Bill would eliminate the penalties of the HHS mandate

Yesterday, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act was unveiled and today introduced as legislation in the House.  As Kathryn Lopez of National Review Online writes, this bill would eliminate the severe penalties provided in the HHS mandate for employers who do not provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization to their employees.  

Lopez describes Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black’s comments (Black and Wisconson Rep. James Sensenbrenner introduced the legislation):

“Never before in our nation’s history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a tax,” Black said today. On the religious-liberty front, nothing has changed since the Supreme Court’s health-care ruling, because that decision “leaves intact a serious assault on our religious freedoms — the controversial HHS mandate that requires employers to provide drugs and services in their employee health-care plans regardless of religious objections to those services,” she said.

Black continued:

“The public outcry against the HHS mandate has been undeniable,” Black said, citing protests outside the Department of Health and Human Services and throughout the country, and lawsuits seeking to protect Americans against the coercive mandate. “Whether you’re Catholic or not . . . . we are all threatened by this . . . as people of faith, any of us could be next.

“Despite this outpouring of objection,” she added, “the Obama administration recklessly has continued down that path of placing unjustifiable burdens on . . . religious and moral conscience. Some in the administration have sought to divide our opposition. They want us to believe it is just a Catholic matter, with the bishops, and have even talked about it as a war on women.”

What will the legislation accomplish?

The text of the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act seeks “to exempt employers from any excise tax and certain suits and penalties in the case of a failure of a group health plan to provide coverage to which an employer objects on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.” 

The bill has 57 co-sponsors.  Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada is one of them.

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