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Mormon officials OK with birth control, but not contraception mandate

First Published      Last Updated Feb 05 2014 12:18 pm

The LDS Church is not opposed to birth-control use among its members, leaving any such decision up to the couples involved. But the Utah-based faith does side with other churches, as a matter of religious liberty, in opposing the Obamacare mandate to pay for contraception.

And its own insurer, Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, which covers all LDS Church employees — including Brigham Young University faculty and LDS seminary and institute teachers — does not cover any devices or medications for the purpose of family planning.

"Health insurance plans for church employees cover contraception only when it is medically necessary for addressing health conditions," explains church spokesman Cody Craynor.

In other words, birth-control pills could be prescribed for menstrual irregularities, a vasectomy could be determined medically necessary for testicular cancer, and a tubal ligation might address some internal medicine concern besides having more babies.

In the legal arena, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did sign an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Hobby Lobby case, arguing that for-profit businesses have a religious right not to provide "drugs and devices believed to sometimes cause abortions," which they oppose.

The LDS presiding bishop also joined a coalition of more than 100 religious leaders who signed an "open letter to all Americans," calling on the Obama administration and Congress "to respect conscience rights and religious freedom."

Not all of the signers agree with the Catholic position on birth control, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said last year at a news conference about the letter, but "they understand the core religious freedom issue at stake here."

The LDS Church may not agree with Catholicism about the evils of contraception, but it is not institutionally covering the expense of birth control.

Peggy Fletcher Stack