HHS Received 400,000 Comments on Regulations for Religious Groups and Contraceptives

HHS received 400,000 comments on its proposal to require employers to cover contraceptives.

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Demonstrators protest a requirement that employers provide health care insurance coverage for contraception. The mandate has prompted some 60 lawsuits and nearly half a million public comments.

The Obama administration issued final rules on Friday on the policy that requires employers to cover contraceptives as part of their employee health insurance plans. The Health and Human Services mandate, which was first introduced in January 2012, has been met by staunch opposition from religious groups who initiated some 60 lawsuits on the grounds that the rule violates religious freedoms.

[DEBATE CLUB: Should Religious Institutions Have to Cover Birth Control?]

The mandate also drew an enormous amount of feedback from the general public, according to HHS, which tells Whispers it received some 400,000 comments on the regulations during its comment period - many of them negative.

"I do not support a federal government mandate that ignores the rights of religious entities," read one comment submitted from Pennsylvania. "Kathleen Sebelius, if you still call yourself a Catholic, you should be ashamed of yourself," read a another, in reference to the head of HHS.

[BROWSE: Editorial Cartoons on the Catholic Contraception Controversy]

HHS's final rules are aimed at placating religious groups, noting that religious employers are exempted from contraception coverage, and that women at religiously affiliated universities and hospitals cam get coverage for contraception separately from their employer.

The socially conservative Family Research Council, however, says it doesn't see the final rule as a compromise. In a statement provided to Whispers, the group said it "strongly opposes" the regulations which "fail to satisfy the religious freedom protections that exist in... the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

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