Battle Over Contraception Mandate Continues

Published April 26, 2012

The controversy of the mandate announced by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requiring all employers providing insurance to cover the costs of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs has begun to move to the courts.

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, notes several groups and multiple state attorneys general have filed or joined lawsuits against the mandate.

“This is not an issue about contraceptives. This is an issue of religious freedom, and it is the first of many of our freedoms that will be violated,” Turner said.

Religious Leaders Reject Mandate

Sarah Torre, a research assistant at the Heritage Foundation, notes Catholic groups and religious liberty organizations have jumped into the fight in response to the administration’s definition of preventive services under the president’s health care law.

“This will force almost all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization coverage in their employer health plans,” Torre said. “But this mandate has nothing to do with access to contraceptives or birth control, really. It has everything to do with the government forcing private citizens’ employers to provide services and drugs against their moral beliefs. And it’s a serious violation of religious liberty.”

Torre warns, “This is just one of many mandates that Obamacare has within the law, and there’s a lot more to come.”

Turner agrees, noting Catholics aren’t the only ones who see the law as an assault on their freedoms.

“2,500 religious leaders joined in signing a letter to the President in solidarity with the Catholic Church against the mandate, because they know that any of our freedoms in other religious denominations as well as many others could be next,” said Turner.

Government Expansive Role

Hadley Heath, a senior policy analyst the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), says the underlying issue is the role of government.

“It’s a much broader issue than whether or not one small group of people wants to hold onto their religious convictions. They should be free to do that. But the rest of society, even if we don’t hold that view, we should make sure that they’re guaranteed their freedoms to run their business and live in a way that is consistent with their moral conscience. That’s a freedom that applies to everyone, whether they identify as religious or not,” Heath said.

Heath says this fight is an inevitable result of a government takeover of health care.

“When government gets too involved in health care, people are going to clash on decisions that we shouldn’t have to make collectively, that should be left to the individual” said Heath.

April Gregory ([email protected]) writes from Indianapolis.