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Washington, DC - U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) took to the Senate floor today to voice his opposition to President Obama’s health care mandate that fails to respect the conscience rights of religious institutions.

“What this means in simple terms is that churches are exempt from the mandate, but institutions such as church-run universities, hospitals and non-profits must comply with the government regulation.  Therefore, in order to continue to operate, these church-run institutions must violate the very beliefs that inspire them to care for the least among us.  I would not be surprised to see many faith-based institutions disappear should this mandate move forward,” Boozman said in his speech.

On January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate requiring almost all private health insurance policies, including those issued by religious institutions, to cover free sterilizations and contraceptives at no cost to policyholders.

Click here to watch the speech

The full text of the speech can be found here:

Madam President:  I come to the floor today to add my voice in opposition to President Obama’s unwillingness to respect the conscience rights of religious institutions.  

On January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate requiring almost all private health insurance policies, including those issued by religious institutions, to cover free sterilizations and contraceptives at no cost to policyholders.

What this means in simple terms is that churches are exempt from the mandate, but institutions such as church-run universities, hospitals and non-profits must comply with the government regulation.  Therefore, in order to continue to operate, these church-run institutions must violate the very beliefs that inspire them to care for the least among us.  I would not be surprised to see many faith-based institutions disappear should this mandate move forward.

Despite the President’s contentions that this outcome is not what he intends, his mandate unfairly forces people to choose between their health and their morals or religious values.  Many parents, Christians, and others object to sterilizations and contraceptives. Americans should not have to pay for services or healthcare plans that conflict with their deeply-held religious beliefs. This purely political decision on the part of the Administration has shown that President Obama will do whatever necessary to appease his base and protect his own job, even if it means a blatant infringement on First Amendment rights.

With this mandate, President Obama is not only trampling religious liberties, but he is also confirming what many feared when his health care bill became law.  Americans saw this massive expansion of government as a threat to individual rights.  This mandate, one of the first based on the President’s health care bill, does little to assuage those concerns.  In fact, it comes across as confirmation that the President intends to force on us his belief that “he knows what is best” for Americans when it comes to our health care choices.

In an effort to fight the Administration’s overreach, I have joined several of my colleagues in supporting legislation to protect freedom of conscience and prohibit the government from imposing mandates on religious employers. Religious institutions play a critical role in our communities. If federal policies make it difficult for these institutions to continue important social services without going against their principles, it will hurt the least fortunate among us by threatening the much-needed assistance and outreach provided by religious groups across the nation.

The seemingly endless number of regulations this Administration has handed down to the American people needs to end. Let’s force the President to govern in a manner that respects the values of the American people, not just his base. Protecting religious organizations from this overreaching mandate is an excellent place to start. 

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boozman.senate.gov