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In implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the new health care reform law), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a rule requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women. The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.
The rule includes a religious exemption so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. 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. A great many religious organizations — including Catholic colleges and universiti
es, as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the public – will be ineligible. Individuals and religiously affiliated health insurers will not qualify for the exemption.
The new rule would force insurance plans to cover “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage. The FDA-approved “emergency contraception” (EC) drugs that are covered by this mandate can work by interfering with implantation of a newly conceived human being. 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.
ACTION: Please send an e-mail message to HHS by clicking here. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can send a message to HHS asking them to respect religious liberty and 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.
PCC UPDATE: Click here to read the comments that the PCC and PCHA submitted to HHS. Don’t forget to send your own message to HHS and Congress by September 30.