Administration on a Collision Course with Science, Law, and the Church

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s mandate requiring private employers and their insurers to provide free access to contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs is at the center of yet another round of proposed rulemaking. Last week, Life Legal Defense Foundation joined with the Bioethics Defense Fund to submit comments opposing the latest proposal the Administration has put forward, an accounting gimmick to give the appearance of accommodation to religious employers. While a favorable decision from the United States Supreme Court could overturn Obamacare in its entirety, under a less-favorable outcome, the legislation will continue to be implemented through HHS and other federal agencies.

As is well known, the underlying contraception mandate forces health insurance plans to include the full range of FDA-approved “contraceptives and sterilization services.” The exception for religious employers is drawn narrowly to potentially include houses of worship, but not parachurch ministries, Christian universities, or businesses whose owners might have conscientious objections to the “services” involved.

The current controversy surrounds a proposed “accommodation” for employers who do not fit the narrowly drawn exemption. Under the proposed “accommodation,” the Administration would mandate insurers to directly contact the objector’s employees to offer “free” coverage for products and services that violate the employers’ religious beliefs, even though the initial contract between the employer and its insurer excludes them.

Since it is apparent that the insurers will simply pass on this added cost in the form of increased premiums, this “accommodation” is a non-solution for those affected by the mandate.

The comment by LLDF and the Bioethics Defense Fund was filed on behalf of Rev. Thomas V. Berg, PhD, Chair of Moral Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York; James C. Capretta, a public policy expert and Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.; and Maureen L. Condic, PhD, a research scientist and professor of human embryology at the University of Utah. It argued that under the accommodation an employer who continued to offer health insurance would be forced into material cooperation with evil due to the capacity of the drugs involved to terminate human life.

“The mandate is unworkable and unlawful,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “As Independence Day is approaching, the Obama Administration should take a look at the Constitution, because it’s clear that they don’t care about the rights of individuals and employers to hold sacred their respect for life and religious liberty.”

The comment may be read in full (PDF) here.