Obama “Compromise”: Force Insurance Companies to Pay for Abortions

Obama Abortion HHS mandate by Kathleen Gilbert –
The White House announced today that, instead of forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, it will force insurance companies to offer the drugs free of charge to all women, no matter where they work.

The plan, touted as a concession to freedom of religion and conscience, was immediately denounced by pro-life Rep. Chris Smith. “The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else, said Smith. It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naive or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.”

“The White House Fact Sheet is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction,” Smith continued. “It states, for example, that religious employers ‘will not’ have to pay for abortion pills, sterilization and contraception, but their ‘insurance companies’ will. Who pays for the insurance policy? The religious employer.”

In a statement released today, the White House said, “Under the new policy announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works.”

“If a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.”

The birth control rule announced last summer was intended to force virtually all employers to cover sterilizations and contraception, including abortifacient drugs such as ella, a sister drug to RU-486. The religious employer exemption essentially applied only to houses of worship, creating an uproar in the Catholic community as hospitals, schools, and charities would have been forced to pay for the drugs. The furor only grew stronger when the administration announced last month that the concerned religious organizations would be given an extra year to comply.

President Obama reiterated the statement in a press conference this afternoon, saying that “the insurance company, not the hospital, not the charity, will be required to reach out” to women employed by such institutions to offer birth control “without copays, without hassles.”

The new rule is reportedly similar to coverage laws in Hawaii that allow employers with religious objections not to directly pay for contraception, but instead to direct employees on how to conveniently access all such drugs and procedures.

In an email to the Weekly Standard, Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this week that such an “adjustment” would be not only inadequate, but even worse than the current mandate.

“It would be no improvement to say: ‘Sure, you don’t have to include the coverage, you just have to send all your lay employees and women religious to the local Planned Parenthood clinic,’ he wrote.

Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League also told LifeSiteNews.com that the new rule amounted to a “shell game.” “At the end of the day, religious employers are still required to provide insurance plans that offer free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients in violation of their moral tenets,” he said.

The country’s Catholic bishops have not yet responded to the White House’s statement. However, both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association (CHA) have expressed satisfaction with the new plan.

The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed,” said Sr. Carol Keehan of CHA. Keehan and her organization are perhaps best known for flouting the position of the Catholic bishops during the fight over Obama’s health care reform, throwing their weight behind the bill despite the opposition of the U.S. bishops over concerns the bill would increase abortion funding. Keehan was personally singled out by former USCCB President Cardinal Francis George for condemnation for her role in helping pass the health reform law.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards issued a statement, saying: “In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women.s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work.

“We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman.s ability to access these critical birth control benefits. However we will be vigilant in holding the administration and the institutions accountable for a rigorous, fair and consistent implementation of the policy, which does not compromise the essential principles of access to care.”

The pro-abortion news source, RH Reality Check, lauded the news, noting that the rule is convenient because women would not have to purchase a separate rider for the contraception coverage.

HT: LifeSiteNews

Comments

  1. Father Mark Hodges says:

    President Obama’s “accommodation” on forced abortion insurance is no accommodation at all.

    The president announced that his new mandate forcing religious employers to provide for and pay for abortions, sterilizations and contraception would be “tweaked” so that in cases where non-profit religious organizations have objections, insurance companies would be required to reach out to employees and offer the coverage directly.

    The administration announced last month that religious-affiliated employers had to cover abortion as “preventive care.” Churches were technically exempt, but all their charities and other community-serving organizations were ordered to comply.

    Within minutes of announcing the change in policy, Planned Parenthood applauded the action.

    Religious leaders and other experts on religion said the accommodation isn’t a change at all. “It’s a shell game,” says Robert Destro, law professor at Catholic University.

    Marie Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, a registered nurse and a canon lawyer, noted that the administration has not changed its definition of who is exempt. Instead, Obama just established a special provision for “non-exempt religious groups.”

    The narrowed-down, ACLU-written redefinition of “religious exemption” remains, which is the crux of the problem for the First Amendment rights of Americans of faith. It’s still a unprecedentedly narrowed definition which does not allow religious exemptions for church schools, church-run hospitals, church-funded social services or other ministries that have always been recognized under the tax code as exempt religious organizations. Until that’s changed, Hilliard said, the government is still “cherry-picking to see which groups will be seen by our government as worthy of exemptions and which won’t. ”

    The White House is “all talk, no action” on moving toward compromise, said Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “There has been a lot of talk in the last couple days about compromise, but it sounds to us merely like a way to turn down the heat, to placate people without doing anything in particular,” Picarello said this week. “We’re not going to do anything until this is fixed.”

    That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the problem that would create for “good Catholic business people who can’t in good conscience cooperate with this.”

    Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, explained that the coercive Obama mandate still *disallows* exemption for Christian employers. “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 administration’s policy.”

    In a memo to reporters Friday morning, the Republican National Committee said Obama is trying to “ride the fence” on the issue. House Speaker John Boehner this week vowed legislative action to reverse the Obama abortion mandate: “This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand.” Republican leaders have been joined by a few Democrats, such as Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut.

    Roman Catholic leaders showed no sign of backing down. “There’s no room for compromise on this. The mandate has to go,” said John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of numerous books on the Catholic Church. “There’s not much room for a conversation here.”

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/02/source-obama-to-change-birth-control-rule/1

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