Opposition to CHEER Act Amendment to SF 1458 (S1458A62)

Jason Adkins (PDF version)
April 28, 2015

UNCONSTITUTIONAL:  The federal rule on which the CHEER Act is based has been held to insufficiently protect the conscience rights and religious liberty of those who object to providing the mandated drugs and services.  This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a second federal court of appeals to reconsider its ruling to uphold the federal rule on which the CHEER Act is based.[1]  This indicates that it does not satisfy federal protections for religious freedom.  The CHEER Act would also likely be found unconstitutional under the Minnesota Constitution, which applies the same test.

Under the CHEER ACT, all insurers, and the third-party administrators for self-insured plans, must provide or arrange for the coverage; for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that are not explicitly religious (such as pro-life groups that object to abortifacient drugs) must provide the objectionable coverage to all employees; and almost all individuals who pay premiums (whether enrolled in an individual plan or an employer plan) have no escape from subsidizing that coverage.  Inexplicably, the CHEER Act places more mandates on specifically religious employers not required by the federal mandate.  See line 1.24, omitting religious employers described in 45 C.F.R. 147.131(a).

UNWISE:   The CHEER Act forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception,[2] along with “counseling and education” to promote them. Though commonly called the “contraceptive mandate,” the CHEER Act also forces employers to sponsor and subsidize coverage of female sterilization. And by including all drugs approved by the FDA for use as contraceptives, the mandate includes drugs that can induce abortion such as “Ella” (Ulipristal), a close cousin of the abortion pill RU-486.

The “women’s health” claims justifying the CHEER Act are doubtful at best. Pregnancy itself is not a disease, but the normal way each of us came into the world—and there are other ways to avoid an untimely pregnancy than the surgical procedures and prescription drugs mandated here that create risks for women’s health. Many studies[3] have found that contraceptive programs fail to reduce unintended pregnancies or abortions. Hormonal contraceptives have been associated with an increased risk[4] for stroke, heart attacks, vascular disease, and breast cancer, some of the most serious killers of women today. Further, the use of injectable contraceptive drugs correlates with an increased risk[5] for contracting and transmitting AIDS, a deadly disease the “preventive services” mandate is supposed to help prevent. Medical experts raising such concerns cannot be accused of waging a “war on women.”

**See reverse for more information on this point.**

UNNECESSARY:  Contraception is cheap and readily available.  No one’s access to contraception is jeopardized by not enacting this law, with its insufficient protections for religious liberty. 

[1] http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/240154-supreme-court-tosses-obamacare-contraception-ruling

[2] The Catholic Church’s objection to the CHEER Act is not about any legitimate medical use for hormonal or other drugs. Contrary to some media claims, Catholic ethical directives on health care (and the health plans based on them) allow use of medications for serious non-contraceptive purposes, even if the same drugs could also be prescribed for contraception. The idea that Catholic moral objections to using such drugs for contraception endangers their legitimate use to heal disease is false.

[3] Research summarized at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/fact-sheets/greater-access-to-contraception-does-not-reduce-abortions.cfm

[4] http://www.thepill.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Tri-Cyclen_Lo_PI.pdf

[5] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(11)70247-X/abstract