Is the Obama administration forcing people to pay for abortion-inducing drugs?

By James D. Agresti
February 7, 2012
Revised 2/9/12

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) gives presidential appointees at least 40 regulatory powers that have the force of law. Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, recently exercised one of these powers by mandating that “most new and renewed health plans” are required to cover without cost sharing “all FDA-approved forms of contraception” by August 1st of this year.

This mandate exempts “certain religious organizations” but not others “who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan.” This means that faith-based universities, hospitals, and charities are not exempt from the mandate, but if they are nonprofits, they are “provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law.”

Secretary Sebelius claims in a USA Today op-ed that this mandate will make contraception “free for most Americans with insurance,” but this use of the word “free” is misleading. Someone has to pay, and when government requires insurers to provide a certain benefit, all of the insured are forced to pay for it through their insurance premiums.

Some journalists, such as Robert Pear of the New York Times, reported on this mandate without mentioning the word “abortion, while in contrast, the Washington Times ran a headline declaring that “Insurers must cover abortion pill.” Meanwhile, a White House correspondent has accused columnist George Will and others of repeating “the lie” that the Obama administration’s mandate will force religious employers to “provide…abortion-inducing drugs.” So, what are the facts?

“FDA-approved forms of contraception” include the morning-after pill, also known by brand names such as Plan B One-Step (Barr Pharmaceuticals), Next Choice (Watson Pharmaceuticals), and ella (Watson Pharmaceuticals). The FDA’s “Birth Control Guide” states that such pills function by stopping “the ovaries from releasing an egg” or stopping “sperm from joining with the egg.”

However, the FDA neglects to mention in this guide that the morning-after pill can also “keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus,” as detailed by the Mayo Clinic. The official company websites for Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and ella all confirm that this is the case, which implicates the issue of abortion because at fertilization, the genetic composition of preborn humans is formed. This genetic information determines gender, eye color, hair color, facial features, and influences characteristics such as intelligence and personality. Thus, morning-after pills can terminate a unique human life.

However, the start of pregnancy is typically defined in one of two ways: either fertilization (when sperm unites with egg) or implantation (when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus). Medical literature abounds with the use of both definitions, and as explained in the Encyclopedia of Birth Control:

Abortifacients, whether chemicals or objects, cause abortions, the termination of a pregnancy. However, because the definition of pregnancy varies, opinions vary greatly over just which contraceptives or fertility control methods involves abortifacients.

Therefore, how one defines the start of a pregnancy determines whether or not the Obama administration is forcing people to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. Much of the controversy over this mandate is centered around institutions such as Catholic hospitals and universities that provide health insurance to employees. These organizations will be compelled to provide drugs and services that violate core Catholic beliefs, or they can stop providing health insurance to their employees and pay the requisite fines mandated under Obamacare.

This mandate will also impact most individuals with health insurance that does not already cover such items. Twenty-eight states already mandate such coverage with varying religious exemptions, but even in such states, the Obama administration takes this a step further by requiring that no copayments are charged for these items. This means that many insured persons will have to pay for (or pay more for) items that they consider to be abortifacients.

10 thoughts on “Is the Obama administration forcing people to pay for abortion-inducing drugs?

  1. Thank you for providing the data above. The bishops of the Catholic Church appear to have waged a war against President Obama, intentionally misleading the public into believing that the plan requires all insurance providers to provide abortion services without distinction. These are the same men who were involved in one of the most comprehensive cover-ups of our time. The same men who apparently found that the best way to respond to the scrutiny and criticism that they judiciously received was to force a revision to the language of the mass. Odd way to re-establish trust, never mind the obvious ethics of admission followed hopefully by contrition. The same men have come out en mass (and in mass :) ), demanding that the flock respond to this atrocity by rejecting the healthcare plan and President Obama. Unjust wars and countless casualties, capital punishment, income disparity, social justice of any category – where is the outrage? Not sexy enough topics apparently. To fellow Catholics, remember the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust and then ask yourself, had I been alive during those dark periods of the church would I have been fearfully obedient? Remember you were not baptized in the name of the Holy Roman church but in the name of Jesus Christ. Be strong, your church needs your resistance now more than ever.

    • A common tactic of responding to legitimate criticism is to attack the messenger. Notice that Lisa does not challenge the correctness of the fact, I repeat, FACT, that the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to share in the cost of the “morning after pill” along with other contraceptive pills and abortion inducing drugs. She simply attacks the Catholic Church. The issue here is not what an extremely small minority of abusive priests did four or five decades ago, but whether or not the first amendment is to remain in force.

      • I’ve recently been doing a bit of research on this since one of my co-workers told me that Obama was waging war on the Catholic church. One observation made is that the Church is making this about religous freedom, since a majority of catholics use some for of birth control anyway.

        My personal views are that abortion is wrong, and I personally consider the morning after pill to be a form of abortion. As the artical said, it depends on how one defines pregnancy. Since the lines on the morning after pill are blurry, I do not feel that anyone should be forced to provide this. Other forms of contraceptions are different. If we remember the christian faith, there are several times where Jesus violated church law in order to do what was ethical. Remember, it was church law at that time (and still is in some religions) to stone a woman to death if she committed adultry. Jesus said “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone”. When he was questioned about eating without washing his hands, he said “It is not what goes into a mans mouth that makes him unclean, but what comes out”.

