ObamaCare still violates religious conviction despite new regulations . . .
On August 22, the Obama Administration announced new regulations under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) to modify the so-called “religious accommodation” for many faith-based nonprofits. According to the Administration, these new regulations were issued to protect faith-based employers such as ministries from having to facilitate the provision of contraceptives—including abortion drugs—and violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
But Jeff Mateer, General Counsel for Liberty Institute, says the opposite is true. And that the new rules are nothing more than “a mere hand wave to Americans who, inspired by their deep religious commitments, oppose providing drugs that may kill an unborn baby.”
DOES NOT ELIMINATE “MORAL LIABILITY”
Before the White House issued these changes, non-church religious organizations were not exempt from providing the Plan B and Ella abortifacient drugs and sterilization procedures required under Obamacare.
With the new regulations, little has changed.
Under the previous “religious accommodation” issued earlier by the administration, religious organizations were required to use a government form to notify their insurance provider that they didn’t want to provide employees the objectionable drugs and procedures. The insurance company was then, by law, required to offer the employees a separate policy to provide these services. Religious non-profits objected. They said this “accommodation” still involved them in facilitating the provision of abortion and other contraception they believed to be sin.
Under the new rules issued last week, religious non-profits now have the option of notifying the government directly of their objections, rather than the notifying their insurance company. The government will then work with the non-profit’s insurance company to have the insurer provide the offending contraceptives to the non-profits employees and their dependents.
According to Mateer, it’s a distinction without a difference. He says, “Eliminating the requirement that the ministry use the government’s form does not eliminate their moral liability for facilitating coverage of these abortifacient drugs.”
MINISTRIES SHOULD NOT VIOLATE THEIR BELIEFS
As you know, the fight for religious liberty didn’t end with the Supreme Court’s positive Hobby Lobby decision to allow for-profit companies with sincerely held religious beliefs to be exempt from the “abortion mandate.” After Hobby Lobby, many religious non-profits were still left behind with no such exemption. In other words, corporations with closely held beliefs and churches are exempt—but faith-based non-profits are not.
There are still many religious non-profits and ministries who are forced into violating their convictions, and many more faith-based employers who are unaware of what’s at risk upon accepting the “religious accommodation.” Because of this, there is much work to be done—both in the courtroom and with public awareness.
In a nutshell, a religious non-profit accepting the so-called “accommodation” is:
- Indirectly arranging for abortifacient and abortion counseling coverage because the religious
non-profit’s insurer must provide full coverage for abortifacients and abortion counseling at no cost to the
- Shifting the cost of the objectionable coverage
to individuals who purchase health insurance from the objecting non-profit’s
- Accepting that the government may divide different religious organizations into different “tiers” of “how religious” they really are and prescribe different levels of “accommodation” for each. The “most religious” organizations—churches and denominations—are exempt from the HHS Mandate’s requirements while “less religious” organizations like non-profit religious ministries must still indirectly provide for funding of and counseling in the use of abortifacients.
THE FIGHT ISN’T OVER YET
As long as faith-based non-profits are forced to violate their religious integrity, Liberty Institute will be in court fighting to secure their 1st Amendment rights. Currently, we represent more than 25 non-profits and ministries—each of them depending on us to provide expertise as the foremost leaders on the issue, which we do. In return, our clients receive a guarantee that we firmly reject the HHS Abortion Pill Mandate and its continued assault on people of faith.
There is reason to believe we will prevail. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that the “religious accommodation” violated federal law. Mateer points out, that ruling “was a great decision for religious ministries and bodes well for future challenges to the accommodation.”
And in spite of the Obama Administration attempting to spin their loss in the Hobby Lobby case as a victory for allowing the government to force religious non-profits to accept Obamacare’s objectionable “religious accommodation,” the U.S. Supreme Court rejected this notion, with Justice Alito writing, “We do not decide [in Hobby Lobby] whether an approach of this type complies with RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] for purposes of all religious claims.” What this means is that the issue has not yet been settled, leaving the door open to ongoing challenges.
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About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.