WASHINGTON—The Obama administration announced changes on Friday to its controversial “contraception mandate” with a policy that shifts the responsibility to offer free birth control—including abortion-causing drugs—away from religious organizations to their insurance companies.
But pro-life advocates were taking no comfort in the changes, charging that the increased costs to insurers would be passed on to religious organizations in paying for the broader insurance group plans.
House Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told LifeNews.com: “This ObamaCare rule still tramples on Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion. It’s a fig leaf, not a compromise. Whether they are affiliated with a church or not, employers will still be forced to pay an insurance company for coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs,” he said.
The new policy, the White House said, would allow religious institutions to avoid offering contraception in their insurance plans. Instead, the new plan “ensures … (the) insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.
“The new policy ensures women can get contraception without paying a co-pay and addresses important concerns raised by religious groups by ensuring that objecting religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer women to organizations that provide contraception,” according to a White House “fact sheet” on the changes.
GuideStone Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, which provides health insurance coverage and other services to more than 200,000 people, expressed strong opposition Monday (Feb. 6) to the mandate in its earlier form, especially its failure to provide adequate conscience protections.
The mandate required all methods approved as birth control by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be included in a range of services offered to patients free of charge. Those FDA-endorsed contraceptives include ones that have abortion-causing properties — “ella;” emergency contraception, such as Plan B, and the intrauterine device (IUD).
Under the revisions, insurance companies would be required to offer these contraceptives directly to women free of charge if they work for a religious institution that refuses to cover them directly in their insurance plan.
—Compiled by staff and Baptist Press reports