Those religious institutions which were told that the national health care law passed by Congress and signed by the president would not force them to comply with parts of the statute that conflict with their religion may have been misinformed.
“Just before students began returning to classes, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new policy that would require all group health care plans provided by employers – including many Catholic institutions – to cover prescription contraceptives and sterilization for women,” Andy Rota wrote in The Observer at Boston College in an article which appeared on September 20, 2011. “The Interim Final Rules on Preventive Services (76 Fed. Reg. 46621, Aug. 3, 2011), consider contraceptives and sterilization to be ‘preventative’ services that must be provided free of charge in insurance plans.”
“The HHS policy does contain a ‘conscience clause’ for religious employers who wish to abstain from covering contraceptives for religious reasons. However, the exemption is very narrow, with organizations qualifying only if:
“(1) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization.
“(2) The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.
“(3) The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.
“Insurance, hospitals and universities, then, would fail to qualify for the exception if unless they were to hire and serve only Catholics.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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