Sen. Kerry: Forcing Manufacturers to Give Contraceptives Away for Free ‘Way Beyond' What Congress Would Consider 'At Present'

By Christopher Goins | March 28, 2012 | 5:13 PM EDT

U.S. Senator John Kerry,  May 16, 2011. (Photo: U.S. Embassy, Islamabad)

( - When asked whether contraceptive manufacturers should be forced to give their products away for free--rather than having employers or their insurers provide contraceptives for free, as the Obama administration has mandated--Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) told Wednesday that the idea was “way beyond anything Congress would consider or legislate at this point.”

The Obama administration has issued regulations the require all new health-care plans to provide cost-free sterilizations and contraceptives (including abortifacients) to all women with "reproductive capacity," and in the case of of insurance plans purchased by religious employers that have a moral objection to these items the insurance company must provide the services directly to the women free of charge.

At a Capitol Hill conference Wednesday, asked Kerry: “Last month president Obama reasserted his policy that all health insurance policies must cover sterilizations. That is, if an employer has a religious objection to providing contraceptives to the woman, the insurance company, not the hospital, would have to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive services free of charge. Instead of the insurance companies, why not just have the manufacturers give them away for free?”

Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, replied: “That’s not an issue that’s in front of us. And that’s not something we can control in particular. What the president has been working on is a compromise that tries to respect, the line drawn between first Amendment freedom and the fair distribution of full medical services to everybody in the country.”

He added: “I think that they’re working on the self-insured component which is the last piece. I’ve been part of that effort. I support what the president is doing to move to compromise. I think it’s important to do that. But you’re reaching way beyond anything that we at this point would consider or could legislate.”

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On Feb. 10, President Obama said: “(I)f 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.”

Kerry was accompanied at the news conference by Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.). When asked Blumenthal what he thought about the question directed toward Kerry, the Connecticut senator began to respond but was interrupted by a staffer.