Attorneys General Demand Reconsideration of HHS Abortion and Contraception Mandate

Published February 10, 2012

Three state attorneys general have written HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, urging them to reconsider the controversial new mandate requiring the funding of contraception and abortion services, a step many Catholics and evangelicals believe infringes on their religious freedom.

Nebraska AG John Bruning, Texas AG Greg Abbott, and South Carolina AG Alan Wilson, all Republicans, signed the letter. It reads in part:

“Not only is the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate for religious employers bad policy, it is unconstitutional. It conflicts with the most basic elements of the freedoms of religion, speech, and association, as provided under the First Amendment.  It would compel religious organizations to act, subsidize products, and affirmatively promote a message in contravention with their religious principles, with the sole alternative being to cease alternatives of incalculable value to their employees, constituents, and, indeed, society as a whole.

“We strongly oppose the unconstitutional approach taken by the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate. We believe it represents an impermissible violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history. Accordingly, we urge you in the strongest way possible to refrain from promulgating the proposed regulations.”

For his part, President Barack Obama announced a proposed compromise solution Friday at the White House, which would mandate that insurers cover the costs of providing abortifacients, contraception, sterilization and other services. Yet this proposed compromise would simply shift the payment method involved according to Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), who released the following statement regarding the revised version of the mandate:

“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.”

“This is not just a problem for church-affiliated hospitals and charities. Under these rules, a small business owner with religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs and contraception must either violate his religious beliefs or violate the law.”

“The liberal Obama administration thinks its political goals trump the religious faith of American citizens. That isn’t right, fair, or constitutional.”

The previously announced decision from HHS would allow a year for faith based organizations to comply with this new mandate.