Appeals Court Asked to Strike Down Obama’s HHS-Abortion Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Mar 7, 2013   |   6:01PM    Washington, DC

A federal appeals court will be the site of one of the next legal battles against the Obama HHS mandate that forces religious groups and businesses to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

A new amicus brief tells the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that ObamaCare’s employer mandate has become the “bludgeon” with which the government feels empowered to cripple the consciences of religious employers. Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, and several state family policy councils filed the brief today.

The employer mandate forces religious employers to provide health insurance coverage for their employees under the penalty of crippling fines. The brief supports a challenge to that mandate in Liberty University v. Geithner and concludes that the Obama administration’s related abortion pill mandate “draws all of its compulsive power from the employer mandate…and is but a symptom of the illness that is the employer mandate’s broad grant of power to HHS.”

“Americans, including those who create and provide jobs, should be free to live according to their faith rather than be forced into surrendering their consciences,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “ObamaCare demands that Americans choose between two poison pills: either desert your faith to comply with the government, or resist and be punished. The Obama administration’s attacks on faith and employers prove that it doesn’t respect either one.”

Joining the brief with Alliance Defending Freedom and AUL are the Virginia Family Foundation, West Virginia Family Policy Council, Maryland Family Alliance, North Carolina Family Policy Council, and Palmetto Family Council, all of which are in states that will be directly affected by the 4th Circuit’s decision.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, also commented on the filing.

“It is contrary to the founding principles of America to use the force of government to require people to violate their consciences and to punish citizens for acting on their beliefs,” said Dr. Yoest. “Obamacare is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. Big Abortion is using Obamacare to coerce nearly all Americans into paying for deadly products.”

The brief explains that the employer mandate “imposes punitive fines on employers, including religious employers, who fail to meet its demands. Its coupling with the broad grant of authority to HHS to order coverage of services that contravene the religious conscience of thousands of religious employers has resulted in an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.”

“Just as [Liberty University] feared,” the brief continues, “the employer mandate has become the bludgeon with which the government is empowered to violate religious employers’ conscience. So long as HHS remains empowered to attack religious exercise and unencumbered by any conviction that religious employers, particularly for-profit employers, have any free exercise rights at all, these violations of religious freedom will continue.”

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In the brief, ADF and AUL observe: “Yet, the HHS Mandate is but a symptom of the illness that is the Employer Mandate’s broad grant of power to HHS. So long as HHS holds this unprecedented power the threat to religious liberty will remain.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are litigating 10 lawsuits specifically against the abortion pill mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate, which forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

AUL supports repeal of Obamacare because abortion is woven into the healthcare law at multiple levels, including:

  • Failing to prohibit the use of federal tax dollars for abortion, abortion coverage, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices.
  • Pretending that the Hyde Amendment protections were enough to prohibit direct payment for abortions.
  • Permitting federally subsidized Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) to provide abortion coverage through the state insurance exchanges required in all 50 states.
  • Failing to prohibit all multi-state qualified health plans from providing coverage for abortion.
  • Including a “preventive care” mandate that is being used to force coverage of drugs and devices known to end life.
  • Failing to provide comprehensive First Amendment conscience protections for individuals, employers, and insurance companies that have religious or moral objections to abortion.

Click here to read the brief.