Sen. Rubio pushes for faith exemption from birth-control mandate

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday introduced legislation to overturn Obama administration regulations that would require most health plans to pay for birth control, including those provided by religiously affiliated hospitals and universities.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S. 2043, would roll back the Department of Health and Human Service's mandate earlier this month that requires health plans, beginning Aug. 1, to cover birth control without a co-pay or a deductible. 

Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempted from the mandate, but hospitals and universities with a religious affiliation are not. They were given an extra year, until Aug. 1, 2013, to comply.  

Rubio blasted the administration for ignoring people's right to oppose birth-control coverage on religious grounds.

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"The Obama administration's obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people," Rubio said.

"Under this president, we have a government that has grown too big, too costly and now even more overbearing by forcing religious entities to abandon their beliefs. This is a common-sense bill that simply says the government can't force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so."

The birth-control mandate comes from the 2010 healthcare law, which Rubio's bill would amend with language saying that "no guideline or regulation … shall require any individual or entity to offer, provide or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief."

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