Former El Paso County commissioner, hard-core conservative and lawyer Duncan Bremer gave a presentation to the current commissioners today advising them that they may be able to deny their employees access to birth control.
Access is guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, but has been opposed by religious groups and conservative businesses, notably the Catholic Church and Hobby Lobby.
Bremer noted that when he was in office, the county banned using county insurance to pay for elective abortion. Bremer — making the same arguments that "Personhood" proponents have used to advocate full citizenship for fertilized eggs — said that birth control was comparable to abortion.
"There have been in those intervening circles around the sun, some new technology that has developed and become available — drugs, procedures, chemicals, whatever — that have the ability to take a fertilized egg and prevent its implantation or perhaps kill it by other means," he told the Commissioners. "There's obviously a debate about whether that constitutes an elective abortion or not. That's really for you to decide as it applies to your particular policy."
Bremer said Obamacare "mandated the use" of such procedures and chemicals. (Though, actually, it only mandates coverage for birth control.)
Bremer said that assuming the commissioners wanted to avoid covering birth control, they have three options. First, since the county self-insures, he said, it falls under special regulations that could present a loophole. Second, grandfather provisions could protect the county's existing ban. Third, he said, since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act "as a tax," it's possible that the state couldn't be forced to pay penalties for noncompliance because the state cannot be forced to pay a tax to the federal government.
Commissioner Dennis Hisey, smiling widely, called Bremer's presentation "very interesting."