- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Md. GOP congressman demands answers on contraception mandate
Question of the Day
A Republican congressman asked President Obama's top health official on Thursday to declare whether a specific morning-after pill is an abortion-causing drug.
Rep. Andy Harris, a doctor from Maryland, said religiously devout business owners have a real problem with insuring drugs like "Ella," a form of emergency contraception, and wanted to get an answer out of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a budget hearing before a labor subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.
"I am not a scientist and don't pretend to be one," Mrs. Sebelius said, noting scientists at the Food and Drug Administration designate drugs.
"I think the FDA is not clear on Ella," Mr. Harris said.
Conservative lawmakers have backed corporations like Hobby Lobby that object to a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring them to insure several forms of contraception for their employees, including drugs that are taken after sex. Opponents of the mandate have equated morning-after pills like Plan B and ella — especially the latter — as abortifacients.
The debate on Thursday caused Mrs. Sebelius and Mr. Harris to talk over each other.
"It's not an abortifacient," Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, cut in at one point during Mr. Harris' speaking time.
"I was going to get some coffee," Chairman Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, said when things calmed down. "Don't need it anymore."
Mr. Harris grilled Mrs. Sebelius on the issue during a second round of questioning, prompting the secretary to argue that non-religious employers should not be allow to impose their views on their employees.
She said the Obama administration is trying to strike a proper balance by exempting houses of worship from the mandate and allowing religious nonprofits like universities and hospitals ask an insurer or third-party administrator to provide contraception through separate policies, which the employer does not manage or pay for.
By and large, Republican lawmakers and advocates have rejected the accommodation for nonprofits.
"None of these lawsuits were dropped," Mr. Harris told Mrs. Sebelius, holding up a piece of paper during the hearing.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- House panel OKs resolution to sue president for Obamacare delays
- Contrasting judgments on Obama's health care hours apart; appeals court calls subsidies unlawful
- New Democratic caucus will pressure GOP governors to expand Medicaid
- Insurers cough up refunds to subscribers under Obamacare ‘80-20 rule’
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
President wants everyone but himself to pay more
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Afghan who killed three U.S. Marines in 2012 to serve over 7-year prison sentence
- EDITORIAL: Obama's 'economic patriotism' means higher taxes
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq