iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Obama administration announced new steps Friday allowing for a compromise between religious nonprofits and companies and female employees seeking access to birth control.
Under the terms, the companies will be able to opt out of paying for contraception while employees will still have access.
The changes come in response to a recent court decision involving arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, a company that argued against coverage for birth control and the morning-after pill.
“The rules…balance our commitment to helping ensure women have continued access to coverage for preventive services important to their health, with the Administration’s goal of respecting religious beliefs,” representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
Eligible non-profit organizations must notify HHS of their religious objection to contraception coverage, which will prompt HHS and the Department of Labor to notify insurers or third party administrators so that enrolees receive separate coverage. There will be no additional cost to either party, according to officials.
For-profits will have to fill out a special form in such circumstances.
“Women across the country deserve access to recommended preventive services that are important to their health, no matter where they work,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to providing women with access to coverage for contraception, while respecting religious considerations raised by non-profit organizations and closely held for-profit companies.”
Still, some opposers, such as Attorney Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represented Hobby Lobby, don’t believe the new measures will curtail challenges.
“It seems like the new rule is just you fill out a piece of paper and we’ll call your insurer and make your insurer give things out,” Rienzi said. “Different people have different religious beliefs and some people may find that ok but I think it is unlikely it will resolve the litigation.”
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