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January 20, 2012

Johanns, Hatch Push Back on Administration Decision to Violate Conscience Rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today pushed back on a decision made by the Obama Administration to mandate preventive services, including birth control and emergency contraception, for health insurance plans.

“Forcing religious institutions to violate a cornerstone of their faith by providing contraceptives in their health care plans completely defies the Constitution,” said Johanns. “The President promised to uphold life and conscience protections in the health care law, but rather than live up to his word, he has regrettably chosen to punt on implementation of the controversial mandate until after the elections. I will do everything I can in the next year to ensure that the conscience rights of these churches, charities, hospitals and other religious organizations are protected.

“Today’s decision by the Obama Administration shows once again that in their mind, politics will always trump the Constitution,” Hatch said. “The problem is not that religious institutions do not have enough time to comply, it’s that they’re forced to comply at all. Unfortunately, this Administration has shown a complete lack of regard for our central constitutional commitment to religious liberty.”

In July 2011, the Institute of Medicine recommended several mandatory health services, as called for by the new health care law. This included a recommendation requiring all health care plans to provide controversial services, including contraceptives. Subsequently, Johanns and Hatch authored a letter, signed by 26 of their colleagues, to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlining constitutional concerns regarding conscience protections."

Full text of the letter sent to Secretary Sebelius in October is available here.

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