Religious freedom advocates had a minor win over the Obama administration in Arizona last week.
On Friday Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation allowing religious employers to opt-out of the Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate. Organizations that opt-out will still have to provide contraception to individuals who request if for medical reasons and will not be allowed to question what those reasons are, however.
“In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled,” Brewer said in a press release. “Mandating that a religious institution provide a service in direct contradiction with its faith would represent an obvious encroachment upon the 1st Amendment.”
According to the press release Arizona already allowed religious organizations to opt-out of similar mandates. The new law simply “expands the definition of a ‘religiously-affiliated employer’ to include any organization whose articles of incorporation explicitly state a religiously-motivated purpose, and whose religious beliefs play a fundamental role in its function.”
Meaning, the new law will only affect a handful of organizations, but it will provide cover to those that become targets of the Obama administration’s new mandate.
“Let’s not forget why we’re having this discussion: It’s ObamaCare that created this issue by forcing church-affiliated employers and non-profits to offer services in violation of their religious faith,” states Brewer in the release. “With this common sense bill, we can ensure that Arizona women have access to the health services they need and religious institutions have their faith and freedom protected.”