The HHS Mandate: Trampling Conscience for . . . What?

Birth controlBy Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory Baylor

Most supporters of the HHS contraceptive mandate suggest that shifting financial responsibility for the cost of contraception from users to their employers is the Mandate’s ultimate goal.  Framed that way, it is difficult to argue that the Mandate doesn’t achieve its purpose.  But the shift in financial responsibility is not the stated purpose of the Mandate.  Instead, according to the Mandate’s primary source (the Institute of Medicine), its purpose is to reduce the adverse health events associated with unintended pregnancy.  Shifting financial responsibility is simply the means by which this objective is advanced.  Given this, any assessment of the Mandate should consider whether it will meaningfully advance its stated purpose.  Available evidence strongly suggests that the answer is no.

Over two dozen states have adopted laws requiring group health plans to include contraceptives.  Yet these states experience rates of unintended pregnancy that are actually higher than in the states without such mandates.  In the states with mandates, the average rate of unintended pregnancies in 2006 was 52.58%; the average rate in states without mandates in 2006 was 50.38%.  Plainly, contraceptive mandates are not an effective means of noticeably diminishing unintended pregnancies down to “acceptable” levels.  As a result, it is difficult for Mandate supporters to justify its severe burden on the consciences of objecting employers.

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom