March 20, 2016

Religious Freedom Threatened by Proposed Health Act H. 620

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An act relating to health insurance and Medicaid, recently introduced in Montpelier, would mandate the coverage of contraceptives by all insurance providers in Vermont. It fails to exempt institutions and individuals whose religious views oppose those methods of family planning, as they would be mandated to cover those procedures.

Known in the State House as H. 620, this act was discussed in the House Committee on Health Care yesterday and Carry Handy, representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, spoke to the lawmakers about her stance on this problem. “The issue is the protection of religious freedom,” Handy said. She then went on to explain in more detail how some of the specific contraceptives included in the act are seen as morally objectionable to the church.

Committee chair William Lippert commented on the fact that “it’s been a long-standing Vermont statute to include contraceptives.” However, a lack of providing exceptions to this statute when religious beliefs disagree with them morally is arguably a restriction of their freedom, as Handy pointed out.

There were some lawmakers who agreed that Handy’s perspective was valid and would be taken into consideration. The committee did not have enough time to look into how those changes would be included yet.

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