It requires employee health plans to cover contraceptives.
A controversial part of the Affordable Care Act took affect on Wednesday. The section covers women's health, providing coverage for an annual well woman visti, HIV screening and counseling, sexually transmitted infection counseling, screening and counseling for domestic violence and breastfeeding consultation and supplies, including breast pumps.
But the one that's causing concern requires health care plans to cover birth control, including oral contraceptives and IUD's. That presents a problem for institutions such as Mount Saint Mary's University. The school is affiliated with the Catholic Church which is strongly oppposed to artificial contraception. "We take great exception that a government can tell us what we can believe or not believe," says Mount President Tom Powell. "That's a fundamental point of liberty on which this country was founded."
The law exempts churches from this requirement, but other religiously affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and schools, are not. Powell says he wants President Obama to extend this exemption to other organizations, such as Mount Saint Mary's "Our board has authorized me to take whatever actions I need to push that," he says. "We've joined with other insitutions to challenge the administrative regulation that requires us to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraception."\
Powell says the Mount has no objections to a lot of the Affordable Care Act, just this requirement. "We always urge President Obama, who I have great respect for other than on this issue, that he can recognize our religious liberty and grant a waiver for those groups that have a strong belief that this is not right." He also says abortion-inducing drugs are "immoral."
The Mount already provides health care coverage for its employees, and has done so for many years, Powell says. Even if President Obama grants the requested waiver, he says the school's non-Catholic employees who feel they need contraception can still get it. "We don't want to be the health-care police. There are other ways for our non-Catholic employees to be covered. There are numerous ways than forcing us to doing something that is absolutely abhorrent to our faith," Powell says.
"If we were a Jewish institution," he says, "nobody would force us to provide pork on the Sabbath or anytime, or ham." He says there are other ways for people to get what they want "without forcing us to violate our beliefs."