Yesterday, President Obama issued an “accommodation” to religious employers who object to that portion of Obamacare that forces them to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions. In his statement (view it above), the President claims,
Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work. So that core principle remains. But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.
The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. Let me repeat: These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.
These two paragraphs are impossible to reconcile. In the first paragraph, employers are required to pay for health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion. In the second paragraph, “religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services.” The President claims the “preventative” services will be free. But everyone knows that a removal of a co-pay doesn’t make the coverage free. It merely means that the cost is absorbed into the premiums that employers have to pay. Obamacare still requires employers to pay for these services one way or the other.
The President is not telling the truth when he says that “religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services.” They plainly will.
For this reason, the President’s solution is a transparent farce. The President may have mollified his allies on the left with this charade, but he has done nothing to “accommodate” those whose most deeply held religious beliefs are under assault by this law. Obamacare is no less a threat to religious liberty now than it was before he made the announcement.
The President and his allies think that they have put this controversy behind them. They are sorely mistaken.