It’s been nearly two years since the Obama administration announced that under the Affordable Care Act, contraception would be covered as preventive care without a co-pay. Though this initially didn’t cause much of a stir, the right eventually freaked out – employers, the GOP argument went, shouldn’t subsidize birth control they consider morally offensive.
The White House has tried to accommodate the concerns. A year ago, President Obama unveiled a compromise: religiously affiliated institutions won’t be required to pay for birth control directly, but women who work for these employers will still have access to the same preventive care as everyone else. The right said that wasn’t enough, so there was another compromise: separate insurance plans for contraception.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine signed a letter this week to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, urging that an exemption to the coverage mandate extended to certain nonprofit religious organizations be broadened to include private employers who object to contraception for religious reasons.
DeWine said last night that requiring business owners to include prescriptions such as the morning-after pill, which critics say are abortive, as an employee insurance benefit could be a “direct contradiction” to the religious beliefs of some employers.
DeWine, a U.S. senator before his 2006 defeat, argued, “They’re being forced to provide insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs. They’re being forced to provide insurance coverage for a form of abortion. To me, it’s a religious-freedom issue.”
Catch that use of the “a” word in there?
According to Ohio’s attorney general, birth control, including the morning-after pill which prevents pregnancies, is “a form of abortion.”
And as such, it makes sense, according to DeWine, to empower employers to deny the women who work for them access to contraception as part of their health care plans – even if employers aren’t being asked to pay for the birth control directly, and even if it’s covered under a separate insurance plan that the employer isn’t paying for.
The Republican interest in combating contraception access did not end in 2012.