NH News
5:00 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

O'Brien Pushing Back On Contraception Mandates

The New Hampshire House will likely vote next week to ask the federal government to rescind a rule forcing insurers to provide contraceptives to employees of religious organizations. House Speaker William O'Brien says he'll also work to undo a similar state law. 

O’Brien told the house state and federal relations committee it's unconstitutional for governments, federal or state, to tell insurers to offer contraception to workers at religious organizations.

"I see the dictate by government whether it is at at the federal level or the state level to religion to abandon their religious rights as just plain wrong."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester made similar arguments when it testified. Chancellor Diane Murphy Quinlan told lawmakers the 2000 state law forcing insurers to provide contraception prompted the diocese to self-insure.  But there is no record of the diocese -- or anyone else – strongly opposing that law when it passed. One of its authors, former Republican Senator Rick Russman argued that the the federal rule and the state law are both reasonable, and said the the objections being raised now amount to "election-year political showmanship."