Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed new rules allegedly intended to accommodate the moral objections of religious employers to the HHS Mandate. But the new rules do little to address those objections.
The League’s Eric Scheidler and Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, co-directors of the over 250 Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies coast-to-coast last year in opposition to the HHS Mandate, released the following statement in response:
Nearly a year after promising to provide an “accommodation” for religious employers who object to the HHS Mandate, the Obama administration has finally issued proposed new rules. While we await a full analysis of these proposed rule changes from legal experts, a first look at what the Obama administration is offering makes it clear that the objections of religious employers have not been taken seriously.
The Obama administration is now offering a complicated scheme whereby employers can “self-certify” to the insurance provider they’ve contracted with that they are “exempt” from the contraceptive mandate, and leave it to the insurer to arrange free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs for employees, or students, in the case of educational institutions.
At the end of the day, religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and Christian universities are still being forced by the federal government to participate in a scheme whereby their employees are provided free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
It’s unconscionable that employees and students at an institution like Ave Maria University, which upholds the unchanging Catholic doctrine that contraception assaults human dignity, would receive free contraceptives thanks to their employment or enrollment there.
More disturbingly still, businesses like Hobby Lobby, which are not dedicated to specifically religious purpose but which nevertheless operate upon a basis of faith, are offered no protection whatsoever for their religious and moral objections to providing these services. The Obama administration is still claiming the right to decide who gets to exercise freedom of religion in the public square.
We encourage all who have been opposing the HHS Mandate to object to these unacceptable proposed rule changes during the public comment period before final rules are issued in April. Meanwhile, our public protest and education efforts will continue unabated.