Dem Senators propose bill to deprive religious entities of all religious freedom protection

I read this at NRO:

Senate Democrats’ Religious-Freedom Deprivation Bill

Under the guise of “protect[ing] women’s health from corporate interference,” the bill that Senate Democrats are proposing in response to the Hobby Lobby ruling would deprive religious entities of all religious-liberty protections against having the HHS mandate directly imposed on them. Specifically:

1. The bill would apply to employers generally, not just (as the bill’s short title would suggest) to “corporate” employers. Subsection 4(a) would make it unlawful for any “employer that establishes or maintains a group health plan for its employees” to “deny coverage of a specific health care item or service . . . where the coverage of such item or service is required under any provision of Federal law or the regulations promulgated thereunder.” (Note that the “purpose” set forth in section 2 is likewise defined with respect to “employers” generally.)

As I understand it, subsection 4(a) wouldn’t itself override the existing “exemption” from the HHS contraceptive mandate (which applies to a very narrow category of “religious employers”) or the “accommodation” for religious nonprofits, because employers covered by the exemption and accommodation are not “deny[ing] coverage” of an “item or service [that] is required under any provision of Federal law or the regulations promulgated thereunder.”

2. Subsection 4(b) states that subsection 4(a) “shall apply notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, including Public Law 103-441” (which is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act).

In other words, no employer – religious or otherwise, corporate or otherwise, for-profit or otherwise — would have any RFRA rights against being required to comply with subsection 4(a).

3. Subsection 4(c) states that the existing HHS mandate regulations on the exemption and the accommodation “shall apply with respect to” section 4. It further states that the regulatory agencies “may modify such regulations consistent with the purpose and findings of this Act.”

I don’t know what it means to say that the exemption and the accommodation “shall apply with respect to” section 4. I gather that it means no more than that the bill itself wouldn’t abolish the exemption and the accommodation.

In any event, it is clear from the second sentence of subsection 4(c) that the bill would allow the Obama administration (or its successors) to abolish the exemption and the accommodation in their entirety. (If the bill were instead intended to preserve the exemption and the accommodation against regulatory abolition, it would be a fairly simple matter to say so clearly.)

Under the bill, if the exemption and the accommodation were abolished, religious entities would be subject to the HHS mandate under subsection 4(a) and would have no RFRA protections against it.

I’ll note that (as a reader called to my attention) the metadata to the one-pager that Senator Murray [D-WA] issued about the bill yesterday identified its author as Hillary Schneller of the National Women’s Law Center. (I haven’t checked whether the metadata has since been scrubbed.) It’s a safe bet that activists at NWLC and similar organizations drafted the entire bill. I’m not going to pretend to be shocked that outsiders draft legislation for senators. But if you hand the drafting pen to ideological activists, you’re not likely to get a modest result.

(Among other things, that one-pager asserts that the bill “would restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.” But the so-called Affordable Care Act — which in its full Orwellian glory is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — does not mention contraceptive coverage at all, much less guarantee it. The HHS mandate is a regulatory implementation of a provision of the Act.)

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  1. frjim4321 says:

    It’s a stupid waste of resources because they don’t have the votes. Like all the stupid repub attempt to repeal AHCA. I don’t applaud either.

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    One of the sponsors is Colorado Senator Mark Udall. He is up for re-election. Ads for him and ads slamming his challenger are ubiquitous in Colorado these days, even though still nearly four months are between us and election day. The only topic in the ads to date is maximizing opportunities for abortion and contraception. This legislation is largely a tactic to raise funds from the genocidal donor community. It will likely succeed in doing that.

  3. Ah yes, this would be the wonderful Democrat Party and longtime ally of Catholics Everywhere, at least at election time and during major fundraising drives.

    We have an Australian Labor Party here which also enjoyed the traditional support of many Catholics, including bishops, while being pro-abortion and everything else you can imagine. The sole result of 12 years of expensive Catholic education for many Australians is a lifetime habit of voting Labor.

  4. Clinton says:

    “But if you hand the drafting pen to ideological activists, you’re not likely to get a
    modest result.”

    Three steps forward, two steps back. These Senators (and those activists who wrote this
    legislation) know the House will likely kill this bill. But by introducing this, they are
    taking a step towards normalizing what once would have been unacceptable and controversial.
    Also, when Republicans in the House reject the bill, they will open themselves to the left’s
    accusations of waging ‘war on women’ and being mean. So, even though this legislation
    will almost certainly never make its way to a president’s desk, the Democrats will be
    able to advance their agenda just slightly.

    And, in the future, this bill or its misbegotten but slightly less blatant offspring will again
    be introduced. Only, on the day that happens, it will be less shocking because it will be
    less unfamiliar. This legislation must not only be strangled in the crib, but those behind it,
    like Senator Udall, must be seen to pay a heavy political price for suggesting it.

  5. Mike says:

    The de facto characterization of pregnancy as a disease (else why treat contraception as “health care”?) makes life itself a commodity to be rationed by the State. That the State is the justly ordained dispenser of rights under natural law, as well as the axis of solidarity with respect to social justice, is what has been taught for a century — by default if not by design — to American Catholics. It’s little wonder that most of them fall in line with the current stench, and there’s scant evidence that truth will pour forth from pulpit or chancery any time soon to set us straight.

    May we be granted the grace of repentance and conversion while there’s still time.

  6. Random Friar says:

    The “good part” of this Presidency-by-fiat is that if we put a pro-Life and pro-liberty candidate in the White House, he or she can pull the plug on all these heinous regulations. I would still like the presidency to come more in line with the Balance of Powers, but the ACA gives incredible latitude to HHS.

  7. Salvelinus says:

    I don’t get progressives and their obsession with contraceptives.
    Why are they the only drugs that are too be paid 100% by the employer? Why not antibiotics, opioid analgesics, anti hypergycemics, antiviral, etc?

  8. RafqasRoad says:

    Philippa Martyr,

    What do you make of the PUP (Palmer United Party for those outside Australia). Clive’s an interesting fellow. Is it true that in queensland, he financed and had built a traditional chapel with all the trimmings for a local Queensland TLM community?

    For readers from the US, in Australia, we have a single payer system that does not put the onus upon employers to provide medical benefits for their workers. Additionally, it is my observation that in my part of Regional NSW at any rate, voting habits of parishioners are fairly well split down the middle, with increasing numbers seeing both major players as two sides of the same valueless coin, the Greens as little more than carnival barkers, with independants and micro parties along with the PUP definitely holding the balance of power. for non Australian readers, voting is compulsory in our land (everyone votes (informal votes making up an absolute maximum of 10% of votes cast) hence far more colourful and dynamic outcomes with intriguing parties such as the DLP (if only by dint of administrative accident) doing well. the people are thoroughly sick of the ‘same ole, same ole’. If one doesn’t vote, one receives a fine. Some may argue that this is undemocratic, but it does far more to keep patterns representative than only a fraction of the populous voting in the rulers of the masses.

    What part of Australia are you in? do you know how the TLM is faring outside its sole parish in Sydney, similar in Melbourne and intermittent celebration in Tasmania?

    As a side issue, the SSPX has good representation in almost all mainland capitals and a good number of regional/rural centres, whereas the FFSP has one (1) congregation in inner Sydney that is part administered by them, part administered by the diocese of Sydney. I’ve asked them to send priests down here to the Shoal haven but upon learning how far that is from the ‘big smoke’ they indicate they’ll not be setting foot down here any time soon (Fr. Minton, if you read Fr. Z.ks blog, hows about geeing up your confrares to consider us out here in the sticks).

  9. Gratias says:

    Senator Schumer will probably wear the same grin in Hades.

  10. Sonshine135 says:

    Two words- cognitive dissonance.
    In one breath: “The government needs to stay out of my bedroom.”
    In the other: “The government needs to force employers to provide birth control, so I can do what I want in the bedroom.”

    “Freedom” for these people boils down to superficial pap and pablum. Gone is the idea of responsible use of one’s freedom. After all, doesn’t birth control in and of itself attempt negate the consequences and responsibility? To negate the consequences, one needs a benefactor. You and I are those benefactors- at the point of a gun. This is pure evil. Truly free people require only one benefactor- The Lord.

  11. frahobbit says:

    If Democrats succeed I shall call them Demonicrats.

  12. ncstevem says:

    Salvelinus, I think I have an answer to your question. Many/most leftists view mankind as a scourge on nature. I think it’s rooted from a sense of self-hate.

    Therefore anything which limits the number of humans – contraception, abortion, euthanasia etc. (capital punishment is the exception) is a good thing in their eyes.

  13. acricketchirps says:

    It’s a stupid waste of resources because they don’t have the votes.

    Another resounding defence of life and religious freedom from frjim!

  14. bobk says:

    For many years (and she has had far too many in office) Patty Murray was known among the press people as “Tweety bird” for IQ. Same as ever.

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