Two quick pieces of news today.
First, the House passed a health care law, one provision of which stripped federal funding from Planned Parenthood and redirected it to healthcare entities such as community health centers. The bill faces uncertainty in the Senate. You might want to write your representatives and tell them to be sure that defunding Planned Parenthood is part of any future health care funding bill.
Second, President Trump signed an executive order—an order requiring certain behavior from his executive agencies—which, among other things, does the following:
-requires them “vigorously” to “protect” religious freedom, including respecting religions’ “participat[ing] fully in civic life.”
-requires the Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services agencies to “consider amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address “conscience-based objections” to the contraception mandate.
What is the meaning of the executive order?
The phrase “amended regulations, consistent with applicable law” might confuse you.
Remember that the contraception mandate is NOT the law, it is only a “regulation” issued by an agency (Health and Human Services) charged with interpreting the healthcare law’s requirement that women get “preventive care.” So the “law” can stay the same, while the agency can get rid of the old interpretation (i.e. to put contraceptives and abortifacients under the heading of “preventive health care”) and write a new one (either, that contraception and abortifacients are NOT “preventive health care” or—perhaps more likely—that religious institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor are NOT required to comply if they are).
Several trustworthy religious freedom groups report today that they are happy with the executive order, but that it still requires the Department of Health and Human Services to follow through, in order to provide religious freedom to the Little Sisters and other religious employers. My educated guess is that it will follow through.