WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading social conservative in the Senate, today backed a second measure aimed at keeping the Obama administration’s abuse of power against religious institutions in check. In October 2011, Inhofe backed the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 (S.1467). Today, Inhofe lent his support to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 (S.2043).
“Once again, President Obama’s words and actions do not line up,” said Inhofe. “While he pays lip service to the free expression of faith in America, his administration is engaging in an unconstitutional government intrusion against religious freedom. This is just the latest example of government overreach, and yet another disastrous outcome of Obamacare. In the past, Congress has acted to safeguard health care providers’ freedom of expression and action, and it is time for Congress to once again act, placing a check on President Obama’s abuse of power.”
Today, Inhofe joined in cosponsoring S. 2043, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012. The bill stipulates that no guideline or regulation issued related to Obamacare can require any individual or entity to offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service if the individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief.
Last October, Inhofe backed S. 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The measure permits a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty. It also declares that nothing passed into law under Obamacare would require a provider to violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions in providing services.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used Obamacare to issue a new rule making preventative services for women, including contraception and contraceptive counseling, mandatory for health plans beginning in August 2012. The HHS coverage guidelines exempt some religious groups from having to offer the coverage for contraception. However, this exemption is too narrowly defined, making employers that are religiously affiliated, such as schools and hospitals, not exempt.