Posts tagged with: HHS mandate

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.

Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, August 2, 2012
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The Obamacare HHS provision went into effect yesterday. Here is a round-up of posts with reaction to that.

The Day After the HHS Mandate Kicked In
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online

Kolesar is a part owner of this family business established in 1961. The family is Catholic and considers the HHS contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing-drug “Preventative Services” mandate — which the White House has introduced as part of its health-care law — a clash with conscience. “We only ask that the government uphold freedom and not bully us into purchasing insurance for ourselves and our employees that would force us to abandon essential tenets of our faith,” Kolesar tells National Review.

Priests For Life Announces It Will Defy HHS Mandate
Ben Johnson, LifeSiteNews.com

The pro-life Catholic group had long signaled its impending defiance of what it considers an unjust and unconstitutional law.“We don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to ‘adapt’ to the rule,” Fr. Pavone said early this year. “You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.”

HHS Mandate Loses First Test in Federal Court
Ed Morrisssey, Hot Air

The injunction only applies to Hercules Industries, not the mandate as a whole, and it’s only temporary, as William Jacobson points out at Legal Insurrection.  However, the usual paradigms for issuing temporary injunctions are that the judge believes the plaintiffs have a substantial chance of winning the case, and that the regulation or action being halted does significant damage to the plaintiff.  That hints at a favorable ruling at the district court level for Hercules, which is definitely good news…

Fighting the Good Fight For Religious Freedom
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archdiocese of New York

Over the course of the coming year, the effort to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience will continue.  In the end, this is not about bishops, it is not about Catholics, it is not about contraceptives.  It is about the ideals our nation was founded upon: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  You can’t do much better than the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The founding fathers got it right.  The HHS mandate gets it wrong.  We are fighting to correct that wrong, in order to make sure that religious freedom continues for the generations to come after us.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat tackles the topic of religious liberty with his most recent column, “Defining Religious Liberty Down.” In it, Douthat highlights the public nature of the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of the “free exercise of religion”:

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair. Most religious communities conceive of themselves as peoples or families, and the requirements of most faiths extend well beyond attendance at a sabbath service — encompassing charity and activism, education and missionary efforts, and other “exercises” that any guarantee of religious freedom must protect.

Many would say that the religious liberty squabbles of today–the HHS mandate debate and last week’s Chick-fil-A fracas, for example–reflect a contemporary confusion about what is actually protected by the Bill of Rights’ “free exercise of religion.” Instead, Douthat posits that the conflict is a result of a present tension between religious values and the modern idea of freedom. This, Douthat argues, is really at the heart of the religious liberty debate.

The question is not whether “the free exercise of religion” allows the government to mandate contraception purchase or regulate businesses according to their values. The question is whether certain religious beliefs of today run so contradictory to the public zeitgeist that, like 15th century Aztec sacrifice rituals, they violate the common good and cannot merit public protection. Those who answer the latter question with a “yes” should quit the emaciated definitions of religious liberty and move on with the debate:

It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.

On The Foundry, Sarah Torre writes about the many faith based challenges that remain to the Obamacare law. There are many organizations that are religious in nature, but are not themselves churches. To comply with the new health laws, they will be compelled to provide conscience violating services. Towards the end of the post, Torres quotes the president of Geneva College, Dr. Ken Smith:

The issue that we have with the entire law is that the Obama Administration has tried to define religion as being that which what churches do. We believe that religion takes us into the marketplace. There is both an internal community of faith responsibility of religion, but there is also an external service to community. That is religion.

A lot has been written about how this issue will impact hospitals. Donald P. Condit noted in an Acton Commentary piece that one in six patients in the United States will receive care in a Catholic Hospital. Yet, the Obama administration’s threat to religious liberty is not limited to just the case of religious groups directly providing services. The HHS mandates (more from Acton here) threaten the conscience of all people engaged in business. And if the threat extends to health care, where will it end?

As pointed out in The Foundry, religion takes us into the marketplace. Christianity is a motivating force for people throughout the market. Yet, the Obama administration seems to think that our religious life should separated from our everyday life. How can we expect people to somehow check their faith at the door when they do business? Rev. Robert Sirico outlines in “The Entrepreneurial Vocation” how our faith relates to entrepreneurship. The idea that our religious life is or should be separate from our commercial life is absurd, yet this is precisely what compliance with anti-conscience provisions of the Obamacare law would force us to do. Donald P. Condit got it right: this is an unconscionable threat to conscience.

H/T to Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO’s The Corner.

Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, D.D., Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas

On Catholic World Report, Carl E. Olson interviews Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, the Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, about the HHS mandate, the Ryan budget, and what the Supreme Court ruling means for the religious freedom fight.

“There are always some people who feel that the Church is becoming partisan and political in this,” Archbishop Naumann said, referring to a collective response to the HHS mandate covering provision of contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that includes more than 40 lawsuits and the current, ongoing Fortnight for Freedom developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“But we try to point out to them that we didn’t pick the time, nor did we pick the fight,” he added. “We’re not trying to advance any agenda other than to protect what has been there. We either have to be silent and acquiesce to the mandate, or we have to make our voices heard at this point.”

