Recently, the Obama administration announced that, as part of Obama’s healthcare mandate known as “Obamacare”, religious and church-affiliated institutions will have to cover free birth control for their employees. Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, said that nonprofit religious organizations could have an additional year to implement this new requirement. The backlash against this new policy came immediately after the announcement. Religious institutions will have to comply with this condition, or fight back, or else drop healthcare for their employees altogether and pay a fine to the government. This particular mandate does give a very limited religious exemption to the rule, but still, only “certain religious employers” will be able to take this protection. It is not enough. (You can find the specific religious exemptions at http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/) What about the freedom of conscience that should be afforded to these religious workers? If something goes directly against their moral beliefs – such as use of contraception or sterilization – how can they, with good conscience, provide this for their employees?
Sister Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association, responded to this new mandate, saying, “This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic society, which has always respected the role of religions.”
Time will tell how many religious institutions will take a stand and defend their religious freedoms and their right to freedom of conscience. If you work for a religious or church-affiliated organization and are concerned about your rights in this matter, please contact Advocates.
This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts! To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.