        My point is, I feel that Christians should be Christians. A big part of that is looking at things in a sense of what is ethical in the current times and not blindly following church dogma. Let’s be honest, there are very real health benefits to birth control pills, and condoms are an effective way to prevent the spread of disease. Unlike in the times of deuteronomy when the Hebrew people were in danger of becomeing extinct and needed all the healthy childeren they could have, we are approching the opposite problem with over population.

        But, in the end, lets be really honest. This attack on health care is more political than an actual concern with religious freedom. If one questions religious freedom, then that means that the catholic church is forcing people of other faiths to comply with their dogma.

    • Make no mistake, the U.S. Federal government has overstepped it’s bounds in terms of abuse of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution & abuse of Free Exercise of Religion.

      Some important things to note:
      un•prec•e•dent•ed/ˌənˈpresəˌdəntid/
      Adjective:
      Never done or known before.

      Our government is trying to force something unprecedented on us. “The 11th Circuit U.s. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia has declared the “individual mandate” provision of President Obama’s health care bill unconstitutional, calling it an “unprecedented exercise of congressional power,” (1)

      Beyond the obvious unconstitutionality of forcing a Citizen to purchase a product (a U.S. Citizen is not even required to purchase food for said Citizen – imagine a Government levying a tax or fine against a Citizen because he went on a hunger strike in protest to government action), the U.S. Government is directly attacking Catholics free exercise of religion by forcing them to purchase a product – insurance, from insurance companies that are themselves forced to provide contraceptive and abortion inducing drugs- as well as sterilization. “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion,”.

      Opposition to the guideline put forth by the HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not an area of Catholic fracture or disagreement in terms of contempt for the government forcing the Citizenry to financially support abortion inducing drugs or sterilization by purchasing insurance from businesses that must necessarily provide them. “Every one of the 181 Catholic bishops in the United States have now issued individual comments, statements or opinion columns condemning the new mandate (…) President Barack Obama put in place forcing religious employers to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.” (2)

      Please remember that Catholics believe life starts at the moment of conception. Morning after pills such as Ella and Plan B (as approved by the FDA to be included in the mandate) are abortion inducing drugs – according to the Catholic Faith. The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life’s Statement released on October 31, 2000 explained: “The morning-after pill is a hormone-based preparation. which, within and no later than 72 hours after a presumably fertile act of sexual intercourse, has a predominantly “anti-implantation” function, i.e., it prevents a possible fertilized ovum (which is a human embryo), by now in the blastocyst stage of its development (fifth to sixth day after fertilization), from being implanted in the uterine wall by a process of altering the wall itself. The final result will thus be the expulsion and loss of this embryo.” (3)

      In fact, individuals ‘claiming’ to be Catholic that are lobbying against the Majestarium’s position are in fact no longer Catholics until they attend confession: “Together with the fact that abortion is a mortal sin, it should also be understood that an abortion brings an automatic excommunication upon those who procure it, perform it, or cooperate in it.” (4)

      So ‘forcing’ a Catholic U.S. Citizen (or any other U.S. Citizen who objects on religious grounds) to buy a product from a company that is ‘forced’ to provide abortifacient drugs by the Federal Government is a direct violation of the Free Exercise of Religion of that Citizen just as it is a violation to force a Quaker Citizen to buy insurance in the first place.

      Because of this mandate, Catholics cannot in pure conscience offer insurance to their employees or purchase insurance themselves. The separation of funds argument (oh you’re not really paying for it even though all the funds go to the same company) has been pulled on them before. (5) That falsity has been attested to by a former Director of a Planned Parenthood Facility. “I have personally witnessed and can testify to the validity of specific concerns raised by Stearns in his Sept. 15 letter to Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, including instances in which an employee or affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America failed to:
      • Properly account for and maintain separation between government funds prohibited from use for elective abortions and those funds derived from other sources that are not subject to such limitations.” ~ Abby Johnson (5)

      (1) (http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-08-12/politics/29998309_1_individual-mandate-provision-health-care-health-insurance#ixzz1oLmWlsMz)
      (2) (http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/17/every-catholic-bishop-opposes-obama-mandate-lutherans-too/)
      (3) (http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=44730)
      (4) (http://www.priestsforlife.org/preaching/never.html)
      (5) (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_48/abby_johnson_planned_parenthood_probe_good_first_step-209776-1.html?zkMobileView=true)

      • So would you ban the pill contraception that women use daily, and that Sarah Palin even put her 17 year old daughter on – because using it in an off-label was (as described above) could cause spontaneous abortion?

    • Income disparity ? What does have to do with the
      Catholic Church and abortion inducing pills .

      Along those lines – Jesus never said anyone should be
      forced to give up anything .

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  4. It is not government’s job, at least not here in the US, to employ everyone, and it is not the state’s mission to grow the size of government, as per our constitution. The Federal Government’s job is to protect the American People, not domesticate them into some sort of a nanny state, making them weak, inferior, and eventually unable to care for themselves. It seems rather un-American, at least to me anyway, to grow a bureaucracy which invades every aspect of our lives.

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