[Ed. – This is unalloyed good news. Not only does it grant the religious liberty exemption that should always have been there; it allows exemptions for moral convictions that are not religious. It will probably be challenged in court, but such a challenge could well lead to gutting the mandate entirely. In the absence of a clean Obamacare repeal, that’s something.]
The Department of Health and Human Services announced new rules governing enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate on Friday, expanding exemptions for insurance providers with religious or moral objections to contraception.
One new rule, which will take effect immediately, exempts a broad list of entities with religious objections to contraception from the law’s mandate. These include: nonprofits, employers, plan sponsors, and institutions of higher education. They also include exemptions for objecting individuals who do not wish to be covered by plans which provide contraception, even if their employer willfully provides it. Also exempt are certain insurance companies that provide insurance to these newly exempt groups.
A separate rule permits certain exemptions for “moral convictions” that are not religious in character, a practice HHS said comports with “Congress’s long history of providing or supporting conscience protections in the regulation of sensitive health-care issues.”