Obama on Free-Birth-Control Mandate: 'That's Why We Passed This Law...We Are Going to Keep It'

Fred Lucas | October 5, 2012 | 1:17pm EDT
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President Barack Obama speaking at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Oct. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) – Touting the Obamacare "preventive services" regulation that requires virtually all health-care plans to provide women with cost-free sterilizations and contraceptives, President Barack Obama said Friday that providing women with free contraception saves money.

Then, in an apparent jab at Catholic institutions and others who have asked him to rescind the regulation and who have sued arguing that it violates their First Amendment right to free-exercise of religion, Obama specifically pointed to the fact that the preventive services regulation mandates free contraception for female college students as one of the reasons "why we passed this law."

"And we are going to keep it," he said defiantly.

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“This law has secured access to preventive care like mammograms and cancer screenings with no co-pay, no deductible, no out of pocket cost for more than 20 million women, and now most health plans are beginning to cover the cost of contraceptive care, which is vital for women’s health,” Obama said.

“Doctors prescribe contraception, not only for family planning but as a way to reduce the risk of ovarian and other cancers, and it’s good for our health care system in general because we know the overall cost of care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services,” Obama said at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

'I Am Proud of It'

"Now before this new law, many health-care plans charged high deductible or co-pays for these preventible [sic] services, or they just didn't cover them at all," said Obama.

“I don't think a working mom in Arlington should have to wait to get a mammogram just because money is tight," Obama said. "I don’t think a college student in Fairfax or Charlottesville should have to choose between text books or the preventive care that she needs. That's why we passed this law. And I am proud of it. It was the right thing to do. And we are going to keep it."

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore--who was then the bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.--testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Feb. 16, 2012, explained why Obamacare's free sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate forces Catholics to act against their faith. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Obama said that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "joined the far-right of his party to support a bill that would have allow any employer to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees.

"I mean think about that, your boss tellling you what is best for your health or safety," said Obama.

"Let me tell you something, Virginia," Obama said, "I don't think your boss should control the care you get. I don't think insurance companies should control the care you get. I definitely don't think politicians on Capitol Hill should control the care you get. We've seen some of their attitudes, we've read about those.

"I think there is one person who gets to make decisions about your health care, that's you," said Obama.

However, the Catholic Church has argued that the mandate is wrong precisely because it forces individual Catholics, whether they own a business or are employed by one, to act against their consciences on the command of the federal goverment.

Earlier this year, the Catholic bishops of the United States unanimously adopted a statement calling this Obamacare sterilization-contraception-abortifacient reguirement an "unjust and illegal mandate" and declaring their "vigorous opposition" to it. The bishops unanimously said Obama's mandate not only violated the rights of Catholic institutions, but also of lay Catholic business owners and individual Catholic workers who, under this regulation, would be forced by the federal government to buy health-care plans that covered things Catholics understand to be intrinsically immoral.

"The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values," the unanimous Catholic bishops said. "They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing "services" contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption."

In August, the National Catholic Bioethics Center published an ethical analysis of the mandate, which concluded that it would immoral for Catholic business owners to obey it.

“Dropping all coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach,” the Catholic ethicists said. After Jan. 1, 2014, when Obamacare comes into full force, they said, Cathoic business owners may not morally purchase health insurance for their employees.

The Obamacare "preventive services" regulation was issued earlier this year by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It requires virtually all health-care plans in the United States to provide "all women of reproductive capacity" with cost-free sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortions.

In March, HHS Secretary Sebelius told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health that Obamacare's sterilization-contraception mandate would save money because it would cause fewer people to come into existence.

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Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) asked Sebelius at that hearing who was going to pay for the free sterilizations and contraceptives. “Who pays for it? There’s no such thing as a free service,” he said.

“The reduction in the number of pregnancies is--compensates for the cost of contraception,” she answered. "The overall plan, according to the national [inaudible] goes down not up."

Murphy countered: “So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?”

“Providing contraception as a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children, reduces health-care costs,” Sebelius responded.

Murphy followed up: “Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me. I yield back."

Sebelius said: “Family planning is a critical health benefit in this country, according to the Institute of Medicine.”

More than 40 Catholic institutions around the country--including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and the University of Notre Dame--have sued the Obama adminisration arguing that forcing them to buy coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients, all of which the Catholic church teaches are wrong, requires the church itself to act against its own teachings and thus violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

Additionally, members of the Newland family, who own Colorado-based Hercules Industries (a heating and air-conditioning manufacturer), have sued the administration arguing that their right to the free exercise of religion is also violated by the regulation because it forces them to act against their faith. Also, the Green family, Evangelical Christians who own Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, have similarly sued, saying the regulation violates their right to the free-exercise of religion.

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