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Betsy Perkins, Published February 18 2012

Hoeven failed to be truthful

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has failed the truth test again. In a Feb. 11 column, he accused President Barack Obama of something the president did not do. Hoeven says Obama enacted rules that infringe on religious freedom. Hoeven is wrong.

The rules that Hoeven is complaining about are not new. They were put in place by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2000 and were upheld by a federal court in 2001. Nobody, including then-President George W. Bush, complained at the time.

Hoeven says the rules force Catholic and other religious institutions to provide contraceptives to women. But they don’t. They simply say that if a large employer offers a prescription drug insurance plan, the employer cannot decide that it will pay for some drugs and not others. If insurance covers Viagra for men, then it must cover birth control for women. Companies that don’t offer prescription coverage, or don’t offer insurance at all, or are very small, are exempt.

A recent survey found that most Catholic voters agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost. Furthermore, most Catholic businesses already must provide birth control coverage for women employees. Sixty percent of the states in the U.S. have state laws requiring them to do so. It hasn’t seemed to be a big problem. Large Catholic universities and hospital systems have complied without complaint and, because of this, unwanted pregnancies have been avoided.