The following is excerpted from an editorial in National Review:
Last August, under authority granted by Obamacare, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius published an “interim final rule” for comment that would require private health-insurance plans to cover, as “preventive services,” all FDA-approved “sterilization procedures” and “contraceptive methods” — and without deductibles or co-pays. We and other critics raised numerous objections, none of which was addressed last Friday, when Sebelius announced the final promulgation of the rule, which will go into effect Aug. 1.
Since the FDA approves, as “contraceptives,” drugs such as Plan B and Ella that may cause early-stage abortions, the federal government could force nearly every employer in America to pay for abortions and sterilizations. Colleges and universities providing insurance to their students will face the same requirement.
The one exemption HHS offers is for those plans offered by “religious employers,” which is defined so narrowly that practically no one but actual houses of worship can qualify. Religious schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, social-service organizations and charitable institutions — in short, all those who try to do good in the world by serving all who come to their table — will not qualify for the exemption, and will be forced to provide contraception, abortion and sterilization. The alternatives are to drop health insurance for one’s employees (forcing them into the government “exchanges” and paying a hefty fine as well), or to close one’s doors.
To their credit, the Catholic bishops objected strenuously to the proposed mandate last year, as did other leaders of religious institutions.
Cynically playing to a compliant media eager to praise her for being “accommodating,” the secretary gave many (but not all) of the organizations outside the terms of the exemption an additional year (until August 2013) “to adapt to this new rule.” For “adapt” read “fall into line, or else.” The administration’s true purpose in the deferral is to get past the November election without this becoming a real issue.
There is also language in the secretary’s announcement suggesting that those religious institutions that do enjoy an exemption will have to refer those they insure to “contraceptive services” available elsewhere.
It should be no surprise that the government’s takeover of health care is a threat to every kind of freedom. But the HHS insurance mandate — bad enough in itself for its hostility to a culture that affirms life — is a direct assault on the religious freedom of individuals and institutions that cannot, in good conscience, be complicit in such hostility. Congress, the courts, the voting public — all must come to the defense of conscience and the Constitution, and turn back the tyranny of this administration.