Despite one positive ruling in a case allowing a company to be exempted from the Obamacare HHS mandate, the pro-abortion mandate that pro-life groups strenuously oppose will take effect tomorrow.
A memo from the Catholic Association explains how the ruling was a positive step but not sufficient to stop the mandate nationwide.
“Last week, a federal court dealt a major blow to the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in their healthcare plans,” it said. ” In the first-ever legal victory against the mandate, the court granted a temporary injunction to the family-owned Hercules Industries in Colorado. The Obama administration argued that employers have no conscience rights if they engage in a for-profit business, and therefore the business owners — the Newland family – ought to be subject to millions of dollars in fines per year for non-compliance.”
“While this was a significant victory, it is only applies to the Newlands, and it is only temporary. The livelihood and religious freedom of countless other private employers hangs in the balance on August 1,” the Catholic Association continued.
The mandate adversely affects three categories of businesses and organizations in different ways and the Catholic Association spells them out:
Category 1: For-Profit Employers
For-profit private employers do not qualify for the one-year safe harbor and are thus completely unprotected as of August 1. This is especially harmful to small and family-owned businesses that tend to have boutique or custom insurance plans to conform to religious or value-oriented workplace cultures. Many businesses are suing the Obama administration seeking immediate relief from the August 1 deadline. The penalty for non-compliance is $100 per day, per employee. For the Newland family business, the fines would add up to millions of dollars per year.
Category 2: Groups in Limbo
Some employers do not yet know if they qualify for the safe harbor. They may only object to some but not all of the services – for example, the evangelical college Wheaton, which has also filed suit against the Administration, objects to abortion-causing drugs but not contraception. These employers are left completely in the dark as to what will happen to them on August 1 and whether or not they will be slapped with crippling fines.
Category 3: Religiously Affiliated Employers
Objecting employers with a religious affiliation are essentially left with one year to scramble. The so-called accommodation, which has not been implemented, was widely rejected as an accounting gimmick. Even Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association (and a supporter of the President’s health care plan), originally supported the accommodation but after closer examination, called it unacceptable and unworkable. These religious entities are left with no option but to wait one more year before they have to begin violating the teachings of their faith or pay severe fines.
A one-year “safe harbor” allows some groups to not be affected until August 2013, but there is no overall religious accommodation.
Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate, also condemned the start of the HHS mandate implementation.
“August 1st will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away,” he told LifeNews. “A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide products and services for free. And if they don’t, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with enough costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government just to stay in business.”
“While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed,” Smith said.
Conscience Cause, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the right of conscience, declared the beginning of the end of religious freedom as the HHS mandate goes into effect tomorrow. it strongly opposes the mandate because it forces businesses and organizations to pay for products and services that violate their faith or face massive fines. In phase two of the mandate’s implementation, one year from tomorrow, religious institutions will face the same devastating decision, the group complains.
“The implementation of this policy tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of religious freedom in our nation,” said Christen Varley, executive director of Conscience Cause.
“Starting tomorrow, employers with religious and moral objections must make an unimaginable choice: comply and deny your faith, or resist and be subject to crippling fines. Religious institutions have been given an absurd one year reprieve in which to decide the same. People of faith and those who believe in protecting our constitutional freedoms will continue the fight to repeal and bar any regulation that would compel individuals and institutions, including religious hospitals, schools and charities, to violate the tenets of their faith or be subject to penalty of law,” added Varley. “Conscience Cause will continue our efforts to inform the public as well as to petition Congress to overrule this devastating policy. If we do not stand up and make our voices heard, it is only a matter of time before our other liberties come under direct assault.”