In a wide-ranging interview with Texas Observer, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards says that her “proudest moment” at America’s largest abortion company was when she found out the federal government’s birth control and abortifacient mandate was about to become federal policy. Asked by the liberal magazine to name her proudest moment, she answered:
Definitely the day President Obama called to say he was about to announce that birth control would be covered for all women under their insurance plans, because it had been a hard-fought battle, long before I came to Planned Parenthood. We were fighting to make sure that insurance companies covered it and pharmacies would fill prescriptions. The fact that now, I believe, for your generation, all women will be able to get it without a fight, and they’ll be able to get the best birth control, is an enormously important moment. It was a win for the movement.
Elsewhere in the interview, Richards said that her movement is “fighting these issues in the Supreme Court for some employers who are completely unwilling to allow their employees to get access to birth control….” After the establishment of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services created a “contraceptive mandate” requiring almost every organization to include contraception coverage in its insurance plan. Religious groups were not given an exception, and the administration vigorously fought in the courts to force religious groups to comply.
The Mandate Against Religious Groups
The mandate’s backers have said it is an important way for women to gain access to contraceptive measures. Though Richards doesn’t say so, almost all these groups are Christian ministries or businesses, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, Franciscan and Oklahoma Wesleyan universities, the Catholic diocese of Pittsburgh and the Hobby Lobby business. Most have sued the Obama administration, saying they have no intention of preventing women from accessing birth control. They argue they simply do not wish to participate in insuring their employees’ use of birth control and abortifacients.
Many of the contraceptives that are required to be insured also double as abortion-inducing drugs and devices — products that end the life of unborn children. This is one reason mandate supporters and opponents, as many who back the mandate claim that human life is not created until after implantation in the womb. Catholic organizations object to contraception of any sort, in keeping with Catholic teaching.
The mandate has faced legal difficulties since it was first announced in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the mandate partially unconstitutional in its 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, and earlier this year ordered lower courts to reconsider how the mandate could be worked without requiring religious non-profits with moral objections to cover the products.
The face of the mandate’s non-profit opponents is the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns that provides care to the elderly poor. Represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nuns have received enormous support from Members of Congress, including two Democrats. In an exclusive interview earlier this year,a spokesperson for the order told The Stream that the Obama administration has admitted women can easily access contraceptives and abortifacients without involving the nuns, priests and others opposed to the mandate. (For more from the author of “Planned Parenthood CEO: HHS Mandate Is My ‘Proudest Moment'” please click HERE)