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ICC Note: Over 40 plaintiffs have sued the Department of Health and Human Services in connection with the Obamacare mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and other birth control methods. Many employers have pointed out that the mandate forces business owners to choose between following their Christian faith and facing heavy fines by the federal government.      
By Napp Nazworth
2/06/2013 United States (CP) -The Department of Health and Human Services announced last Friday a proposed change to its birth control mandate. The change, which HHS considers an “accommodation” for nonexempt religious groups, does not, however, address the underlying religious freedom concerns of the over 40 plaintiffs who have sued HHS citing their First Amendment religious freedom rights, according to Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund, which represents some of the plaintiffs, in a Monday interview with The Christian Post.
The birth control mandate, first announced in January 2012, requires employers to provide contraceptives, sterilization and some abortifacients without a co-pay in their employees’ health insurance coverage.
The proposed rule change would require insurance companies to provide the birth control services to employees of religious employers covered under the “accommodation” at no additional cost.
The proposed change does not address the complaints of for-profit companies who claim the mandate violates their religious conscious protections, Duncan said. About half of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits are for-profit companies. The administration takes the position that for-profit companies have no religious freedom rights.
Another one of the main issues of concern for religious freedom advocates is that the exemption for religious groups is written so narrowly that it essentially sets up two tiers – one tier for houses of worship, which are granted full religious freedom rights, and another tier for every other type of religious organization, such as schools, camps, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and a host of other social service organizations, which are not granted full religious freedom rights but are promised an “accommodation.”

Additionally, employees would obtain the coverage because their religious employer objected to providing it. So, it is through the actions of the religious employer that the employee would be obtaining services that is in opposition to its religious teachings. The government would still, therefore, be forcing the religious group to participate in an act it finds morally objectionable.

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