New contraception rules increase exemptions for some

Update: A few unhappy reactions to the new HHS rules are coming in.  First, The Catholic Association:  “The HHS mandate announcement today changes nothing, it is just another accounting gimmick and the HHS mandate continues to be a violation of civil rights, religious freedom and 1st Amendment rights.  Catholic institutions and other faith based organizations, including hospitals and universities and private employers, still do not get their 1st amendment rights back and are still being forced to either violate their faith or pay crippling government fines for practicing their faith.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby in their court challenge: “After over a year of litigation, our clients and many others like them were hoping for much, much more from the Administration… Today???s proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans. The rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby are still being violated.  The Becket Fund continues to study what effect, if any, the Administration???s proposed rule has on the many lawsuits on behalf of non-profit religious organizations like Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, East Texas Baptist University, EWTN, Houston Baptist University, and Wheaton College.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List: “Once again, President Obama???s so-called ???compromise??? is unacceptable ??? religious and moral freedom is not up for negotiation.  There must be no religious ???test??? by the government as to who, and what type of entities, are entitled to a conscience.  We demand respect for non-religious entities such as the Susan B. Anthony List that recognize the taking of human life is the antithesis of health care.  Government policy under our constitution, history and statutory law has recognized the right of citizens to be free from government compulsion of conscience on such fundamental matters. The only acceptable outcome is the complete repeal of the HHS mandate and the restoration of a thriving marketplace where Americans can choose health care coverage consistent with their beliefs.”

Lila Rose of Live Action: “Today’s proposed rules by the administration do practically nothing to lessen President Obama’s attack on religious freedom. Catholic institutions and other religious hospitals, universities and private employers are still being forced to either violate their beliefs or pay crippling government fines for practicing their faith.  This extreme government intrusion is not only a violation of the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans, it is also a vehicle for continued record funding for the abortion industry by the Obama administration.”


Boy, if you thought ObamaCare was complicated when that absurdly undercooked legislation rolled forth from the Tasty Bake oven of Congress, you must really be in shock now that the thousands of pages of partially-written laws are producing hundreds of thousands of pages of confusing regulations.

The latest news is that some of us will be getting our First Amendment religious liberties back, thanks to the radiant benevolence of the ObamaCare commissars.  Life News brings us the provisionally happy tidings:

The Obama administration released new HHS mandate rules today that attempt to expand the number of religious groups that can opt out of the pro-abortion mandate but that leaves religiously-run companies like Hobby Lobby out in the cold. Pro-life advocates oppose the mandate because it forces religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Thanks to a number of decisions in court related to lawsuits filed against the mandate by dozens of religious businesses and organizations, the Obama administration is under court order to revise the mandate. But the changes don???t protect everyone who wants to opt out.

Although the revisions provide some additional protections for religiously-affiliated organizations, companies owned and operated by people with religious objections to the mandate are not included in the expanded exemption rules..

The new crumbs of liberty tossed out by the commissars go mostly to non-profit organizations, particularly religious hospitals and schools:

The proposed rules lay out how non-profit religious organizations, such as non-profit religious hospitals or institutions of higher education, that object to contraception on religious grounds can receive an accommodation that provides their enrollees separate contraceptive coverage, and with no co-pays, but at no cost to the religious organization.

With respect to insured plans, including student health plans, these religious organizations would provide notice to their insurer. The insurer would then notify enrollees that it is providing them with no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies.

With respect to self-insured plans, as well as student health plans, these religious organizations would provide notice to their third party administrator. In turn, the third party administrator would work with an insurer to arrange no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies.

In essence, then, a bit of distance is being created so that selected religious organizations don’t have to directly pay for the contraceptive and abortion provisions they object to.  Religiously-owned businesses, however, are still out of luck.  The Administration must hope these new concessions will peel away some support from the coalition of organizations and individuals seeking court relief from the HHS mandates.  The resistance will be easier to handle once it’s down to rich Bible-thumping businessmen.

ObamaCare fans welcomed the sharply limited concessions to religious liberty made by the commissars, while pushing the new Orwellian language that says “access” to something means forcing other people to pay for it, and anyone who refuses is “politicizing” the issue.  Here’s Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families:

???We applaud the Obama administration???s unwavering support for implementing the Affordable Care Act in ways that will ensure women have access to basic preventive care, including contraception. That is a fundamental promise of reform, and a critical advance for women???s health.

The political and legal opposition to coverage for contraception has been shameful.  Birth control results in fewer unintended pregnancies, healthier women and babies, and stronger families. It is essential to improving women???s health and our ability to participate equally in society.

No woman should be denied access to birth control because of where she works.  Most women have coverage for birth control now. It would be a travesty if a law designed to improve coverage and care instead resulted in women losing coverage they already have.

We look forward to examining and commenting on the proposed rule and helping ensure that, when it is implemented, the women who are affected will have simple and seamless access to contraceptive coverage without co-pays or added costs.

It???s time for opponents of women???s reproductive choice to stop politicizing women???s health.  Birth control is basic health care for women and a fundamental part of the promise of reform.???

Along these lines, I propose the mandatory purchase of guns for every adult American.  Denying our access to taxpayer-subsidized guns is clearly a violation of the Second Amendment, which unlike the “right to contraception” actually is part of the Constitution.  Gun ownership clearly results in lower crime rates and healthier women and families – we hear about another woman protecting herself or her children with a firearm every day.  No woman should be denied access to a gun based on where she works, or more likely in the Obama economy, by her inability to find a job.  It’s time for opponents of the Second Amendment to stop politicizing our access to the instruments of self defense!

Granted, universal gun access could get complicated, and firearms are a lot more expensive than contraceptives, although you’d never know it from listening to contraception socialists.  (The rest of ObamaCare-mandated coverage, on the other hand, turns out to be ten times as expensive as we were told it would be.)  There would be some people who raised strong moral objections to paying for the arms of their fellow citizens, but as long as they belong to a religious organization or approved non-profit subsidiary, surely “accommodations” could be made for them.

Or maybe things would just be simpler if we trimmed back the hyper-complicated State, burned away its ever-growing pile of mandates, and went back to having inalienable rights instead of “guaranteed access” to whatever politicians think we deserve.