The Obama Administration has been catching increasing heat over a rule that requires employer health insurance plans provide contraceptive services to employees, including employees of non-profit religious employers.
Is this rule a possible infringement of the non-profit religious employer’s exercise of its First Amendment rights to freedom of religion? There is a strong argument that says yes. If a non-profit religious employer is forced by an act of the state to endorse an action that runs counter to its doctrine, why wouldn’t this be a violation of its freedom to practice its religion?
This mandate is probably just as bad as the mandate that all individuals, with certain exceptions, be required to purchase health insurance. Not only is the non-profit religious employer being forced to purchase a plan it does not want, an insurance company is being forced to sell a contract containing terms and conditions not demanded by consumers in a particular market.
Non-profit religious employers have until August 2013 to comply with the rule. During this time, they are encouraged to refer employees to community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income based support. Why not make an exception in the rule for these types of employers based on their religious affiliations? If their employees want contraceptive services, the employees can obtain them from health centers, clinics, and hospitals.
Right now this role of government issue is becoming ammunition for the GOP. Can Mr. Obama afford to have this issue become a distraction?