Posts tagged with: HHS mandate

Religious groups and businesses who, by weight of conscience, are choosing not to participate in the HHS mandate requiring them to provide abortifacients, artificial birth control, sterilization procedures and abortions as part of “health” care coverage, are now faced with massive fines from the government. The fines for non-compliance are $100 per day per employee. For some companies, that means millions in fines.

Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund, says

…the mandate places a “significant burden” on religious organizations’ ability to plan, budget and hire.

“Most organizations are already trying to get their insurance plans, for example, in the next year in place,” he said.

The lawyer noted that there is a “great deal of anxiety” because employers are subject to lawsuits from individuals who are not receiving required benefits under their health plans.

“That anxiety is only increasing as the implementation date approaches,” he said.

While some organizations have been given a reprieve from the mandate, there remains a strong sense of confusion among many as to whether or not they will be forced to comply, based on whether they are primarily “religious” or not. For instance, Tyndale House recently won a court case against having to participate in the HHS Mandate, but Hobby Lobby, a retail chain, faced a legal setback in its stance that the mandate violates the owners’ religious convictions.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver recently told EWTN that

The First Amendment is a promise that no one should have to choose between a public life and their religious integrity. Without the consent of our elected officials, the mandate can change in troubling ways. This kind of unchecked discrimination is dangerous.
Read more on the latest HHS news at the National Catholic Register’s “Becket Fund: Anxieties Mounting over Contraception Mandate.”

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, gives us a glimpse of what is ahead in the fight for religious liberty regarding the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.  In the National Catholic Register, Duncan outlines that current federal lawsuits fall into two broad categories: those filed by nonprofit organizations and those filed by business owners. In the case of the nonprofits,

The federal government has not responded to the merits of these lawsuits, but has instead sought to have them thrown out as premature. The government says that its non-binding promise of an “accommodation” by August 2013 means that the courts should not hear the lawsuits now — even though the mandate is a final rule that is now harming these plaintiffs’ ability to plan, hire and budget.

Unfortunately, in two of the cases (Belmont Abbey and Wheaton), the courts have agreed with the government and dismissed the lawsuits. Those dismissals will be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.

The cases filed by business owners such as John Kennedy of Autocam and David Green of Hobby Lobby have met with “some success”, the article states, but the fight is far from done.
Because these business lawsuits are not subject to any delays, the government has had to respond on the merits. Its response is startling.The government has flatly stated that a person who goes into business to make a profit loses any right to exercise religion in his business pursuits. A kosher butcher, for instance, would presumably have no religious rights associated with his decision to stock only kosher products. A Bible seller would have no religious rights associated with the sacred texts she is selling.

The profit motive alone dissolves these individuals’ rights to exercise religion. The government apparently wants to enforce its own theology of how God and mammon should mix. But its interpretation would bar individuals from providing for their families in ways consistent with their religious beliefs.

 

 

John Kennedy,  president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids, MI, recently filed suit over the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortions as part of medical care coverage. On Wednesday, government attorneys explained the rejection of his suit, on the basis that it had no merit.

The government contends that provisions of the law that form Kennedy’s objections “are intended to help ensure that women have access to health coverage, without cost-sharing, for certain preventive services that medical experts have deemed necessary for women’s health and well-being.”

The services include contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sterilization, and education and counseling for women during reproductive years.

“Plaintiffs’ challenge rests largely on the legal theory that a for-profit corporation established to engage in manufacturing can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity and protect the rights of employees,” Jacek Pruski, U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, wrote in response to the lawsuit.

“This cannot be,” he wrote.

Mr. Kennedy’s attorney, Jason Miller, says the law forces some employers to participate in what they believe is intrinsic evil.

Mr. Kennedy recently spoke on this topic in a free Acton podcast available here.

You can read the entire Mlive.com article regarding the federal lawsuit here.

John Zmirak, author and Editor-in-Chief of The Intercollegiate Review, wants voters to know exactly what is at stake in the looming Presidential election. In a guest blogger piece at the National Catholic Register, Zmirak pointedly states that the choice between the two candidates isn’t just about whose economic agenda seems more reasonable or who won which debate:

…it’s about what America means: At heart of our Constitutional democracy is the freedom of individuals, even those with unpopular opinions, to pursue the good as they choose—and their right to form groups outside the government and push back against its policies. That’s why we have Amish communities, Catholic schools, associations of kosher butchers, hippie home-schools, gun clubs, organic farms… and all the other free institutions that build up our “ordered liberty.” Take all that away, quash every organization that displeases the federal government, and what you have is a country full of naked individuals, shivering in every wind that blows from Washington, D.C.

Read “First they came for the Catholics” at the National Catholic Register.

Rev. Robert A. Sirico appeared on the Frank Pastore Show Oct. 15 to discuss Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that the HHS mandate was not a threat to religious liberty and the quick rebuke he received from the Catholic bishops. Rev. Sirico also discussed broad faith and policy themes, including how best to reduce poverty, in this hour-long program.

