Leading pro-life groups don’t have much good to say about the proposed changes the HHS department announced today to the Obamacare mandate that forces religious groups and religiously-run companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.
The Christian Medical Association (CMA), the nation’s largest faith-based association of physicians, today called the administration’s policy announcement regarding its contraceptives and sterilization mandate “unacceptable,” noting that the ruling still flouts the First Amendment.
CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said, “This latest version of the contraceptives and sterilization mandate remains unacceptable. Since when does the government get to pick and choose which groups will get to enjoy First Amendment protections? Our founders intended the First Amendment to protect every American’s freedom to act according to one’s conscience. They didn’t specify that only groups deemed religious will be afforded this protection; freedom of conscience applies equally to all Americans.”
Dr. Gene Rudd, CMA Exec. VP, noted, “The administration fails to understand that many employers and individual Americans, regardless of a religious label or not, maintain strong conscience objections to participating in any, way, shape or form in a plan that promotes pills that the FDA says can cause the demise of a living human embryo — a developing baby in her earliest stage.”
Dr. Stevens added, “It would appear that the administration is trying to diffuse the pressure from federal courts around the country by throwing a sop to religious groups. If administration officials think that this action will somehow cause us to back down and accept the terms of surrender, well, that’s just not going to happen. We all plan to stand united in the fight to ensure that everyone’s First Amendment freedoms of religion and conscience are protected.”
Senator Orrin Hatch today said that a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision requiring employers to provide health care services in violation of their faith should be overturned by the courts, because it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that Hatch helped push through the Congress on a bipartisan basis.“This is a sad day. Freedom of religion and the right of peoples of faith to be protected against government intrusion must be sacrosanct,” said Hatch. “Unfortunately, this White House doesn’t seem to believe in that Constitutional guarantee – forcing private companies to provide health care services in violation of their beliefs. I’m confident, however, that this misguided policy will be overturned by the courts as I believe it is in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
In 1993, the RFRA was passed unanimously by the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton. It states that the government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless its action is “the least restrictive means of furthering [a] compelling governmental interest.”
Hatch is leading a group of Senators who supported RFRA in a friend of the court brief to be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit arguing that the HHS mandate violates RFRA. That lawsuit is being brought by the owners of a private company. This proposed revision of the mandate would not apply to private companies so the defect is the same.
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“If this president is a so-called constitutional scholar-as his supporters in the media portray him-then his law school should be embarrassed. In 80 pages of legalese and gobbledygook, this administration fails to recognize the constitutionally protected freedom of conscience that all Americans-not just religious organizations as defined by the IRS-are guaranteed in their personal lives and in the workplace,” he said.