CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined with 12 other state lawyers-in-chief to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand a religious exemption for contraceptive insurance in the Affordable Care Act.
The attorneys general are challenging a requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul requiring that all employers and insurance companies provide approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures, including the so-called "morning-after" and "week-after" contraceptive pills.
While the federal agency is considering some exemptions for religious organizations that oppose birth control, the attorneys general say those exemptions are not broad enough.
In their three-page letter to Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the attorneys general said the health care law contradicts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which they say requires strict scrutiny of any federal government action seen as a burden to the practice of religion.
"The proposed amendments violate the religious freedoms on which this country was built because they allow houses of worship to be exempt from a mandate, but they do not apply the same principle to nonprofit or for-profit companies with faith-based objections," Morrisey said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
Attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas also signed the letter.
Morrisey said there is no good reason to deny nonprofit religious organizations the same exemptions already provided to churches and other places of worship.
"The government is willing to grant an exception to one group but is unwilling to grant it to others who have raised similar concerns," he said. "That is confounding and wrong."
The attorneys general also complain the Affordable Care Act does not provide exemptions for for-profit businesses who do not believe in the use of contraception.