Legal / Federal Action

HHS Mandate Crackdown: Obama Admin Warns Insurance Companies They Must Pay for Abortion-Inducing Contraceptives (2015)

The Obama administration has doubled down on its demand that insurance companies furnish women with all forms of contraception, including those that act as abortifacients, at no cost – cracking down on those who allegedly refuse to offer such drugs in their health insurance plans.

Congressional Democrats urged President Obama to make the alleged evasion a priority. One of their complaints, based on two April 2015 reports released by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation, was that while health insurance companies may cover one of each in a “category” of contraceptive/abortifacient, these companies should be forced to cover all 18 methods recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. The New York Times reports:

[R]esearchers at the National Women’s Law Center found that some insurers lumped together several methods of contraception and covered only one or two in a category. For example, they said, some insurers did not cover the contraceptive patch or the vaginal contraceptive ring because they covered another “hormonal method” of contraception, like birth control pills.

“Under the new guidance,” the Times concludes, “such restrictions are not allowed.” Nor will co-pays or cost-sharing be permitted; insurance companies must provide all contraceptive/abortifacient methods “at no cost to consumers.”

NWLC Vice President Gretchen Borchelt that “insurance companies have been breaking the law, and today the Obama administration underscored that it will not tolerate these violations.”

The NWLC joined Senator Patty Murray, D-WA, in praising the Obama administration’s move. Murray, who along with other congressional Democrats had demanded clarification of the Department of Health and Human Services’ rules on contraceptive/abortifacient coverage, alleged that women throughout the United States are “entitled to” these drugs and devices.

The Obama administration edict also follows in the wake of several court cases decided in favor of individuals and institutions asking courts for relief from the HHS mandate, because they say providing women contraceptives or abortifacient drugs violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The most notable court case on the matter culminated in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision on June 30, 2014. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court declared that the Health and Human Services Department’s “contraceptive” mandate in ObamaCare “substantially burden[s] the free exercise of religion.”

However, most insurance companies cannot claim a religious exemption.

Last July Sen. Murray joined then-Senator Mark Udall, D-CO, to draft legislation attempting to override the Hobby Lobby decision. The bill died in the Senate. Udall, who centered his re-election campaign on the “war on women,” was defeated by Republican Cory Gardner that November.

There is much confusion regarding which “contraceptives” are in fact abortifacients – i.e., drugs and devices that kill a unique human being rather than prevent fertilization from occurring. Plan B, for example, utilizes an abortifacient action, as does the drug marketed as “ella.”

Evidence suggests that even the birth control pill contains abortifacient properties.

Intrauterine devices (IUD) unquestionably cause early abortions, as the Obama administration admits.

[14 May 2015, Drew Belsky, ]