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Birth Control and Religious Liberty: An Adventist Perspective

What principles should guide the Adventist Church's response to the current debate in the United States about government-mandated health insurance coverage for contraception? The Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, along with the Office of General Counsel, reviews some long-standing values that will help chart our course.

An Adventist Response to the U.S. Health and Human Services Contraception Insurance Regulation

On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule mandating that employers including religious employers who provide health insurance to their employees must provide a full range of contraceptive services to women without co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.  This will include all Food and Drug Administration approved forms of contraception as well as female sterilization.

Various religious organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have raised concerns about being required to provide services that they find morally objectionable.  While the ultimate impact of the new rule is not yet known, a number of religious organizations that do not object to contraception have also raised religious liberty concerns.

For the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its institutions the provision of contraceptive services does not impinge on the denomination’s religious liberty. The Adventist Church’s principles do not prohibit the use of contraception.  See Birth Control: A Seventh-day Adventist Statement of Consensus.  Health insurance offered by most if not all U.S. Adventist institutions currently covers contraceptive services.  

Consistent with its longstanding practice of defending religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned any time government requires a religious organization to violate its religious beliefs.  The General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department and the Office of General Counsel continue to watch this developing issue closely and will do all that is appropriate to defend and protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.