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Obama Offers Exemption On Birth Control Mandate

Jeremy Fuster |
February 1, 2013 | 3:54 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

(anqa/Creative Commons)
(anqa/Creative Commons)

The Obama Administration offered a new opt-out rule in their healthcare law on Friday to religious nonprofit groups that object to providing birth control as part of their health insurance coverage, the Associated Press reported.

The new rules would guarantee that religious non-profits would not have to cover the costs  of or arrange coverage for contraceptives, while female employees would still have free access to birth control pills through a third party.  

The law will also broaden the definition for religious groups eligible for the birth control exemption to any nonprofit group that has a religious grounding, even if they operate schools or social services that serve and employ people of various faiths.

The compromise comes in response to more than 40 lawsuits filed last year following President Obama's mandate that all women have access to free preventative care. Opponents of the mandate say that forcing faith-based nonprofits to provide contraceptives that are against their religious beliefs is a violation of religious freedom.

SEE ALSO: University Of Notre Dame Sues Over Contraception Mandate

Reaction to the compromise has been mixed. Catholics United, a left-leaning Catholic organization, told Reuters that the new rules are "a victory not only for the Obama Administration, but for the Catholic Church."

But the National Association of Evangelicals told the Huffington Post that it opposes the compromise: 

In a statement, the National Association of Evangelicals objected to the proposed change, saying that "religious organizations are still required to pay for an insurance policy that then triggers coverage for contraception and abortifacients under a second policy."

NAE president Leith Anderson called that "a work-around that doesn’t work."

“The Obama administration should have done the right thing and dropped the contraception mandate, or at least should have exempted all religious organizations," he said. The NAE also said it objected because the administration's expanded definition of a religious employer "still narrowly limits the definition to organizations registered with the IRS as churches, excluding most religious non-profits."

Reach Executive Producer Jeremy Fuster here. Follow him on Twitter here.



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