June 28, 2013
The Department of Health and Human Services today released the final text of the final adjustments to the Obamacare regulation that requires virtually all health-care plans to provide cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Catholics and Evangelical Christians have objected to the regulation, arguing that it violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, contraception and abortion are all intrinsically immoral. Evangelical Christians believe that abortion takes an innocent human life and is thus wrong.
The final regulation issued today provides no accommodations at all for individual Catholics and other Christians who morally object to the mandate. It also makes no accommodations for private for-profit employers who morally object to the mandate.
Catholic and other Christian individuals in the United States will now be forced by the Obama administration to buy insurance coverage that pays for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs–whether they want that coverage or not and even though it forces them to act against their faith.
What these final adjustments to the regulation do is provide what the administration calls “accommodations” to religious non-profit organizations only–or what the regulation calls “eligible organizations.”
To be an “eligible organization” a group must be “a nonprofit entity” that “holds itself out as a religious organization.” Organizations that certify that this is the case, however, will not be wholly liberated from providing health-insurance plans that provide access to free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. What they will have is a convoluted relationship with their insurance company or, if they self insure, with their third-party administrator.
According to the regulation, when a religious non-profit insures its employees through an insurance company, the insurance company will be required to provide free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to the religious non-profit’s employees free of charge. Theoretically, the particular health insurance plan that the religious non-profit buys from an insurance company will not itself buy these things. Instead, in theory, the insurance company providing the health insurance plan to the religious non-profit will use other money that is theoretically walled off from the premiums it received from the religious non-profit to buy the services that violate the non-profit’s religious beliefs.
Figuratively, the insurance company will take the money for the insurance premiums from the religious organization and put them in its right pocket. When the insurance company needs to pay for a sterilization procedure or an abortion-inducing drug for one of the religious organization’s workers, it will take the money to pay for that out of its left pocket.
When a religious non-profit self-insures, the third party administrator will either have to pay for the sterilizations, contraceptives or abortion-inducing drugs itself, or arrange for an insurance issuer to do so. In this scenario, the regulation says the government will compensate the third party administrator or insurance company by providing it with an accommodation in the fees it pays to the state insurance exchange.
The regulation does not address the right of insurance companies or third-party administrators not to be forced by the federal government to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Thus, people whose religious and moral beliefs hold that these things are immoral will be precluded from operating businesses in these industries.
For example: A Catholic university could not contract with an insurance company owned by a Catholic family to provide its insurance–because the Catholic family just like the Catholic university would be prevented by its faith from paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Under the final regulation, the insurance company for a Catholic university will be forced to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Catholic non-profits, under the final regulation, will be forced to patronize for-profit businesses that have no problem with killing unborn children.
The only people left in America who would be able to operate health insurance companies and third-party administrators would be those people ready and willing to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.
Individual Americans and privately owned companies, including family-owned companies, are given no accommodation at all in the final regulation. Individuals must buy insurance that covers sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Privately owned for-profit businesses that provide insurance to their workers must covers these things–even if they believe paying for and providing such things is immoral and against the teachings of their faith.
The First Amendment says Congress can make no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
The Obama administration now says to Catholics and other Christians who oppose sterilization, contraception and/or abortion: You are not free to exercise your faith. You must act against its teachings. You must do what we say, not what your conscience says.