In a horrible defeat for pro-life organizations, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court ruled that a secular pregnancy center must be forced to comply with the Obamacare mandate that forces organizations to pay for drugs that cause abortions.
Most pro-life voters are familiar with the Supreme Court decisions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases that held that a religious oriented company or organization does not have to comply with the Obamacare mandate and be forced to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their employee health care plans. However those decisions were limited in scope and did not apply to every kind of pro-life organization or company.
The pro-life group Real Alternatives, based in Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration concerning the mandate and its compelling portions that require religious groups to pay for drugs that may cause abortions. Real Alternatives, which provides abortion alternatives in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, field suit to protect itself and its employees form the mandate.
Considering another lawsuit related to the Obamacare mandate, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that pro-life organizations that are secular in nature are not entitled to the religious exemption from the mandate even though their consciences compel them to oppose abortion and being forced to pay for abortions.
Here is more about this disappointing ruling:
The court’s ruling affirms a federal judge’s dismissal of a challenge to the mandate under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution filed by Real Alternatives Inc., which describes itself as a “life-affirming” pregnancy-support organization not affiliated with any religious body.
“Real Alternatives is in no way like a religious denomination or one of its nontheistic counterparts—not in structure, not in aim, not in purpose, and not in function,” Senior Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote in the court’s majority opinion, joined by Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. “We do not doubt that Real Alternatives’s stance on contraceptives is grounded in sincerely-held moral values, but ‘religion is not generally confined to one question or one moral teaching; it has a broader scope.’”
The majority’s holding drew a sharp rebuke from dissenting judge Kent A. Jordan, who disagreed with the court’s reasoning that religious employees’ freedom to worship is not impinged by subscribing to a health plan that provides coverage for birth control.
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“According to the government, the mandate has nothing to do with deep questions about the beginning of life, or the boundaries of moral culpability, or about faith and one’s obligations to God,” Jordan said. “Religious beliefs are not being burdened in any meaningful sense, so people should just stop complaining. That is the line pressed by the United States Department of Justice, and it is the line accepted by my colleagues in the majority, but I reject it.”
Previously, Judge John E. Jones III of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania sided with the Obama administration and dismissed their case despite their claim that their religious freedoms were violated.
Real Alternatives had excluded payment for abortion-causing drugs from its health insurance plan since 2008, and was able to continue doing so until 2014 because its plan was “grandfathered” against requirements of Obamacare. But the insurer eventually opted to discontinue the plan, and after 2014 Real Alternatives was unable to buy coverage that didn’t include those drugs.
One of the Real Alternatives arguments dismissed by Jones was that the government has no legitimate purpose in mandating people to have benefits they don’t want or won’t use.
At that time, Kevin Bagatta, the director of Real Alternatives, told LifeNews.com he was “very disappointed with this ruling.”
“Real Alternatives, a secular, nonreligious, nonprofit company, administers programs on behalf of three states to operate pregnancy and parenting support services programs to assist women to choose childbirth instead of feeling they have to have an abortion. Real Alternatives believes the science is undeniable that abortion ends the life of a human person and as a matter of conscience is wrong,” he said back then.
Bagatta continued: “The government is forcing Real Alternatives to purchase insurance coverage that covers devices that can cause an abortion. This government requirement forces Real Alternatives to violate its stated mission and its underlying purpose for its existence.”
“By analogy, this would be no different than if the government would require the American Lung Association to purchase cigarettes for its employees. It would run completely counter to the entire corporate philosophy, purpose, and mission of the American Lung Association,” he said. “Real Alternatives is conferring with its attorney’s to decide the next steps to take to prevent this government intrusion and over reach.”
A December 2013 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Americans disagree with forcing companies like Hobby Lobby to obey the mandate.
“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.
The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.
Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”
Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.