ONLY A SLIVER OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS COVERED BY PROPOSED EXEMPTION TO HHS ABORTION PILL MANDATE

Birth controlBy  Hugh Jones, Executive Director of Law As Ministry

Today HHS released a new iteration of its proposed exemption to the abortion pill mandate.  The new exemption is simpler than before but continues to cover only a sliver of religious organizations.  As before, the new exemption cross-references and relies upon an unrelated section in the tax code that exempts certain church-related organizations from filing annual returns with the IRS.    The church-related organizations covered by the unrelated section, and therefore by the new exemption, are (i) churches, (ii) conventions or associations of churches, (iii) integrated auxiliaries of churches, and (iv) religious orders.  See I.R.C. 6033(a)(3)(A)(i), (iii).  The terms “churches” and “conventions or associations of churches” are self-explanatory (think First Baptist Church and Southern Baptist Convention).  The term “integrated auxiliaries of churches” refers to organizations that are affiliated with and predominantly supported by a church (such as a food pantry that is controlled and funded by a church).  See 26 C.F.R. 1.6033-2(h).  The term “religious orders” refers to church-controlled orders normally consisting of monks or missionaries (such as the Jesuits).  See Rev. Proc. 91-20.    Still not covered by the new exemption are virtually all non-church religious nonprofit organizations, such as schools and colleges, food pantries and shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, publishers of religious literature, foreign mission organizations, and relief and development organizations.  Those organizations may qualify for HHS’s proposed insurer-provided accommodation (under which insurers are required to provide contraception and abortifacients to religious organization employees at no cost to anyone).  The deceptiveness and futility of this latest accommodation (and its failure to give any ground regarding for-profits) will be explored in future blog posts.

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom