Obama backs off from anti-religious freedom HHS mandate – Update

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Donovan Slack and Jennifer Haberkorn report for the Politico that “After a year of controversy, the Obama administration has changed contraceptive health coverage requirements for religious institutions that pay for their own insurance and objected to the policy on moral grounds.”
This morning, Feb. 1, 2013, the Obama regime’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced the change of policy, “Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act“: Women will still be able to get the same health benefits, but certain religious employers will now be exempt from paying for it.
Christian institutions, specifically those of the Catholic Church, vehemently objected to the HHS mandate. In May 2012, 43 branches of the Catholic Church sued the federal government in Superior Court for the HHS mandate contravening the Constitution’s First Amendment on Church-State relations, by requiring religious organizations to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate insurance coverage for not just contraception services, but also abortifacients (abortion-inducing drugs), which violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.
However, HHS’s change of policy does not address the concerns of private businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, whose owners also object to contraception on religious grounds. Several dozen lawsuits have been filed, and the religious freedom issue is likely to reach the Supreme Court.

Here’s the summary of the proposed policy change, “Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act.” (I’ve saved the pdf document to FOTM’s Media Library. Click here!)
SUMMARY: This document proposes amendments to rules regarding coverage for certain preventive services under section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act, as added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended, and incorporated into the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code.
Section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act requires coverage without cost sharing of certain preventive health services, including certain contraceptive services, in non-exempt, non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance coverage.
The proposed rules would amend the authorization to exempt group health plans established or maintained by certain religious employers (and group health insurance coverage provided in connection with such plans) with respect to the requirement to cover contraceptive services. The proposed rules would also establish accommodations for group health plans established or maintained by eligible organizations (and group health insurance coverage offered in connection with such plans), including student health insurance coverage arranged by eligible organizations that are religious institutions of higher education. This document also proposes related amendments to regulations concerning excepted benefits and Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
~Eowyn & Steve


FOTM reader Patricia emailed us a communication from Dr. Helen Alvaré, Associate Professor of Law at George Mason University, of the pro-life Chiaroscuro Institute. Dr. Alvaré has studied the policy change document “Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act” to conclude that our victory is only partial and our elation must be qualified. Here’s Dr. Alvaré’s e-mail:
Once again, the Obama Administration has delivered an unacceptable “compromise” regarding the HHS Mandate and religious freedom.
Today the White House expanded the exemption to church-affiliated non-profit organizations, but refused to extend it to individuals and for profit business owners—such as the Greens with Hobby Lobby.
I have reviewed it and have several takeaways:
1. The first “expansion” of the exemption is as small as the government could make it. Religious organizations which exist to spread the faith (i.e. Churches)– when they also do things like serve the poor or educate kids in a religious school–may have the exemption for those ministries as well as the Church itself.

2. Religious institutions who are not primarily in the business of spreading the faith– likely hospitals, schools, etc.– can have the exemption after a complicated “self-certification” procedure, but their employees and students will get free contraception without their employers’ input–under separate policies issued directly from the insurance company.
3. My third observation is not about the law, but about the administration. Their desperation to get contraception, early abortifacients and sterilization into the hands of every woman and girl would be comical if they weren’t in such deadly earnest. These new regulations are very long and very convoluted and very intent on exempting the fewest folks possible. I doubt most other provisions of the health care law have received this kind of attention.
4. Individuals and businesses which are not religious institutions are completely unprotected… THIS IS DISTURBING. In America, the right of religious freedom extends to all.

I can’t do better than echo Alan Sears, President of the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group who has said, “Religious leaders and their organizations cannot be bought off with personal immunity, in exchange for abandoning their fellow believers and their own flocks to federal subjugation of their freedoms. It behooves none of us to preserve our own ‘freedom,’ when no one in our audience will be allowed to accept and live by our Gospel witness.”
I more than suspect that this is an attempt to divide us and thereby to conquer…..why? We are winning both in the courts (by 10 to 4 so far) and in the court of public opinion.
The government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith.
I encourage you to speak out against this “compromise” with your family and friends, and on your Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Send letters please….copying them to the President, the Vice President (America’s top political Catholic, remember?) and Secretary Sebelius. Their addresses are below.
Thanks for sticking with us in this fight,
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Vice President Joe Biden
Old Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20501
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

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0 responses to “Obama backs off from anti-religious freedom HHS mandate – Update

  1. Thank you Dr. Eowyn and Steve for this wonderful news! Our Catholic Study group here fought so hard for this to happen, writing the members of Congress and each and every state senator and state representative. Our group also wrote each and every Supreme Court Justice objecting to the HHS Mandate. I am absolutely and positively thrilled! But, the Catholic Church had to fight Obama and his evil regime to get to this point with those 43 lawsuits and all of the Catholic lay people that formally objected. The Catholic Church lead the charge to protect everyone’s religious freedom, people of all faiths and I am very proud of this victory! May God be praised and honor to the Blessed Mother Mary, the saints and the angels! We must continue to help and pray for Hobby Lobby and all other accompanying lawsuits, that they also be victorious!
    Also, Dr. Eowyn, your picture is magnificent! The devil has lost!

  2. Grumpy in Arizona

    Whoa, wait a minute…
    Just because the HHS ‘policy’ was changed today is no guarantee that the policy cannot be changed back to the way it was yesterday.
    I suspect this is just a way for the administration to make the lawsuits go away… the lawsuits must continue if we are to get true justice.

    • The lawsuits will contain Stipulations and Orders to memorialize this victory which will be carefully drafted by the counsels representing the Catholic Church and the various charitable non-profit organizations. Whoa, wait a minute to you Grumpy in Arizona. This is an absolute victory for all people of Faith, led by the Catholic Church! As St. James said, “Faith without works is dead!” God has given us a victory! Don’t stifle it with your attitude. Be grateful! And Grumpy, there are no guarantees for anything in life so just what is your point!

      • So…my question is this…The Catholic Church is self insured? Right?..What if The Catholic Church created a branch…Vatican Insurance Company…and we all bought our policies from the Church?
        Excellent picture on the post! Hallelujah and Glory to God in the Highest!

  3. Grumpy in Arizona

    I did not say it “was not a victory.” Certainly it is.
    My point is that I do not trust the Obama administration.
    When a government is allowed to (and does) introduce a ‘policy’ that is completely contrary to 1st Amendment guarantees then we have a government that is out of control.
    This HHS policy was not decided in a court of law – it was decided in a backroom inside HHS headquarters – where, no doubt ,they are already deciding on new regulations that will invalidate someone else’s rights.
    Think about this joan, the new policy basically says: “If you are a religious organization – you get a waiver. If you are a secular organization – you do not .”
    Now where in the Constitution does it say that government gets to choose who gets those rights and who doesn’t? (For that matter where does it say the government is allowed to grant waivers at all?) Equality under the law means just that. Government policy must apply equally to all.
    I’m happy for this victory for all religious institutions and especially for the Catholic Church. I am not happy that the HHS does not believe a secular employer has the same 1st Amendment rights.

  4. It IS a victory.
    Catholic people have to cont’ rebuking this devil. This devil has a name; Barack Hussein Obama

  5. Kiss My Butt Barack…

  6. Grumpy in Arizona’s instincts are right.
    Dr. Helen Alvaré, Associate Professor of Law at George Mason University, has studied the policy change document “Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act” to conclude that our victory is only partial and our elation must be qualified.
    Please scroll up for my Update. (h/t FOTM reader Patricia)

  7. What position does the Catholic Church take on “end of life counselling” for older people who the government regards as beyond redemption because they might have a reoccurance of something they were hospitalized for which means doctors have their pay cut, or who are thought to be too old to squeeze more years of servitude out of. What position does the Catholic Church take on the bailouts that have resulted in foreclosures galore and most likely cause married women to consider abortion because they may be living in their car and looking for a job that doesn’t exist any more. The supposed change in policy comes at a time when the exposure of gun running to Mexican Drug Cartels, and Al Quada drug runners and death squads to use as targets when a foreign country has uranium and other mineral deposits that are desired by the US and might fall into Chinese hands, or because the drug consumption market in the US is saturated and the pushers are looking at exporting drugs from South America to North Africa on their way to the European market. So many things could be shut down if the oligarchs’ banks were put into receivership, which would be a victory for Christianity and Christian morality and ethics which are applicable to all forms of genocide, including of course abortion, which is rampant owing to the lack of interest in the churches’ teaching as a whole, which is often ignored because of the collapse of morality and highlighted by minority groups who press for their causes, such as gay marriage and unfortunately placing abortion in that catagory, when in fact it is murder. Only when war is declared is killing accepted and the war against unborn babies has yet to be officially declared as such, because life is now worth less than the right to bear arms or to use marijuana. Jesus Christ died to redeem us and save us from the certain destination of hell, the devil is making certain that those who commit abortion are transgressing God’s will, but the babies are not condemned so that’s one good thing anyway. We are really in a mess and if any of you have a free moment you could check out Emmanuel TV and see Prophet TB Joshue and the Wisemen dealing with demons and disease in a really astonishing manner, and helping people with getting their lives on track.
    There it is.

  8. “Nearly 83% of African American respondents would support abstinence education that teaches healthy relationship skills.”
    results of Smith Johnson Research poll commissioned by The Chiaroscuro Institute
    Yesterday I received a call from a polite young man (possibly a volunteer) from the DNC. He was asking for a donation to help rid the Congress of Republican control. His justification lay in the fact that the political gridlock is so out of control that nothing is getting done. I acknowledged his point. and told him I’d love to help get the government running again … but NOT at the expense of my religious freedom.
    The conversation, which remained cordial, and even friendly, throughout, lasted over 15 minutes. I listened to what he had to say, gave it some thought, and responded. He did the same. During that time he told me, among other things, the following:
    #1. That the Democratic Party would like to “work together” with those across the aisle (which I posited as the ideal solution), but they detect NO interest or cooperation on the “other side.” (I think he truly believes this and I can understand why … please think for a moment about how YOU would probably feel and respond if someone said “kiss my butt” to you, whether you deserved it or not. There must be a kinder way to make the point.)
    #2. That I should look at the whole confluence of issues (Medicare/SS funding, immigration reform, etc. …) rather than refusing to donate based solely on the issue of religious freedom. I told him my religious freedom trumps every other issue I see on the table–for me it is simply THE dividing issue and I need the DNC to recognize that. I will sacrifice for it if I must and rely on God to provide for my welfare. I know he will.
    #3. That the problem is if they take away contraception and abortion funding we will not be able, as a nation, to provide for all of the unplanned, unwanted babies that will be conceived and born to parents unprepared to adequately care for them.
    He has me there. I think this is a real and common issue which we on both sides of the aisle recognize, and something we must focus on jointly in order to solve. Therefore, let us not make unnecessary enemies in our exuberance over winning a law suit here or there, because ultimately I do not think that a lasting solution can be found in the courts–as necessary as these lawsuits are. Grumpy in Arizona (whom I propose is Realistic in Arizona) has pointed this out.
    Instead, we MUST build bridges of goodwill wherever we can. Today, maybe Jason is still thinking about the content of our conversation yesterday (as I am); and maybe he will mention it to somebody else tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe somebody else in the DNC. And someday … someday the tide WILL truly turn … in our hearts and minds, where it must. That is God’s way.


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