Missouri Senator Roy Blunt has filed legislation which would revoke the Obama Administration's recent abortion drug mandate. Known as the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act," the bill would prevent
implementation of new regulations which would require all health insurance plans to include contraceptive coverage.
The contraceptive edict, issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at President Obama's direction, is scheduled to take effect on August 1st. It mandates that virtually every health insurance plan issued in the United States must pay for contraceptives without deductibles or co-pays. All contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration must be covered, including abortifacient drugs such as Plan B and Ella.
Senator Blunt's proposal would permit health insurance plans to exclude coverage of specific items or services if they are "contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity
offering the plan." Health insurance carriers would also be authorized to offer plans which exclude certain services if they are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the purchaser or beneficiary of the coverage.
"Our purpose is to ensure that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health care coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions, without fear of being penalized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)," Blunt says. PPACA is the name that was given to President Obama's national health
care law which also includes federal financing for abortion procedures.
Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska has filed a companion measure to Senator Blunt's bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressmen Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler have signed on as co-sponsors of that measure.Florida Senator Marco Rubio
has also filed another bill to repeal the abortion drug mandate. Known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Rubio's proposal would prohibit the federal
government from requiring any individual or entity to offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service in violation of their religious beliefs.
"The Obama Administration's obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people," Rubio says. "This is a common sense bill that simply says the government can't force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so."
In the meantime, religious leaders are mounting an aggressive campaign to scrap the abortion drug mandate, led by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Many bishops have declared that
they will stand in defiance of the law. A letter issued as a joint statement by the USCCB has been read to parishioners at Catholic churches across the country.
It reads in part: "Our parents and grandparents did not come these shores to help build America's cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights....We cannot--we will not comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens."
A group of evangelical leaders has also sent a letter to the President outlining their strong objections to the contraceptive mandate. Signatories to the letter
include Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Dr. Richard Land,
President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and Nathan Diament of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
"We write in solidarity [with Catholic leaders and organizations] to stress that religious leaders and organizations of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate...Religious organizations beyond the Catholic community have deep moral objections to a requirement that their health insurance plans must cover abortifacients."
The evangelical leaders are calling on the Administration to exempt all religious employers from the contraceptive mandate. The current mandate exempts organized churches, but does not exempt other Christian institutions, ministries, and employers. They will be required to comply with the mandate by August 1, 2013.
If the mandate is not reversed or modified, it is expected that many religious employers will cease providing health insurance coverage for their employees. We are aware of private Christian employers who are also contemplating doing the same thing.
If you have not already done so, we strongly urge you to contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C. to voice your outrage over this unprecedented assault on the religious freedoms of Americans who value and cherish the sanctity of human life.
You can contact Senator Blunt to thank him for his leadership on this issue by using this link:Senator Blunt
You can contact Senator Claire McCaskill to urge her to support Senator Blunt's proposal by clicking this link:Senator McCaskill
You can reach your U.S. Representative to urge support for the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" by following this link:Your Congressman