Attorney General Scott Pruitt Tuesday joined attorneys generals from 12 other states to request that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adopt broader religious exceptions to the HHS mandate that all businesses and non-profit organizations purchase insurance for contraception and related services. The attorneys general sent a signed letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
To implement the Affordable Care Act, HHS mandated last year that all employers and insurance companies – including those with religious and conscience-based objections – would have to provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures, including the “morning-after pill” and the “week-after pill.” Today’s letter is a public comment on proposed regulations to address faith and conscience-based objections that were raised to the original mandate.
The letter identifies several problems with the proposed regulations under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires “strict scrutiny” of all actions of the federal government that burden the exercise of religion. The regulations give only some nonprofit religious organizations an exception to the mandate, even though there is no compelling reason to treat religious organizations differently.
Lastly, the regulations provide no exception to the mandate for for-profit business owners who object on conscience grounds.
Oklahoma and attorneys general from the following states signed the letter: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
For a copy of the attorneys general letter, go online to www.oag.ok.gov.