Click the media player below to listen:

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement regarding remarks made by Vice-President Biden during last night’s debate.

According to the debate transcript from the Washington Post, Biden stated,

With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.

The Bishops responded, in part:

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

The fact is: Joe Biden got his facts wrong.

Current lawsuits against the HHS contraceptive mandate may undermine religious liberty in the long run, says Vincent Phillip Munoz. Not all religious objectors to the mandate are likely to be exempted even if the lawsuits are successful, and judges violate the core meaning of religious liberty when they assess plaintiffs’ religious character:

The religious liberty lawsuits ask for exemptions from the HHS mandate for those religious believers who find compliance conscientiously impossible. Exemptions would seem to be reasonable, and politically feasible, and they are probably legally required. Protecting religious liberty through court-granted exemptions, however, entails three “costs,” outlays that are frequently overlooked. Whether these expenditures are worth it and what alternative strategies ought to be adopted are, in part, prudential questions that can only be answered intelligently if a full and forthright evaluation of the exemption approach to religious liberty is undertaken.

In today’s essay I consider the first two costs; namely the implausibility of getting religious exemptions for all conscientious objectors to the mandate, and the overreach of judicial authority involved in religious liberty cases. In tomorrow’s essay, I will discuss how religious liberty litigation can undermine long-term arguments for upholding our first freedom, and explore what can be done to prevent the downside of litigation.

Read more . . .

West Michigan businessman, John Kennedy, has joined over 90 plaintiffs in filing suit against the federal government in its attempts to force business owners and employers to pay for procedures and medications that violate religious beliefs. Kennedy joins other business owners, such as Hobby Lobby CEO David Green who says “God owns” his business.

Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical, says the law clearly violates his religious beliefs.

“This law requires me to violate my beliefs by paying for controversial products that cause abortions, and it does nothing to improve access or eliminate cost for essential medications like insulin and heart medication,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy said he hopes the lawsuit will buy opponents of the law like himself enough time to repeal the mandates in Congress. The lawsuit seeks a court injunction to stop the mandates when they become effective on Jan. 1, 2013

“Why is the Obama administration prioritizing life- ending drugs over lifesaving drugs?” said Kennedy, who filed the lawsuit with the support of the CatholicVote Legal Defense Fund and the Thomas More Society of Chicago.

Kennedy added that the government is forcing employers such as himself to choose between violating religious beliefs, taking away all employee insurance programs, or closing down. Kennedy currently employees 680 people in the U.S.

Read MLive.com’s “West Michigan CEO files lawsuit, saying he cannot comply with Obamacare on religious grounds”.

It is alarmingly clear that so-called “Obamacare” has troubling implications for parents and children, not just employers with religious convictions regarding artificial birth control and abortion. According to an article in the National Catholic Register, Matt Bowman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, Obamacare

“tramples parental rights” because it requires them to “pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children.”

To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia allow children 12 and older access to contraceptives without parental consent or notification. The state of Oregon currently allows children 15 and older to consent to sterilization.

Bowman pointed out the role of Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute (the former research branch of Planned Parenthood) in this part of the Obamacare mandate:

…the Guttmacher Institute and other abortion advocates explicitly advocated for this mandated coverage of minors so that access without parental involvement might be able to increase.”

The Guttmacher Institute, in a Sept. 1 briefing on state policies, said that an increase in minors’ access to reproductive health care over the last 30 years shows a broader recognition that “while parental involvement in minors’ health-care decisions is desirable, many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents.”

In Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislature, the law

[p]rohibits anyone from either tattooing or performing a piercing on a minor without the prior written, informed consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian. Requires the parent or legal guardian to execute the consent in the presence of either the person performing the body piercing or tattooing on the minor or in the presence of an employee or agent of the individual.

In fact, 38 states prohibit minors from this type of procedure without parental consent. Yet, Obamacare will allow children to make the radical choice of sterilization at an age when most can’t make up their mind as to what to wear to school the next day.

Gloria Purvis, policy director at a major financial services company and a board member for the Northwest Pregnancy Center and Maternity Home, noted the damage this mandate will do in an interview with EWNT, “These things are not a cure for our social ills,” she said. “If anything, it makes it worse because it’s promoting the disintegration of the family…”

You can read more Acton Institute research regarding the HHS Mandate and Obamacare here.

Read the article at the National Catholic Register here.

Yesterday, privately-owned Hobby Lobby, a popular craft store chain, filed suit opposing the HHS mandate which forces employers to provide “preventive care” measures such as birth-control and “morning after” pills.

“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

Hobby Lobby is the largest and only non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate, focusing sharp criticism on the administration’s regulation that forces all companies, regardless of religious conviction, to cover abortion-inducing drugs.

Hobby Lobby faces $1.3 million a day in fines if they choose not to participate in the HHS mandate.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby; you can read their statement here.