Rep. Johnson: Gov’t Has No Constitutional Authority to Force People to Offer Contraceptives Free of Charge

By Christopher Goins and Thomas Cloud | February 16, 2012 | 9:55 PM EST

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) (AP Photo)

( – When asked whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to order a private company to give away its product or service for free, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said no, adding that such action was beyond the scope of the federal government.

The question arose from President Barack Obama stating on Feb. 10 that, under an Obamacare regulation, all health insurance companies would have to offer sterilization and contraceptives, including those that induce abortion, “free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”

At the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 15, asked Johnson, “Does the federal government have the constitutional ability to require a company to give something away for free?”

Johnson said, “No. I’m not a constitutional legal expert but based on what I know about the Constitution, the Constitution does not allow the federal government to require the American people to buy anything or to give anything away. That’s outside the scope of the federal government.”

If the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

In his Feb. 10 remarks, Obama said, “Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -- no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -- not the hospital, not the charity -- will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”

“The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly,” said Obama.  “Let me repeat:  These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services.” also asked Johnson: “The president said that they [contraceptives] will be covered, all the costs free of charge and, so, if they can ask that of insurance companies couldn’t they ask, say, a grocery store to give bread away free of charge?”

Johnson said: “You bring up a very good question. The whole contraceptive issue and all that’s rolled into the president’s health care law that they are trying to enforce now is just another example and another reason why the president’s health care bill needs to be repealed because every time we move a step forward we find more and more government overreach inside of it, and its not right for the American people and its irresponsible on the part of the president.”