WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2012, (—The price of following your conscience is high – especially if you resist the mandate to furnish your employees with reproductive products and services that violate your religious beliefs.

According to a report released by the Congressional Research Service,  religious institutions that fail to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees could be fined $100 a day for each of its employees.

According to the memo, “The Secretary [of HHS] may impose a civil monetary penalty on insurance insurers that fail to comply with the [health care reform law’s] requirements,” such as failing to provide contraception, sterilization, or abortion-inducing drugs. “The maximum penalty imposed by the PHSA is $100 per day for each individual with respect to which such a failure occurs.”

Such steep fees could bankrupt religious institutions that do not qualify for an exemption. The Catholic hospitals associated with the Catholic Health Association alone account for 530,673 full-time and 235,221 part-time employees. Collectively, those hospitals could face millions of dollars in fees each day. 

The problem, however, is far from unique to the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), testified before Congress earlier this month that, according to his preliminary research, his denomination could face “tens of millions of dollars” in fines if it loses its grandfathered status.

At the same hearing before the House Oversight Committee, the president of Belmont Abbey College, Dr. William K. Thierfelder, calculated it would cost his school $300,000 a year if it refused to comply.

The government need not initiate a lawsuit; a disgruntled employee may trigger this financial punishment. A “beneficiary” can “bring an action against the plan to recover benefits,” the report states,

“If a group health plan or health insurance issuer failed to provide contraceptive services pursuant to guidelines authorized by ACA, it seems possible, for example, that a plan participant could be able to bring a claim for that benefit.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee made the report public last Tuesday.