Contraception battle spreads to state legislatures
The political fight over the new federal contraception mandate has made its way to several state legislatures, where conservative lawmakers hope to block the Obama administration’s new rules, according to Politico.
In recent weeks, a controversy has erupted over the issue of employers being required to provide birth control coverage, with Catholic leaders and many conservative politicians taking the view that all religious employers should be exempt.
Legislators in Idaho, Missouri and Arizona have all proposed legislation aimed at challenging the new rules.
Twenty-eight states already have laws similar to the new federal contraception coverage rule. In one of those states, New Hampshire, lawmakers have now proposed legislation to exempt religious employers from the mandate.
“We weren’t aware this law was on the books,” said House Speaker William O’Brien (R).
Of the 28 states that mandate contraception coverage, four exempt churches and church associations, seven have a broader exemption that includes religious schools and eight have an even broader exception that includes religious hospitals as well.
The Obama administration has said it would stand the policy, which requires virtually all private insurance policies to cover family planning, including female contraceptives, essentially guaranteeing near universal access to birth control once all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented.
The White House offered to change the rules by exempting religious hospitals and universities and instead making the insurance companies pay for contraceptives, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conservatives rejected the compromise.
Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow employers to prohibit their employees from accessing health care coverage for any procedures they find “morally objectionable.”
Woman holding birth control pills via Shutterstock