In recent weeks, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms joined other conservative groups across the nation in calling on President Donald Trump to roll back the Obamacare insurance mandate (also known as the Obamacare birth control mandate). We are pleased to report that the Trump administration has taken steps to protect American employers that cannot, in good conscience, pay for their employees’ abortifacients or contraceptives.
On Friday, October 6, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the issuance of new federal rules that “provide conscience protections to Americans who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive/abortifacient services.” In a press release, HHS explained that the Obamacare birth control mandate required employers to “offer health insurance that cover[ed] all FDA-approved contraception, [including] medications and devices that may act as abortifacients as well sterilization procedures.” Because the Obama administration only allowed a limited group of employers to apply for exemptions from the birth control mandate, family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and nonprofits like the Little Sisters of the Poor had to seek relief from the mandate in court. According to The Washington Post, the new rules will allow many more types of employers—including nonprofits, publicly-traded for-profit companies, and institutions of higher education that arrange insurance for students—to request exemptions from the Obamacare birth control mandate. The new rules do not ban the use of abortifacients or contraceptives.
Caitlin Oakley of the Department of Health and Human Services clearly stated the important principle underlying the Trump administration’s action, stating that “[no] American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system.” At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we agree, and we are thankful that the Trump administration has taken a stand for religious freedom. We would have preferred that the Obamacare insurance mandate be reversed through congressional repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and we still hope that Congress will make that happen next year. Also, we would have preferred that the Trump administration rescind the Obamacare insurance mandate altogether. However, the Trump administration’s action will protect American employers from being coerced by government into funding products and services that they believe to be morally wrong. This is a major step forward in reversing the destructive legacy of President Barack Obama.