Dear Senator Brown:
We, the undersigned voters in the state of Ohio, are asking you today to stand up for our religious freedom by opposing the mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and co-signing the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179) proposed by Congressman Fortenberry (R-NE).
Under the HHS mandate, employees would be entitled to contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization under health insurance plans provided by the employer. There was, and is, no exemption for religious institutions. This is a definite affront on the freedom of conscience enshrined in the First Amendment.
The opposition to the mandate is not an attempt to take away women's contraception, which can be easily obtained at any FQHC or Planned Parenthood around the country, and which is funded by the government. Nor does it deal with the debate over whether or not abortion should be legal. It is only about the fact that religious employers cannot be forced to subsidize services to which they object on the grounds of their faith and morals.
Many have said that the Obama Administration did in fact protect religious freedom by proposing an amendment to the mandate: employers would no longer be required to pay directly for contraception, but would instead pay for healthcare plans subsidizing contraception. However, no matter how the accounting looks on paper, the fact remains that the mandate allows the government to restructure the inner workings of institutions that are religiously affiliated.
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act would repeal the HHS mandate, altering the health care law in order to preserve conscience rights of religious institutions. It is currently the most strongly-supported legislation designed to safeguard these rights, having the support of approximately 220 Members of Congress and Senators.
We ask you again to stand with us to protect our First Amendment rights by opposing the HHS mandate and co-signing the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179).
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