Obama Administration Changes Birth Control Rules

Attempting to put out fires, News OK reports that the Obama administration “announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.”

News OK goes on to say that the U.S. will now allow “faith affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds.”

The Obama administration had already offered an alternative to these organizations, so they would not have to pay for birth control, in which they simply had to send the Form 700 directly to their insurers. This did not sit well with the Roman Catholic bishops, as well as others who were against birth control, stating that it was like “signing a permission slip to engage in evil,” per News OK.

Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, spoke out today as reported by Huffington Post stating,

“Women across the country deserve access to recommended preventive services that are important to their health, no matter where they work.”

She goes on to say, “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to providing women with access to coverage for contraception, while respecting religious considerations raised by non-profit organizations and closely held for-profit companies.”

The way this new accommodation will work is that those companies not wanting to cover birth control for their employees can opt out by “notifying the Department of Health and Human Services” as reported by MSNBC. Once that happens, arrangements will be made for those employees to have a third-party insurer to pay for the coverage guaranteeing women will have coverage for their birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

These accommodations still may offend or upset those religious entities that don’t want any part of the process of providing coverage for birth control, whether directly or indirectly.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represent numerous religious nonprofits in their case against the administration, has said they will review the new rules and determine if they satisfy these groups in their plight for religious freedom, according to Huffington Post.

Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, tells Huffington Post, “We are hopeful the administration’s new rule will reflect the robust protections that have always been given to religious individuals in this country.”

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