Testimony in Opposition to Multiple Insurance Mandates on Abortion, IVF, and Gender Care

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Chair Wiklund and Members of the Committee,

I’m Sam Nelson, outside counsel for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in Minnesota. I also advise many churches and religious schools throughout Minnesota regarding legal compliance and religious liberty.

I am testifying on all three of the insurance mandate bills at once, S.F. 2209 regarding gender transition, S.F. 1704 regarding infertility treatment, and S.F. 3967 on abortion, because each one of these bills mandates coverage of procedures that Catholics, and many other faith communities in Minnesota, do not consider to be authentic healthcare, and, therefore, should not be mandated.

I ask that you vote no on each of these bills. At minimum I ask that you include a religious exemption already present in Minnesota statutes, to protect religious organizations and people of faith from insurance mandates that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

Healthcare by its very nature heals and restores. The coverage mandated in these bills – abortion, gender-affirming care, and assisted reproduction – do neither of these. In fact, two of these procedures destroy human life. The other prevents the proper functioning of the body through pharmaceuticals or surgery. There are serious scientific, medical concerns regarding gender transition procedures, and we know that many European countries have taken steps to restrict them.

Health insurance should, as a matter of principle, be limited to healthcare. Of course, if individual employers want to provide more coverage they can choose to do so. But the coverage mandates being considered today will raise premiums for all Minnesotans. Taxpayers, employers, and other employees should not be forced into paying for these non-healthcare procedures.

We know that there are differences of opinion on these matters and that our reasoned case for not mandating this coverage is unlikely to win the day. Regardless, as fellow Minnesotans we have a responsibility to make it for the public to consider.

We ask that, at minimum, you include religious exceptions to these mandates.

We know from U.S. Supreme Court cases such as Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, that religious exemptions in insurance mandates are required by law.  As such, when the state’s contraceptive coverage mandate was adopted last year, it included exemptions and accommodations in compliance with the Hobby Lobby opinion.

We would invite similar exemptions in these bills, to provide predictability and uniformity on these matters, and to avoid the potential litigation as mentioned in the legal memos from the First and Fourteenth Law Firm that I submitted to this committee. Thank you for your consideration. 

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