Naumann has been an important figure in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as a member of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Committee on Marriage and Family Life.

“Part of my concern, which I expressed at the bishops’ meeting (earlier this month in Atlanta) is that people – who have good intentions and motivations – have too often looked to massive government programs to help the poor,” he said, “yet we have a history now of almost 50 years with these programs and we don’t have fewer poor and we don’t have more people empowered. But we do have a weaker family life and weaker public morality. And so we have to look at it and ask, ‘Are these really the best ways to go about addressing the problem?’”

Read “We didn’t pick the time, nor did we pick the fight,” an interview with Archbishop Naumann by Carl E. Olson in Catholic World Report.

Need a logical defense of religious freedom? Look no further than First Things‘ “On the Square” web exclusive, where future University of St. Thomas assistant philosophy professor Tomas Bogardus tackles a proposed restriction of an idea long taken for granted in free countries. Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, recently published an article, “The Use and Abuse of Religious Freedom,” which proposes to limit “the legitimate defense of religious freedom to rejecting proposals that stop people from practicing their religion.”

Singer’s article addresses some global examples. Recently, the Dutch parliament began reviewing legislation that would mandate the stunning of livestock before slaughter. This of course violates the customs of Judaism and Islam, both of which require practitioners to eat meat only from animals that were conscious when killed. To dissenting Jews and Muslims, Singer’s solution is simple:  Don’t eat meat. He says, “When people are prohibited from practicing their religion—for example, by laws that bar worshiping in certain ways—there can be no doubt that their freedom of religion has been violated. But prohibiting the ritual slaughter of animals does not stop Jews or Muslims from practicing their religion.” Singer then transposes this approach to the HHS mandate: Because no Catholic teaching requires Catholics to establish and run hospitals, the state can order Catholics to provide employees with health care packages that cover birth control medications. If Catholics don’t like that, they can close the doors to their hospitals without damage to their doctrinal standards.

Bogardus’ response is well-reasoned and relevant:

One catches a glimpse of Singer’s utopia, full of vegetarian Muslims and Jews and Christians who employ no one. And all under compulsion of the state. His argument for this utopia has three steps. One: if a policy does not compel religionists to violate a teaching of their religion, then the policy is not an improper infringement on the practice of their religion. Two: if a policy does not unduly infringe upon the practice of a religion, it is not a violation of religious freedom. Three: since e.g. the Obama Administration’s mandate does not require Catholics to violate any Catholic dogma, Singer concludes that the mandate doesn’t violate Catholics’ religious freedom. Q.E.D., as philosophers are said to say.

So much for the argument. What shall we say in response? At least this: Singer’s argument succeeds only if every step is true. Yet the first two steps of Singer’s argument cannot both be true, since together they lead to absurd conclusions. Isn’t it possible, after all, for a policy to violate someone’s religious freedom even without compelling her to transgress any teaching of her religion?

He goes on to address both hypothetical and actual situations that, under the lens of Singer’s microscope, prove problematic. The full column is relevant, insightful and absolutely worth a read as issues of religious freedom become more pressing in our present context.

In a post about the “Nuns on the bus” tour, National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez reminds us that “at a time when the very ability of church organizations to freely live their mission of service has been compromised by federal mandates, it is especially important to debate the role of government with clarity and charity.” In her essay, she brings in the the PovertyCure project and Rev. Robert A. Sirico’s new book, Defending the Free Market: A Moral Case for the Free Economy.

About PovertyCure, Lopez notes that “the project asks if we have been raising ‘the wrong questions’ about the causes of poverty and how to address them.” She goes on to quote Rudy Carrasco, the United States Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide, who said this in relation to the PovertyCure mission: “Everybody has capacity, talent, and ability. Everybody has responsibility. Everybody has stewardship responsibility. I don’t care what dirt hovel you’re living in, in Brazil or Mexico City or Manila. You have a responsibility to be a steward of the resources under your control because you have a heavenly Father who has put great things inside of you, that [are] waiting to be called out and developed and extracted.”

Download Carrasco’s AU 2012 lecture here.

Religious people have a big role to play in the defense of freedom, Lopez says.

“When freedom is divorced from faith, both freedom and faith suffer,” Father Sirico writes in a new book, Defending the Free Market. “Freedom becomes rudderless, because truth gives freedom its direction. Freedom without a moral orientation has no guiding star. On the other hand, when a people surrenders [its] freedom to the government — the freedom to make moral, economic, religious, and social choices and then take personal responsibility for the consequences — virtue tends to waste away and faith itself grows cold.”

The nuns on the bus may not be cheerleaders for the bishops or the Fortnight for Freedom, but their road trip can be a helpful accompaniment. Fundamentally, this debate we’re having about God and Caesar is about much more than a presidential election: It’s about who we are as a people and whether we do not merely tolerate but welcome — and even encourage — religious believers as economic and political participants. The sisters and the bishops are on the same page there.

Read “Without Freedom No One’s Got a Prayer” by Kathryn Jean Lopez on National Review Online.