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Blog: New Washington Controls Threaten Individual Conscience


Location: Washington, DC

The Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a rule that requires health insurance plans to cover--at no charge--certain services for women, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception. That would include the drug known as the "morning after pill." The rule does not contain a meaningful conscience exemption. This rule, which was issued pursuant to a provision of the new health care law, is one example of the extensive new controls that Washington will exercise over our health care.

The rule requires health insurance plans to cover certain health services for employees, even if the service violates an employer's moral or religious conscience. There is an exemption within the rule for certain religious organizations, such as churches. However, this exemption does not extend to other faith-based organizations such as religious hospitals, universities, and service organizations. The Catholic Church, among others, has been very vocal in its opposition to the rule.

I have cosponsored the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011" (H.R. 1179), which would provide a religious conscience exemption to health insurance plans to allow them to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the beliefs of the issuer or beneficiary. Of course, I also support repealing the health care bill which gives Washington the authority to dictate such personal matters of conscience.

While continuing to push for repeal, I am also working to have this measure brought for a vote and maintain at least some degree of religious freedom in health care.

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