After Hobby Lobby Ruling, Obama Admin Still Forcing Religious Employers to Obey HHS Mandate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2014   |   12:40PM   |   Washington, DC

The Supreme Court may have sided with Hobby Lobby in its case against the Obama administration over the pro-abortion HHS mandate, but one leading pro-life group says the Obama administration’s religious discrimination continues.

Defending the First Amendment conscience rights of Americans, Americans United for Life filed two amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs today in the Fifth and Eighth Circuits challenging the Obama Administration’s anti-life edicts in Obamacare.

“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s clear directives favoring freedom of conscience in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Obama Administration has doubled down on its coercive, anti-life policies, refusing to respect the beliefs of those who do not wish to provide coverage of life-ending drugs and devices,” said Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest.

Including these two cases, AUL has filed 23 briefs in challenges to Obamacare’s HHS Mandate that requires employers to offer life-ending drugs and devices in health insurance policies. In our briefs, AUL defends the constitutional rights of all Americans when it comes to healthcare purchases.

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religiousfreedom2Yoest tells LifeNews that the Obama administration didn’t back down int he face of the Hobby Lobby decision. Instead, Obama officials doubled down by releasing new guidelines for how employers who object to the abortion mandate because of their religious views can supposedly opt out. The problem is that the new guidelines just repeat the previous ones and offer no accommodation for employers who don’t want to pay for abortion-causing drugs.

As AUL tells LifeNews, in a recent and meaningless “accommodation,” the Obama Administration announced that those with religious beliefs opposed to life-ending drugs and devices must hand over to the federal government the name and contact information “for any of the plan’s third party administrators and health insurance issuers.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made clear its intention to use the information to force the religious employer’s insurance provider to include the objected-to items and services.

“Rather than respecting the beliefs of Americans concerned about the impact of deadly drugs on women and their unborn children, the Obama Administration uses its power to forcibly violate the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said Dr. Yoest. “The accounting gimmicks touted as a fix change nothing.”

As noted in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, if a non-profit religious employer does not “yield to this demand” by the Obama Administration to facilitate coverage for life-ending drugs and devices “the economic consequences will be severe.”

Importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby decision held that the Green and Hahn families “sincerely believe that providing the insurance coverage demanded by the HHS regulations lies on the forbidden side of the line, and it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.”

“Here, as in Hobby Lobby, it is not for the Obama Administration to determine what ‘lies on the forbidden side of the line’ for these employers who deserve to enjoy their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of conscience,” said Yoest.

One brief (available here) was filed in the Fifth Circuit in the consolidated cases of East Baptist University v. Burwell, University of Dallas v. Burwell, Catholic Diocese of Beaumont v. Burwell, and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Fort Worth v. Burwell. The second brief (available here) was filed in the Eighth Circuit in Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Burwell. In each of the cases, a lower court had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the Obama Administration appealed.

In the briefs, AUL demonstrates that the life of a new human being begins at fertilization (conception), that so-called “emergency contraception” has a post-fertilization effect that can prevent a new human being from implanting in the uterus and thus ending his or her young life, and that forcing employers to provide coverage for life-ending drugs or devices violates their freedom of conscience.

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

“Real healthcare respects life,” noted Dr. Yoest. “Whether the issue is punishing Americans for their beliefs, pushing life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, or creating new income streams for the abortion industry, the anti-life implications of Obamacare are far reaching.”

Abortion is woven into Obamacare at multiple levels, making repeal of the law a pro-life necessity. The abortion-related provisions of Obamacare include:

  • 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.