On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld conscience protection for certain businesses to refuse to provide abortifacient drugs and devices through employee insurance, as mandated by an HHS rule under Obamacare.
The Hobby Lobby ruling applies narrowly to “closely held corporations,” which the IRS defines as firms where half of the value of the corporation is held by five or fewer individuals. The Obama administration had argued that ‘for-profit’ corporations couldn’t have religious beliefs, but the Court disagreed, finding that,
“Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations… protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.”
The Court also noted that the Evangelical owners of Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Products (both “closely held corporations”) professed “sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point.”
Specifically, the Hobby Lobby lawsuit sought an exemption to providing 4 of the listed 20 forms of contraception that HHS mandates under “preventive services.”
KANSAS PROTECTIVE LAWS
Of note to Kansas pro-lifers is that the Hobby Lobby majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito.
Alito’s appointment to the Court would not have occurred had not our governor, then-U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, led the resistance to President Bush’s 2005 nomination of Harriet Miers to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor had provided the fifth vote in the 2000 Stenberg decision striking down a Nebraska partial birth abortion law but Alito became the fifth vote to uphold the federal partial birth abortion ban in 2007.
The backdrop of the Obama administration’s aggressive abortion agenda further incentivized Kansas to pass particular pro-life laws, signed by pro-life Gov. Brownback, elected in 2010.
After the passage of Obamacare that included abortion coverage, Kansas enacted laws in 2011 to prevent abortion coverage in any future Kansas health exchange and in all private health insurance plans unless a separate abortion ‘rider’ is purchased.
In the wake of the HHS mandate and an increase in contraceptive promotion, Kansas medical professionals faced a growing ethical problem: some pills and devices marketed as preventing pregnancy also disrupt the implantation of the human embryo—called a post-fertilization abortifacient effect.
Because Kansas’ abortion statute defines legal contraception as, “the use of any drug or device that inhibits or prevents ovulation, fertilization or implantation of an embryo,” in 2012, Kansas passed conscience protection for medical professionals and facilities: “No person shall be required to perform, refer for, or participate in medical procedures or in the prescription or administration of any device or drug which result in the termination of a pregnancy or an effect of which the person reasonably believes may result in the termination of a pregnancy.”
In 2013, Kansas passed further barriers to government promotion of abortion in healthcare in the Pro-Life Protections Act, which
- declares that human life begins at fertilization and that Kansas public policy will promote and protect the interests of unborn children and their parents;
- prevents state agencies from discriminating against individuals or health care institutions that do not provide, pay for, or refer for abortions;
- more effectively bans abortion performance and abortionist-training at the tax-funded KUMed Center.