ACTUALLY, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not mandate birth control.
The mandates are clearly identified in §1302:
(b) Essential Health Benefits.--
(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall define the essential health benefits, except that such benefits shall include at least the following general categories and the items and services covered within the categories:
(A) Ambulatory patient services.
(B) Emergency services.
(D) Maternity and newborn care.
(E) Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment.
(F) Prescription drugs.
(G) Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.
(H) Laboratory services.
(I) Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.
(J) Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
(A) In general.-- The <> Secretary shall ensure that the scope of the essential health benefits under paragraph (1) is equal to the scope of benefits provided under a typical employer plan, as determined by the Secretary. To <> inform this determination, the Secretary of Labor shall conduct a survey of employer-sponsored coverage to determine the benefits typically covered by employers, including multiemployer plans, and provide a report on such survey to the Secretary.
(B) Certification.--In <> defining the essential health benefits described in paragraph (1), and in revising the benefits under paragraph (4)(H), the Secretary shall submit a report to the appropriate committees of Congress containing a certification from the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that such essential health benefits meet the limitation described in paragraph (2).
(3) Notice and hearing.--In defining the essential health benefits described in paragraph (1), and in revising the benefits under paragraph (4)(H), the Secretary shall provide notice and an opportunity for public comment.
(4) Required elements for consideration.--In defining the essential health benefits under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall--
(A) ensure that such essential health benefits reflect an appropriate balance among the categories described in such subsection, so that benefits are not unduly weighted toward any category;
(B) not make coverage decisions, determine reimbursement rates, establish incentive programs, or design benefits in ways that discriminate against individuals because of their age, disability, or expected length of life;
(C) take into account the health care needs of diverse segments of the population, including women, children, persons with disabilities, and other groups;
(D) ensure that health benefits established as essential not be subject to denial to individuals against their wishes on the basis of the individuals' age or expected length of life or of the individuals' present or predicted disability, degree of medical dependency, or quality of life;
(E) provide that a qualified health plan shall not be treated as providing coverage for the essential health benefits described in paragraph (1) unless the plan provides that--
(i) coverage for emergency department services will be provided without imposing any requirement under the plan for prior authorization of services or any limitation on coverage where the provider of services does not have a contractual relationship with the plan for the providing of services that is more restrictive than the requirements or limitations that apply to emergency department services received from providers who do have such a contractual relationship with the plan; and
(ii) if such services are provided out-of- network, the cost-sharing requirement (expressed as a copayment amount or coinsurance rate) is the same requirement that would apply if such services were provided in-network;
(F) provide that if a plan described in section 1311(b)(2)(B)(ii) (relating to stand-alone dental benefits plans) is offered through an Exchange, another health plan offered through such Exchange shall not fail to be treated as a qualified health plan solely because the plan does not offer coverage of benefits offered through the stand-alone plan that are otherwise required under paragraph (1)(J); and
(G) periodically review the essential health benefits under paragraph (1), and provide a report to Congress and the public that contains--
(i) an assessment of whether enrollees are facing any difficulty accessing needed services for reasons of coverage or cost;
(ii) an assessment of whether the essential health benefits needs to be modified or updated to account for changes in medical evidence or scientific advancement;
(iii) information on how the essential health benefits will be modified to address any such gaps in access or changes in the evidence base;
(iv) an assessment of the potential of additional or expanded benefits to increase costs and the interactions between the addition or expansion of benefits and reductions in existing benefits to meet actuarial limitations described in paragraph (2); and
(H) periodically update the essential health benefits under paragraph (1) to address any gaps in access to coverage or changes in the evidence base the Secretary identifies in the review conducted under subparagraph (G).
(5) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit a health plan from providing benefits in excess of the essential health benefits described in this subsection.
As you can see, neither birth control nor abortion are mentioned in this section. If you click on the law itself and search on the terms:
- reproductive health
- birth control
You will see that those words do not exist anywhere in the law. At the top of §1302, you will see the key words, the Secretary shall define the essential health benefits -- in other words, the so-called "Obamacare birth control requirement" is nothing of the type -- it is, in fact, a mere part of a regulation that was pushed out by Sebellius. She was the one who, by law, defined what constituted "essential health benefits." The law explicitly states that "the Secretary shall..." meaning that any HHS Secretary can redefine the list as he/she sees fit.
Bottom line, this "religious / moral exception" is a bunch of BS.
What Eric D. Hargan (acting Secretary of HHS) should be directed to do is publish the following letter, very quietly, in the Federal Register:
In accordance with §1302(b)(1) of PL 111-148, the Secretary has determined that the following are essential health benefits:
And just leave birth control and abortion off the list.
If an employer wants to pay for birth control and abortion, they are welcome to do so (see §1302(b)(5)). If they don't want to do so, they aren't required to do so.
If an insurer wishes to include that on their individual health insurance offered through the "exchange", they can do so. If not, then so be it.