Christians who balked at Barack Obama’s requirements that they pay for abortion pills through their health insurance plans say his concession to accommodate their faith and beliefs just doesn’t do enough.
“The Obama administration’s rule change doesn’t change anything. Employees will still pay for this coverage,” said Senior Counsel Doug Napier of the Alliance Defense Fund.
He was referencing Obama’s statement today that he wants to have insurance companies reach out directly to employees for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs when the employer has religious objections to those procedures.
“Through this sleight of hand, the administration is forcing indirectly what it can’t do directly. It is still forcing people of faith to subsidize practices and treatments that violate their values, their morals, and their religious beliefs. What’s next? Will the administration force Jewish schools to serve pork because it’s ‘good’ for Jewish students? When you take religious liberty from a few, you take religious liberty from all,” he said.
Both organizations today said Obama’s “compromise” falls far short.
That’s even though Obama said his administration will publish final rules in the Federal Register that exempts churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections; and establishes a one year transition period for religious organizations while this policy is being implemented.
Obama also said he will propose and finalize a new regulation during the transition year to address the religious objections of the non-exempted religious organizations. The new regulation will require insurance companies to cover contraception if the non-exempted religious organization chooses not to.
Under the policy religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception, religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception, contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers’ insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception, and insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.
Michael Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN, said, “I am certainly pleased to see that EWTN’s decision to file suit against the recent contraception mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services may have played some role in forcing the administration to revisit the application of these rules on religious institutions. However, we remain quite skeptical that the changes announced by President Obama will in fact address the concerns raised by EWTN.”
And Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, didn’t hear any compromises.
“A resolution to this issue cannot only cover ‘religious’ employers. Religious freedom, which includes freedom of conscience, does not belong only to religious entities but to every American. There are many non-religious reasons to object to the [Obama] administration’s policy,” he said.
Warsaw continued, “According to a White House statement, some religious institutions may no longer be required to directly provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs: However, this accommodation may not actually apply to EWTN or actually give any relief to the network and other similar organizations. Like EWTN, many religious institutions self-insure their healthcare plans, meaning that we will still be forced to pay for these services in violation of our religious beliefs. Today’s announcement certainly does not give any hope to countless individual business owners and people of faith who share the concern about being required to provide for these services which they personally find immoral.
“EWTN is particularly concerned that the proposed rules for non-exempted religious organizations will still not be finalized until later in the coming year. This leaves EWTN and other such organizations very uncertain about what the future may hold with regard to this mandate. We will continue to consult with our legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty to determine the implications of this revised approach; however, our legal action against the administration will continue.”
Liberty Counsel said, “Obama’s speech reveals his fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Forcing an insurance company to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients is only an accounting gimmick, which he acknowledges would still require religious organizations to fund contraceptives and abortifacients indirectly. Someone has to pay for this funding, and that burden will fall upon all employers, including religious organizations. Moreover, religious institutions that are self-insured, such as Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian school, are still required to pay directly for these items.
“Laundering a Catholic or Christian organization’s money through the insurance company to pay for abortifacients does not suddenly correct the moral sin inflicted by Obama. Obamacare is a direct attack on the moral and religious beliefs of our nation. This administration has pressed its radical pro-abortion agenda on the American people and around the world. Obamacare is an assault on our freedom,” the organization’s statement said.
The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association agreed that major problems remain with Obama and his plan.
“The president’s so-called ‘religious accommodation’ today shows that he either has no comprehension of what conscience convictions mean or that he cynically chooses to disregard conscience and play a political game,” said Dr. David Stevens, the organization’s chief.
“We learned from his executive order on abortion in health care reform that verbal engineering cannot cover up a contempt for conscience.”
He continued, “Those of us who have a conscientious conviction that contraceptive pills that can end the life of a developing human being are morally impermissible not only deplore paying for them directly; we also deplore the government forcing insurance companies or anyone else to pay for them. And we in faith-based organizations certainly have no intention of instructing employees how to obtain morally objectionable pills, as is required by Hawaii’s policy – after which the president’s ‘accommodation’ is reportedly patterned.
“No one – whether an individual citizen, a faith-based organization or an insurance company – should be forced by the federal government to participate in any way in the provision of pills that can end the life of a developing human being. That is simply contrary to American principles of freedom of conscience, and it shows the contempt for conscience inherent in radical abortion ideology,” he said.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said Obama’s plan just won’t work.
“The compromise is unacceptable because it makes government the arbiter of individual conscience,” she said. “Forcing insurance companies to be directly responsible for providing abortion-inducing drugs and forcing religious organizations to cooperate is an assault on religious freedom.
“Coverage for abortion-inducing drugs such as ella is not preventative women’s healthcare. This intrusion on rights of conscience by the Obama administration claiming concern for ‘women’s rights or human rights’ puts dangerous ideology over liberty.”
She continued, “With this ‘compromise,’ President Obama again asserts that it is the government who decides: government who decides what a properly formed conscience looks like, government who decides how to run a business, and government who determines how a religious nonprofit may act in the public square.”