WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Friday proposed a work-around for religious nonprofits that object to providing health insurance that covers birth control.
The government’s new regulation attempts to create a barrier between religious groups and contraception coverage, through insurers or a third party, that would still give women free access to contraception. It wasn’t immediately clear whether would accept the new approach, or whether it would stem the tide of lawsuits across the country that have challenged the requirement to provide such coverage.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had no immediate reaction, saying it was studying the regulations. Policy analyst Sarah Lipton-Lubet of the American Civil Liberties Union said the rule appeared to meet the ACLU’s goal of providing “seamless coverage” of birth control for the affected women.
In its new rule, the Department of Health and Human Services argued that the change wouldn’t impose new costs on insurers because it would save them money “from improvements in women’s health and fewer child births.”….
The new health care law requires most employers, including faith-affiliated hospitals and nonprofits, to provide health insurance that includes artificial contraception, including sterilization, as a free preventive service. The goal, in part, is to help women space out pregnancies to promote health.
Under the original rule, only those religious groups which primarily employ and serve people of their own faith – such as churches – were exempt. But other religiously affiliated groups, such as church-affiliated universities and Catholic Charities, were told they had to comply.