(CNSNews.com) -- Pointing to the Health and Human Services regulation that will require virtually all health care plans to cover sterilization, artificial contraception and abortifacients for free, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said that President Barack Obama is governing like a "king."
The mandate, which goes into effect on Aug. 1, requires nearly all health insurers to provide sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortifacients free of charge. President Obama announced the finalized rule on Feb. 10, during a press conference at the White House.
“The rule that was published by [HHS Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius directed even our religious institutions that are health care providers to provide abortifacients, sterilizations and contraceptives free of charge as part of every health care policy that they would offer, even though it violated the deep religious convictions, especially of the Catholic Church, but many others as well,” Rep. King told CNSNews.com.
“And when [President Obama] took two weeks of heat over that and realized that he had earned the enmity of the entire Catholic Church and many other faith organizations -- when they read the letter of the bishops in my church, which said, ‘We cannot, we will not obey this unjust law’ -- the president then held a press conference at noon on a Friday about two weeks from the time this rule was issued.”
“They didn’t change the rule at all,” he said. “Not a single letter, not an ‘I’ dot or a ‘T’ crossed differently, the same rule exists today that existed when they first ruled it out. The president then stepped up at noon on a Friday and he said, ‘I’m going to make an accommodation to the religious organizations and now I’m going to require the insurance companies to do this for free.’ And he repeated himself, ‘for free.’”
“But what got missed by much of the media was this is the first time that I know that the president of the United States had attempted to and may have succeeded in legislating by press conference,” he said. “Press conference.”
“The edict of the king: ‘I have spoken. So be it,’” said King.
“You know, I can speak about kings with great criticism since I happen to have that for a name, but that is an outrageous and an arrogant reach into the history of our country, the traditions of our country, the very clear lines that are there in the Constitution itself and the separation of powers,” said the congressman.
“And a president who takes an oath of office, not just to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability so help him God,” said King, “but also -- and as not just implied but it’s specific in the Constitution -- that that oath include that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
“He’s faithfully executing laws, all right, but not in the fashion or the definition that was understood in the Constitution,” said King. “He’s just shooting them down willy-nilly one after another by presidential edict.”
As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), Secretary Sebelius announced in August 2011 a mandate that requires all health insurers to offer sterilizations and FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortion.
The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception, and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics should not be involved in them. Thus, the regulation would require faithful Catholics and Catholic organizations to act against their consciences and violate the teachings of their faith. It would also apply to individuals of other denominations, or no denomination, who are opposed to subsidizing sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients.
The rule was finalized on Jan. 20, sparking nationwide opposition from religious organizations, most notably the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and at least 158 members of Congress.
President Obama then announced an alleged “accommodation” to the rule on Feb. 10, shifting the burden to health insurers to provide contraceptives “free of charge,” making religious institutions pay indirectly for the care.
“Today, we’ve reached a decision on how to move forward,” Obama said. “Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -- no matter where they work. So that core principle remains. But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -- not the hospital, not the charity -- will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”
The final rule published in the Federal Register on Feb. 14 included no change to the initial rule.
With this apparent accommodation, all health insurers will have to offer the care required in the “preventive services” rule. Individuals or employers who object to those services for religious reasons will not pay for them directly for other people, but they will indirectly subsidize them through their health insurance premiums.
The rule is slated to go into effect on Aug. 1, though religious employers will be given an extra year to comply. The USCCB and bishops in dioceses nationwide have declared that the HHS mandate is a violation of religious liberty, that it is an “unjust law” and that it must not be obeyed.To date, the archdiocese of New York, the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., the University of Notre Dame, and 40 other Catholic dioceses and organizations have joined, in various capacities, and filed 12 different lawsuits in federal courts around the country against the HHS mandate.