HHS's Contraceptive Mandate Violates Conscience Rights


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2011 -- In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued guidelines requiring almost all private health plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. On August 3, HHS published an interim final rule that references these guidelines, and allows HRSA to implement a very narrow and inadequate religious exemption. This action poses an unprecedented threat to the religious freedom of individuals and institutions. Until now, no federal law has required private health plans to cover these services.

  • HRSA’s statement that these services “do not include abortifacient drugs” is misleading.  The FDA-approved "emergency contraception" (EC) drugs covered by this mandate can work by interfering with implantation. Also, the drug the FDA most recently approved for EC, "Ella,” a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486, has been shown in animal tests to cause abortion. Thus, the mandate includes drugs that may cause an abortion both before and after implantation.
  • The religious exemption allowed by the interim final rule is not only extremely narrow but unprecedented in federal law. It covers only a "religious employer” that has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose, primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets, and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. Plans offered by a great many religious organizations, including Catholic colleges and universities as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the general public, would be ineligible under these terms. Individuals and health insurance companies do not qualify at all for this exemption.

Please click to send a comment to HHS. Personal comments can be added to the suggested message.

The public comment period on this interim final rule ends September 30.

As is the practice, all comments and information submitted to HHS are made available online. Only your name (first and last) and your message will be forwarded to HHS.

Thanks for everything you do in support of life!

Michael Taylor
Executive Director

P.S. After you send your comments to HHS, you will also have an opportunity to send a message to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that such federal mandates do not violate Americans’ moral and religious convictions.

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