The U.S. government has finally acknowledged that, if people desire access to contraceptives and abortion pills, then they can do so without forcing nuns and faith-based organizations to provide them.
Praise God! After all these years fighting the HHS mandate in Obamacare, we’ve come a long way.
Today, the Trump Administration broadened the exemption to the HHS abortion-pill mandate that requires employers to provide abortion pills and contraceptives in their healthcare plans.
This is great news for the 20 organizations and 12 individuals that Alliance Defending freedom is representing in pending challenges to the mandate. And while the courts still need to act to completely resolve these cases, broadening the exemption goes a long way to protect people of faith and religious organizations.
Under the previous Administration, organizations such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and religious schools such as Geneva College and Southern Nazarene University were told to provide abortion pills to their employees and students or face crippling fines.
But it’s not only religious organizations that have faced this choice. Some non-religious organizations object on ethical grounds to providing certain drugs and devices. For example, Alliance Defending Freedom is challenging the HHS mandate on behalf of March for Life, a non-profit, pro-life organization that works to end abortion. Their beliefs are rooted in non-religious ethics and science. So, to be forced to provide abortion pills to their employees would force them to perpetuate the very thing they are working to end. Thankfully, the amended regulation recognizes this fact by also protecting organizations and individuals that morally object to the mandate.
In August 2015, a federal court ruled in favor of March for Life and prohibited the government from enforcing the mandate against them. The amended rule will now allow the case to move forward and, hopefully, result in a ruling that definitively protects March for Life’s convictions.
We are thankful that President Trump upheld his pledge to preserve and protect religious liberty. This rule is a great step in restoring constitutionally protected freedom back to people of faith. The faith that inspires groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to serve their communities should be protected, not bullied. Punishing people of faith – who serve the most vulnerable with love and compassion – hurts society.
Opponents of the exemption claim that it will limit the availability of contraceptives. But only a tiny minority of employers object to providing them. And many who choose to work at religious charities or attend faith-based colleges typically share their employer’s or university’s religious convictions anyway. And contraceptives are inexpensive and widely available.
Being forced to choose between violating your convictions or facing crippling fines is not a choice at all. This amended regulation offers a third choice – relief for those who wish to operate and serve their community according to their beliefs.
And that’s a choice we should all get behind.
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