The Department of Health and Human Services issued final rules on contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act at the end of June. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has closely followed the policy's development and advocated for strong religious freedom protections for those who object on religious grounds to include contraception in their company health plans.
"The final rule still leaves many religious employers unprotected,"
said Leith Anderson, NAE President. "The government should not compel any
of its citizens to violate their consciences."
While most evangelicals do not oppose the use of contraception, there are
concerns that some of the drugs required to be covered by health insurance
policies are abortifacients. Many also believe that the limited definition of
"religious employer" in the rule sets a dangerous precedent.
The final rule exempts churches from the mandate. Religious non-profits that
object to the mandate may offer insurance policies that do not include
contraceptive services. But the insurance companies or third party
administrators are required to provide the beneficiaries of those policies free
contraceptive services. Religious organizations that are structured on a
for-profit basis do not even receive this accommodation.
"With the administration digging in its heels and Congress unlikely to
act, it is up to the courts to restore the constitutional protection guaranteed
to all Americans under the First Amendment," Anderson said. "We are
encouraged that many of the lawsuits filed on behalf of religious employers are
receiving a favorable hearing."