pro-abortion Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius, following recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, issued an interim ruling in August that all FDA-approved contraception would be included as preventive services, including abortifacients like Plan B and ella.

The interim rule also included a very narrowly tailored religious exemption which was, for all practical purposes, absolutely worthless because it applied almost exclusively to churches or places of worship and provided no protection for individuals or insurers who objected to the coverage based on moral or religious affiliation.

In order for an employer to meet the religious exemption, the following conditions must be met: 1) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization; 2) The organization primarily employs people who share the religious tenets of the organization; 3) The organization serves primarily people who share the religious tenets of the organization; and 4) The organization is a nonprofit as described in Section 6033(a)(1) and Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

On September 30, Concerned Women for America (CWA) filed comments with HHS that addressed the inappropriateness of the contraception requirement and the inadequate religious exemption.

After evaluating the comments received on the interim rule, HHS issued its final rule on January 20.Pandering to the pro-abortion groups, HHS determined that most health insurance plans in the United States, except those that meet the insignificant religious exemption, will need to fully cover all FDA-approved contraceptives and sterilization procedures.However, they graciously added one year for nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan to comply with the law.

Therefore, employers who have pro-life, religious, or other moral objections to the use of birth control drugs or abortifacients will now have one year to change their convictions and provide these drugs.

And, according to HHS, this misguided decision strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.

Pro-abortionists hailed the HHS decision as a huge victory.Planned Parenthood said that the rule was grounded in sound medical science and health policy and protects access to affordable birth control for millions of women, including women who are employed by a religiously affiliated hospital, university, or other religiously affiliated organization that serves the broader public.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the decision means that millions will get access to contraception, and they will not have to ask their bosses for permission.

However, the liberal Washington Post argued that the final rule is idiocy, saying, The best approach would have been for HHS to stick to its original conclusion that contraception coverage should generally be required but to expand the scope of its proposed exemption for religiously affiliated employers who claim covering contraception would violate their religious views. The administrations feint at a compromise giving such employers another year to figure out how to comply with the requirement is unproductive can-kicking that fails to address the fundamental problem of requiring religiously affiliated entities to spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.

The bottom line is that this rule unnecessarily puts many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable position by undermining religious liberty tenets of the Constitution and conscience laws that have been in effect for over 30 years.

Now, it is up to Congress to reform the law accordingly.Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) have introduced the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, H.R. 1179.(The Senate companion is S. 1467.)This legislation amends ObamaCare to permit health care plans the ability to decline coverage of specific items and/or services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty.

Pray:That Congress will act to prevent HHS from eviscerating our religious liberties that are guaranteed to us by the Constitution.Pray that millions of Americans will not be forced to compromise their beliefs and compelled to subsidize something morally repugnant to them.

Act:Please call or write your senators and representative and ask them to cosponsor and support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.To find the contact information for your legislators, please visit CWAs Legislative Action Committee at