Family-Run Mortgage Company Challenges Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Aug 7, 2013   |   11:40AM    Washington, DC

Americans United for Life today filed its 15th amicus curiae brief in a legal challenge to Obamacare’s HHS mandate, in defense of freedom of conscience.

The mandate went into effect last year on August 1 and the very minimal religious protections were set to go into effect August 1, but they will be implemented and enforcement will take place starting on January 1.

In its brief filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, AUL argues that the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate—which forces many employers to provide insurance coverage for life-ending drugs and devices without regard to the employers’ consciences or religious beliefs—violates the First Amendment freedom of conscience.

“Defending the conscience rights of all Americans is the liberty issue of our day, and a priority for the legal team of Americans United for Life,” said AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

“Americans who own and operate businesses have the same First Amendment right of conscience as Americans who work for churches,” said Dr. Yoest. “The First Amendment was written to protect our rights and must not be discarded to suit the political whims of this administration.”

AUL’s brief was filed in Armstrong v. Sebelius, a case filed by two families who own, manage, and operate Cherry Creek Mortgage Co., Inc. The Armstrongs and the Mays do not want to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs that abortion is immoral by providing insurance coverage for life-ending drugs and devices.

Previously, a federal district court denied the families’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would have barred enforcement of the HHS Mandate against them and their business. The Armstrongs and the Mays appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

AUL’s brief, available here, demonstrates that the life of a new human being begins at fertilization (conception), that “emergency contraception” has a post-fertilization effect of preventing a new human embryo from implanting in the uterus. Forcing employers to provide coverage for such drugs and devices violates their constitutionally protected freedom of conscience.

The brief was filed on behalf of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, and National Association of Pro Life Nurses.

Last month, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the HHS abortion-drug mandate. The injunction prevents the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against the Christian company, which does not want to be compelled to pay for birth control or drugs that may cause abortions.

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“The tide has turned against the HHS mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and lead attorney for Hobby Lobby. “This is a major victory for not only Hobby Lobby, but the religious liberty of all for-profit businesses.”

Duncan says there are now 63 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate. The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund currently represents: Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.

The most recent polling data from December 2012 shows Americans support a religious exemption to the mandate.