President Barack Obama's contraception mandate has caused consternation among religious entities and employers. But most Americans probably aren't aware this mandate extends all the way into the home, fundamentally altering the rights of parents to raise their children.
The mandate, handed down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, means all employers who offer health insurance must pay for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization services, without any co-pay from the recipients. This has led to numerous court cases against the administration by Christian universities and small businesses for whom provision of such services runs against deeply held beliefs.
The conversation thus far has focused on the employees and students who would receive services under the law. The text of the HHS rule, however, extends far beyond them. It requires coverage, with no co-pay charge, of all Food and Drug Administration-approved "contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures . . . for all women with reproductive capacity."
That includes all female minors who are covered under employer-provided family insurance plans. That means Obama's contraceptive mandate extends to all American daughters covered by an insurer.
Currently, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia allow all children twelve and older access to contraceptives without any parental consent or notification. Connecticut and Maine let minors get an abortion without parental consent or a court's permission. States such as Oregon allow sterilization—yes, without parental consent or notification—as young as age fifteen.
By contrast, thirty-eight states prohibit minors from tattoo or piercing procedures without parental consent. Even in the other states, a tattoo is harder to get than an abortion will be—you have to save up your allowance to get yourself inked.
The President has obliterated the laws of about half the states. Parents cannot opt out—they have to pay for this whether they like it or not. And they won't even find out from their insurance bills because of the elimination of any co-pay.
Supporters of the administration's policy argue this is a good thing. The Guttmacher Institute, a strong promoter of abortion and contraception, said in a September briefing, "many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents."
You may have read that the administration has proposed a "compromise" on this matter. This is false. Its compromise consists only of a delay of implementation until well after the presidential election. The Obama administration has shown no interest in allowing for exemptions: If you provide insurance coverage as an employer, you must abide by the mandate. And as an employee, you'll have to pay into a plan that gives your children coverage of "free" contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization. There is no other option.
You might think that paying for all these services, whether you want them or not, will add to your insurance premiums and to health care costs generally. But Sebelius assured Congress in testimony earlier this year that HHS has conveniently calculated that "the reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception."
As for compensating for the loss of parents' right to direct the upbringing of their children, Sebelius has yet to comment.