President Ronald Reagan established SOHLS in 1983 by proclamation at the request of the Christian Action Council Education and Ministries Fund (now Care Net). The day is held annually on the Sunday that falls closest to January 22, the day on which the US Supreme Court issued the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions. This year, it falls on the exact 39th anniversary of the 1973 decisions.
Since 1983, the SOHLS proclamation has been issued by Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush. Not surprisingly, Bill Clinton and BH Obama declined to issue this proclamation. Rather than issuing the proclamation recognizing the right to life, Obama chose instead to celebrate this year's National Sanctity of Life Month by ordering all private health insurance companies to offer no cost (no copay or deductible) coverage for contraceptives, including those that destroy life after conception. As reported by the Family Research Council,
Today the Obama Administration issued a statement re-iterating the "contraceptive mandate" requiring all insurance providers cover the full range of FDA-approved drugs and devices would remain intact. This mandate, issued in August, includes drugs that work after conception to destroy life rather than prevent it. The statement included a postponement of one year for religious groups that do not already carry contraceptives and additionally would not be exempted under last year's narrow definition of "religious employer."Although we should work to end abortion throughout the year, we're asking all our readers to make a special effort this month to pray for and support the many excellent pro-life organizations working to preserve the lives of these vulnerable babies who are made in the image of God.
The mandate not only violates such existing conscience protections on abortion such as the Hyde/Weldon Amendment (in so far as Plan B and Ella are covered), but also violates the principles of the Church Amendments which protects conscience rights for those who object to contraceptives and other services on moral or religious grounds. Additionally, the U.S. government already funds domestic family planning at a level of $1.9 billion annually.
Tom McClusky of FRC Action had the following to say:
"This HHS delay does nothing to change the anti-religious, anti-conscience, and anti-life contraceptive mandate, rather it only postpones its implementation until after the presidential election. Despite the fact that certain drugs and devices approved by the FDA can work after conception to destroy a newly developed baby, the Obama Administration mandate still forces all insurance plans to carry these drugs and devices even if employers are morally opposed.
"This does nothing to expand conscience protections it merely punts compliance for most religious employers with conscience objections until after the election. It does nothing to modify or expand the very narrow exemption for churches to include the thousands of religious organizations who don't qualify, it only delays their pending obedience for 1 year.
"The new rule also mandates that these groups with a one-year reprieve in the mean time will be forced to tell their employees where to obtain contraceptives. This completely violates the conscience rights of many Americans. As we approach the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade tomorrow may all voters who respect life take note of the Obama Administration's ardent policies against life and religious liberty and vote accordingly in November."