WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today attorneys with the Jubilee Campaign's LAW OF LIFE PROJECT timely filed its agency commentsopposing the Obama Administration's "Interim Final Rules" that arbitrarily exempt some, but not all, healthcare plans and health insurance issuers who conscientiously oppose coverage of so-called "preventative services" under Obamacare* that unlawfully include abortifacient methods of contraception that effectively terminate a pregnancy after it begins. The Project's General Counsel, Samuel Casey said: "Unless these rules (and the 'Guidelines' promulgated pursuant to these rules) are immediately changed, or the exemption from these rules is substantially broadened, as we suggest in our comments filed today, we are looking at a double-barreled lie by Senator Mikulski (D-MD) who told us that by adding coverage of 'preventative services' to Obamacare we would not be covering abortion in the first place and by President Obama who promised us in his March 29, 2010 Executive Order 13535 that Obamacare would not force health plans and individual health insurers to cover abortion."
As many other concerned Americans have noted, the religious exemption allowed by the interim final rule is not only extremely narrow, but unprecedented in federal law. It covers only a "religious employer" that has "the inculcation of religious values" as its purpose, "primarily employs and serves person who share its religious tenets," and is a church organization under two narrow provisions of the tax code. Group health plans offered by a great many religious organizations, including Catholic colleges and universities, as well as hospitals and charitable institutions that serve the general public, would be ineligible under this narrow exemption. Individuals and health insurance companies do not quality at all for this exemption.
Casey said, "Most importantly, unless broadened to include every group health plan or health insurance issuer who conscientiously opposes abortion as a matter of 'sincerely held religious belief,' the application of the government's 'interim final rule' to such entities should be deemed a 'substantial burden' upon such entities' 'free exercise of religion' in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act('RFRA', 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq.). Since Obamacare already includes some religious exemptions and many organizations for political reasons have already been 'grandfathered' out of compliance, the government will be hard pressed under RFRA to bear their heavy burden of justifying their overly narrow definition of 'religious employer' on the grounds that a broader definition more in keeping with federal law is somehow barred by some non-existent 'compelling state interest' that cannot otherwise be achieved in some 'less restrictive' fashion. As Thomas Jefferson declared to New London Methodists in 1809, '[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.' Jefferson's statement expresses a long-held conviction of respect for the free exercise of conscience that is deeply embedded in the history and traditions of our Nation and codified in numerous State and Federal laws, including laws on health care."
Casey concluded, "Unless the rules are changed or the exemption from compliance with it broadened, only legal action challenging the rules as they may be unlawfully applied to a non-exempt group health plan or individual health insurance issuer; or, alternatively, the enactment of H.R.1179, THE RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE ACT OF 2011, currently pending in the 112th Congress, can remedy the lies Americans opposed to mandated abortion coverage have apparently been told by Obamacare proponents."
* THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, Public Law 111-148 was enacted on March 23, 2010; THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT. PUBLIC LAW 111-152 was enacted on March 30, 2010 (collectively and popularly known as the "Obamacare" or the "Affordable Care Act"). Section 2713 of the Public Health Act, as added by the Affordable Care Act specifies that a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage provide benefits for and prohibit the imposition of cost-sharing with respect to women, With respect to women, "evidence-informed preventive care and screening provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration." (75 FR 41728)
JUBILEE CAMPAIGN'S LAW OF LIFE PROJECT IS A PUBLIC INTEREST LEGAL ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO LEGALLY DEFENDING THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN BEING FROM BIOLOGICAL CONCEPTION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH IN ALL MATTERS WORLDWIDE, INCLUDING THE HEALTHCARE RIGHT OF CONSCIENCE WHEREVER SUCH A DEFENSE IS REQUIRED. JUBILEE CAMPAIGN IS AN INTERNATIONAL CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION THAT SEEKS TO BE A "VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS" PROMOTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL, PARTICULARLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF ANY AGE IN COUNTRIES WHICH IMPRISON, TERRORIZE OR OTHERWISE OPPRESS THEM