Biden Administration Seeks to Remove Moral Objection Exemption From Obamacare Contraceptives Mandate

While retaining the religious exemption policy, the Biden administration proposal would create a new way for employees of religiously objecting employers to obtain contraception with no out-of-pocket costs.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department estimated that the proposed rule change would impact more than 100 employers and 125,000 employees, CNN reported.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department estimated that the proposed rule change would impact more than 100 employers and 125,000 employees, CNN reported. (photo: Areeya_Ann / Shutterstock)

The Biden administration Monday announced a proposal to eliminate employers’ ability to object to the Obamacare contraceptives mandate on moral grounds.

This change only proposes rescinding the moral objection exemption, not the religious exemption. The 2020 Supreme Court case Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania guaranteed that religious employers objecting to contraceptives on religious grounds would not be forced to provide birth control in contradiction to their beliefs.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department estimated that the proposed rule change would impact more than 100 employers and 125,000 employees, CNN reported.

While retaining the religious exemption policy, the Biden administration proposal would create a new way for employees of religiously objecting employers to obtain contraception with no out-of-pocket costs. 

The Biden administration's proposal states that workers of employers with religious objections will be able to obtain contraception “without any involvement on the part of an objecting entity.” Under the proposal, an insurance provider providing free birth control services would be “reimbursed for its costs by entering into an arrangement with an issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange or State Exchange on the Federal platform.”

The pathway to obtain free contraception also will be available to students at universities with religious objections, the proposal states.

Under the Trump administration, the Obamacare policy was amended to allow employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to opt out of offering it in their insurance policies without penalty.

The Biden administration‘s change won’t take effect until the completion of a 60-day public comment period, which is set to begin Feb. 2 once the proposal is filed in the Federal Register.

Kristi Hamrick, chief media and policy strategist for the pro-life group Students for Life of America, told CNA that the proposal was part of “a vicious cycle with life-and-death implications” and that the Biden administration is “ignoring Constitutional rights of conscience that should be protected.”  

“Students for Life of America does not take a position against birth control per se,” she said. “We oppose forcing people to buy or fund drugs and devices against their beliefs, such as nuns, and we oppose forcing people to pretend that abortifacients mislabeled as contraception should also be paid for.”

The rule proposal comes as the Biden administration has vowed to expand access to both birth control and abortion in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which overturned nationwide legalized abortion, freeing states to regulation abortion as they see fit. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tweeted that it “is committed to protecting & expanding access to reproductive health care, including abortion & contraception.”

Washington Surgi-Clinic on F St. NW in Washington, D.C., on April 7, 2022.

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