Nuns Must Have Birth Control Coverage
By Wesley J. Smith,nationalreview.com - The Obama Administration has really pulled a fast one. In its proposed rule to supposedly provide greater protections to non house of worship religious organizations opposed to contraception, it actually ensures that contraception coverage will be provided to all religious employees–whether house of worship, convent, or school. In other words, the proposed rule expands the government’s intrusion into religious affairs, rather than reduce it.
Here’s how they plan to do it:
1. From now on no distinction will be made in the rule between “house of worship” employers and general religious organization employers. In order to be exempted from the requirement of providing free contraception, sterilization, and (possibly) abortifacients, under the current rule, the non profit had to be, essentially, a house of worship or a monastic community. That requirement will be deleted. Under the proposed rule, all bona fide non profit religious organizations will be treated the same. From the Notice of Proposed Rule Making:
For purposes of these proposed rules only, the Departments propose to define an eligible organization as an organization that meets all of the following criteria: The organization opposes providing coverage for some or all of the contraceptive services required to be covered under section 2713 of the PHS Act on account of religious objections.The organization is organized and operates as a nonprofit entity.The organization holds itself out as a religious organization. The organization self-certifies that it satisfies the first three criteria, as described later in this section.
On the surface, that would seem better, since the rule will make no distinction between Sisters of Mercy as an order and the Sisters of Mercy High School. That would be true if the exemption originally granted to houses of worship allowing them to not cover birth control at all, had been expanded to include organizations such as charities and schools. But that isn’t what the government is proposing at all.
2. The existing total exemption for houses of worship, etc., has been eliminated. There used to be two tiers of religious organizations under the rule. The first–houses of worship–were completely exempted from having their employees covered for free birth control. The second, religious organizations, were not exempted. That’s what set off the brouhaha. Now all qualifying religious organizations receive the same accommodation. But it is not an exemption.. Read more…