WASHINGTON, March 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated an argument President Obama offered weeks ago to defend the controversial birth control mandate for religious employers: that no one really pays for birth control because reducing the number of people born will lessen health insurers’ costs in the long run.

As reported by CNS.com, Sebelius gave the remarks during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on Obama’s 2013 budget proposal, where Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) asked regarding the birth control mandate, “Who pays for it? There’s no such thing as a free service.”

“The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception,” Sebelius replied.

“So you’re saying by not having babies born, we’re going to save money on health care?” Murphy asked, prompting Sebelius to defend contraception as “a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children.”

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President Obama last month had attempted to quell controversy over the mandate, which would require religious employers’ health plans to cover abortifacient drugs, contraception and sterilizations, by claiming that the employer would not really pay for the drugs because they would be offered for “free.”

The president explained at the time that, “The overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.”

Following Obama’s statements, the National Right to Life Committee swiftly pointed out that the “scam” of suggesting that no one really pays for birth control could easily be expanded to justify forcing religious employers to cover abortion.

“By ordering health plans to cover elective abortion, health plans would save the much higher costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

“Under the Obama scam, if a procedure saves money, then that means that you’re not really paying for it when the government mandates it.”

A Congressional bid to stop the mandate was narrowly rejected by the Senate on Thursday, 51-48.