WASHINGTON, D.C. Family Research Council (FRC) expressed strong opposition to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Obama administrations mandate that health care plans cover contraceptives with no cost-sharing to the patient.

The 2010 health care law, commonly known as Obamacare, requires coverage of preventive services for women to be covered with no cost to the patient, andHHSis adopting theInstituteofMedicines (IOM) recommendation to mandate contraceptive coverage. This means the cost will be shifted to other plan participants. Included in the list of mandated services are Plan B and Ella, both of which can destroy human embryos. The mandate only offers very limited conscience protections for some religious entities, such as churches, that fulfill certain criteria.

Jeanne Monahan, Director of FRCs Center for Human Dignity, made the following comments:

HHSoffered a fig leaf of conscience protection for certain churches that fulfill very specific criteria. However, religious groups that provide social services, engage in missions work to people of different religious faiths, religious health insurance companies, let alone religious health care providers and individuals in such health plans are not protected from any discrimination whatever. The new rule will force many Americans to violate their consciences or refrain from participating in health care insurance, further burdening an already costly system.

The mandate will include FDA-approved drugs like Ella and Plan B that are misleadingly labeled emergency contraceptives despite the fact that they can actually destroy a developing baby prior to or after implanting in the mothers womb.HHSfailed to address this problem in the interim rule published today despite many public comments on this very issue.

For an administration that promised to protect conscience laws in effect now, this decision completely ignores opinion, research and science that do not support a pro-abortion ideology. In the words of one of the committee members who objected to theIOMrecommendations, the evaluation for evidence lacked transparency ... the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determination through the lens of advocacy.

This administration is promoting mandates that will violate the consciences of millions. Therefore,FRCurges Congress to pass the bi-partisan Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, sponsored by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK), which would protect the conscience rights of those who object to being forced to cover, provide or pay for such drugs.

Last January, FRCsent a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging HHSto reject the inclusion of abortion or contraceptive drugs as mandatory covered benefits at no cost to patients. FRCreceived no response or even acknowledgement of the letter. Click here to download a copy of FRCs letter: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11A26.pdf

-30-