HHS revises mandate rules again; religious-liberty concerns still not addressed
August 28, 2012
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a minor revision in the rules governing the implementation of the contraception mandate. But an attorney representing a Christian college that has challenged the mandate says that the change does not alleviate the problem.
The latest HHS revision of the mandate allows Wheaton College to join other institutions that have been allowed a 12-month grace period before the mandate takes effect.
The 12-month “safe harbor” provision had originally applied only to schools that refused to provide coverage for contraceptives. Wheaton College did not qualify because the school allowed for coverage of some contraceptive devices, objecting only to those that can be abortifacient.
Hannah Smith, an attorney for the Becket Fund, which is representing Wheaton, said that the HHS decision to grant the school a one-year reprieve is only a “delay tactic” that will only postpone the inevitable legal showdown over an infringement of religious freedom. She said that HHS had avoided an immediate confrontation through a “sloppy executive fiat”—the 3rd such change in the mandate rules to be announced by HHS in the space of 7 months. These shifts, she said, show that HHS has not carefully thought through the implications of the mandate but is “making it up as they go along.”
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Aug. 29, 2012 1:42 AM ET USA
This is just another political diversion by a hostile secular administration bent on subjugating religion to the dictates of the state and pushing religion completely out of the public arena. If there was ever a time for the Church to challenge this administration through the ballot box it is now.