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ANALYSIS: Obama Reproductive Health Reg Mirrors State Conscience Protections

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"ANALYSIS: Obama Reproductive Health Reg Mirrors State Conscience Protections"

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The Catholic Bishops and their Republican allies argue that the Obama administration’s regulation requiring insurers and employers to offer reproductive health coverage at no additional cost sharing is an “unprecedented attack on religious liberties” that will force houses of worships to sacrifice deeply held beliefs. In reality, the rule, part of the Affordable Care Act, exempts houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith. But religious groups contend that its conscience protections are too narrow.

A closer examination of the Obama provision, however, reveals that the conscience language closely mirrors the existing provisions in at least five states:

– OBAMA: For purposes of this subsection, a “religious employer” is an organization that meets all of the following criteria:

(1) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization.
(2) The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.
(3) The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.
(4)The organization is a nonprofit organization

– NEW YORK: For purposes of this subsection, a “religious employer” is an entity for which each of the following is true:

(a) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity.
(b) The entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(c) The entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(d) The entity is a nonprofit organization

– CALIFORNIA: For purposes of this section, a “religious employer” is an entity for which each of the following is true:

(A) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity.
(B) The entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(C) The entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(D) The entity is a nonprofit organization

– MICHIGAN: For our purposes, a “religious employer” is an entity for which all the following are true:

(a) The entity is a nonprofit organization
(b) The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity.
(c) The entity primarily employs people who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(d) The entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.

– OREGON: A “religious employer” is an employer:

(a) Whose purpose is the inculcation of religious values;
(b) That primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the employer;
(c) That primarily serves persons who share the religious tenets of the employer; and
(d) That is a nonprofit organization

Twenty-eight states already require employers, including most religiously affiliated institutions, to cover contraception in their health plans. The only change is that now they must cover the full cost. In fact, the administration will be expanding conscience protections in eight states, where all religious institutions are required to offer birth control coverage.

Lucy Panza contributed to this post.

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