The Obama administration on Friday announced a broader opt-out for religious-affiliated groups that want to skirt the so-called contraceptive mandate, following through on a pledge last year to provide an "accommodation" in the face of complaints from Catholic schools, religious-affiliated service providers and other organizations.
The proposed regulations out Friday, though, are not likely to satisfy all concerns about the ObamaCare rule requiring near-universal access to contraceptive coverage for employees. Businesses like Hobby Lobby, which sued the administration over the rule, would probably not be affected by the change because it is not a religious employer -- though the owner of that company has objected on religious and moral grounds.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented several religious-affiliated schools suing over the rule, said Friday it was still studying the proposal's impact on its clients. But the group said the proposal "does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans."
"The rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby are still being violated," Becket Fund General Counsel Kyle Duncan said in a statement.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List also panned the announcement Friday. "There must be no religious 'test' by the government as to who, and what type of entities, are entitled to a conscience," President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Her group said "non-religious entities" such as their own should be taken into consideration. "The only acceptable outcome is the complete repeal of the HHS mandate and the restoration of a thriving marketplace where Americans can choose health care coverage consistent with their beliefs," she said.
On a Department of Health and Human Services conference call, Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation Chiquita Brooks-LaSure noted that the rule is "not yet final."
Still, she stressed that the changes would spare many with religious objections, while allowing women access to free birth control.
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