March 25, 2016

Congress Proposes Religious Exemption to Contraception Requirement

Print More


Rep. Janssen Willhoit

Johnsbury Representative Janssen Willhoit (R) met with The Vermont House Committee on Health Care to offer amendments on House Bill 620, pleading to provide exemptions to churches and other houses of worship from contraception requirements under the law. The Vermont law mirrors the Affordable Care Act in that mandated employee health insurance policies must cover certain forms of contraception. A number of states have provided exemptions to religious organizations under the justification that paying for contraceptives violates their right of free exercise, when it violates a religious tenant. Rep. Willhoit described the absence of an exemption rider “as ordering a hamburger without the pickles” and has taken a stand to ‘defend civil liberty.’ The proposed amendments give Vermont regulatory agencies to do what is best for the state and would only apply within the church, not non profits or religious affiliates such as Saint Michael’s College. In fact, Rep. Willhoit continued, that “most states do provide this, we are in the minority” and further noting that Vermont, as one of the least church aligned states is talking about adding costs to protect religious liberties. The overall objection in the current law is that houses of worship do not want to pay for contraception, but they are required to provide staffs the option to receive contraception under employee health plans. The Vermont House Committee on Health Care added concerns over the law’s vulnerability to federal challenge if exemptions were amended into the bill, stating that the more exemptions create under the act, the greater the risk of federal intervention will be. House Bill 620 passed in the house on Wednesday and is awaiting review by the state senate where proponents of religious liberty will likely make a push for exemptions under the law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *