MSNBC's O'Donnell Debunks Liberal Claims Some States Already Require Catholics to Provide Contraception

On Thursday's The Last Word, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell disproved claims by liberals that eight states already have regulations that require Catholic employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraceptives for their employees, as the liberal host informed viewers that his staff had looked into the laws of these states and found the assertions to be untrue. (Video below)

O'Donnell declared to his viewers:

You've also been told, and I've been told repeatedly on television, that eight of those states have absolutely no exemptions to the law, none. No religious exemptions at all, no way out for Catholic churches, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals. They're stuck.

And I got to tell you, when I heard that, every time I heard it, just didn't sound right to me. And whenever I hear people in Washington or New York telling me what's happening out there in the states in some state law in a place where they've never been, I just don't believe them. And you shouldn't either.

The MSNBC host then read the text of Georgia's law as an example and pointed out that there was indeed a loophole which a Catholic employer could use to avoid being required to pay for contraception. Regarding the Georgia law, he explained:

You are exempt from it if your policy simply does not provide for prescription drugs. And so all the religious institutions have to do in Georgia to avoid the requirement to providing birth control pills is to just not provide any drug benefit in their policies. Which is true of an awful lot of insurance policies out there anyway.

Below are video and a transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday, February 9, The Last Word on MSNBC:

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Now, you've heard many, many times in the last couple of days that there are now 28 states that have passed laws similar to the regulation in the Obama health care law and that has, all of that has become so suddenly controversial.

You've also been told, and I've been told repeatedly on television, that eight of those states have absolutely no exemptions to the law, none. No religious reexemptions at all, no way out for Catholic churches, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals. They're stuck.

And I got to tell you, when I heard that, every time I heard it, just didn't sound right to me. And whenever I hear people in Washington or New York telling me what's happening out there in the states in some state law in a place where they've never been, I just don't believe them. And you shouldn't either.

And so, in a Last Word exclusive investigation, we spent the day today studying the statutes in the eight states that everyone is saying provide absolutely no exemption. The other 20 states, everyone agrees, provide bigger, more comfortable exemptions for the Catholic church, including Massachusetts which has falsely been reported as being identical to the provision inserted in the federal law.

In all of those other 20 state laws, there's an exemption big enough for the White House to drive through.

Let's look then at the Georgia law which you've been told and I've been told repeatedly has absolutely no exemptions, and does have that astonishingly liberal-sounding prose introduction. The Georgia law actually says: "This code section shall not be construed to require coverage for prescription coverage benefits in any contract policy or plan that does not otherwise provide coverage for prescription drugs."

And there is the huge exemption to the Georgia law. You are exempt from it if your policy simply does not provide for prescription drugs. And so all the religious institutions have to do in Georgia to avoid the requirement to providing birth control pills is to just not provide any drug benefit in their policies. Which is true of an awful lot of insurance policies out there anyway.