The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

The Obama administration has issued an updated compromise for the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate, designed to ensure that all women have access to birth control without nonprofit faith-based organizations directly funding it.

The compromise puts the burden on private insurance companies, who will have to provide contraception at no cost to employees through a standalone insurance policy.

A recent study confirmed that the contraception mandate will reduce the abortion rate, and preventing unwanted pregnancies will clearly reduce costs for both employers and insurers — 28 states already have contraception mandates in place.

This new policy attempts to thread the needle of providing all women with basic reproductive health care while not asking faith-based employers to compromise their beliefs.

Women’s rights groups reacted positively to the announcement.

“This policy delivers on the promise of women having access to birth control without co-pays no matter where they work,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Of course, we are reviewing the technical aspects of this proposal, but the principle is clear and consistent. This policy makes it clear that your boss does not get to decide whether you can have birth control.”

The original contraception mandate sparked dozens of lawsuits from Catholic faith-based nonprofits and universities. Those lawsuits have been put on hold as the White House prepared its new policy.

The new policy officially provides a definition of religious employers that are completely exempt from the mandate and asserts that qualified nonprofits do not have to provide coverage through their insurance, even if they self-insure: “Under the proposed accommodations, the eligible organizations would not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

Private insurance companies will have to enroll female employees in a separate insurance policy that covers insurance at no cost to the employee or the employer. Universities who provide coverage for students will be eligible for a similar accommodation.

Any costs of the supplemental coverage will be subtracted from the fees insurers pay to participate in the new health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

Despite the obvious benefits of the mandate and policies designed to remove faith-based organizations from any involvement in providing birth control, so-called pro-life groups are still not satisfied.

“Once again, President Obama’s so-called ‘compromise’ is unacceptable – religious and moral freedom is not up for negotiation,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion rights group the Susan B. Anthony List.

However, John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group based in Washington, said the compromise was “a strong signal that the administration is responsive to the concerns of Catholic institutions.”

For-profit companies like Hobby Lobby, which is suing the federal government over the mandate, are not eligible for the compromise and are expected to provide contraception directly through their health insurance.

The mandate goes into effect for religious nonprofits in August, a year after it went into effect for all private employers.

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Rep. Tony Gonzales

Photo by CQ/Roll Call

The Republican House member who represents Uvalde, Texas, where 19 kids and 2 adults were shot to death in an elementary school on Tuesday, has said in the past that he will vote against any gun safety legislation in Congress.

In September 2021, Rep. Tony Gonzales tweeted in response to a provision on firearms included in that year's annual defense spending bill, "I will fight against any attempt to restrict our 2nd Amendment right, which is why I joined in urging the stripping of red flag laws from the final version of the bill." Gonzales was one of 161 Republican House members who signed a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in October of that year urging that the provision be removed.

Keep reading... Show less

Beto O'Rourke, back to camera, confronts state officials over Uvalde school shooting at press conference

Not long after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his entourage showed up on a stage in Uvalde, Texas, to offer the usual thoughts and prayers that follow a gun massacre, Democratic rival Beto O'Rourke suddenly strode up to confront him.

Pointing a finger at the governor, he yelled: "You're offering us nothing!"

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}