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Comments on Religious Exemption Rule and Contraception

Under the Affordable Care Act, federal guidance requires most health insurance plans to cover contraceptive services. Previously only houses of worship and their “integrated auxiliaries” were exempt from this requirement, but a group of agencies recently issued a joint rule expanding this exemption to nonprofits, higher education institutions, closely held for-profit corporations, and publicly traded for-profit corporations with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage.

Our comments argue that the agencies’ cost-benefit analysis for expanding the exemption is unreasonable. The agencies do not adequately access the exemption’s potential to decrease women’s access to contraception. The agencies also obscure the economic impacts of the religious exemption by failing to disaggregate its costs and benefits from those of a separate moral exemption.