Obamacare has been the subject of litigation since it was launched, and there have been numerous accusations – that it is unconstitutional, that it violates religious rights, that it invades privacy, that it goes beyond government authority by ordering consumers to purchase a product, and more.
Now a new lawsuit has been filed arguing that the Obama administration is using the law to attack groups of faith that do not support the White House agenda of contraception and abortion for all.
“On information and belief, plaintiffs allege that the purpose of the Final Mandate, including the restrictively narrow scope of the religious employers exemption, is to discriminate against religious organizations that oppose contraception and abortion,” challenges a new lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The organization is bringing the case against Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and others on behalf of the Association of Christian Schools International, Samaritan Ministries International, Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan University.
The fight is just the latest chapter in the reaction by members of various faith groups to the Obama administration’s fixation on its orders that they pay for contraceptives, including abortifacients, to which they have religious objections.
The White House lost that fight in the Supreme Court, where the justices ruled that the law could not force business owners to violate their faith to follow a bureaucratic mandate regarding such killing chemicals.
So the White House has offered, in various ways, an “accommodation” for those groups whereby the abortifacients still would be provided to their employees, it just wouldn’t go on the employer’s paperwork, essentially.
The plaintiffs are bringing the new case because the Obama rules still impose a burden, or duty, on them.
“They believe that God has condemned the intentional destruction of innocent human life. They hold, as a matter of religious conviction, that it would be sinful and immoral for them intentionally to participate in, pay for, facilitate, enable, or otherwise support access to abortion, which destroys human life,” the complaint explains.
“They hold that one of the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments (‘thou shalt not murder’) precludes them from facilitating, assisting in, serving as the conduct for, or enabling the use of drugs and devices that can and do destroy very young human beings in the womb. The health benefits they provide to their employees reflect these convictions.”
The case alleges the Obama administration is violating the Administrative Procedure Act, the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the Free Speech Clause, the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Further, evidence suggests that members of faiths that object to abortifacients are deliberately being targeted, the case claims.
“The Final Mandate forces the plaintiffs to facilitate government-dictated education and counseling concerning abortion that directly conflicts with their religious beliefs and teaching,” the lawsuit states. “Facilitating this government-dictated speech directly undermines the express speech and messages concerning the sanctity of life that the plaintiffs seek to convey.”
Further, the government’s demand “advances no compelling governmental interest” and such drugs already are commonly available through “numerous alternative mechanisms.”
The government easily could provide the “benefits,” the lawsuit said, or “the government could simply exempt all conscientiously objecting organizations, just as it has already exempted the small subset of nonprofit religious employers that are referred to in Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code.”
After all, the government already provides a multitude of other “exemptions,” it said.
The government, through its actions, already admits that the mandate is not part of any “compelling interest.”
So why is the demand being pursued?
“The Final Mandate was promulgated by government officials, and supported by non-governmental organizations, who strongly oppose religious teachings and beliefs regarding marriage, family, and life,” the case states.
“Defendant [former HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius, for example, has long been a staunch support of abortion rights and a vocal critic of religious teachings and beliefs regarding abortion and contraception,” the complaint continues. “On Oct. 4, 2011, six days after the comment period for the original Interim Final Rule ended, Defendant Sebelius gave a speech at a fundraiser for NARAL Pro-Choice America. She told the assembled crowd that ‘we are in a war.’
“She further criticized individuals and entities whose beliefs differed from those held by her and the others at the fundraiser, stating: ‘Wouldn’t you think that people who want to reduce the number of abortions would champion the cause of widely available, widely affordable contraceptive services? Not so much,’” the complaint states.
“On July 16, 2013, Secretary Sebelius further compared opponents of the Affordable Care Act generally to ‘people who opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s,’ stating that upholding the Act requires the same action as was shown ‘in the fight against lynching and the fight for desegregation.’”
That leads to the conclusion that the administration is intending to discrimination against religious organizations, the complaint says.
“It cannot be plausibly maintained that the fate of the entire enterprise rests in any measurable way on forcing these four plaintiffs to facilitate access to four drugs and devices – which represent one-fifth of the one of the 143 required items …” the case said.
“In any event, the government has already conceded that it has no interest in imposing the mandate upon religious employers like the plaintiffs,” the case continued.
So Washington’s “accommodation,” which “does not sufficiently diminish their ethical objection to complicity with sin,” still “conscripts the plaintiffs into the government’s scheme, hijacking their health plans and using them as conduits for the delivery of life-destroying drugs and devices to members of their religious communities …”
The government still is demanding that the Christian groups to identify to the government their insurance policy administrators, play a “central role in facilitating free access to abortifacient services,” and make them victim to “a shell game that attempts to disguise the religious organization’s role as the central cog in the government’s scheme for expanding access to contraceptive and abortifacient services.”
The case was filed in federal court in Colorado.
“The government should not force religious organizations to be involved in providing abortion pills to their employees,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “The best way to respect everyone’s freedom would have been to extend the existing religious exemption to religious non-profits in addition to churches. The administration has failed in its duty to uphold the freedoms guaranteed to every American under the Constitution and federal law. These religious organizations had hoped to avoid this action, but the cause of religious conscience and liberty compelled them to take this step.”
Added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, “All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people – under threat of punishment – to give up their fundamental freedoms in order to provide insurance. That’s no different for these Christian organizations, which simply want to abide by the very faith they espouse. The government is forbidden from punishing people of faith for making decisions consistent with that faith.”
There have been multitudes of lawsuits filed over Obamacare, and WND reported only a few days earlier that another fight over the same contraception mandate issue had resulted in a loss for Obama.
It was a federal judge in Florida who ruled that the government’s latest revisions to the mandate still “don’t do enough to protect people of faith.”
The ruling came from Judge James Moody Jr. in a suit by Ave Maria University, which charged the Obamacare requirement violates the faith on which it operates.
He said, “Defendants do not dispute that Ave Maria is a nonprofit Catholic university purposed with ‘educat[ing] students in the principles and truths of the Catholic faith.’ … One such element of the Catholic faith that Ave Maria holds and professes concerns the sanctity of life. Ave Maria ‘believes that each human being bears the image and likeness of God, and therefore any abortion – including through post-conception contraception – ends a human life and is a grave sin. Ave Maria also believes that sterilization and the use of contraception are morally wrong.’”
He said the “rule” that was intended to provide an “accommodation” to faith members was not a satisfactory solution.
“After dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs,” said a spokesman for that legal team, assembled by the Becket Fund. “Fortunately, the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the mandate’s religious coercion.”