Obama Refuses to Budge on HHS Mandate

Despite the ever-mounting uproar from people of all faiths over the contraception mandate for employer provided insurance, President Barack Obama says he has no plans to reconsider the controversial decision.

The Washington Examiner is reporting that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified President Obama’s position on the contraception mandate in yesterday’s briefing.

“We need to make sure that those employees of all different faiths have access to contraception,” Carney said, and once again insisted that President Obama “struck the right balance” in his decision.

“We obviously believe this is constitutional,” said Carney, who added that Obama’s decision is meant to insure that “women who want access to contraceptives are able to get them without paying co-pay every time they go to a pharmacy.”

He said the president had no plans to reconsider the mandate in spite of the outcry from leaders of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations.

“This is not a decision of politics,” Carney stated. “This provides an important preventive service for people around the country and is not in any way a violation of the conscience clause.”

However, this is not the viewpoint of many legal experts who say the new mandate clearly violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Ed Whelan, lawyer and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, explains that the RFRA allows the government to “substantially burden” a person’s free exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that the application of the burden on the person furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Because contraceptives are so widely available elsewhere, it can hardly be called a “compelling interest” or warrant the kind of substantial burden it would place upon employers who would have to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply.

As Whelan points out, “If the HHS mandate can’t satisfy both these prongs, it violates RFRA.”

The mandate obviously does not satisfy these requirements which is why legal action is imminent.

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