What is the HHS Mandate?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate on February 15th, 2012 under the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, that forces all employer health care plans to include free abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization services, and contraception.
Churches, synagogues and other IRS qualified houses of worship are exempt from this HHS mandate. However, all non-religious businesses were forced into compliance as of January 1st, 2013. Religiously affiliated employers such as hospitals, religious schools, universities, and religious charities are not exempt.
As recent as February 1st, 2013 the administration’s proposed new rule-making actually did away with the previous policy whereby churches could extend their exemption to religiously affiliated organizations as mentioned earlier. The administration’s response is that these organizations can obtain an outside third-party insurance policy. However, this does not eliminate the moral conflict these organizations have by providing the third-party policy nor does the administration indicate who would pay for these services. The HHS mandate and the administration gave a deadline of August 1st, 2013 by which these religiously affiliated employers must begin providing these abortion and contraceptive supplies and services.
(You can read the details about the mandate at http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/.)
Q: Why would I object to this HHS Mandate?
A: YOU MAY NOT - at first look. Some justify this HHS mandate because it also includes things like mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, and prenatal care. On closer inspection, however, there are other items considered objectionable to many faith traditions buried within. There are practices in this mandate, clearly defined or in some cases cloaked by terminology like “other services”, which provide for things like abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization services, and contraception – free “services” that are in direct conflict with our beliefs. Businesses, regardless of their faith foundations or company cultures, will be forced by this mandate to offer these services, infringing upon their will and religious freedom.
If we do indeed consciously object and value faith, family, and sanctity of life, yet fail to make our voices heard on this HHS Mandate, what will stop our government from issuing other mandates that we also find objectionable?
It is our responsibility to make issue with our government’s agenda to dictate moral conscience, and make it an issue front and center, rather than to fall victim to the seductive nature of following rather than leading on issues of importance to religious faith.
It is the right of all Americans to subscribe to faith traditions and to oppose government mandates that are in conflict with and infringe upon the conscience of its citizens. Forcing people toward the belief system of a few in power, with the consequences of stiff penalties or even jail time, is an overreach never intended by our founding fathers who felt we should keep government out of our religion. The HHS Mandate is an increasing threat against religious liberty – we must act strongly in the defense of our liberty or find ourselves contributing to our country’s rapid moral decline with our own complacency.