Idaho Lawmakers Weigh In On National Contraception Policy

Mar 14, 2012

BOISE, Idaho -- Some Idaho lawmakers are weighing in on a national debate over whether religious institutions should be required to provide birth control coverage to employees. Samantha Wright reports.

Last month President Obama said Catholic employers must provide free contraceptives to their employees. That brought an outcry from religious groups. So the President changed the policy so religious employers can object. Then insurance companies must offer birth control free of charge.

Now, some Idaho lawmakers want the President and Congress to reverse the new policy on contraception. So they're declaring a formal opinion ... what's known as a non-binding memorial.

“We are asking that the federal government does not impose its agenda on people of faith and conviction by requiring a violation of conscience," says Jason Herring, President of Right to Life of Idaho. He was speaking to legislators on the House State Affairs Committee Tuesday.

"We’re not dictating what women can do with their bodies, this is about the forced coercion of freedom to abstain from some people find abhorrent," Herring says. "This is not a religious issue; this is a freedom of conscience issue.”

An issue, Herring says would pave the way for federal government to encroach on the moral convictions and religious liberties of Americans.

But Monica Hopkins, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho said this Memorial discriminates against religion and millions of women.

“Religious liberty does not come with the right to impose one’s faith on others," Hopkins says. "Indeed, the contraception coverage provision serves the nation’s interest in gender equality, reproductive autonomy, and religious freedom, by making contraception available, affordable, and accessible.”

But Hopkins message didn't resonate with the committee. Most everyone signed off on the memorial -- which really is more of an opinion without any legal teeth. It still needs to clear the full House before going to the Governor's desk.

Copyright 2012 BSPR