- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror plotter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
- Libyan prime minister ousted by parliament
- Men’s Wearhouse to buy Jos A Bank for $1.8B
GOP bill exempts religious nonprofits, business owners from contraception mandate
Some employers who object to President Obama’s “contraception mandate” balk at providing birth control of any kind, while others only object to those methods they call tantamount to abortion — underscoring the new health law’s thorny ethical questions.
Among dozens of corporations and religious nonprofits that sued over a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to insure contraceptives, several say they are willing to cover common forms of oral contraception in their health plans. But they draw the line at morning-after pills such as “Plan B” and “Ella,” known as “emergency contraception,” as an affront to their conscience.
Highlighting the furor around the issue, House Republicans referred to the pills as “abortion-inducing drugs” in rolling out legislation Tuesday that would provide a sweeping exemption for any employer that objects to the mandate on moral or religious grounds.
The debate over covering contraceptives, which may find its way to the Supreme Court, highlights thorny issues surrounding contraception designed to be used after sex, opening the door to cross-claims about reproductive science and when life begins.
In some cases, groups have even been surprised to find out what they’ve been paying for.
The American Family Association, an evangelical-based nonprofit based in Tupelo, Miss., filed a lawsuit Feb. 20 saying that it is fine with providing coverage for most contraceptives, but that it was shocked to discover in a recent review of its policy that it has been covering emergency contraceptives since 2010.
The group said it opposes drugs “that destroy the human embryo after conception, either after the embryo has been implanted in the uterus or before.”
But whether it is even accurate to label the drugs as “abortion-inducing” depends on who you ask, particularly since the interpretation of the drugs’ scientific effects is colored by interested parties’ definitions of when life begins and their positions on Mr. Obama’s health-care bill.
“While individuals are entitled to their religious beliefs about when life begins, as a scientific matter, emergency contraception does not disrupt an established pregnancy,” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who has filed briefs in support of the mandate. “Therefore, medically speaking, emergency contraception is not the same as abortion.”
Conversely, Biola University nursing professor Susan Elliott said that while Plan B and Ella work differently — with the latter considered closer to the abortion-causing claim — there is a scientific reason to assert the drugs’ effects amount to abortion.
“What is left out a lot is [that the drug] actually irritates the lining of the uterus, the endometrium. So you can have a fertilized egg, but then it gets to a hostile environment,” Ms. Elliott said.
She joined three House Republicans — Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, and John Fleming of Louisiana — who on Tuesday introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.
The lawmakers said the contraceptive mandate reneges on promises Mr. Obama made to keep abortion services out of his signature health law — a compromise that pro-life Democrats such as former Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan sought as the president culled crucial votes for his reforms.
“In fact, that’s how it got passed in the House,” Mr. Fleming said. “Otherwise, it wouldn’t have passed.”
He said the bottom-line is that objectors should be able to follow their consciences, no matter the form of contraception.
© 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.
- Obamacare enrollment hits 4.2 million, but slowing
- President Obama goes 'Between Two Ferns' to pitch Obamacare
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Prosecutors: Gray had firsthand knowledge of 'shadow campaign'
- Rate of uninsured Americans is dropping: Gallup
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Redskins keeping Santana Moss, agree to terms with two others
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again