Religious Freedom and Healthcare Reform

October 16, 2012

On March 22, 2012, the Religious Freedom Project convened four of the nation’s top first amendment scholars to debate a highly contentious and vitally important issue: the religious freedom implications of what has become known as the “HHS mandate.” That mandate—part of the Obama administration’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—requires that most insurance plans cover certain services that are styled “preventive healthcare.” They include immunizations, screenings for infants and children, and breastfeeding support. More controversially, the HHS mandate requires coverage for all “Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods [and] sterilization procedures …for all women with reproductive capacity.” Some of the approved contraceptive methods can induce abortions. This report is an edited transcript of respectful but vigorous debate between Helen M. Alvaré, Martin Lederman, Michael McConnell, and Melissa Rogers on key questions of religious freedom and First Amendment application.

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