Letter to Senate Minority Leader regarding HHS “contraception” mandate and S. 1467

By Richard Land
Feb 14, 2012

Below is a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressing concerns on the Obama administration’s mandate that employers, with the exception of most churches, cover contraceptives—including abortion-inducing drugs such as Plan B and ella—and sterilization free of charge under their health insurance plans. Additionally, the letter expresses support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which would provide conscience protections under the health care law for those morally opposed to such things as abortion, and urges senators to support this legislation as an amendment to S. 1813, a surface transportation reauthorization bill.

Download this letter (PDF 135 KB) on ERLC letterhead.

February 14, 2012

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Republican Leader
United States Senate
S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader McConnell:

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission remains profoundly dissatisfied with the Obama administration’s mandate that employers, with the exception of most churches, cover contraceptives—including abortion-inducing drugs such as Plan B and ella—and sterilization free of charge under their health insurance plans. The administration’s February 10 revised mandate, which would supposedly shift the burden of payment for these drugs and devices from religious employers with moral objections to insurance companies, fails to allay our concerns. It is simply an accounting gimmick, a distinction without a difference.

We believe Congress should, and must, swiftly address these clear violations of religious liberty and conscience. As you know, several measures designed to help protect against these specific forms of religious freedom violations have been introduced in the Senate, including the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 (S. 1467) sponsored by Senator Blunt. The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission strongly supports this legislation. We believe this is a much-needed antidote to the infringement on religious freedom and conscience that will soon hit the American people under the administration’s contraceptives mandate.

Of most immediate concern, we understand that the Senate could soon vote on the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 as an amendment offered by you, Senator Blunt, and others to S. 1813, the Surface Transportation bill. Specifically, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to specify that a health plan, plan sponsor, health care provider, or other person cannot be forced to provide coverage of, participate in, or refer for morally objectionable services such as abortion, or be discriminated against for failure to do so. While the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission takes no position on the Surface Transportation bill, we urge all senators to support Amendment #1520, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, to this broader bill.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns outlined here. We appreciate your ongoing leadership in the current battle to protect the fundamental rights of conscience and religious liberty under health care. Please know that we will be monitoring how senators vote on this amendment to protect these First Amendment freedoms.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Land

cc: The Honorable Roy Blunt, United States Senator

Download this letter (PDF 135 KB) on ERLC letterhead.

Further Learning

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