NASHVILLE - Furious debate sparked today over a state House resolution urging Congress to reverse the Obama administration's proposed rule mandating that most insurance plans provide contraception coverage.
Proponents of the resolution charged that the policy, which requires nearly all health insurance plans to provide free birth control, is an "attack" on church-affiliated groups and religious liberties.
"This violates the religious consciences of many Americans," said Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, sponsor of the resolution. "This mandate forces Catholics and others morally opposed to contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs to provide and pay for these services through their health insurance plans."
But Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, a retired nurse and health care administrator, argued against Cobb's resolution, saying "birth control has become a critical component of reproductive health" and has led to smaller families.
The non-binding resolution passed on a 71-22 vote.
The new contraception mandate exempts churches and other religious groups that hire and serve only people of their faith. But it would affect faith-based schools, hospitals and other nonprofits that employ people of other faiths.