Aug 2, 2011

HHS Rules Make Prisoners of Conscience

There's no such thing as free birth control--and thanks to the Department of Health and Human Services, taxpayers are about to find that out. Yesterday, as we feared, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave the thumbs-up to new guidelines that would require private health insurers to cover contraception as part of ObamaCare. Starting next August, health plans will have to offer a whole range of "contraceptive services," among other preventive services such as cancer screening, with no co-pay for the patients. So-called "emergency contraceptives" like Ella and Plan B are also part of the mandate, which forces other Americans in those plans to pick up the tab even if they oppose such drugs. Once these regulations go into effect, birth control and abortifacients will be considered basic medical care, even though both are optional--and in many people's minds, objectionable.

To try to tamp down the criticism, HHS included a modicum of conscience exemptions, but, as FRC points out, they only protect certain churches that fulfill very specific criteria. Catholic hospitals, for instance, would still be forced to provide coverage of such drugs to their employees--and other religious entities providing health care or social services to people of different faiths would too. Like FRC, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has fought the changes, and even fired off his own letter to Sebelius before the policy was announced. "Adoption of [these] recommendations would not only further undermine the right to life, but would substantially erode the First Amendment's right to free exercise by compelling both religious and non-religious persons and institutions that oppose abortion to subsidize it."

The administration points out there are no co-pays, but it fails to mention that the costs of this "contraception" will still drive up premiums--making people's insurance more expensive, not less so. FRC will do what it can to protect Americans from these new rules by urging Congress to pass the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011." You can help by calling your leaders and urging them to support it. Here at FRC, news outlets across the country have been lighting up Jeanne's phone for her expert response to the decision. If you missed her on the CBS Evening News and NBC News last night, click below.
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