Paul Ryan claims Obamacare will force churches to cover abortions

The former vice presidential candidate throws factless fearmongering red meat to social conservatives

Topics: Paul Ryan, Abortion, Obamacare, Birth Control, Contraception, Social conservatives,

Speaking at a conference of social conservatives in Washington today, Rep. Paul Ryan decried what he saw as the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom, falsely saying that Obamacare will force churches to provide healthcare for employees that covers abortion drugs.

“Take a look at what’s going on with the HHS mandate,” Ryan told the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to the Majority Conference this morning. “Obamacare says that if you believe in the social teaching of your church, if you disagree with abortifacients — with abortion inducing drugs — it doesn’t matter. You, if you’re a church or a charity or a hospital, you have to buy health insurance that offers your employees these things that are in contradiction to your beliefs. This is what the federal government is demanding.”

Last year, this issue exploded on the right when the Department of Health and Human Services released draft guidelines that would require most employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control without co-pays. But the rules made specific exemptions for religious employers like churches, and under pressure from the Catholic Church and others, the administration reviewed the rules and added exceptions to allay concerns.

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The new rules, released in February, expand the definition to include more organizations and give religiously affiliated organizations more flexibility. Churches are still completely exempted, as are nonprofit religiously affiliated organizations, though the latter must allow employees to obtain contraception coverage via a supplemental plan, without additional cost to them or the companies. Nobody is, in any way, required to use or purchase contraception.

And Ryan seems to be conflating abortifacients, such as the drug RU486, with the morning after pill. Abortifacients are not included in the Affordable Care Act or regulations at all.

Ryan, who is as conservative on abortion as anyone in the Republican Party, tried to make an issue out of the mandate during the 2012 presidential campaign as well, but softened his positions after the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” flap. He’s also had some trouble with the truth.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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